Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery

, Volume 135, Issue 12, pp 1675–1682 | Cite as

Performance test of different 3.5 mm drill bits and consequences for orthopaedic surgery

  • Hans Clement
  • Christoph Zopf
  • Markus Brandner
  • Norbert P. Tesch
  • Rudolf Vallant
  • Paul PuchweinEmail author
Trauma Surgery



Drilling of bones in orthopaedic and trauma surgery is a common procedure. There are yet no recommendations about which drill bits/coating should be preferred and when to change a used drill bit.

Materials and methods

In preliminary studies typical “drilling patterns” of surgeons concerning used spindle speed and feeding force were recorded. Different feeding forces were tested and abrasion was analysed using magnification and a scanning electron microscope (SEM). Acquired data were used for programming a friction stir welding machine (FSWM). Four drill bits (a default AISI 440A, a HSS, an AISI 440B and a Zirconium-oxide drill bit) were analysed for abrasive wear after 20/40/60 machine-guided and hand-driven drilled holes. Additionally different drill coatings [diamond-like carbon/grafitic (DLC), titanium nitride/carbide (Ti–N)] were tested.


The mean applied feeding force by surgeons was 45 ± 15.6 Newton (N). HSS bits were still usable after 51 drill holes. Both coated AISI 440A bits showed considerable breakouts of the main cutting edge after 20 hand-driven drilled holes. The coated HSS bit showed very low abrasive wear. The non-coated AISI 440B bit had a similar durability to the HSS bits. The ZrO2 dental drill bit excelled its competitors (no considerable abrasive wear at >100 holes).


If the default AISI 440A drill bit cannot be checked by 20–30× magnification after surgery, it should be replaced after 20 hand-driven drilled holes. Low price coated HSS bits could be a powerful alternative.


Drill bit Drilling cortical bone Drill feeding Feeding force AISI 440A AISI 440B Coatings Peak forces 


Complaince with ethical standards

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans Clement
    • 1
  • Christoph Zopf
    • 2
  • Markus Brandner
    • 3
  • Norbert P. Tesch
    • 4
  • Rudolf Vallant
    • 2
  • Paul Puchwein
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department for TraumatologyMedical University of GrazGrazAustria
  2. 2.Institute for Materials Science and WeldingTechnical University of GrazGrazAustria
  3. 3.Institute of Electrical Measurement and Measurement Signal ProcessingTechnical University of GrazGrazAustria
  4. 4.Institute of AnatomyMedical University of GrazGrazAustria

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