A Critical Review of Multi-hole Drilling Path Optimization

  • Reginald DewilEmail author
  • İlker Küçükoğlu
  • Corrinne Luteyn
  • Dirk Cattrysse
Original Paper


Hole drilling is one of the major basic operations in part manufacturing. It follows without surprise then that the optimization of this process is of great importance when trying to minimize the total financial and environmental cost of part manufacturing. In multi-hole drilling, 70% of the total process time is spent in tool movement and tool switching. Therefore, toolpath optimization in particular has attracted significant attention in cost minimization. This paper critically reviews research publications on drilling path optimization. In particular, this review focuses on three aspects; problem modeling, objective functions, and optimization algorithms. We conclude that most papers being published on hole drilling are simply basic Traveling Salesman Problems (TSP) for which extremely powerful heuristics exist and for which source code is readily available. Therefore, it is remarkable that many researchers continue developing “novel” metaheuristics for hole drilling without properly situating those approaches in the larger TSP literature. Consequently, more challenging hole drilling applications that are modeled by the Precedence Constrained TSP or hole drilling with sequence dependent drilling times do not receive much research focus. Sadly, these many low quality hole drilling research publications drown out the occasional high quality papers that describe specific problematic problem constraints or objective functions. It is our hope through this review paper that researchers’ efforts can be refocused on these problem aspects in order to minimize production costs in the general sense.


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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© Belgium Government 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringKU LeuvenHeverleeBelgium
  2. 2.Faculty of Engineering, Industrial Engineering DepartmentUludag UniversityBursaTurkey

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