HEAVY PERCUSSION RIGS
This drilling is used most frequently in the mineral exploration industry. (This tool is also known as a Down-the-hole drill.) The drill uses a pneumatic reciprocating piston-driven "hammer" to energetically drive a heavy drill bit into the rock. The drill bit is hollow, solid steel and has ~20 mm thick tungsten rods protruding from the steel matrix as "buttons". The tungsten buttons are the cutting face of the bit. The cuttings are blown up the outside of the rods and collected at surface. Air or a combination of air and foam lift the cuttings. RAB drilling is used primarily for mineral exploration, water bore drilling and blast-hole drilling in mines, as well as for other applications such as engineering, etc. RAB produces lower quality samples because the cuttings are blown up the outside of the rods and can be contaminated from contact with other rocks. RAB drilling at extreme depth, if it encounters water, may rapidly clog the outside of the hole with debris, precluding removal of drill cuttings from the hole. This can be counteracted, however, with the use of "stabilizers" also known as "reamers", which are large cylindrical pieces of steel attached to the drill string, and made to perfectly fit the size of the hole being drilled. These have sets of rollers on the side, usually with tungsten buttons, that constantly break down cuttings being pushed upwards. The use of high-powered air compressors, which push 900-1150 cfm of air at 300-350 psi down the hole also ensures drilling of a deeper hole up to ~1250 m due to higher air pressure which pushes all rock cuttings and any water to the surface. This, of course, is all dependent on the density and weight of the rock being drilled, and on how worn the drill bit is.