Drillco® & University of Birmingham Tribology Research Project

The engineering team at Drillco® has carried out a 12-month-long research project together with the renowned University of Birmingham, UK. This in-depth project involved assessment of in-service parts, laboratory testing, and computer modeling. The overall goal was to develop a new piston with superior tribological properties since they are key components of Down The Hole hammers. Enhancing our knowledge on the tribological performance of current pistons is key to better understanding wear, lubrication, and friction. The application of these findings to product design can consequently extend a piston’s useful life, reduce overall production costs, and increase drilling efficiency for our clients.

This work constitutes the baseline for all future internal research on this topic, and the significant understanding that was gained can be further applied to future product development.

This research project was led by the following team:

From Drillco®:

Dimitris Tsivoulas: Senior Materials Engineer at Drillco®. PhD in Materials Science at The University of Manchester, UK, MSc in Lightweight Materials at the University of Manchester, UK, Diploma in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Ioannina, Greece.

Ignacio Ugarte: Head of Engineering at Drillco®. MSc in Mechatronics Engineering at Politecnico di Torino, Italy.

Gaspar Miranda: Quality Assurance Manager at Drillco®

Drillco® & University of Birmingham Tribology Research Project

From the University of Birmingham:

  • Iestyn Stead: Research Associate. Iestyn carried out all the experimental work, modeling, analysis, and report writing, with the input of the two academics.
  • Martin Strangwood: Senior Lecturer in the School of Metallurgy and Materials and head of the Phase Transformations and Microstructural Modelling group. Martin provided guidance in the area of materials, more specifically on the microstructural analysis of steels, fracture analysis, modeling of phase transformations, and modeling of residual stresses.
  • Karl Dearn: Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Head of the Department of Civil Engineering. Karl provided guidance in the area of tribology, specifically on tribological testing and surface coatings.
Drillco® & University of Birmingham Tribology Research Project


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