Analyzing a failed drill bit with an electron microscope [video]

221 points17
legohead15 hours ago

If you liked this, you'd probably also enjoy this video[1] where a guy tests cryogenically frozen drill bits and explains (and shows via microscope) why they are so much stronger.


tgsovlerkhgsel4 hours ago


- It makes the drills harder, but as a result likely also more brittle, so they may only be "stronger" for certain applications

- Using the bit properly is much more important than what it's made of/whether it's cryo treated - he got an entire plate of steel with one bit with 30 m/min (and the bit was still good at the end) and then destroyed 7 bits, included some treated ones, on fewer holes than that using 40 m/min (I assume that's surface speed).

- This also means he didn't test how much longer the bit would last under good conditions, only that it was able to withstand non-optimal conditions longer. While it's likely that this transfers, it's not guaranteed.

class3shock5 hours ago

Applied Science is an amazing channel. I'd also recommend checking out Breaking Taps and Alpha Phoenix for similar content.

HyperSane1 hour ago

That dude has a $50,000 oscilloscope.

Animats14 hours ago

Looking at broken parts under a scanning electron microscope is common. I saw that decades ago in a hydraulics R&D facility. They had devices in life cycle tests (the largest being a locomotive transmission) and when a part broke, it was looked at in detail to understand why. Heat treatment failure? Machining error? Weak point in the design?

OJFord11 hours ago

That's why he did it, he's not claiming it's a novel technique; what's not common is it being accessible to the hobbyist. Of course, it doesn't really matter, as he says at the end there's nothing really to be done with this information, but it is cool.

Clough42 is one of my favourite channels, always look forward to his reliably weekly video. Great mix of machining (metal), 3D printing, and electronics - CAD too which many don't show (and at just the right speed IMO, doesn't belabour it, but his narration of key presses basically taught me Fusion360, always in my head when I use it myself).

lsllc4 hours ago

I have picked up most of my (somewhat limited!) Fusion360 skills by watching James' weekly videos!

Eisenstein1 hour ago

The call to action in the video (forced reason for viewers to leave a comment or otherwise engage to boost metrics) is cringeworthy at this point. Stop doing it. We all know what you are doing and it makes you seem unprofessional.

viggity49 minutes ago

don't hate the player, hate the game.

Eisenstein32 minutes ago

I hate the game, and there are plenty of players who are successful without insulting the intelligence of viewers by thinking that adding some forced prompt into the video and nonchalantly remarking 'let me know in the comments' is going to fly past us as we all pause the video to give our opinion on whether you should use a drill to expand a pilot hole or not.

Dig1t15 hours ago

Wow this is seriously amazing, makes me I wish I had studied mechanical engineering instead of CS. I really admire this guy's self-studying though ;I also like to think of myself as an autodidact but this guy seems to have some serious focus. I wish I could meet more people like him in real life.

Anyway, I just subscribed.

syntaxing8 hours ago

I have a MSc in MechE. Unfortunately a lot of the stuff he does is the “fun stuff” and like any engineering job, you’re lucky if you have a 50/50 fun stuff to paper work ratio.

tony6914 hours ago

Materials science is more focused on these topics than mechanical engineering fwiw

thrdbndndn13 hours ago

MSE used to be part of ME (still is in some universities).

ghaff2 hours ago

I had a materials science course as part of my ME undergrad. (And of course there was overlap in other courses.)

When I went to grad school for a Master's at an engineering school which, at the time, was small enough to not actually have formal departments, I studied a fair bit of mechanical engineering but actually did a materials science thesis.

khobragade12 hours ago

True! Even my diploma in ME course has a subset of MatSci in it. Fascinating stuff.

londons_explore6 hours ago

Your lifetime earnings as a MechE are probably only 20% of what you'd earn studying CS - especially at the high end of ability.

You could just take some of those extra earnings and take up MechE as a hobby.

sandworm1015 hours ago

>> MechE are probably only 20% of what you'd earn studying CS

Maybe if you are a MechE working for facebook or twitter. But go to something like SpaceX or BMW and you will find the best MechEs paid way more than the software people. The insane paychecks in CS only exist at companies where software is the final product. Companies that produce physical products put CS into a support role. A department head at Boeing or LM is far more likely to be from an engineering background.

ghaff1 hour ago

Sorry but this is such an HN comment. It manages to simultaneously make everything about money, basically position things in the context of Big Tech, and assume that your specific undergraduate degree charts your career.

For the record, I have an ME undergrad (and a grad degree that's basically material science) and while I've mostly only used my direct classwork a bit, I've done fine.

angry_octet6 hours ago

Then you'd just be a dilettante.

sokoloff6 hours ago

Not much wrong with that, as long as your family is fed. My degree is in Mechanical Engineering. Most every dollar I've earned was from computers. I still faff around doing enjoyable hobby projects in engineering (ultra-light ME, EE, CS) with the kids. It's a fine life.

acidburnNSA3 hours ago

I prefer the word amateur, which shares the same root as "love" for a reason.

nick4780167614 hours ago

I studied both CS and Mech Eng (double major). Totally worth the extra work!

Kennnan14 hours ago

I'm a High Schooler right now (pretty competent software, interested in hardware). If you dont mind me asking, what specifically has your double major opened up for you?

criddell10 hours ago

I can’t speak for the person you replied to, but I work for a software company that is always on the lookout for mechanical engineers who can write code. It’s a pretty rare combination.

enginoor9 hours ago
samstave5 hours ago

I was at lockheed and am still friends with some of the best engineers I have ever worked with ; Every single HW engineer I worked with also coded - and we have built, patented and pursued so many other paths based on the capabilities of HW engineers being able to design actual HW as well as spec the code required to solve the problem.

So, if you have the capability, certainly go both... It will give you, at your age, the ability to build the change you want to see in the world....

ar9av15 hours ago

Reminds me of when I was a kid and a car part broke on the family car. I don't remember if the warranty or insurance didn't want to pay, but being an engineer and knowing a few people with tools he got a whole report that said the part was defective due to x, y, and z and got the damage fixed.

l33tman11 hours ago

I didn't know the backscatter could be analyzed to show atomic element composition!

ghaff1 hour ago

I saw that and I was like hmm. Scanning electron microscopes have sure advanced a lot since I was a grad student.

dylan6044 hours ago

it was one of those random, oh, this is how i learned about XYZ moment for me as well. yes, as he states in the video, i could also have read the wikipedia page (and at some point i probably still will), but his explanation went into so much new information for me that it was filled with so many "hmm, never really thought about that to even consider how it worked", but here's the info in a youtube video so now i just have answers to questions i didn't know i had

Quequau14 hours ago

I like this dude and subscribe to his channel. It's my hope that my next move will land me in a spot with enough space to build a home workshop. It seems like a great hobby.

dtgriscom6 hours ago

Meta: there are lots of video posts tagged "[video] (youtube)", which is redundant, and gives no information beyond that it's a video. Could that second half mention the YouTube channel that's being referenced? That would be the equivalent of most website references. Perhaps "[video] ("?

dylan6044 hours ago

that's doesn't seem like a bad idea to me, but how would that be different than having the author's name attached to all submissions? we see,, etc all the time with no other metadata.

i get the label for [PDF] and what not, but does anyone think a link to is NOT going to be a video?

gumby5 hours ago

The purpose of that label is to warn people who don’t want video. Anyone who wants the additional metadata can get it by clicking the link.

logicallee12 hours ago

What's most amazing about this video is that he was able to get an electron microscope for $3.

dclowd990114 hours ago

If you like learning how things work, like to learn lots of things and want a good subject to motivate you, restore an older car to perfect working order. You will be investigating mechanics, electronics, chemistry, metal working, even upholstery. Hell, I got into 3D printing too since some of the older plastic parts simply aren’t made anymore.

And at the end of it, you get a sweet perfect vintage car to show for all your learning.

function_seven13 hours ago

And my personal corollary: R/C cars when I was a kid. I learned so many useful things from building, driving, breaking, and fixing them!

DC electronics, motors, suspension tuning and theory, PWM, basic mechanical “instincts”, soldering, how transmissions work (some models had even fluid-filled torque converters on them) differential gearing (and some had limited slip!) and even regenerative braking.

Years later I’d constantly be surprised how all of these things worked almost the same way in real cars.

CrazyCatDog7 hours ago

Ha! I started on flight sim, made it to rc planes, and the first day of flight instruction, I told the instructor and he said: “if you can fly rc, you can fly full scale.” All I had to master was emergency procedures and some theory on the throttle vs pitch and I was off to the skies!

doubled1126 hours ago

I’d imagine the stakes are a little higher when you're on the plane looking down than when you're on the ground looking up?

The rest makes sense. Controls are in different places, everything is bigger, but the basics are the same.

Is the bigger plane easier in the sense it is less twitchy?

I’ve tried a couple of RC helicopters and the larger one was much easier to handle.

dylan6044 hours ago

Yeah, flying a plane is "easy". It's the taking off and landing that gets tricky. /s

nirvgorilla6 hours ago