Ultrasonic Drill Tool (05-07)
The Ultrasonic Drill Tool (UDT) had to develop a device for ultrasonically-assisted drilling and sampling of planetary rocks and regolith.
The tool transforms low displacement, high frequency oscillations in a transducer into higher displacement vibration at the tip, which effectively cuts into material.
Benefits of the UDT compared to conventional rock percussion drills:
- Low axial (thrust) force required
- Lower power consumption than conventional percussion drilling
- The possibility of operation from lightweight drill platforms and arms
- Low drill bit wear
- Good material removal rates
- Potentially higher efficiency
- Smaller envelope
- Low sensitivity to axial (thrust) force variations, which is very significant when considering an autonomous, relatively flexible drilling platform
- Lower parts count – no mechanism is required for cutting
The UDT is designed so that a single tool can be used for:
- Drilling through regolith and rock
- Extracting cores from rock, both above and below the surface
- Extracting unconsolidated samples from above and below the surface
As well as creating the tuned mechanical design, the project team has developed a novel ‘auto resonant’ control system, which keeps the resonance of the UDT in tune and working at optimum efficiency, independent of the loading conditions.
The tool was tested in a variety of materials, and the results of these tests are being used to make improvements to the design. Typical UDT performances in a relatively hard material such as granite are:
- Required thrust force 8-10N
- 23mm diameter core
- 12mm deep core cut in ~140 min.
- Uses less than 40 W power
- Cut is clean and does not fracture core
This development study was carried out for ESA by a team of Magna Parva (UK) - which has close links with former team members from universities of Leicester and Aberdeen through past Beagle 2 development activities.
Last update: 7 May 2014