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Choosing Between High-Speed Steel (HSS) and Cobalt Drill Bits

When it comes to drilling, the choice of drill bits is crucial. Two popular options for professionals and DIY enthusiasts are high-speed steel (HSS) drill bits and cobalt drill bits, both having unique characteristics and advantages. In this blog, we will explore the differences between HSS and cobalt drill bits to help you make an informed decision regarding your needs.

High-Speed Steel (HSS) Drill Bits

HSS drill bits are common choices for various drilling applications. These bits are made from high-speed steel, which is a type of alloy containing tungsten and molybdenum. HSS drill bits are known for their durability and versatility, making them a staple in many workshops and toolkits.

One of the primary advantages of HSS drill bits is their ability to maintain their cutting edge, even at high speeds. As a result, they are suitable for drilling through a variety of materials, including wood, plastic, and metal. When drilling into a threaded drill bit or working on a woodworking project, HSS drill bits are a great choice.

HSS drill bits are also known for their affordability. They provide a cost-effective solution to most drilling needs, making them a practical choice for both professionals and hobbyists. If you are looking for a reliable and budget-friendly option, HSS drill bits may be your best choice.

Cobalt Drill Bits

Cobalt drill bits, on the other hand, are specifically designed for drilling into hard materials. These bits are made from a combination of high-speed steel and cobalt, which enhances their performance in challenging applications. Cobalt increases the drill bits' hardness and heat resistance, making them ideal for drilling tough metals like stainless steel, cast iron, and titanium.

A key feature of cobalt drill bits is their ability to maintain their cutting edge at extremely high temperatures. This characteristic is invaluable when dealing with hard materials that generate a significant amount of heat during drilling. Cobalt drill bits can withstand the heat and maintain their sharpness, resulting in cleaner and more precise holes.

Cobalt drill bits are available in various cobalt percentages, typically ranging from 5% to 8%. The higher the cobalt percentage, the better the performance in high-temperature applications. If you frequently work with tough metals and need exceptional heat resistance, a cobalt drill bit with a higher cobalt content is the way to go.

Choosing the Right Drill Bit

Selecting the right drill bit depends on the material you plan to drill and the specific requirements of your project. Here are some key considerations to help you make an informed choice:

  • Material Type: For soft materials like wood, plastic, and regular steel, HSS drill bits are an excellent choice. If you are drilling into hard metals, cobalt drill bits with a higher cobalt percentage are more suitable.
  • Drilling Speed: If you need to drill at high speeds, HSS drill bits are the go-to option. They also maintain their cutting edge effectively in fast-paced drilling.
  • Budget: If cost is a significant concern, HSS drill bits are generally more budget-friendly than cobalt drill bits.
  • Heat Resistance: When working with materials that generate high heat, such as stainless steel or titanium, cobalt drill bits provide superior heat resistance and longevity.
  • Durability: Cobalt drill bits, due to their composition, tend to be more durable and have a longer lifespan when used in demanding applications.


In conclusion, the choice between HSS and cobalt drill bits depends on your specific drilling needs. HSS drill bits offer affordability and versatility, making them an excellent choice for general-purpose drilling. On the other hand, cobalt drill bits are designed for tough materials and high-temperature applications, providing exceptional heat resistance and durability. Carefully assess your project requirements and material type to make the best choice for your drilling tasks, as having the right drill bits in your toolkit ensures that you can tackle any project with confidence and precision.

Here at Automatize Electronics, we invite you to explore our range of offerings at your convenience. We also recommend making the most of our online Request for Quotation (RFQ) service to swiftly and easily obtain quotes for items that capture your interest. Upon receipt and assessment of your completed RFQ form, one of our team members will contact you in 15 minutes or less to provide you with a customized solution for your comparisons. Commence your procurement process today and discover why Automatize Electronics remains the preferred choice for part fulfillment by numerous customers.


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