HSS vs Cobalt Drill Bits | What’s The Best Choice for Metal Drill

Modern metal drill bits are vital, extremely durable, and robust, and they can easily cut through the most complex materials. Drilling requires specialized equipment and making the appropriate choice is critical. In this post, we’ll go through the advantages and disadvantages of using High-Speed Steel (HSS) vs. Cobalt drill bits.

Drill bits are an essential part of the everyday work of industrial organizations. In drilling holes in diamond, metal, and wood, these firms employ them. High-Speed Steel HSS and Cobalt Drills Bits are two of the most popular drill bits, although there’s always some debate over which is better. Drill bit distributors, vendors, and end users find distinguishing between the two extremely identical drill bits tricky.

You may learn about the similarities and contrasts between HSS and Cobalt drill bits in this article, as well as the numerous uses for each.

What are Drill Bits?

Before beginning, we must first familiarize oneself with drill bits..

Drill bits are vital equipment for diamond makers and other hard-materials industries who utilize them to create holes with a circular cross-section in their surfaces. Different sizes, styles, and lengths of cutting/drilling instruments are available. Using rotating motion, they help drills create the power required to make holes in a workpiece.

What type of drill bit should I use for metal?

High-Speed Steel (HSS) and Cobalt are the two most common kinds of metal drill bits, respectively. However, using Carbon-Steel bits on metal is terrible since they will rapidly dull or break under the weight. We’ve described the pros and cons of each of these materials here..

Sorting Drill Bits Into Different Groups based on the Materials

Drill bits can be categorized in a variety of ways. This article, on the other hand, focuses on the categorization of materials. High-speed steel (HSS) and cobalt drill bits are among the options available, but for the time being, we’ll stick with those two materials..

Here are some quick definitions of HSS and Cobalt drill bits before we start.

What are HSS (High-Speed Steel) Drill Bits?

Drill bits made of HSS are the most prevalent thus far. They blend carbon steel with chromium and vanadium, among other components. Whether working with iron, steel, aluminum, brass, or copper, this multi-purpose tool can handle everything. Use them on plastic or wood if the holes are small enough.

High-speed drills are ideal for metalwork because of their accuracy. Furthermore, the self-centering angles eliminate any worry of straying off course. In addition, high-speed steel’s accuracy allows for 40 percent faster drilling while using 50 percent less feed pressure than conventional steel.

Iron and carbon are present in high-speed steel, and alloys containing at least 5% are added for further toughness.

High-speed Steel Forms

Materials used to create HSS exist in a variety of shapes and sizes. For example, molybdenum HSS and tungsten HSS are among the most popular.

These tools can be used in low-speed, high-feed procedures that generate tension from intricate tool forms. Working with M42, for example, allows you to get the ideal balance of strength and control while still achieving low cutting rates. M42 is harder than M2, yet it lacks the hardness of M2. As a result, when performing procedures with a high risk of edge chipping, M2 performs admirably. However, the M10 HSS drill bits are perfect for burning equipment.

Additionally, a premium HSS (HSSE) has more vanadium and tungsten carbide steel. However, it has a longer lifespan and greater resilience to wear and tear than the standard HSS. However, its price makes it less appealing to tool users than the standard HSS.

Drill Bits Made of High-Speed Steel

Because of its higher heat resistance and durability, high-strength stainless steel (HSS) has begun to displace carbon steel in several industries.

As a result of its versatility, it may be used to apply a wide range of cutting-edge technologies to a wide range of materials. High-speed steel (HSS) is appropriate for materials with high toughness and abrasion resistance and for use at high and moderate speeds. Kitchen utensils, chisel blades, files, and hand plane blades are all included.

Aside from drilling steel and other hard materials, the usage of high-speed drill bits is advantageous.

High-speed steel provides 3-4 times the cutting speed of cold work steel. Because of this, it is able to tolerate extreme temperatures. Before cooling, it goes through heat treatment and a steel tempering process involving temperatures over 1,200 degrees Celsius.

Cobalt coating is applied to HSS drill bits to increase their strength. However, it doesn’t measure up to the original cobalt drill bits.

How to use HSS Drill Bits

use HSS Drill Bits
Use of HSS Drill Bit

A warm steel bit, or HSS, is composed of steel with the addition of extra metals, such as chromium and vanadium. However, As a result, they can drill at fast rates. Drilling iron, steel, brass, copper, and aluminum alloy using HSS bits is standard practice.

Drilling plastic will also be a typical usage for them. An HSS bit will drill wood if no other option is available, but if the aperture is large or deep, the bit will become overheated, resulting in a reduced drilling rate.

What are Cobalt Drill Bits 

A cobalt drill bit is an extension of high-speed steel with an additional 5% to 8% cobalt element added to the material. Harder than HSS, it easily drills into more challenging materials. These include hard metals such as red-hardened steel, stainless, and others.. Nearly all of the features of HSS are present in a Cobalt drill; however, the latter has a significant advantage. To name a few advantages, it’s better at resisting heat, is more durable, and has a greater capacity to penetrate.

Cobalt Drill Bits in Action

Cobalt drill bits are recommended for drilling strong steel and metals because of their excellent impact strength. Stainless steel and certain cast iron are examples of these materials. In addition, it works well with high-temperature materials (up to 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit).

How to use Cobalt Drill Bits

A third alternative for drilling and chrome steels is cobalt alloy drill bits. Unlike titanium bits, they’re made of solid alloy and occasionally designated HSS. Cobalt in the drills increases their durability and ability to drill at greater temperatures without breaking their edge.

 Because they’re more expensive and fragile, they’re more prone to chip away at the leading edge. However, drilling “regular” low-carbon steel using cobalt steel bits is possible.

HSS vs Cobalt Drill Bits


Wood, plastic, and light metal may all be drilled using HSS drill bits. However, drilling with a dull bit will result in overheating since the procedure will take longer. A bench grinder or a drill doctor is the best way to sharpen HSS drill bits.

Hardened metals and stainless steel are no match for cobalt drills when it comes to drilling through them.


As long as you can maintain them sharply, an HSS drill bit is an affordable investment that will provide you with years of trouble-free service. If you get a high-quality and trustworthy HSS bit, you should be OK.

The cutting edge of an HSS bit can be quickly blunted by many non-industrial users who utilize hand-driven drills. Uncontrolled eating or misalignment is to blame for this.

High-Strength Steel (HSS) tools can withstand intermittent or periodic loads. However, a simple coating can further increase the performance of HSS tools.

Regarding cobalt-based super alloys like Stellite, Elwood Haynes is to be credited with their creation. These are some of the most common reasons why cobalt alloys are used: They’re pretty durable in terms of thermal erosion. In addition, the melting point of cobalt alloys is greater than that of HSS alloys.

Cobalt drill bits can endure more stress at higher temperatures.. A Cobalt alloy will have an excellent thermal welding ability and a high level of fatigue resistance.


With cobalt drill bits, you’ll notice that they’re a lot more fragile than HSS drill bits, which means that they’ll break more readily.

Heat Resistance

Cobalt drill bits are more heat-resistant than HSS drill bits, which are less heat-resistant.


In addition to steel and other components such as chromium and vanadium, high-speed steel (HSS) drill bits include a further 5-8 percent cobalt.


Regarding durability, HSS has a lesser quantity, but cobalt has a longer lifespan if properly maintained.


HSS drill bits offer more excellent value since they can be used for more than only drilling holes in metal.


Cobalt drill bits might be more expensive than their HSS counterparts.

By now, we anticipate that you can tell HSS drill bits from from cobalt drill bits. Prior to choosing a choice, it’s crucial to take into account the application, supplies, and budget.

As compared to HSS, why use a cobalt drill bit?

Using the correct drill bit for each task is critical to your safety and your equipment. In addition to cobalt drill bits, titanium nitride, titanium coated, and tungsten carbide bits are also available.

Each of these drill bits has its unique set of advantages and disadvantages. It’s essential to pay attention to the tiniest details while purchasing either of them. Using cobalt drill bits reveals that drill bits are well-suited to the grueling task of cutting steel. Cobalt bits, on either hand, are not appropriate for any other general application. It’s recommended to use an HSS drill bit to drill through plastic, wood, and other soft metals.

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Which is better, HSS or cobalt?

In terms of performance, Cobalt (HSCO) is regarded superior to HSS due to the inclusion of 5-8 percent Cobalt. This is a great option for drilling through strong metals like stainless steel.. Regarding drill bit materials, carbide (also known as “carb”) is the most brittle and challenging to work with.

Are cobalt drill bits good for metal?

When drilling into materials like treated stainless steel, titanium, and cast iron, which are extremely harsh or hard, these are the ideal drill bits for metal because of their great heat resistance.


The ideal drill bit is low-cost and does not need cutting fluids, even when used at the slowest possible speed. As a result, it is not damaged by being overheated or blunted. Some applications are ideal for HSS bits. 

They have a more refined and sharper edge while cutting plastics and wood. Cobalt drill bits are the most acceptable option when drilling into heavy metals at home. Despite the sluggish pace of their activity, they hardly ever bunt or overhead. Compared to HSS drill bits, they are a little more expensive, but I believe they are well worth the additional cost.

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