Enabling the Rescue of 33 Chilean Miners using SOLIDWORKS Simulation.


Center Rock Inc.

The Company 

As the world watched the miraculous rescue of 33 Chilean miners—trapped 2,000 feet underground for two months—few knew that a redesigned drill from Center Rock Inc., made the rescue possible. Center Rock is a leading manufacturer of drilling supply equipment. The company’s pneumatic bits utilize wear-resistant carbide and diamond tips on a series of rotating hammers. Unlike the bits in conventional rotary drills, Center Rock’s percussive hammer bits can tunnel through even the hardest, most abrasive rock, as was the case at the San José Mine in Chile.

Developing its industry-leading technology demands 3D design and simulation tools, according to Rudy Lyon, Center Rock’s senior engineer and product development manager. “Designing an effective percussion rock bit is challenging,” Lyon explains. “You have to visualize how the hammers will function underground, analyze the structural stresses involved, and even understand the impact of air flow on cuttings removal. We usually perform these simulations concurrent with the design process, but, at critical times, we need to conduct simulations and redesign bits during an actual deployment. That was the scenario during the Chilean mine rescue.”

The Challenge

Efficiently increase the number of drilling products offered, while maintaining the flexibility to resolve engineering challenges and redesign drill bits on the fly in situations such as the rescue of the trapped Chilean miners.

The Solution

Implement SOLIDWORKS Professional and SOLIDWORKS Premium design software, as well as SOLIDWORKS Simulation Premium and SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation analysis software.

The Result

  • Reached miners two months ahead of projections
  • Redesigned drill bit in three days
  • Cut design cycles by 66 percent
  • Quadrupled product offering

"SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation allowed us to reconfigure the tool and reach the miners faster."

Rudy Lyon
Senior Engineer and Product Development Manager