Fuentek's Tech Transfer Blog

NASA’s New Drill Bit Takes a Load Off Construction Jobs

Self-Advancing, Step-Tap Drill Bit Used for Space Shuttle Repair Is Ideal for Industrial and Aerospace Use

NASA’s flight-certified, step-tap drill bits thread holes that stop at the required size step. NASA photo.

Engineers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center have developed the cutting edge of cutting an edge—a patented, self-advancing, step-tap drill bit. Originally developed for Space Shuttle repair (it now flies on every Shuttle mission), the new bit features a cutting edge that enlarges a hole while advancing the drill into the work material—a feature that makes it unique to the industry, not to mention a potential sigh of relief for workers on high-volume drilling jobs.

That’s because the self-advancing nature of the drill bit eliminates the need to apply external axial force. This in turn eliminates backside chipping and breakout damage on expensive laminates, reduces fatigue, improves efficiency of handheld drilling and makes the whole job a whole lot safer.

Now available for licensing, the drill bit can make construction, industrial, and aerospace jobs easier, in particular:

  • Drilling holes larger than 0.5 inch
  • Drilling into laminate materials
  • Drilling vertically oriented holes
  • Repetitive drilling
  • Overhead drilling

Why is self-advancing drilling so beneficial? With regular drills, it’s not uncommon for an operator to have to bear down with near full body weight to advance the drill forward. Obviously, this is extremely tiring and slows the operator down. That kind of force is also dangerous because it can cause the work piece to spin, tear or be ripped from the operator’s hand.

NASA’s drill bit offers a kinder, gentler approach—with a precise combo of step size, cutting angle, thread advance, and flute design that advances the drill without the pain of a full-body press. Just the kind of advanced engineering you’d expect from something flying on the Space Shuttle.

Interested in more info or licensing details? Contact us at:
Fuentek, LLC at (919) 249-0327 or

–By Karen Hiser