Rock drilling is one of the elementary processes in mining industry. As larger diameter holes are drilled by hitting with units attached to the crone adapter down in the hole, the smaller blast holes are hit with units impacting the rod neck at rock surface. Key question in the performance and energy efficiency of the blast-hole drilling process is then, how completely the impact energy can be transmitted to the crone over the relatively long wave guide. There have been discussions about the effect of wave length and shape on to the penetration dynamics of rock drills. As the drilling process is a continuous set of hits following each other at relatively high constant period and the response is a random overlapped mixture of coming waves and returning reflected waves from multiple delayed hits, a detailed analysis of penetration dynamics is rather a complex problem. To overcome this difficulty, a full-scale half-manual test-drill has been designed and built to produce single hits for a systematic production and analysis of optimally shaped stress waves. The test-drill is an air-powered pneumatic gun, whose impact energy can be adjusted by setting the initial pressure level to correspond the desired end velocity of the piston. The design parameters, by which the pulse shape can be modified, are the length and the geometric profile of the piston body. The first problem to be faced is then to determine the optimal pulse shape for maximized penetration depth and the second one is to produce such desired shape by an optimal choice of the design parameters. The rig has been modelled using finite elements for the rod system and adiabatic state equations for the compressed and expanding air volumes. By modifying the design parameters, different penetration responses can be produced. In the first step, the model has been updated by means of experimental response measurements. The second step has been to modify the geometrical profiles of the piston body by starting from piece-vice linear and parabolic cross-sectional distributions. The output of the numerical analysis is to evaluate the penetration depth pro hit for different geometrical profiles. The most promising geometry has then been selected for the fabrication of the prototype piston. An experimental hitting test then completes the analysis, whose repeatability showed to be limited due to the random variation of the rock properties in the test bed. Test results obtained by using more regular concrete specimens exhibited reduced deviations in the responses, but the weakness in the test is the different damaging mechanism during the penetration. Another option is the use of an artificial load-sensing endsupport in order to produce a known boundary condition to replace the tool-rock resistance in the model-updating phase.

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