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Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/12/2015 8:50 PM

While writing a post on the "small hole drilling" thread, I remembered a story I have heard quite a lot of times about two companies that were competing with each other in the manufacturing of extremely thin drill bits. One day "A" sent their thinnest bit to "B" to show off... and that some time later "B" returned the piece to the sender with a hole drilled in it. Have you also heard this story? Is it true, or just an urban myth?

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#1

Re: True or not?

06/12/2015 9:59 PM
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#3
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Re: True or not?

06/13/2015 6:20 AM

This is amazing! I did not search the web cause did not believe it would actually be there!!!

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#2

Re: True or not?

06/12/2015 10:43 PM

Urban myth, I think.

I heard/read/learned about this story long ago as the Americans made a tiny drill, sent it to their German counterparts and they sent it back with a smaller hole drilled in it.

Today, who knows?

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#4
In reply to #2

Re: True or not?

06/13/2015 6:22 AM

Right!!! I heard various versions involving companies from USA / Germany, Germany / Japan, etc

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#17
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Re: True or not?

06/14/2015 12:02 AM

That's the version I heard also, 50 or 60 years ago. I don't remember where...

I too always wondered if it was true. Now I guess I'll never know for sure.

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#5

Re: True or not?

06/13/2015 2:03 PM

This dates back to 1978 when Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian dissident, was killed, reportedly, by a KGB agent. It is interesting how small the drilled hole was but also the small size of the pellet. The killer used an umbrella fitted with an injector. This information comes from Wikipedia:

Due to the circumstances and statements Markov made to doctors expressing the suspicion that he had been poisoned, the Metropolitan Police ordered a thorough autopsy of Markov's body. The forensic pathologists discovered a spherical metal pellet the size of a pin-head embedded in Markov's leg.

The pellet measured 1.70 mm (0.07 in) in diameter and was composed of 90% platinum and 10% iridium. It had two holes with diameters of 0.35 mm (0.01 in) drilled through it, producing an X-shaped cavity. Further examination by experts from Robert Gergi and Porton Down showed that the pellet contained traces of toxic ricin. A sugary substance coated the tiny holes creating a bubble which trapped the ricin inside the cavities. The specially crafted coating was designed to melt at 37° Celsius (the human body temperature). As the pellet was shot into Markov, the coating melted and the ricin was free to be absorbed into the bloodstream and kill him. Regardless of whether the doctors treating Markov had known that the poison was ricin, the result would have been the same, as there was no known antidote to ricin at the time.[7]

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#6
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Re: True or not?

06/13/2015 2:23 PM

I remember this case! he was a dissident writer or so. Why did they use a Platinum + Iridium bullet: to increase weight? Or was the Iridium also radioactive?

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#7
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Re: True or not?

06/13/2015 2:43 PM

Not sure why the exotic metals were used. My guess would be that the alloy would be structurally stable (for drilling). As a counter-terrorism consultant/instructor, I've done some research on the matter and I've never seen any references to radioactivity. I could be wrong. But, the prime killer was the ricin.

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#8
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Re: True or not?

06/13/2015 2:48 PM

Why not just shoot him in the head and be done with it?

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#11
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Re: True or not?

06/13/2015 4:00 PM

Because they probably followed the "Godfathers" advise: make it look as an accident (in this case a disease)

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#43
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Re: True or not?

06/18/2015 8:36 AM

As the story goes, the killer came from behind and poked Markov in the back of the leg with the tip of an umbrella. Markov was waiting at a bus stop. The umbrella was fitted with an injector. The killer injected the ricin filled pellet and went on his way.

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#44
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Re: True or not?

06/18/2015 1:29 PM

Not sure why, but that being a Bulgarian method comes to mind (?). Whatever the case, it's better than what happened to the bloke Putin arranged to have killed in London.

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#9
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Re: True or not?

06/13/2015 2:58 PM

Nope not a chance of it originating as late as 1978... it pre dates that by many years.

It's a post war story.

My Father in law worked for the welding institute and told me the Accles and Pollock version from the late 50's. He also had Japanese visitors to the welding institute who had cameras with trick lenses which would take pictures out the side rather than the front.

Mind it wasn't just the Japanese who were into industrial espionage... everyone was at it in the post war years. Stuff my Dad designed "went missing" when on demonstration in the US ... (it was a miniature punch tape reader... cutting edge stuff... if only we had those today)

Del

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#10
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Re: True or not?

06/13/2015 3:25 PM

My good friend and I worked on lots of stuff for US agencies with three initials.

I was in materials, he was a precision machinist. He used to build mini cameras into Bic lighters. He cut tiny, fine inside threads in brass cylinders and the mating parts with outside threads. He took selfies with each camera to insure that they worked properly.

Of course, we didn't know they were selfies back then.

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#12
In reply to #10

Re: True or not?

06/13/2015 4:10 PM

Is this your friend?

(Robert Cornelius, 1839: first selfie ever taken. Daguerrotype)

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#13
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Re: True or not?

06/13/2015 5:12 PM

Nope, circa 1983.

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#14

Re: True or not?

06/13/2015 5:42 PM

Any hole you can drill, I can drill a smaller hole inside it.

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#15

Re: True or not?

06/13/2015 6:11 PM

At one time Del the cat had pre-drilled holes for sale by the sack.

If he's out, LynDoor™Industries Custom Hole Division can fabricate custom holes.

Small holes from polyethylene material are slightly more expensive, due to high thermal expansion rates of PE.

1-800-LynDoor.

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#16

Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/13/2015 7:55 PM

Three Zen masters engaged in a swordsmanship contest.

The first swung his sword at a fly darting about the room, and the fly was smashed flat on the side of the blade.

The second said, "I can beat that"; and with the edge of his blade he sliced the next fly in two.

The third said, "Big deal", and swung at third fly. The fly continued to dart about the room, and the first two contestants laughed, "You missed!"

.

.

The third master then said, "If you inspect more closely, you find that he can never reproduce!"

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#18
In reply to #16

Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/14/2015 3:54 AM

The version I heard the third Zen master was Jewish, and performed a minor operation on the fly, on the fly.

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#19

Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/14/2015 4:20 AM

OK Lets apply a bit of engineering realism to this myth. You cannot conventionally drill fine holes to any depth because the drill wanders off track. Wires with holes down the center (the technical name is "tubes") are drawn not drilled. To draw down to very small diameter tubes you need a ductile material. Gold is the obvious choice as it is the most ductile metal, but non of these stories are about gold wire, a feature that would be included if it were true, if only to make the story sound more spectacular. We must therefore conclude that; 1 these stories were made up not be engineers, 2 you lot ought to know better than to seriously discuss this guff.

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#21
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Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/14/2015 5:38 AM

You analysis is shot full of holes:-

The various versions differ:-

Some are about drills with holes in, where it is not stated that the hole is longitudinal or how it is made. Thus a tiny hole transversely through the shaft of a tiny drill is quite feasible.

The fine tube returned with a finer tube inside it doesn't mention drills at all, or the material of the tube and is certainly feasible. Any "finest" tube must by definition be finer than the previous "finest" and thus must be able to fit into what was at one time a previous "finest".

The same logic applies to drills.

The stories may not be true in detail but are exactly the sort of thing that engineers do.

You think your bow (and arrow) is small look at this one!.... and so on.
I posted a miniature on Primitive Archer, as a teaser, carefully photographed so you couldn't tell the scale. They didn't realise it was only 18 inches long until I eventually posted dimensions and draw weight....

Pics of that bow, another fully working miniature English Longbow and a miniature siege engine here.

... and yes I've made 'em much smaller than that.

Yeah I know the bows aren't on the same scale of smallness as drills or tubes... but I'm a tart and can't resist a bit of self publicising

Man is always striving to push the limits.

Del

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#22
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Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/14/2015 6:14 AM

Have you ever seen somebody fire () an arrow that splits the shaft of one already in target ? I'm sure it must happen, but has anybody (apart from Kevin Costner) ever done it by skill ?

SolarEagle is right to nail this with Snopes, but some people have an uncanny ability with sharpshooting. The links are out there...

The anecdote may be factual rubbish, but if impossible today it may not be at some time.....(I've been watching QI, 'the half-life of facts' ).

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#27
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Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/14/2015 11:47 AM

There is some truth in the split arrow story.

The one I heard was told by a champion archer when giving a demo at a senior scout corroboree back in the 50's at Walton Firs scout camp in England. He said the film shot was 'real' and he did it himself - but a bit of film trickery was used - the arrow in the target had already been split and the ends held together with a fine thread and the end hollowed out but hidden by the feathers - the archer standing quit close - I think he said abit was about 15 feet.. It took him 9 goes to hit the arrow. I cant recall the actual film, but it was either the Errol Flynn or Richard Todd version of Robin Hood.

The engineers watching the film might have spotted the filmed angles of the arrow hitting the target - almost horizontal - when the story showed the archers standing some 200 yards away....

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#23
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Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/14/2015 6:19 AM

Have you ever heard of guns ? Since the ratio L/D is very big holes are drilled but in the process the part turns and the rill stays. The problem is the amount of axial force which should not lead to a loss of stability.

So the problem is to keep the "working" force as low as possible and to avoid lateral forces in only one direction.

The electro-erosion machining is -for metallic materials- THE solution but of course at a high price.

For the 0.015" hole the electrode has to be slightly smaller to allow the evacuation of erosion results without generating a too high pressure during the tool axial oscillations.The generated force by the pumping should be in the range of mN!

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#33
In reply to #19

Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/15/2015 11:38 AM

The smallest holes drilled to date are about 22 microns or .00086614". Your understanding of "engineering realism" is embarrassing.

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#39
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Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/15/2015 4:42 PM

At what point did electron discharge machining become drilling. Yes, scientists at Cardiff University have created a small hole using EDM, but drilling is a specific technique using drill bits (as in the title of this discussion). If you want to widen the discussion to "Extremely Thin Drill Bits and Electro Machining Discharge Electrodes" fine, but I am not embarrassed by failing to predict that you were going introduce claims about a completely different method of making holes. My track record on CR4 speaks for itself in terms of my understanding of engineering realism. I offered a valid comment about axial holes in wires, you launched a personal attack, it was not appreciated.

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#20

Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/14/2015 4:46 AM

I heard this one many years ago, circa 1970 or even earlier. It was about tubes though. The Germans returned one that had two hollow tubes through it. There was work being done at that time on the problem so back then I thought it was possibly true.

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#24

Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/14/2015 7:46 AM

The story that I heard back in the '70s was more about the product than the tool/drill. I suppose it was focussed on the evidence that the tool/drill actually worked.

The story was that some company sent their finest available needle (with hole drilled for the eye) to a competitive supplier asking if they could compete.

The response was a single photograph of the requested needle with an even smaller needle passing through the eye they had been requested to reproduce.

A picture paints a thousand words.

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#25

Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/14/2015 8:17 AM

It's bull, but today's impossible is .....

I like this question, how many times have people thought a suggestion impossible. A matter of few years, and very strange stuff happens.

The question as asked is a 'no-go'. A few decades and it may happen. It's a reasonable question, I wonder what the Wright brothers may have thought of going to the moon. Bit much like our replies here ?

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#30
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Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/14/2015 6:13 PM

The Wright brothers perhaps may have been influenced by Georgés Mèliés film (1902) based on Jules Verne novel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FrdVdKlxUk

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#26

Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/14/2015 9:06 AM

In the early 60's i heard that steel cannot be rolled thinner than 0.001". BUT during the war the US sent a thinner than that sheet to the UK. In typical understatement the Poms sent it back applauding them for their achievement. Some time later it was noticed that a hole had been drilled into the side of the sheet. Not to be outdone the Yanks sent it back, tapped.

I believed it for all of a minute, or maybe two.

Jim

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#28

Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/14/2015 2:10 PM

With modern tubular arrows it is quite common to get one arrow stuck in the back of another. I've actually seen 3 stuck together in that manner! (V expensive!)

I shoot wooden arrows, The don't tend to split, but I've often shot the nock end off one.

Here's one I did earlier (ok, only at 10 yards)

When I'm "shooting in" a bow I like to shoot 100 arrows with it to let it settle. I can only shoot at 10 yards at home, so I end up putting 5 spots on the target and shooting an arrow at each to avoid smashing them.

Come to think of it, I did it last week at a field shoot. Shooting at a rubber critter at about 35 yards, I missjudged the distance and put two arrows just over it's back. Good grouping as the second took the nock off the first

Del

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#29
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Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/14/2015 4:12 PM

'Here's one I did earlier' < Don't Tell Val/John/Pete splarf >. Nice on, Mr the Cat .

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#31
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Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/15/2015 4:17 AM

I saw a video not long ago of some demonstrating how ancient archers were able to loose arrows in rapid succession. He did all sorts of tricks including splitting one arrow with another. Have to try to find it again.

This post also reminds me of an old Goodies sketch where they showed a miniature integrated circuit sitting on the tip of a finger, then the camera panned back to show Graeme Garden & Tim Brooke-Taylor holding an enormous finger.

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#32

Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/15/2015 8:09 AM

The story is true. I worked with the toolmaker that made the American drill bit and he showed me pictures taken with an electron beam microscope that showed his bit with the German bit drilled through it sideways. His name was Don Smith and he worked for a tool company in Springfield, Massachusetts in the 50's. I don't recall the dimensions of the bits but I remember him telling me it was thinner than a human hair.

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#34
In reply to #32

Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/15/2015 11:44 AM

The picture on this company site looks a bit like some of the stories posted in earlier comments.

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#35
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Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/15/2015 2:16 PM

Excellent link! Thanks!

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#36
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Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/15/2015 2:47 PM

Excellent find. At least I got the drill part right.

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#37

Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/15/2015 4:08 PM

At the time the story began circulating, no mention is made of how tiny is tiny. The size could have been "as small as" a human hair which may have been considered tiny 50 years ago. Lasers can drill really tiny holes as small as 10 micron diameter.

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#38

Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/15/2015 4:15 PM

When I heard it back in the mid 60's it was apiece of wire. -- JHF

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#40

Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/17/2015 3:11 AM

I think it is an urban myth. I first heard it many years ago (1960's). German engineering was recognised as the last word in precision , and then the Japanese arrived, leading to this tale, where solid bar was machined to the thickness of a human hair, and sent to the Jpanese for comment. The test piece was returned withot comment, but upon closer insopection, the Garman engineers found that hole had bored through the length of the piece.

It's a good enough story, anyway......for the little 'bots, when AI inherits the Earth.

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#41
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Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/17/2015 9:53 AM

And now they (Japanese) are making condoms with 0.01 mm thickness.

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#42
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Re: Extremely Thin Drill Bits - True or Not?

06/17/2015 10:34 AM

...And now they (Japanese) are making condoms with 0.01 mm thickness.

....I hope they have not got small holes drilled in them........

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