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Pressure Pumps in Diamond Drilling: Triplex Piston versus Triplex Plunger

posted by Rod McCoremick, Blog author, Fordia Powered by Epiroc

September 10, 2018

In diamond drilling, the continuous flow of water is essential so you can extend the life of the core bit, lubricate the bore hole and flush drill cuttings. Mining and drilling companies alike choose positive displacement pumps as the pressure pumps used on drill rigs. Positive displacement pumps will produce the same flow at a given speed regardless of discharge pressure, providing continuous flow or in other words, they just keep on pumping.

There are different types of pressure pumps to consider. You will have to choose between a triplex plunger versus a triplex piston. How do you choose? Let’s look at both pumps in more detail.


Fordia 2018 Pumps, Assemblies & Parts Choosing Equipment

Triplex plunger pump:

A triplex plunger pump has a solid ceramic cylinder with a series of rubber packing around the cylinder. The packing moves and causes the pumping action. When the packing goes back it draws water in and when it moves forward it pushes water out.

There are a couple of cons with a plunger type pump, firstly they can be hard to prime. If you are pumping water, this is a good pump but plunger type pump are not great at pumping grit, bentonite or lots of cuttings. The advantage is that this type of pump is less expensive but is really tough and has long-wearing components. For example, an Elepump KF-40 is reasonably priced but still very robust. It is lightweight and has an aluminum body making it easy to transport.


Triplex piston pump:

A triplex piston pump has a cylinder with a ceramic face on the inside and the packing on the inside. The pumping action is caused by the same principle as a piston inside a car. The biggest advantage to a triplex piston pump is that it will pump pretty much anything including grit, concrete, cuttings, bentonite, sand and rocks. It has been to go-to pump in the industry for years. Due to its ball valve and seat system, it is tougher and doesn’t clog up with debris as easily. The Bean pump has been an industry standard for years but it is made of cast iron, making it heavy and prone to rust.

As with everything, technology moves along and we now have new piston pumps like the Elepump KF-50M which is made of nickel-plated stainless steel making them lightweight and easy to transport. These materials prevent rust and encourage more even water flow. Read this case study on the KF-50M to learn more about its features.


The choice of what kind of pump you choose really comes down to what it is your pump will be pumping. A plunger pump is good for water while a piston pump is better for slurries, grit, sand and bentonite. The question of choosing pumps doesn’t stop with pressure pumps though. You will still need to know how to choose a supply pump and that is something that we’ll tackle in an upcoming blog.