Compact machine for horizontal directional drilling

The hydrodrilling piercer is a horizontal directional drilling (HDD) device for trenchless pipe-laying. It is used to create a pilot borehole and a borehole of a specified size.


Equipment & Tools


2 → 5

Project duration:

2 months


The device is used in specific conditions in construction industry, so the focus is on the accurate performance of the functions, rather than on the external characteristics that are attractive for the end user. For this reason, the startup came to us with a practically applied technology proved by TRL-4 prototype. It was necessary to develop a device based on it, while staying focused on the business goals of the project. Considering the vision of the Client's team to promote the product, we had to create a compact, easy-to-use and reliable device at an average cost in the market, which can be sold in DIY stores. 

Our Role

  • Technical concept development
  • Design Optimization
  • Engineering R&D
  • Industrial Design
  • 2D Drafting
  • 3D Modeling
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • CAD model development 
  • Production documentation development (drawings)
  • Prototype manufacturing

Technologies Used

Engineering R&D, R&D
Engineering R&D
CAD development, CAD
CAD design engineering
BOM development, BOM, Electrical
BOM development
Research of analogs and solutions in design
Research of analogs
Design Sketching
Design sketching
Design, Concept
Concept Solutions
Specific human factors
Design for Manufacturing; DFM
Design for Manufacturing

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Approach & Solution

The development of the hydraulic piercer and oil station for it was begun with a study of the data given by the startup. Before contacting us, they conducted a series of tests to see if their device really worked. In fact, they went through the proof-of-concept stage on their own. In the end, the startup came with test results for the device, which we were left to double-check with special software products. The results formed the basis for the development of the industrial design. 

The client assembled and provided us with a controlled piercer for study that could come in from the ground without a pit, pull pipes, and turn with a smaller turning radius than the HDD. Its route was controlled through a wire and a 3-axis gyroscope. 

Photo sent by Client

When developing the industrial design, it was important to incorporate components arrangement that would ensure the hydraulic piercer's reliability and stability in the field. As a result, we designed a hydraulic cylinder with a cone attached to the rod. As well as the hydraulic cylinder body, which houses the air vessel tubes for expansion, and a special expanding protective cover. The expanding protective cover is a dense unreinforced rubber hose.

While developing a new product a clear understanding of business goals of the product gives engineers a reference point that they focus on during the design process. For example, we increased the diameter of the rod and added heat treatment when we designed the hydraulic piercer rod. The body of the hydraulic machine was made welded. These solutions made it possible to increase its strength, wear resistance and durability of use. It was one of the Client's business goals.

The startup team had many ideas how to control the hydraulic piercer. They suggested making an all-electric directional piercing module, and there was also a variant with a fully hydraulic device. There was even an idea to attach a mini-hydro station. As a result, our Client-inventor came up with a combined hydraulic station, which consisted of a small oil pump, oil tank and hydraulic distributor. We evaluated the technical feasibility and cost of the ideas, gave feedback to the Client so that they could make an informed decision about the development of the project. After reviewing the Client's suggestions, we decided to use the oil station as the actuator for the directional puncture module. With its help the device has the ability to move in different types of soil.

Thus, we designed a compact oil station in which the frame protects the working components from accidental impact. This version of the design allows you to connect it to the home power supply, as any power tool, produce the oil station with minimal cost, which corresponds to the stated business goal of the Client.

The project is still in progress. The next step is to make prototypes of the hydraulic piercer and oil station and conduct tests. 


We designed several options of the hydraulic piercer and oil station model. We offered the startup team to choose what they liked best and matched the business goals of the project. Two months have passed since we started the work and received approval from the Client about the deliverables.

10.7 kg

The weight of the hydraulic piercer

By 2 times

Increased the bending strength of the hydraulic cylinder rod after changing the rod diameter from 25 mm in the Client's prototype to 32 mm

By 5 times

Reduced electricity consumption in the set operating mode of the hydraulic power station

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