An Experimental Study of Dependence of Optimum TBM Cutter Spacing on Pre-set Penetration Depth in Sandstone Fragmentation

D. Y. Han, P. Cao, J. Liu, Jianbo Zhu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Cutter spacing is an essential parameter in the TBM design. However, few efforts have been made to study the optimum cutter spacing incorporating penetration depth. To investigate the influence of pre-set penetration depth and cutter spacing on sandstone breakage and TBM performance, a series of sequential laboratory indentation tests were performed in a biaxial compression state. Effects of parameters including penetration force, penetration depth, chip mass, chip size distribution, groove volume, specific energy and maximum angle of lateral crack were investigated. Results show that the total mass of chips, the groove volume and the observed optimum cutter spacing increase with increasing pre-set penetration depth. It is also found that the total mass of chips could be an alternative means to determine optimum cutter spacing. In addition, analysis of chip size distribution suggests that the mass of large chips is dominated by both cutter spacing and pre-set penetration depth. After fractal dimension analysis, we found that cutter spacing and pre-set penetration depth have negligible influence on the formation of small chips and that small chips are formed due to squeezing of cutters and surface abrasion caused by shear failure. Analysis on specific energy indicates that the observed optimum spacing/penetration ratio is 10 for the sandstone, at which, the specific energy and the maximum angle of lateral cracks are smallest. The findings in this paper contribute to better understanding of the coupled effect of cutter spacing and pre-set penetration depth on TBM performance and rock breakage, and provide some guidelines for cutter arrangement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3209-3221
Number of pages13
JournalRock Mechanics and Rock Engineering
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • Cutter spacing
  • Indentation test
  • Pre-set penetration depth
  • TBM performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology

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