Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering

, Volume 51, Issue 11, pp 3599–3611 | Cite as

Prediction Model of TBM Disc Cutter Wear During Tunnelling in Heterogeneous Ground

  • Dong-Jie Ren
  • Shui-Long ShenEmail author
  • Arul Arulrajah
  • Wen-Chieh Cheng
Original Paper


When shield tunnelling is constructed in complex geological conditions using a tunnel boring machine, the disc cutter in the cutterhead easily wears to the failure state, particularly when the ground conditions are heterogeneous. This paper summarises the failure modes of the disc cutter in heterogeneous ground conditions into three categories, based on the observed wear data from field: (1) uniform disc cutter wear, (2) non-uniform disc cutter wear, and (3) breakage of cutter ring. Subsequently, the stress state of a disc cutter in the heterogeneous ground was analysed and the effective factors were investigated. The relationships between friction energy during cutting, working status of the machine and the characteristics of the geological conditions were evaluated. Based on the stress analysis and friction energy, a prediction model was proposed. The proposed model was applied to two field case studies: pertaining to uniform and mixed-face ground conditions, for which the empirical coefficient k for energy transfer was also determined. The preliminary results from this research indicated that the proposed model was valid for both homogeneous and heterogeneous ground conditions. Further case studies provided by co-operators are expected to improve the effectiveness of the proposed model.


Prediction model Friction energy Disc cutter wear Heterogeneous ground 


a, b, c



Acceleration in radius direction of single disc cutter


Cerchar Abrasivity Index


Rock excavation volume per cutter wear extent


Friction force


Impact loading acting on the cutter ring


Thrust force of TBM


Normal reaction force


Rolling force induced by the cutterhead rotation


Basic average cutter ring life (h)


Average cutter ring life (h)


Empirical coefficient between the friction energy and the cutter wear


Correction factor for TBM diameter with regard to cutter ring life


Correction factor of cutter amount


Correction factor for abrasive minerals


Correction factor for varying cutterhead velocity


Length of tunnel ring


Rotation speed of cutterhead


Dynamic factor


Number of data points


Amount of tunnel rings


Actual number of cutters


Contact pressure


Predicted cutter wear of one single disc cutter after penetrating one ring’s distance


Wear value obtained after replacing disc cutter

Equivalent wear value of disc cutter


Installation radius of the disc cutter on the cutterhead


Radius of disc cutter


Radius of cutterhead


Friction distance


Spacing of neighbouring disc cutters


Time of friction process


Torque of cutterhead


Unconfined compression strength


Penetration speed of TBM


Specific ring weight loss


Velocity in tangential direction of single disc cutter


Width of the cutter tip


Friction energy of each disc cutter


Cutter thrust force work


Cutter rolling force work


Friction energy consumption per ring


Wear value of non-uniform


Distance of interface from the centre of cutterhead


Frictional coefficient


Tensile strength


Angle of contact area


Angular velocity of disc cutter


Angular velocity of cutterhead



The research work described herein was funded by the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program: 2015CB057806) and the National Nature Science Foundation of China (NSFC) (Grant no. 41672259). These financial supports are gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dong-Jie Ren
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shui-Long Shen
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Arul Arulrajah
    • 3
  • Wen-Chieh Cheng
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Ocean Engineering, School of Naval Architecture, Ocean and Civil EngineeringShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Collaborative Innovation Center for Advanced Ship and Deep-Sea Exploration (CISSE), Department of Civil EngineeringShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiChina
  3. 3.Department of Civil and Construction EngineeringSwinburne University of TechnologyMelbourneAustralia

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