The Open Civil Engineering Journal

ISSN: 1874-1495 ― Volume 15, 2021

Numerical Analysis on Rock Breaking by Disc Cutters with Different Joint Characteristics

Tan Qing1, 3, Yi Nian-en2, *, Xia Yi-min1, 2, Zhang Xu-hui1, 2, Jiang Bo1, 2, Yang Yang1, 2, Yizeng Si-yuan
1 State Key Laboratory of High Performance Complex Manufacturing, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan 410083, China
2 School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan 410083, China
3 Light Alloy Institute, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan 410083, China



With the development of tunnel engineering, shield tunneling machines (shield machines, for short) have been widely used. Tunnel projects encountered complex geological conditions.


To study the effects of joint characteristics on rock fragment by disc cutters of tunnel boring machine.


Firstly, the 3D (three-dimensional) rock breaking process of disc cutters (cutters, for short) was simplified as a 2D (two-dimensional) problem, and the rock-breaking model with different joint characteristics by disc cutters was established by using the particle discrete element method (PFC2D). By carrying out statistical analysis on the value of cutting forces, number of cracks, rock breaking area, specific energy, the length of main cracks and changing law of their crack angles in the process of breaking rock, the effects of joint characteristics on breaking rock by disc cutters are studied.


The relationship between the joint characteristics and the cutting performance of cutters is obtained.


The study shows that the weaker strength of jointed rock mass lead to the greater influence of joint dip angle on cracks and rock breaking efficiency. The stronger strength of jointed rock mass leads to the bigger main crack depth, as well as, higher specific energy. Generally, the existence of joints helps to improve the speed of excavation. However, the speed of the cutter is decreased with some certain joint characteristics. When the strength of the joint surface is 5kPa and α=135º, the specific energy reaches its minimum.

Keywords: Crack, Disc cutter, Discrete element method, PFC, Joint, Rock, Specific energy, Shield tunneling machines.

Article Information

Identifiers and Pagination:

Year: 2017
Volume: 11
First Page: 54
Last Page: 69
Publisher Id: TOCIEJ-11-54
DOI: 10.2174/1874149501711010054

Article History:

Received Date: 16/07/2016
Revision Received Date: 23/09/2016
Acceptance Date: 27/09/2016
Electronic publication date: 30/01/2017
Collection year: 2017

© Qing et al.; Licensee Bentham Open

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan 410083, China; Tel: (+86)13787130118; E-mail:

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