Types Of Tunnel Boring Machines & Their Benefits

Tunnel Boring Machines : Learn about the subterranean mechanical marvels known as tunnel boring tools.

The tunnel boring machine, also known as a “mole,” is a cutting-edge piece of equipment used to drill circular holes through different kinds of soil and geological formations. With tunnel widths varying from just a metre for micro-TBMs to an amazing 16 metres, these machines can easily dig through hard rock, sand, and a variety of other materials. Instead, trenchless building methods or horizontal directional drilling are used for passageways with a diameter of less than a metre.


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Tunnel boring machines: Types

Tunnel Boring Machines : Hard rock TBMs

Either protected or open-type tunnel boring machines (TBMs) can be used for hard rock mining. Hard rock TBMs’ internal disc cutters cause compressive stress cracks in the rock, which tear off chunks of the tunnel wall. Muck, the resulting debris, is transported from the cutter head to a conveyor line and then cleared from the passage by a succession of conveyors or muck cars.

With no shield, open-type TBMs can hold the rock behind the cutting head by pushing against the tunnel sides with their gripper system. Similar to the Wirth machine. The machine can be constantly steered while grasped but cannot be steered while gripped. The machine moves with the grippers re-engaging and the back legs rising for the next boring cycle after the grippers and propel cylinders have been withdrawn at the end of a cycle. .

The Main Beam TBM employs techniques like ring beams, rock bolts, shotcrete. Steel straps, and wire netting instead of concrete pieces for support. In comparison, shielded TBMs are used in fractured rock settings to place concrete pieces for the tunnel wall support.

The Double Shield TBM has two modes of operation, depending on thrust cylinders for movement in secure, fractured ground and holding the tunnel walls for stability in solid ground. Similar in operation. The Single Shield TBM can only be used in fractured ground because it can only press against concrete pieces.



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Tunnel Boring Machines : Soft ground TBMs

Earth Pressure Balance (EPB) and Slurry Shield (SS) TBMs are the two main TBM models used in soft ground digging. Both kinds of machines move forward by using thrust cylinders to press against concrete pieces, much like Single Shield TBMs do.

The EPB TBM’s cutter head combines tungsten carbide cutting bits, carbide disc cutters. And/or hard rock disc cutters for use in soft earth situations with pressure levels less than 7 bar. The Earth weight equilibrium machine supports the soft ground by maintaining an equilibrium between the earth’s weight and the machine’s pressure. Operators and automatic systems amend the earth with bentonite, polymers, and froth to further strengthen the ground.

The Slurry Shield TBM is required in circumstances with strong water pressure and significant amounts of groundwater. These devices combine the dirt with bentonite slurry to create a fully contained working space. To separate the soil from the slurry and recycle it back into the tunnel. The slurry must be ejected from the tunnel through slurry pipelines and processed in sizable separation facilities on the surface.

The cutting blade of Slurry Shield TBMs may still need a caisson system even though the use of TBMs reduces the need for numerous employees at high pressures. Any employees accessing this area for upkeep. Inspection, or repair must have a “fit to dive” medical certificate and lock operation training.


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Tunnel Boring Machines: Advantages of tunnel drilling machinery

TBMs are a better option than the conventional drilling and blasting technique in rock and hand excavation in dirt because they cause less damage to the nearby area and have a smooth tunnel wall. Which eventually lowers the cost of lining the tunnel. However, constructing a TBM can be expensive up front, and moving can be difficult.

Despite these drawbacks. The cost of using a TBM compared to drilling and blasting becomes more advantageous as tunnels grow longer in contemporary times because of its improved effectiveness and quicker project timetable.

Despite these drawbacks. The cost of using a TBM compared to drilling and blasting becomes more advantageous as tunnels grow longer in contemporary times because of its improved effectiveness and quicker project timetable. Herrenknecht AG developed the biggest TBM to date for a project in Shanghai, China. It has a circumference of 15.43 metres and was made especially to drill through soft ground. Such as sand and clay.

Since their invention in the 1950s. Tunnel boring machines have become highly complex tools that can carve holes through a variety of materials, including rock, earth, and even ice. They are made up of a cutting head, a conveyor system. And a support framework that serves to steady the passage and secure the machine. The conveyor system removes the hole that was made by the rotating cutting blade. Which sliced into the earth, breaking up the substance. The support system guarantees the stability of the passage and guards against cave-ins during construction.


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