What is the difference between single shield and double shield tunnel boring machine (TBM)?

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In single shield TBM, it extends and moves forward by thrust cylinders on the last segment ring installed.

In double shield TBM, it consists of an extendable front shield which enhances the cutterhead to be extended. The gripper in the middle section of TBM is mobilized so that it pushes against the tunnel walls to react the boring forces. As these forces are dissipated, it allows the installation of lining segments during tunnel so that it increases the speed of tunneling. Upon completion of a trust stroke, the grippers are retracted and the end portion of TMB is pushed against the front shield by thrust cylinders.


Double shielded TBM is normally used in rock strata with geological fault zones and when a high rate of advancement is required. Single shielded TBM is more suitable to hard rock strata.

This question is taken from book named – A Self Learning Manual – Mastering Different Fields of Civil Engineering Works (VC-Q-A-Method) by Vincent T. H. CHU.

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