This paper deals with the analysis of the response of rock material subjected to the cutting action of a PDC (Polycristalline Diamond Compact) cutter. Following a phenomenological characterization, we show the importance of the maximum loading in understanding the rock cutting mechanism. This parameter is analytically approached using the formalism of the yield design. Cutting tests carried out in Vosges sandstone at atmospheric pressure showed the existence of additional forces acting on the cutter and not predicted by the model. These forces, related to the rock microstructure, induce a change of the rock failure. As they cannot be neglected at this solicitation scale for many geomaterials, they are a major stake of rock cutting.

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