A new stochastic approach is developed in this paper for analyzing the machine-tool system stability under working conditions. Mathematical models are fitted to the relative longitudinal cutter-workpiece displacement data recorded under different cutting conditions during the face-milling operation on a milling machine. The stability of the system is judged from the characteristic roots of these models. The variation in stability is examined versus both the cutting speed and the feed, and good results are obtained. It is shown that not only the dynamic but also the static stability can be ascertained. Furthermore, the stability of subsystems can also be determined. The significance of these results is discussed with special reference to on-line chatter control. The analysis of vibration signals produced by similar but evenly and unevenly spaced face milling cutters is presented as a vindication of the new approach.

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