Using linear motors as machine tool feed drives has the potential of enhancing machining performance by eliminating gear related mechanical problems and increasing speed and accuracy, but introduces a stability concern due to a strong dynamic feedback interaction between the machining process and the drives. This paper investigates the stability aspect of this dynamic interaction and the use of active damping to achieve machining stability in turning. Various necessary and sufficient conditions for stability at all cutting speeds are derived, and have been used to study the effect of damping and gear reduction in system stability. The interaction of the cutting process with the tool servo loop is seen to have significant instability consequences in systems with small drive gear reductions. Both theoretical stability and experimental cutting results are presented for PD and PID regulation. Results show that actively controlled linear motors can provide sufficient dynamic stiffness for stable turning operation.

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