Scholarly article on topic 'Thick-section Laser and Hybrid Welding of Austenitic Stainless Steels'

Thick-section Laser and Hybrid Welding of Austenitic Stainless Steels Academic research paper on "Materials engineering"

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Abstract of research paper on Materials engineering, author of scientific article — Veli Kujanpää

Abstract Austenitic stainless steels are generally known to have very good laser weldability, when ordinary grades of sheets are concerned. But it is not necessarily the case, if special grades of fully austenitic structures with e.g. high molybdenum, or thick-section are used. It is also known that hot cracking susceptibility is strictly controlled by composition and welding parameters. If solidification is primary ferritic, hot cracking resistance is dramatically increased. It is also well known that laser welding needs a careful control of weld edge preparation and air gap between the edges. The dependence on edge quality can be decreased by using filler metal, either cold wire, hot wire or hybrid laser-arc welding. An additional role is high molybdenum contents where micro segregation can cause low local contents in weld which can decrease the corrosion properties, if filler metal is not used. Another feature in laser welding is its incomplete mixing, especially in thick section applications. It causes inhomogeneity, which can make uneven microstructure, as well as uneven mechanical and corrosion properties In this presentation the features of laser welding of thick section austenitic stainless steels are highlighted. Thick section (up to 60mm) can be made by multi-pass laser or laser hybrid welding. In addition to using filler metal, it requires careful joint figure planning, laser head planning, weld parameter planning, weld filler metal selection, non-destructive and destructive testing and metallography to guarantee high-quality welds in practice. In addition some tests with micro segregation is presented. Also some examples of incomplete mixing is presented.

Academic research paper on topic "Thick-section Laser and Hybrid Welding of Austenitic Stainless Steels"

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Physics Procedia 56 (2014) 630 - 636

8th International Conference on Photonic Technologies LANE 2014

Thick-section laser and hybrid welding of austenitic stainless steels

Veli Kujanpää*

*VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, P.O.Box 17021, FI-53851 Lappeenranta, Finland

Abstract

Austenitic stainless steels are generally known to have very good laser weldability, when ordinary grades of sheets are concerned. But it is not necessarily the case, if special grades of fully austenitic structures with e.g. high molybdenum, or thick-section are used. It is also known that hot cracking susceptibility is strictly controlled by composition and welding parameters. If solidification is primary ferritic, hot cracking resistance is dramatically increased. It is also well known that laser welding needs a careful control of weld edge preparation and air gap between the edges. The dependence on edge quality can be decreased by using filler metal, either cold wire, hot wire or hybrid laser-arc welding. An additional role is high molybdenum contents where micro segregation can cause low local contents in weld which can decrease the corrosion properties, if filler metal is not used. Another feature in laser welding is its incomplete mixing, especially in thick section applications. It causes inhomogeneity, which can make uneven microstructure, as well as uneven mechanical and corrosion properties

In this presentation the features of laser welding of thick section austenitic stainless steels are highlighted. Thick section (up to 60 mm) can be made by multi-pass laser or laser hybrid welding. In addition to using filler metal, it requires careful joint figure planning, laser head planning, weld parameter planning, weld filler metal selection, non-destructive and destructive testing and metallography to guarantee high-quality welds in practice. In addition some tests with micro segregation is presented. Also some examples of incomplete mixing is presented.

© 2014 The Authors. Published by ElsevierB.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license

(http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the Bayerisches Laserzentrum GmbH

Keywords: Laser welding; Hybrid laser welding; multi-pass welding; austenitic stainless steel; solidification; thick-section; metallurgy; hot cracking

1. Introduction

Austenitic stainless steels can include a large variety of different grades, the most common of which are ordinary 18 Cr / 8 NI-type or their molybdenum alloyed versions. These conventional stainless steels are known to be very well weldable, in fact probably the best weldable metals of all. The weldability is one of the most important reason to make these grades so widely used. The other reasons are e.g. formability, quite good corrosion properties and their easiness to manufacture.

Recent development of demands of corrosion resistance in e.g. closed-circuits in chemical, oil or pulp and paper industry has increased the need for higher-alloyed stainless steels, where high contents of chromium, nickel and molybdenum are used. This has made the welding more challenging, because risk for hot cracking and control of corrosion properties of the welds needs more careful planning. In addition, other grades of stainless steels, as duplex stainless or ferritic stainless steels are more used today and their weldability needs also more attention than conventional grades. Lately, high price of nickel has made high-

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +358-405-762479; fax: +358-207-222893 . E-mail address: veli.kujanpaa@vtt.fi

1875-3892 © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license

(http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the Bayerisches Laserzentrum GmbH

doi: 10.1016/j.phpro.2014.08.056

manganese grades of austenitic and duplex stainless steels also more interesting and their welding creates new features for welding procedures.

When considering laser or hybrid laser welding, the main advantages are high welding speed, low distortions, easiness to automation and the freedom for joint design. Anyway, it demands a strict control of joint preparation and high series to make it economical. In weldability point of view, high cooling rate makes changes in solidification behaviour and therefore it affects hot cracking susceptibility.

2. Solidification and micro-segregation

In laser and hybrid laser welding cooling rate is very high, around 1000-10000 oC/sec. High temperature gradient results in narrow heat-affected zone and no sensitization can happen. In addition with certain alloyed grades brittle phase zones do not exist to decrease the ductility.

High cooling rate affects also that the microstructure of the weld is very fine-grained, an order of magnitude finer than that of arc weld. In Fig. 1 shows an example of microstructure of laser and TIG (GTA) weld. It can be seen that laser welds are much finer than arc welds.

Fig. 1. Microstructure of (a) laser weld, welding speed 10 m/min and (b) TIG weld, welding speed 0,25 m/min. Material 6 % Mo stainless steel. [1].

In Fig. 2 it is shown the effect of welding speed on distance of solidified primary dendrites. The microstructure size has an essential dependence e.g. on homogeneity and corrosion properties of the weld.

Austenitic stainless steel welds can solidify in different modes depending on composition and welding parameters: primary austenitic or primary ferritic ways. In addition five different solidification modes are differed depending on the fact if the secondary phase transformed from the remaining melt or in the solid phase, Fig. 3.

The solidification mode is strongly dependent on the composition, Fig. 4 It can be seen that the limits for the solidification modes can be calculated by chromium and nickel equivalents. Roughly, if the ratio of chromium and nickel equivalents is below 1.5, the solidification is fully austenitic or austenitic-ferritic and when it is between 1.5 - 2.0 it is ferritic austenitic. In the values over 2.0 solidification is austenitic-ferritic. These numbers depend a bit on equivalents used, Fig. 4.

Fig. 2. The dependence of primary dendrite spacing on welding speed and method [2].

When cooling rate (and solidification rate) is more rapid as is the case in laser or hybrid laser, the boundaries between solidification modes come closer to each other, Fig. 4. This is natural, because in rapid cooling diffusion controlled solid-state transformation does not have that much time to occur. This means that ordinary austenitic stainless steel types as e.g. AISI 304 or 316 type steels, which usually solidify as ferritic-austenitic mode in arc welding, can turn to solidify as single-phase austenitic or austenitic-ferritic in laser welding. This can effect dramatically on hot cracking susceptibility or e.g. pitting corrosion.

On the other hand, austenitic-ferritic duplex stainless steels, which usually solidify as single-phase ferritic mode essential part of microstucture transforming to austenite during cooling, can turn in laser welding to end to be almost 100 % ferritic in room temperature without any ferrite . This can have an essential effect on e.g. stress corrosion cracking.

Much finer microstructure of the laser welds, Fig. 1, would refer to a lower microsegregation during solidification of the welds. The investigations with 6 % Mo containing austenitic stainless steels show that molybdenum is segregated also in solidification of keyhole laser welds, but segregation is much lower than in TIG (GTA) welds or conduction-controlled laser welds, Table 1, [1]. It is also remarkable that because of a fine microstructure laser weld is homogenized during post-weld homogenization heat treatment much more efficiently than e.g. TIG weld, [2]. Some results of pitting corrosion tests also show that the critical pitting temperature was the same in both laser and TIG welds (55 oC) but could be re-healed to the level of base metal with only 16 minutes homogenization treatment (75 oC) [2].

A A-F F-A-F F-A F

I m }l f ; i 1 L . J f ru JPe.i L i|ll ■■ 1 I ¡1

Fig. 3. The possible solidification modes of austenitic and austenitic-ferritic stainless steels: A=fully austenitic, A-F=austenitic ferritic, F-A-F and F-A= ferritic-austenitic and F=fully ferritic [3].

Fig. 4. The effect of solidification rate on solidification mode. [4] .

Table 1. Maximum and minimum values of the alloying elements of 1.4547 stainless steel welds. (KHLW - keyhole laser welding, CLW - conduction laser welding, GTAW gas tungsten arc welding) [1].

Ni Cr Mo

Weld Highest (%) Lowest (%) Highest (%) Lowest (%) Highest (%) Lowest (%)

KHLW 1 m/min 18,3 15,4 24,3 20,0 11,4 4,3

KHLW 5 m/min 19,2 15,5 23,5 20,0 8,7 4,5

KHLW 10 m/min 18,9 15,8 23,8 20,1 9 5,25

CLW 20 10,9 24,9 19,3 15,5 4,3

GTAW 19,4 11,4 26,1 19,9 13,8 3,9

3. Hot cracking susceptibility

The hot cracking susceptibility of the welds is dependent on one hand by the strains and the stresses caused by the welded structure and on the other hand by the hot cracking resistance of the weldable material. If

M < S (1) ,

M = material's ability to resist cracking S = structure's ability to cause cracking,

cracks are formed. The strains formed in laser or hybrid welding are remarkably lower than with conventional welding methods (S is lower). Therefore one could suppose that no hot cracking would occur. But as mentioned earlier, austenitic stainless steels solidify in laser welding easier as primary austenitic mode, which make them more susceptible to hot cracking (also M is lower). Therefore the situation is more complicated as one could think.

Practical welding results show that laser welds of sheet metals are very seldom showing any hot cracking tendency, in spite of the primary austenitic solidification.

Studying of the effect of welding method on hot cracking is not easy, because most testing methods are based to study the effect of composition of the material (M in eq. 1) and they do not that much take into account the effect of strains caused by structure or welding method.

However, recent investigations with thick-section austenitic stainless steels are giving evidence of high hot cracking susceptibility, if the solidification mode is primary austenitic, [5]. According to the study in very rigid constructions there is an essential risk for hot cracking, Fig. 5. However, the tendency for hot cracking could be affected by joint design and composition of filler metal. If the joint is wider, hot cracking susceptibility is decreased. On the other hand, if solidification can be turned to primary ferritic, the cracking is minimized and sound welds can be made easier.

Fig. 5. (a) Macro cross-section showing hot cracking propagated into the surface of the first filling pass; (b) The top view from the Figure 5a showing hot cracking along the weld length.

4. Mixing and homogeneity in thick section welding

It is found in many studies that mixing is not complete in laser or hybrid laser welding. It can be a problem, when dissimilar welding is made or if filler metal with non-matching composition with base material is used. This is realized e.g. in Fig. 6, where one-pass weld of 15 mm penetration is welded with filler metal of higher chromium content. It can be seen that when filler wire is fed on the surface by MIG arc hybrid, it does not mix properly in the weld, but close to the surface mixing is close to 40 %, when it is only 10-15 % on the root area. The tendency is even stronger, if arc is not used in filler wire feeding, but only cold-wire is used, Fig. 7. In cold-wire feeding mixing is only about 13 % on the surface and 5 % on the root area of the weld.

Vertical filler metal mixing in weld: Laser-arc hybrid welding with different air gap

-*-B6 (Laser-arc hybrid: Air gap 0.4 mm)

2 % 10.0 :

.£ g 20,0 I

34,1%. N il A *

84 (Laser-arc hybrid: Air gap 0.2 mm) -0-62 (Laser-arc hybrid: Air gap 0 mm)

Vertical locations in weld: MLl(surface) -> ML4 (root)

Fig. 6. Filler metal mixing in laser-arc hybrid test welds with variable air gap preparations. Measurement locations were made at four different depths (ML1.. .ML4) respect to weld penetration. Leading wire feeding direction was used. [6].

Fig. 7. The graph showing the comparison of filler metal mixing tendency between the laser cold-wire test weld D4 and laser-arc hybrid test weld B2. Leading filler wire feeding and a closed air gap preparation was applied in both test welds [6].

The incomplete mixing can affect unpredictable problems, when filler metal is used to optimize e.g. mechanical or corrosion properties of the weld.

The incomplete mixing affects also solidification and causes local variations in solidification mode, Fig. 8. This can also cause practical problems in e.g. risk for hot cracking or differences in corrosion behavior.

Fig. 8. Cross-sectional micrographs of hybrid test weld B4 (Fig. 6) at the location of ~11mm below the weld surface (ML3) showing primary ferritic (FA) solidified microstructures present only in narrow area at weld center and primary austenitic (AF) solidified microstructure areas near both fusion lines.[6].

5. Need for filler metal in thick sections

Thick section structures can be welded in different ways. Autogenous laser welding (without any filler metal) is possible to a certain thickness, depending on application, laser power and laser beam quality. Usually it can be used up to 10 mm, even if new

high quality beam lasers (fiber and disc lasers) allow some higher thickness to be welded, up to 20 mm or higher, Fig. 9. In thicker sections filler metal needs to be used. In principle it can be made by many methods; cold wire filler metal welding, hot wire filler metal welding and hybrid welding, i.e. MIG or TIG arc assisted laser welding. In very thick sections, this means multi-pass welding, where root pass can often be made autogenously. The design of joint is critical issue, which also determines the planning for welding parameters. It also states the strategy of welding methods, because in lower passes keyhole welding mode is likely most suitable, but in the upper passes conduction laser welding mode must be taken into use.

The different ways to introduce filler metal have some advantages and disadvantages.

In the case of laser welding with filler wire, wire is introduced as solid form into the laser induced weld pool. In that case melting power of laser beam is only used for melting of filler wire. As wire is entering into the interaction zone of laser impingement point, a part of laser power is reflected away from the wire and certain part is absorbed into the wire causing wire heating and melting. Added to this chain of events, a part of power of laser beam is also consumed to the heating and melting of base material. Contrary to laser welding with filler wire (cold wire), in the case of laser-arc hybrid welding, before entering into the laser induced weld pool zone, filler wire is already melted by arc source and it is introduced into the weld pool in molten spray of droplet form. That is why melting efficiency in laser-arc hybrid welding is far better than in laser welding with filler wire.

Fig. 9. Laser autogenous weld, penetration of 20 mm. Material AISI316L. Laser power: 19 kW, welding speed 1.5 m/min, focal position -4 mm.

In Fig. 10 there is an example of multi-pass laser weld made by 3 kW Nd:YAG laser. Thickness is 20 mm and it is made with 7 passes. In Table 3 it is shown the parameters used. In this case hybrid laser welding was used both in root and filling passes. The filling passes were in practice made with conduction laser welding mode. In Fig. 11 it is shown the groove geometry used [5].

Fig. 10. Multi-pass hybrid laser weld made by Nd:YAG-MIG [5].

Table 2. Welding parameters used in multipass laser weld, Fig. 9 [5].

Welding parameters for the root pass

Filler wire feeding rate 9.5 m/min (28.8 V / 232 A)

Focal point position ± 0 mm (spot size 0 0.6 mm)

Welding speed 1.3 m/min

Welding parameters for the filling passes

Narrow groove geometry, Fig.6b

Filler wire feeding rate 9.0...11 m/min (28...31 V / 220...295 A)

Focal point position 5. +30.. .+40 mm (spot size 0 3.8.4.9 mm)

Fig. 11. The groove geometry used in the multi-pass weld in Fig. 10 /5/.

6. Conclusions

Laser welding of thick-section stainless steels is a challenging task where many aspects need to be taken into account. Solidification mode is an important issue which affects weldability and the final composition. Compared to conventional welding laser welding makes easier primary austenitic solidification, which is more susceptible to hot cracking. On the other hand the strains formed are much lower, which makes the evaluation more complicated.

Thick-section laser welds usually need filler metal addition which can be made by cold or hot wire or by hybrid arc-assisted welding. It is also very much dependent on groove design, which states if keyhole welding mode or conduction welding mode needs to be used.

Mixing of the filler metal is often incomplete in laser and hybrid laser welding of thick sections. It can cause unexpected problems in mechanical or corrosion behavior.

References

[1] I. J. Pekkarinen and V. Kujanpaa, Laser welding parameters effects on austenitic stainless steels welds microstructure, 63rd Annual Assembly & International Conference of the International Institute of Welding 11-17 July 2010, Istanbul, Turkey

[2] V.P. Kujanpaa, S.A. David, Microsegregation in a laser and gas tungsten arc welded Mo austenitic stainless steel, Int. Conf. on Applications of Lasers and Electro-Optics (ICALEO '86), Arlington, Virginia, U.S.A., Nov. 10-14, 1986, pp. 63-69.

[3] N. Suutala, T. Takalo, T. Moisio, Relationship between solidification and microstructure in austenitic and austenitic-ferritic stainless steel welds, Metallurgical Transactions, 10A (1979), 4, 512-514.

[4] Lippold, J. C. 1994. Solidification behavior and cracking susceptibility of pulsed-laserwelds in austenitic stainless steels, Welding Journal vol. 73, 6, 129-139

[5] . M. Karhu, V. Kujanpaa "Solidification Cracking Studies in Multi Pass Laser Hybrid Welding of Thick Section Austenitic Stainless Steel" , Hot Cracking Phenomena in Welds III, 2011, Part 2, 161-182.

[6] M. Karhu, V. Kujanpaa, A. Gumenyuk, M. Lammers, Study of Filler Metal Mixing and its Implication on Weld Homogeneity of Laser-Hybrid and Laser Cold-Wire Welded Thick Austenitic Stainless Steel Joints, 32nd Int. Congress on Lasers and Electro-Optics (ICALE02013), Oct. 6-10, 2013, Miami, FL, U.S.A., Paper ID: 906, 252-261,