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Dennis D. Harwig
Doug Longanecker
James Cruz
Honda Of America
Summary
Report
SR9810
June 1998
(41722IRP)
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Flux cored arc welding (FCAW) has been in use for many years. However,
major issues remain regarding the ability of the FCAW process to deposit sound
welds on high integrity applications, even though it offers significant economies
due to its high deposition rate. One major issue when welding high strength
steels with FCAW is the diffusible hydrogen potential of various electrodes.
This investigation determined the effects of weld parameters on the results of
the diffusible hydrogen test per AWS A4.3-93 for a mild steel FCAW electrode,
developed an electrode atmospheric exposure test procedure, and evaluated
the atmospheric exposure test procedure on mild steel and Cr-Mo FCAW
electrodes. The moisture resistance of E71T-1, E70T-1, E71T-5, and ER70S-3
mild steel electrodes, and E81T-B2, E91T-B3 and E80C-B2 Cr-Mo electrodes
were investigated using the atmospheric exposure test. Diffusible hydrogen
content was found to increase almost linearly as the weld current increased for
the E71T-1 electrode. FCAW electrodes were found to be susceptible to
moisture pickup in a humid environment. For wire produced to the same
classification, some variability was measured in consumables supplied by
different manufacturers. The diffusible hydrogen content of E71T-1 electrodes
after 1 week exposure increased from 4 to 8 ml/100 grams for one electrode
and increased from 8 to 27 ml/100 grams for another. Handling guidelines and
an electrode atmospheric exposure test procedure need to be established to
improve the control of hydrogen in high integrity FCAW weldments.
Abstract
Atmospheric Exposure FCAW-G Electrode Samples in Humidity Cabinet
1.0 Introduction
The gas shielded flux cored arc welding (FCAW-G) process
has been in use for approximately 40 years. The process
uses a consumable electrode, like the gas metal arc
welding (GMAW) process, except the electrode is tubular
and filled with flux in addition to metal powders, instead of
being solid. This process is preferred for high deposition
downhand or out-of-position applications. Electrode
manufacturers continue to develop FCAW-G electrodes that
have improved properties and are appropriate for high
integrity applications in all positions.
One of the major issues to consider in thick section or high
integrity applications is the resistance to hydrogen assisted
cracking (HAC). HAC can be a problem in higher strength
steels used in pressure vessels, pipelines, and steel
structures. The susceptibility of a weldment to hydrogen
cracking is a function of the hydrogen content of the weld
deposi t, the wel d and heat-affected zone (HAZ)
microstructure and hardness, service temperature, and weld
restraint. To prevent hydrogen cracking, many fabricators
use low hydrogen electrodes, preheat the weldment to
reduce cooling rate and promote hydrogen diffusion, and in
some cases postweld heat treat (PWHT) to improve micro-
structure and stabilize the diffusible hydrogen. Some weld
codes and specifications specify requirements for weld
hydrogen control through consumable controls, preheat,
interpass temperature, and PWHT to reduce the risk of HAC.
Of these requirements, consumable controls are critical to
properly control the diffusible hydrogen of the weld deposit
below a certain level. Some codes also specify requirements
for weld heat input, and maximum weld and HAZ hardness
to control microstructure.
The diffusible hydrogen content of the weld deposit made
with a FCAW-G weld consumable is influenced by the as-
received moisture content of the electrode, the absorbed
moisture due to storage and atmospheric exposure, the
shielding gas, and welding parameters. Specifications, which
permit the use of FCAW-G electrodes, lack requirements
for the effects of electrode use, exposure to the atmosphere,
and weld parameters. Data is needed for FCAW-G to
determine the effects of atmospheric exposure and other
key parameters on diffusible hydrogen content of the weld
deposit which would help support the use of FCAW-G for
high integrity applications.
2.0 Objectives
The objectives of this investigation were to determine the
effects of weld parameters on the results of the diffusible
hydrogen test per AWS A4.3-93 for a mild steel FCAW-G
electrode, develop an electrode atmospheric exposure test
procedure, and evaluate the atmospheric exposure test
procedure on mild steel and Cr-Mo FCAW-G electrodes.
3.0 Experimental Procedure
The effects of FCAW-G weld parameters were evaluated by
conducting a series of tests using three wire feed speeds.
At each wire feed speed, tests were performed at three
contact tip-to-work (TTW) distances. The weld deposit size
was held constant by maintaining a constant wire feed speed
to travel speed ratio. Arc length was also held constant at
in. This controlled test matrix was performed to evaluate the
significance of current, contact TTW, and wire feed speed
on weld diffusible hydrogen content. A mixture of 80% argon
- 20% carbon dioxide (CO
2
) was used for the shielding gas.
An E71T-1, 0.045-in. diameter electrode was used. Weld
metal hydrogen was reported per unit deposit and fused
weight to evaluate the effects of weld penetration at higher
currents. Diffusible hydrogen tests were performed to the
requirements of AWS A4.3-93.
A number of carbon and low alloy steel electrodes were used
in the atmospheric exposure tests. Of the mild steel
electrodes, several rutile E71T-1 electrodes were compared
to a basic, E71T-5 electrode. The low alloy electrodes were
of the Cr-Mo type. Four of the five Cr-Mo electrodes were
flux-cored and one electrode was metal-cored (E80C-B2). In
addition, a solid GMAW electrode (ER70S-3) was used as a
control since solid wire should not be as susceptible to
moisture pick-up as FCAW-G electrodes. Atmospheric
exposure test specimens were made by carefully winding a
single layer of electrode on painted wire baskets. The
atmospheric exposure test specimens were placed inside a
Blue M forced air cabinet, which controlled the atmosphere
to 80% relative humidity at 80F. The exposed electrodes
were directly used to make diffusible hydrogen test welds
according to AWS A4.3. The cored electrodes were placed
inside the humidity chamber for 1 week, which was judged
to be a reasonable exposure period for a FCAW-G electrode
versus 9 hr for SMAW electrodes. The diffusible hydrogen of
the weld deposit from each electrode was determined in the
as-received and exposed condition.
4.0 Results and Discussion
Effects of Welding Parameters - Diffusible hydrogen con-
tent of the weld deposit was found to increase almost lin-
Effects of Current on Diffusible Hydrogen for an
E71T-1 Electrode (deposited metal)
the results for Electrode (A) were the same. However, the
weld deposit made with electrode (B) was found to be
saturated with diffusible hydrogen in that no difference was
observed between the as-stored and 1 week exposed
diffusible hydrogen content a year later.
A basic Electrode (F), a basic E71T-5, was tested and found
to be tolerant to the atmospheric exposure test. The
diffusible hydrogen content of the weld deposit for this
electrode was 3 to 4 ml/100 grams as-received and after
exposure. To benchmark the accuracy of the diffusible
hydrogen tests produced in this investigation, a solid
electrode (ER70S-3) was used with the GMAW process.
Electrode (L) was in the open shop for several months and
had a diffusible hydrogen content of 2 ml/100 grams.
Five Cr-Mo electrodes were also evaluated using the
atmospheric exposure test. These electrodes were received
with the above rutile electrodes in the spring of 1996. The
as-received diffusible hydrogen content of the weld deposit
when tested in August of 1997 (i.e., when the electrodes
were removed from the manufacturers packaging) varied from
7 to 17 ml/100 grams. The latter being considered a high
hydrogen level for a Cr-Mo weld deposit which could be used
on high strength applications. All these electrodes were
supplied in the 0.045-in. diameter. Electrodes D and E, which
produced the highest as-received weld diffusible hydrogen
content, did not show a large increase in weld diffusible
hydrogen content after the atmospheric exposure test. This
was probably because of a high initial moisture content in
these electrodes, which may have been a result of the
plastic bag and cardboard packaging method. Electrodes
(G) and (H) were supplied in hermetically sealed cans. The
diffusible hydrogen content of the weld deposit from
Electrode (G) increased from 7 to 13 ml/100 grams after the
atmospheric exposure test and showed the highest increase
of the Cr-Mo electrodes tested. Electrode (H) was a metal-
cored electrode which appears to be resistant to atmospheric
exposure, in that the diffusible hydrogen content of the weld
deposit only increased approximately 1 ml/100 grams. This
was within the standard of deviation of the diffusible
hydrogen test. Electrode (K) showed negligible increase in
diffusible hydrogen content of the weld deposit and appears
to be resistant to atmospheric exposure, but this electrode
also had a fairly high initial weld diffusible hydrogen content
of approximately 11 ml/100 grams.
The results from this project clearly demonstrate that FCAW-
G deposits are susceptible to increased diffusible hydrogen
levels after atmospheric exposure of the electrodes. Although
the project did not address the source and mechanism of
hydrogen diffusion, it is suspected that it is due to moisture
pickup. It is possible that the effect is due to a simple ab-
sorption mechanism. It is also equally possible that the ef-
fect is due to chemical reactions which occur over time as a
result of atmospheric exposure involving the steel surfaces,
the lubricants, and/or the fill constituents. Basic flux-cored,
metal-cored, and solid electrodes appear to be more toler-
ant to atmospheric exposure than rutile flux-cored electrodes.
early as the weld current increased. The diffusible hydrogen
content of the weld deposit varied from 2.3 ml/100 grams at
140 amps to approximately 11.6 ml/100 grams at 345 amps.
The diffusible hydrogen content for the fused metal increased
from 2.0 ml/100 grams to approximately 7.1 ml/100 grams
over the same current range. The difference in diffusible
hydrogen content between the deposit and fused metal was
the greatest at the higher currents due to the increased base
metal dilution. This effect is important since higher currents
produce slower cooling rates and higher heat inputs in these
constant deposit area tests. Higher diffusible hydrogen con-
tents can often be tolerated at higher heat inputs because
the microstructure may not be as hard and more hydrogen
can diffuse out of the weld during a slower cooling rate.
Diffusible hydrogen content of the weld deposit decreased
with increasing electrode time in the electrode extension
column. Based on the slope for each TTW condition, the
diffusible hydrogen content of the weld deposit was higher
in welds made with a longer TTW distance when comparing
tests, which would have equal time in the column. This trend
was believed to be a result of the higher wire feed speeds,
which change the temperature profile in the electrode
extension. The more time an electrode spends at higher
temperature the more effective should be the hydrogen re-
moval. At constant time in the column, the shorter TTW
distances might have a higher temperature profile than the
longer TTW distance.
Effects of Electrode Atmospheric Exposure - FCAW-G
weld deposits were found to be susceptible to increased
diffusible hydrogen levels from the atmospheric exposure
test. The diffusible hydrogen content of the weld deposit
varied between manufacturers and some electrodes tended
to be more resistant to atmospheric exposure due to their
fluxing characteristics. The diffusible hydrogen content of
the weld deposit of E71T-1 electrodes after 1 week
exposure increased from 4 to 8 ml/100 grams for Electrode
(A) and increased from 8 to 27 ml/100 grams for Electrode
(B). These tests were performed in August of 1996, a few
months after they were received from the manufacturers.
These two electrodes were re-tested in August of 1997 and
Effects of Electrode Extension Time in Column on
Diffusible Hydrogen Content (deposit)
Uniting People & Technol-
ogy
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EWI 1250 Arthur E. Adams Drive Columbus, Ohio 43221-3585 (614) 688-5000 FAX (614) 688-5001 www.ewi.org/
1998 EWI
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Angle, Plane
deg=0.01745 rad
Density
lb mass/in
3
=27679.9 kg/m
3
lb mass/ft
3
=16.02 kg/m
3
Deposition Rate
lb/h=0.4536 kg/h
Energy
calorie=4.184 J
kW hour=3.6
x
10
6
J
Flow Rate
f t
3
/h=0.4719 L/min
f t
3
/min=28.32 L/min
m
3
/h=35.311 ft
3
/h
Force
lb force=4.448 N
kg force=9.807 N
1000 lb force=1 kip=4.448 kN
Fracture Toughness
ksi in
1/2
=1.0986 MN m
-3/2
N mm
-3/2
=0.029 ksi in
1/2
Heat Input
J/in=39.37 J/m
kJ/in=39.37 kJ/m
kJ/mm=25.4 kJ/in
Impact Energy
ft/lb=1.356 J
Length
in=25.4 mm
ft=304.8 mm
Mass
l b
m
=0.4536 kg
Power Density
W/in
2
=1550 W/m
2
Pressure (Gas and Liquid)
psi=6.895 kPa
psi=0.06896 bar
Stress
ksi=6.895 MPa
N/mm
2
=1 MPa=145.0326 psi
Temperature
T
K
=t
C
+273.15
t
C
=(t
F
-32)/1.8t
F
=1.8t
C
+32
Travel / Wire Feed Speed
in/min=0.4233 mm/s
ft/min=5.08 mm/s
ft/min=18.288 m/h
Volume
i n
3
=16387 mm
3
f t
3
=0.02832 m
3
CONVERSIONS
New flux-cored electrodes continue to be
developed which appear to be moisture
resistant. Additional work needs to be performed
to fully characterize the effects of flux type and
manufacturing method.
5.0 Conclusions
This project evaluated the effects of welding
parameters and electrode atmospheric exposure
on the diffusible hydrogen content of a range of
FCAW-G weld deposits. The major conclusions
that can be drawn from the results of this work
are as follows:
1. Weld diffusible hydrogen content was found
to increase almost linearly as the weld cur-
rent increased for the E71T-1 electrode.
2. Weld diffusible hydrogen content decreased
with increasing time in the electrode exten-
sion.
3. FCAW-G welds are susceptible to higher
di f f usi bl e hydrogen cont ent s af t er
atmospheric exposure of the electrodes.
4. Basic (E71T-5) and metal-cored electrodes
As Received vs 1 Week 80-80
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
1 2 3 4 5 6
Electrodes
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H
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)
As Received
1 week 80-80
1. E91T1-B3 0.045" (D, 8-97)
2. E81T1-B2 0.045" (E, 8-97)
3. E81T1-B2 0.045" (G, 7-97)
4. E80C-B2 0.045" (H, 8-97)
5. E81T1-B2 0.045" (K, 7-97)
6. ER70S-3 0.045" (L, 8-97)
Atmospheric Exposure Test Results for Mild Steel FCAW-G Elec-
trodes (Note electrode test code and test date in parenthesis)
appear to be more resistant to atmospheric exposure of the
electrodes.
5. Handling guidelines and an atmospheric exposure test procedure
need to be established for FCAW-G electrodes, which are intended
to be used in high integrity applications.