Sie sind auf Seite 1von 12

Effect of welding consumables on hydrogen

induced cracking of armour grade quenched


and tempered steel welds
G. Magudeeswaran*1, V. Balasubramanian1 and G. Madhusudhan Reddy2
Armour grade quenched and tempered (Q&T) steels are susceptible to hydrogen induced
cracking (HIC) in the heat affected zone after welding. Austenitic stainless steel (ASS)
consumables are selected for welding Q&T steels as they have higher solubility for hydrogen
in the austenitic phase and it is the most beneficial method for controlling HIC in Q&T steel welds.
Recent studies reveal that high nickel steel and low hydrogen ferritic steel consumables can be
used to weld Q&T steels, which can give very low hydrogen levels in the weld deposits. In this
investigation, an attempt has been made to study the effect of welding consumables on hydrogen
induced cracking of Q&T steel welds by implant testing. Shielded metal arc (SMAW) welding
process has been used for making welds using three different consumables, namely austenitic
stainless steel, low hydrogen ferritic steel (LHF) and high nickel steel (HNS) to assess HIC by
implant testing. The high nickel steel consumables exhibited a higher value of lower critical stress
(LCS) and thus they offered a greater resistance to hydrogen induced cracking of armour grade
Q&T steel welds than other consumables. The diffusible hydrogen content and the value of the
LCS meets the specified limit for armour grade Q&T steel welds and hence, the LHF consumables
can be accepted as an alternative to the to the traditionally used ASS consumables and the
proposed HNS consumables.
Keywords: Quenched and tempered steel, Austenitic stainless steel, Low hydrogen ferritic steel, High nickel steel, Hydrogen induced cold cracking,
Diffusible hydrogen, Implant testing, Lower critical stress, Welding consumables

Introduction
Armour grade quenched and tempered (Q&T) steels are
susceptible to hydrogen induced cracking (HIC) in the
heat affected1 The tendency for the HAZ to crack by
HIC is related to a number of factors including:
hardness and microstructure of the steel, magnitude of
tensile residual stresses, welding process, welding consumables, shielding gas and the level of diffusible
hydrogen in the form of atomic hydrogen that is
absorbed into the weld pool during welding.2
Moreover, armour grade Q&T steels form hard HAZ
microstructures even at the slowest cooling rates
achieved in welding. Hydrogen induced cracking is a
very serious problem for armour grade Q&T steel welds
since it hinders the ballistic properties of the welds. As a
consequence careful selection of the appropriate welding
process, consumable or any other preventive method is

Centre for Materials Joining & Research (CEMAJOR), Department of


Manufacturing Engineering, Annamalai University, Annamalai Nagar 608
002, Tamil Nadu, India
2
Metal Joining Section, Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory
(DMRL), Kanchanbagh (PO) Hyderabad 560 058, Andhra Pradesh, India
*Corresponding author, email magudeeswaran@yahoo.com

2008 Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining


Published by Maney on behalf of the Institute
Received 26 April 2008; accepted 2 May 2008
DOI 10.1179/174328108X335104

needed to avoid HIC during welding of armour grade


Q&T steels.3
Three methods of controlling HIC in high hardness
Q&T welds are:
(i) temperature control method
(ii) isothermal transformation method
(iii) the use of austenitic stainless steel weld metal.
The temperature control method depends on holding the
weld at an elevated temperature, in particular above that
at which hydrogen by diffusion is accelerated. The
isothermal transformation method prevents HIC by
controlling the cooling rate of the HAZ so that it
transforms to softer (non-martensite) structure. During
welding of Q&T steels, for various reasons, it is not
possible to use preheat temperature greater than 150uC,
hence the temperature control method is severely
resistricted and isothermal transformation method can
not be used. The only alternative is to use welding
consumables which virtually prevents the introduction
of hydrogen in HAZ and which produces a weld metal
insensitive to hydrogen. This is achieved by austenitic
stainless steel weld metal deposited by shielded metal arc
welding.4
Austenitic stainless steel (ASS) consumables are
selected for welding Q&T steels, as they have higher

Ironmaking and Steelmaking

2008

VOL

35

NO

549

Magudeeswaran et al.

Effect of welding consumables

restraint stresses in the Tekken Y groove test is of the


order of 700 MPa (Ref. 9). These tests served as go/no
go criteria in welding consumable selection, with the
assumption that restraint stresses in normal engineering
structures are below 700 MPa. However, failures continue to occur even though the consumable selection is
based on these go/no go tests. Thus, there is a need to
design tests to determine the absolute value of the
critical stress below which no HIC could occur. One
such test is the implant test.10 Hence, in this investigation, an attempt has been made to study the effect of
welding consumables on hydrogen induced cracking of
armour grade quenched and tempered steel weldments
using implant testing.

Experimental
Base metal and welding consumables

1 Microstructure of base metal

solubility for hydrogen in the austenitic phase. The same


consumable finds application for the welding of high
hardness QT steels to meet the service requirements of
armoured vehicles.3 In a recent study,5 it is reported that
non-matching consumables mitigate the problem of HIC
to a greater extent than austenitic stainless steel
consumables. A recent study by Row et al.6 on HIC in
the weld of A36 steel indicate high nickel steel
consumable (ENiCrFe3) with a nickel equivalent of 76
% has the least tendency for cracking. Although the
austenitic stainless steel (ASS) and high nickel (HNS)
consumables meet the requirement of avoiding hydrogen
induced cracking in HAZ they are very expensive. In
view of the need to conserve strategic metals such as Ni
and Cr, the use of ASS and HNS consumables for a
non-stainless steel base metal must be avoided. In recent
years, the developments of low hydrogen ferritic (LHF)
steel consumables that contain no hygroscopic compounds were attempted for welding Q&T steels.7,8 The
above practice paved a new way for cost effective
consumable selection to meet out the requirements to
avoid HIC after welding. However, a detailed investigation is essential to compare the HIC resistance offered
by the LHF and HNS consumables during welding of
armour grade Q&T steels with the traditionally used
ASS consumables.
Up until now all the delayed cracking studies on high
hardenable ferritic steels are confined to self-restraint
cracking tests, e.g. the Tekken Y groove test and
controlled thermal severity test. In such tests the
restraint stresses are limited, for example, the maximum

The base metal (BM) used in this investigation is a Q&T


steel, closely confirming to AISI 4340 specification. The
microstructural feature of the BM exhibits acicular
martensite (Fig. 1). The welding consumables used in
this investigation are austenitic stainless steel (ASS),
LHF and high nickel steel (HNS). The welds made using
ASS consumable is referred as SA joint. Similarly, the
welds made using LHF consumable is referred as SF
joint and the welds made using HNS consumable is
referred as SN joint. A vacuum spectrometer (ARLModel 3460) was used to study the weld metal and BM
chemistry. Sparks were ignited at various locations of
BM and weld region and their spectrum was analysed
for estimation of respective alloying elements. ASME,
Sec IIC (2006) and ASTM E8M-06 guidelines were
followed for evaluating the mechanical properties of all
weld metals and BM. The tensile test of the BM and all
weld metal was carried out in a 100 kN, electromechanical controlled universal testing machine (FIE-Bluestar,
India, Model UNITEK-94100). The specimen was
loaded at the rate of 1?5 kN min21 so that the tensile
specimen undergoes uniform deformation. The specimen
finally fails after necking and the load versus displacement was recorded. The 0?2% offset yield strength was
derived from the diagram. The percentage elongation
was also determined. The chemical composition and
mechanical properties of the BM and all weld metals are
presented in Tables 1 and 2 respectively. The welding
process parameters used in this investigation are given in
Table 3.

Diffusible hydrogen measurement


The important methods for the determination of
diffusible hydrogen content in weld metal are
(i) mercury method
(ii) glycerin replacement method
(iii) silicone oil replacement method

Table 1 Chemical composition of base metal and ller metal, wt-%


Type of material

No notation C

Base metal
BM
closely confirming to AISI 4340 grade)
Austenitic stainless steel (closely confirming to AWS E307 ) SA
Low hydrogen ferritic steel
SF
(AWS E11018-M)
High nickel electrode steel
SN
(AWS ENiCrFe3)

550

Ironmaking and Steelmaking

2008

VOL

35

NO

Si

Mn P

Cr

0.315 0.239 0.53 0.018 0.009 1.29

Mo

Ni

Fe

0.451 1.54 Bal.

0.099 0.56 6.59 0.022 0.008 19.614 2.68 9.18 Bal.


0.050 0.242 1.30 0.020 0.014 0.133 0.222 2.12 Bal.
0.0312 0.753 6.45 0.0144 0.001 15.95 0.0173 63

Bal.

Magudeeswaran et al.

(iv) gas chromatography method.


Numerical relations are available relating the amount of
diffusible hydrogen content determined by the above
mentioned different methods. However, the mercury
method gives the most reliable and repeatable results.11
The diffusible hydrogen levels in the weld metal of
the two cored wires were experimentally determined by
the mercury method as per the guidelines dictated in the
literature.1214
The test pieces fabricated using BM of size
106156150 mm (Fig. 2) are polished and are subjected
to degassing at 650uC and kept in a desiccator in dry
condition. The test pieces were held in a rigid welding
jig and a single pass weld of 100 mm in length was
deposited using the ASS, LHF and HNS consumables
on a test piece as shown in Fig. 2, without any burn-off
of the tip of the electrode before the end of the welding
using the welding parameters as detailed in Table 3. The
electrodes were stored in an air tight box for avoiding
atmospheric contamination and were baked for 300uC
for 3 h before welding to ensure it was perfectly dry. The
test pieces were immediately released from the jig and
were quenched in iced water and subsequently in acetone
with carbon dioxide at a temperature of 250uC. The test
piece was broken apart in the above cold condition and
was stored for a period of 3 days. Only the central
portion (30 mm) was used for further analysis of
measuring diffusible hydrogen measurements. The
sample was washed in alcohol and subsequently dried
in pure ether and in blast of nitrogen. The test sample
was transferred immediately to a hydrogen meter with a
inbuilt gas burette for collecting the diffused hydrogen.
The diffusible hydrogen content of the weld metal
sample is made to collect over mercury at room
temperature for a sufficient time (72 h). The amount of
hydrogen thus released is measured by volumetric
method using a diffusible hydrogen measuring meter
that has an inbuilt gas burette for collecting the diffused
hydrogen. The barometric pressure as well as the precise
temperature was recorded. The sample was removed
from the apparatus and thoroughly brushed to remove
any oxide skin and then weighed to an accuracy of
10 mg. The volume of diffusible hydrogen per 100 mg of
the deposited weld metal is calculated from the following
expression

Effect of welding consumables

2 Schematic sketch of test weld for diffusible hydrogen


analysis

meter, and M1 is the mass of the sample in gm before


deposit of the weld metal.
Five trials were carried out for each consumable and
the measured diffusible hydrogen values are presented
in Table 4 along with mean of the above measurements.
The diffusible hydrogen in weld metal is usually
expressed millilitres per 100 (mL/100) grams of deposited weld metal or parts per million (ppm), (1 ppm5
1?11 mL/100 g of weld metal deposited).

Implant testing
The implant tests were conducted using implant testing
machine (ISHA, India, Model 27105) as per the
International Institute of Welding (IIW) guidelines.10,15,16 and with modifications in base plate
dimensions as detailed in the literature.17 An implant
test system (Fig. 3) was employed to evaluate the
susceptibility of the material to hydrogen assisted
cracking. In this test system, a helical threaded specimen
(fabricated from the BM) was inserted into a hole drilled
in a 14 mm thick base plate. A single pass weld
was deposited so that a portion of the notch section
was located in the coarse grained HAZ. The sample was
subjected to the desired stress under constant load and
when the weld cools to 150uC (within 5 min postwelding). This arrangement enables the coarse HAZ of
the specimen to experience the load. The time required
for the implant specimen to fail under each stress was
noted and a plot of loadtime was obtained from this
test (Fig. 4). Three trials of the implant tests were
carried out at each stress and the average time to failure
was used for plotting loadtime curve. From this plot
critical stress below which no failure occurs was
obtained and is presented in Table 5.

Microstructure and hardness


The implant specimens that did not fail after 72 h were
subjected to microstructural examination to reveal the

DH ~Vg (B{H)=760
|273=(273zTR )100=(M2 {M1 )

(1)

where DH is the volume of diffusible hydrogen in mL/


100 g of deposited weld metal at NTP (0uC and 760 mm
Hg), Vg is the volume of gas in burette in mL after 72 h,
B is barometric pressure in mm Hg, TR is the room
temperature in 30uC when Vg is measured, H is the head
of mercury in mm at which Vg is measured, M2 is the
mass of the sample in gm after removal from hydrogen

Table 3 Welding conditions and parameters


Parameters

Unit

SA

SF

SN

Preheat temperature
Electrode baking temperature
Filler diameter
Welding current
Arc voltage
Heat input

uC
uC for 3 h
mm
A
V
kJ mm21

100
300
4
170
26
0.88

100
300
4
160
23
0.85

100
300
4
190
28
1.2

Table 2 Mechanical properties of base metal and all weld metals


Type of material

0.2% yield strength, MPa

Ultimate tensile strength, MPa

Elongation,%

BM
SA
SN
SF

1200
660
550
720

1290
735
680
800

12.5
35
40
22

Ironmaking and Steelmaking

2008

VOL

35

NO

551

Magudeeswaran et al.

Effect of welding consumables

a test block (base plate); b implant specimen; c test configuration


3 Schematic diagrams of implant test system: dimensions in millimetres

presence, or otherwise, of microcracks. Selected implant


implant specimen were interrupted after 1000 min
during testing and were subjected to microstructural
examination to reveal the crack path. The microstructure analysis of the weldments was carried out using a
light optical microscope (MEIJI, Japan, Model
ML7100). The specimens were etched with 2% nital
reagent to reveal the microstructure of the weld region
of LHF joint, BM and HAZ regions. Aquaregia and
kallings reagent were used to reveal the microstructure
of the austenitic stainless steel weld and high nickel weld
regions respectively. Vickers microhardness testing
machine (Shimadzu, Japan, Model HMV-T1) was
employed for measuring the hardness in the weld metal
region, fusion boundary, the region close to the fusion

boundary on weld metal side and HAZ region. ASTM E


384-05a guidelines were followed for measuring the
microhardness and the values are presented in Table 6.
The fractured surface of the implant specimen was
analysed using a scanning electron microscope (JEOL,
Japan, Model 5610LV) at higher magnification to study
the nature of fracture.

Results
Diffusible hydrogen level
In this study, the diffusible hydrogen levels of all the
three consumables were determined by the mercury
method and the results are presented in Table 4. The SN
weld metal imparts diffusible hydrogen level 2?69 mL/

Table 4 Diffusible hydrogen levels


Diffusible hydrogen content DH, mL/100 g
Weld type

Trial 1

Trial 2

Trial 3

Trial 4

Trial 5

mL/100 g

ppm*

SA
SF
SN

2.79
2.89
2.72

2.85
3.05
2.64

2.86
3.09
2.76

2.82
2.99
2.68

2.78
2.98
2.65

2.82
3.00
2.69

3.13
3.33
2.98

*1 ppm51?11 mL/100 g of weld metal deposited.

552

Mean diffusible hydrogen content DH

Ironmaking and Steelmaking

2008

VOL

35

NO

Magudeeswaran et al.

4 Implant test results: horizontal arrows indicate specimen did not fail

100 g of weld metal deposited as against 2?82 mL/100 g


of weld metal deposited and 3?00 mL/100 g of weld
metal deposited by SF weld metal. SN weld metal has
minimum level of diffusible hydrogen level in weld metal
than SA and SF weld metal. SA has comparatively lower
diffusible hydrogen level than SF weld metal. However,
the diffusible hydrogen level does not have any larger
variations in all the three weld metals considered in this
investigation.

Lower critical stress


The determination of lower critical stress (LCS) is very
critical and it needs a careful experimental determination. It has been reported that there were cases of
presence of microcracks in those specimens that did not
fail under implant conditions.17 In this study the implant
specimens that did not fail after 72 h were subjected to
metallographic examination to reveal no presence of
microcracks and are presented in Fig. 5. From Fig. 5, it
is inferred that no microcracks were found in the
interface in all three welds. Thus, LCS was taken as
the stress below which no microcracks were present and
not the highest stress at which fracture did not occur.
The stresstime plot of all the welds is shown in Fig. 4
and the corresponding values are presented in Table 5.
Thus from Table 5 and Fig. 4 it is inferred that the SN
weld has the highest LCS value of 560 MPa. Similarly
the SA weld has 420 MPa and while the SF weld has
350 MPa respectively. The LCS for SN welds is found to
be 25% higher than SA welds and 38% higher than SF
welds. However, the LCS of SA welds is 17% more than
SF welds. Thus SN welds have higher resistance to HIC
than SA and SF welds.

Effect of welding consumables

absence of microcracks in all the three welds. The weld/


HAZ interface microstructures in SA joints reveal a
white grain boundary phase (Fig. 5a) while interface
microstructure of SF joint has untempered martensite
(Fig. 5b). On the other hand, the interface microstructure of the SN joints does not have grain boundary
phase as like that of the SA welds. It consists of an
unmixed zone consisting of softened layer of untempered martensite structure as shown in Fig. 5c. The
detailed micrographs of the HAZ region in close
proximity to the fusion boundary consists of invariably
untempered martensite in all cases (Fig. 5df). However,
the SF welds have much finer untempered martensite
(Fig. 5e) than SA (Fig. 5d) welds in the HAZ region in
close proximity to the interface region. The SN HAZ
region in close proximity to the interface region has a
very coarse untempered martensite (Fig. 5f).The micrograph, taken at the weld metal region of the SA joint,
exhibits skeletal delta ferrite in plain austenitic matrix
(Fig. 6a); the SF joint shows acicular ferrite morphology
(Fig. 6b); the SN joint reveals plain austenitic matrix
with a scattered delta ferrite matrix (Fig. 6c).
The micrographs taken at the weld/HAZ interface
region of the interrupted implant (after 1000 min)
specimen are displayed in Fig. 7. It is evident that the
crack developed in the interface of the weld/HAZ region
and it is directed towards the HAZ region which is
characterised by high hardness untempered martensite
invariably in all the welds. In austenitic stainless steel
weld, the crack developed in the grain boundary (White
phase) phase region (Fig. 8a). The crack starts in the
region of coarse untempered martensite in the weld/
HAZ region of LHF steel and high nickel steel welds
(Fig. 8b and c).

Hardness

Optical micrographs

The hardness across the weld cross-section was measured using a Vickers microhardness testing machine
and the values are presented in Table 6. The hardness of
the unwelded BM is 455 HV. The hardness in the weld
metal region of SA, SF and SN welds are 261 HV,
311 HV, 194 HV respectively. Similarly the hardness in
the region adjacent to the fusion boundary in the weld
metal side (cracked region) are 355 HV, 394 HV and
247 HV for SA, SF, and SN welds respectively. The
hardness of the fusion boundary of SA weld is 420 HV
while the SF welds exhibit a hardness value of 434 HV.
However, the hardness in the fusion boundary of the SN
weld is 350 HV. The hardness in the HAZ region of the
SA, SF and SN welds are found to be 435 HV, 439 HV
and 410 HV respectively. Thus the welds made using
HNS consumables have a lower hardness in the weld
region, region close to the fusion boundary (where
cracks are found) region, fusion boundary and the HAZ
region than their LHF steel counterparts.

The implant specimen that did not fail after 72 h were


subjected to metallographic examination to reveal

Fractured surface

Table 5 Lower critical stress (LCS)


Weld type

LCS,MPa

SA
SF
SN

420
350
590

The fractured surface of the implant test specimens is


displayed in Fig. 7. An intergranular fracture is featured
in SA implant specimen (Fig. 7a). On the other hand,
quasi-cleavage type of fracture is featured in the
fractured surface of the SF joints indicating brittle
fracture (Fig. 7b). A ductile microvoid coalescence
indicating ductile failure is revealed in the fractured
surface of the failed SN implant specimen (Fig. 7c).

Ironmaking and Steelmaking

2008

VOL

35

NO

553

Magudeeswaran et al.

Effect of welding consumables

Discussion
It is inferred from the experimental results that the
welding consumables have a significant effect on HIC of
armour grade Q&T steel welds. The high nickel steel
consumables offered greater resistance than the austenitic stainless steel and low hydrogen ferritic steel
consumables. The reasons for the above results are
discussed in detail in the following sections.

Effect of weld metal chemistry, microstructure


and weld metal strength on diffusible hydrogen
level
In this study, the diffusible hydrogen levels of all the
three consumables were determined by the mercury
method and the results are presented in Table 4. The SN
weld metal imparts diffusible hydrogen level 2?69 mL/
100 g of weld metal deposited as against 2?82 mL/100 g
of weld metal deposited by SA weld metal and 3?00 mL/
100 g of weld metal deposited by SF weld metal. The
weld metal microstructure could be one of the influencing factors in the minor variations for the diffusible
hydrogen level.
The diffusible hydrogen in weld metal is influenced by
so many other factors including welding process, arc
characteristics, electrode coatings and their moisture
content, etc., and these factors are not quantified in the
present study. However, the weld metal chemistry plays
a role play in determining microstructures of the welds
and hence it has a direct consequence in the hydrogen
induced cracking. Weld microstructure plays a significant role in the HIC and cannot be ignored. The major
significance in welding of Q&T steel is to avoid a
martensitic structure in any form that is susceptible to
hydrogen induced cracking leading to a catastrophic
failure.
It is well known that nickel in weld metal plays an
important role in microstructural control. It has been
reported that the weld metal toughness can be increased
appreciably by increasing Ni content.18 The higher
nickel content improves the toughness in two ways:
nickel reduces the ferrite content of the weld (magnetic
microsturctural phase and more brittle than austenite),
and the nickel additions increase the toughness in fully
austenitic compositions. A secondary benefit is that
nickel stabilises austenitic structure against the formation of martensite (another magnetic microstructural
phase).19 However, some investigations have shown that

the benefit from nickel is conditional and it depends


upon further alloying elements like manganese.20 The
alloying content of manganese and nickel are very
important in the solidification process in high strength
steel weld metals. Large additions of these elements can
prevent the formation of d-ferrite entirely and instead
the weld metal solidifies directly to austenite. An
additional effect of manganese is that it gives strengthening through solid solution hardening and grain
refinement by lowering the austenite to ferrite transformation temperature. Grain refinement also leads to
increased toughness. Another important alloying element in austenitic stainless steel and the high nickel steel
is chromium. Chromium stabilises ferrite but slows
down transformation rate. With chromium additions,
toughness falls as reported in studies of mechanical
properties of high strength steel weld metals.21
Higher nickel content promotes the formation of
austenitic phase and also it prevents the formation of the
delta ferrite. On the other hand, chromium is a ferrite
stabiliser and it promotes the formation of delta ferrite.
Delta ferrite is the primary solidification product, i.e. it
forms directly from the molten metal. The delta ferrite at
the core of the dendrites, which form at the beginning of
solidification, is very rich in chromium; the chromium
content however goes on decreasing as the solidification
proceeds.22 Proper control of the amount of delta ferrite
in welds is very much essential and critical. The higher
amount of delta ferrite in welds tends to reduce the
ductility and toughness.19 The weld metal chemistry of
SN weld metal shows the presence of nickel (63 wt-%)
and chromium (15?95 wt-%), whereas SA weld metal has
9?18 wt-%) of nickel and 19?614 wt-% of chromium.
Thus SN weld metal has higher nickel content than SA
where as the SA has higher chromium content than the
SN welds metal. This difference in the weld metal
chemistry of nickel and chromium in the SA and SN
welds have larger influence on the microstructural
features. The micrograph, taken at the weld metal
region of the SA joint, exhibits a fine skeletal delta
ferrite in plain austenitic matrix (Fig. 6a); the SF joint
shows acicular ferrite morphology (Fig. 6b); the SN
joint reveals a rich austenitic matrix with a scattered
delta ferrite matrix (Fig. 6c). Thus SN weld metal with
rich austenitic phase imparts lower diffusible hydrogen
level than the SA and SF weld metals.
The type of coating of the covered electrodes and flux
cored wire is one of the major contributing factors for

Table 6 Microhardness variation across implant welds


Mean (0.5 kg load), HV

Weld type/ Region

Weld region

Region close
to the weld/HAZ
interface in the
weld region side

Shieled metal arc welded


austenitic stainless steel weld (SA)
Shieled metal arc welded
low hydrogen ferritic steel weld (SF)
Shielded metal arc welded
high nickel steel weld (SN)

261

355*

420

435

456

311

394{

434

439

454

194

247{

350

410

454

*Grain boundary (white phase) phase region.


{Region of hard untempered martensite.
{Region of unmixed zone.

554

Ironmaking and Steelmaking

2008

VOL

35

NO

Weld/HAZ
interface boundary
(fusion boundary)

HAZ region

Base metal

Magudeeswaran et al.

Effect of welding consumables

a weld/HAZ interface, SA weld; b, weld/HAZ interface, SF weld; c weld/HAZ interface, SN weld; d HAZ region close to
interface, SA weld; e HAZ region close to interface, SF weld; f HAZ region close to interface, SN weld
5 Microstructures of weld/HAZ interface of unfailed implant specimen revealing non-existence of microcracks (GPB
grain boundary phase, UTM untempered martensite)

the lower diffusible hydrogen level in the present study.


The covered electrodes used in this investigation are
made up of basic type of flux. Basic electrodes and cored
wires have calcium carbonate or other basic carbonate
based covering. They also contain fluorspar which
encourages fluidity of the slag. Because of its basic

character, this type of covering in welding consumables


provides good protection for all types of steels and
hence, a good density of the weld metal and good
mechanical properties. Because of the nature of products
of which they are made, basic coverings require storage,
drying and handling to ensure the lowest possible

Ironmaking and Steelmaking

2008

VOL

35

NO

555

Magudeeswaran et al.

Effect of welding consumables

a SA weld; b SF weld; c SN weld


6 Microstructures of weld region

hydrogen content. It is only subject to these conditions


that the use of these electrodes is recommended to avoid
cold cracking in welding of steels.19
In the present investigation, the amount of diffusible
hydrogen levels is not only low for the high nickel steel
welds and austenitic stainless steel welds but also for the
LHF steel welds considered in this investigation. The
measured diffusible hydrogen level in various weld
metals showed that the measured values are within the
acceptable criteria. For armour grade Q&T steels that
are used for combat vehicle construction, the weld metal
should have a low hydrogen content in the weld, i.e.
,4 mL/100 g of deposited metal11 irrespective of the
consumable used. As per the American Society of
Mechanical Engineers boiler pressure vessel codes,23

556

Ironmaking and Steelmaking

2008

VOL

35

NO

a SA weld; b SF weld; c SN weld


7 Optical micrographs of weld/HAZ interface of interrupted implant specimen revealing existence of cracks
in fusion boundary (GPB grain boundary phase; UTM
untempered martensite; UMZ unmixed zone)

the maximum permissible diffusible hydrogen level in


low alloy ferritic low hydrogen ferritic steel electrodes
(AWS E11018-M) wires is 4 mL/100 g deposited metal
and it corresponds to H4 (lower level) optimal supplemental diffusible hydrogen level designator. Thus the
diffusible hydrogen levels for all the consumables
considered in this investigation are within the above
said acceptable criteria.
Hydrogen induced cracking is not only sensitive to
composition of BM and weld metal, but also to the
strength of the BM and weld metal. The strength will
also affect the inherent resistance of the weld metal to

Magudeeswaran et al.

a SA weld; b SF weld; c SN weld


8 Fractographs of implant specimen

the cracking effects due to hydrogen. The resistance to


HIC is inversely related to strength: lower strength
metals being more resistant to HIC.24,25 In general, the
higher the strength of the weld, the lower is the
resistance to weld cold cracking. From Table 6, it is
revealed that the SN weld has a lower hardness in the
weld metal region than other welds and hence it offers
higher resistance to HIC.

Effect of heterogeneity in weld/HAZ interface


microstructure on HIC
In the case of similar welds the microstructures of the
weld metals and HAZ will be unique and essentially the
zone adjacent to the fusion boundary is a characteristic
feature of the BM and weld metal. However, this is not

Effect of welding consumables

true in the case of dissimilar welds. The fusion boundary


microstructure in dissimilar welds often possesses some
unique features. Normal epitaxial nucleation during
solidification along the fusion boundary gives rise to
grain boundaries that are continuous from the BM into
weld metal across the fusion boundary. These boundaries are roughly perpendicular to the fusion boundary
and have been referred to as Type I boundaries. In
dissimilar welds, where an austenitic weld metal and
ferritic BM exist, a second type of boundary that runs
roughly parallel to the fusion boundary is often
observed. This has been referred to as a Type II
boundary.26 These boundaries typically have no continuity across the fusion boundary to grain boundaries
in the BM. Several investigators have reported that
hydrogen-induced disbonding typically follows Type II
grain boundaries.27 The disbonding phenomenon that
occurs following fabrication and prior to service has also
been associated with these Type II boundaries. An
additional complication in austenitic/ferritic dissimilar
welds is the dramatic transition in composition and
microstructure that occurs adjacent to the fusion
boundary. In practice this transition occurs over a very
short distance (less than 1 mm) from the fusion
boundary into the weld metal, and results in a localised
martensitic band along the fusion boundary. Cracking
has been reported in the martensitic transition zone near
the fusion boundary. Often, the Type II boundaries
described previously reside in this martensitic region.28
In the fusion welding of dissimilar metal joints, the most
important considerations are the weld metal composition
and its properties. Weld metal composition depends upon
the composition of the BMs, the filler metal and their
relative dilutions of these materials. The filler metal must
be able to accept dilution (alloying) by the BMs without
producing a crack sensitive microstructure. The weld
metal microstructure must also be stable under the
expected service conditions. A successful weld between
dissimilar metals is one that is as strong as the weaker of
the two metals being joined with sufficient tensile strength
and ductility so that the joint will not fail. Owing to the
mismatch in coefficients of thermal expansion between the
ferritic steel and the austenitic steel, high residual stresses
are imposed at the interface between the ferritic steel and
the weld metal which cause most of the failures of
dissimilar weld joints near to the interface between the
ferritic steel and the weld metal.29
Failure analysis carried out on a failed dissimilar weld
joint between 2?25Cr1Mo ferritic steel and AISI type
316 stainless steel indicated that the crack had nucleated
at the root region of the weld and initially propagated
along the fusion line and then the crack had propagated
in the HAZ of the ferritic steel at the middle region,
reached the fusion line (interface between weld metal
and ferritic steel BM) and then finally the crack followed
the fusion line in the crown region. A dilution layer is
also present in the weld metal adjacent to the fusion line
due to carbon migration from the ferritic steel to the
weld metal. From the failure analysis, it was concluded
that the cyclic stresses produced in the HAZ of the
ferritic steel during the high temperature service, because
of the difference in the coefficients of thermal expansion
of the ferritic steel and the weld metal would have
produced the cracking along/adjacent to the fusion line
and also in the HAZ of the ferritic steel. It was also

Ironmaking and Steelmaking

2008

VOL

35

NO

557

Magudeeswaran et al.

Effect of welding consumables

concluded that the residual stresses present in the weld


joint would have assisted the cracking.30,31
In this investigation, the interface microstructure of
dissimilar welds namely, austenitic stainless steel and
high nickel steel exhibits salient features which is of
greater importance to HIC of armour grade quenched
and untempered steel welds. The interface microstructure of the welds made using austenitic stainless steel
exhibits a white grain boundary phase in the BM side of
the interface similar to that of the type II boundaries as
described above. The hardness in this region is found to
be much higher in this region (420 HV). This salient
feature is not present in the interface microstructure of
the high nickel steel welds. Thus a much lower hardness
(350 HV) at the fusion boundary is due to the absence of
the white grain boundary phase. Similar studies made by
Reddy et al.5 on cold cracking studies on low alloy (Cr
steel Mo) weldments using austenitic stainless steel and
high nickel steel consumables revealed that the interface
region of the austenitic stainless steel welds is much
harder. This is due to the fact that the interface consists
of a white phase at grain boundaries that is rich in
chromium and carbon and this interface is completely
absent in high nickel steel welds.5 This results in
improved toughness and resulted in high energy
fracture. On the other hand, the interface microstructure
of the LHF steel welds has hard untempered martensite
and no type II boundary exists. The interface region of
the SF welds is 434 HV, which is much greater than SA
and SN welds.

Effect of heat input on weld/HAZ interface


microstructure and hardness
The HAZ adjacent to the weld is raised to a high
temperature during welding and subsequent rapid cooling (quenching) by the surrounding parent metal causes
hardening. Close to the fusion boundary the HAZ is
raised to a sufficiently high temperature to produce a
coarse grain size. This high temperature region, because
of its coarse grain size, is not only more hardenable but
also less ductile than the regions away from fusion
boundary. It is thus the region in which the greatest risk
of cracking exists. As a general rule, for quenched and
untempered steels, the harder the microstructure the
greater is the risk of cracking. Soft microstructures can
tolerate more hydrogen than hard microstructures
before cracking occurs.32,33
In all the welds produced by a fusion process,
hardness in the weld/HAZ can drastically differ from
the unaffected BM, depending on the heating and
cooling conditions imposed by the welding process and
on the structure and chemical composition of the base
plate. The heat input (welding energy) plays a great role
in determining the hardness and microstructures in the
weld/HAZ interface of the welds. Cooling rate is slow in
the case of higher heat input welds and this results in the
much coarse microstructure and it results in lower
hardness at the fusion boundary towards HAZ. Thus
higher heat input (1?2 kJ mm21) of SN welds resulted in
the lower hardness due to very coarse untempered
martensite (Fig. 5f) in the HAZ region in close
proximity to the weld/HAZ interface region. However
a lower heat input of 0?85 kJ mm21 in SF welds resulted
in the higher hardness at the interface due to finer
untempered martensite (Fig. 5e) in the HAZ region in

558

Ironmaking and Steelmaking

2008

VOL

35

NO

close proximity to the weld/HAZ interface region. On


the other hand, SA welds with an intermediate (in this
case) heat input (0?88 kJ mm21) which has a marginally
fine untempered martensite at weld/HAZ interface
Fig. 5d) than SN but coarse than SF weld/HAZ interface. The hardness in the weld/HAZ interface is inversely
proportional to the LCS. The lower the hardness at the
weld/HAZ interface is very much beneficial for HIC.
Thus lower hardness interface is the major contributing
factor for enhancing the LCS of SN welds. For armour
grade Q&T steel welds used in combat vehicle construction the minimum required and acceptable LCS as
determined by using implant testing must be greater
than 200 MPa (Ref. 5). Thus, LCS values of all the
consumables used in this investigation are higher than
the minimum specified limit and thus satisfying the
above criteria.
It is evident from the above discussion; the LHF and
HNS consumables can also be used for welding armour
grade high Q&T steels as they have very low level of
diffusible hydrogen in their welds and acceptable LCS
values under implant conditions. Single V but joints
(14 mm thickness) were fabricated using the above
consumables and as per the welding conditions given
in Table 3. The macrograph of the joints is presented in
Fig. 9 and it evident from the above figure there is no
evidence of delayed cracking (due to HIC) in all the
cases. Thus, the LHF consumables can be accepted as an
alternative to the conventional ASS consumables and
the proposed HNS consumables. However, all the
necessary precautions like proper strorage of electrodes,
baking of electrodes before welding and maintaining the
appropriate preheating and interpass temperatures
during welding of armour grade Q&T steels are
prerequisites that must be strictly followed to achieve
defect free welds.34

Conclusions
In this paper, the effect of welding consumables on
hydrogen induced cracking of armour grade Q&T welds
made by the shielded metal arc welding process has been
analysed in detail. From this investigation, the following
conclusions are derived.
1. Hydrogen induced cracking in armour grade Q&T
steel welds is influenced by level of diffusible hydrogen
present in welds, weld metal strength, and susceptible
HAZ microstructure (untempered martensite). These
factors are influenced by welding consumables and weld
thermal cycle used during fabrication. Cold cracking
occurs if the above three factors intervene by their
combined effects.
2. The amount of diffusible hydrogen is very low for
all the welds made and is well within the permissible
limit. However, the SN welds impart a very low level of
diffusible hydrogen compared to SA and SF welds. This
is essentially due to the larger proportion of austenitic
phase in their weld metal region promoted by very high
nickel content. However, SF welds impart relatively
higher diffusible hydrogen level due to the presence of
larger proportion of acicular ferrite microstructure in
their weld metal region.
3. The solubility of hydrogen in austenitic phase is
high, whereas the diffusivity is low. Thus, a greater
proportion of austenitic phase in SN weld restricts the
flow of diffusible hydrogen (contained in the weld metal)

Magudeeswaran et al.

Effect of welding consumables

boundary) in the weld/HAZ interface region makes the


fusion boundary much softer than SA and SF welds.
Relatively lower heat input and existence of type II
boundary in the interface region of SA wells imparts
higher hardness in the fusion boundary is higher than
SN welds. The SF welds are characterised by a lower
heat input and the interface region is characterised by a
harder untempered martensitic structure and hence the
fusion boundary hardness is greater than SA and SF
welds. The fusion boundary hardness is inversely
proportional to the LCS and hence SN welds imparts
higher LCS than SA and SF welds.
5. Soft microstructures offer greater resistance to HIC
than hard microstructures. The higher the residual stress
the greater is the risk of HIC. Hence, lower residual stress
and a softer HAZ region due to higher heat input in SN
welds are beneficial for its greater resistance to HIC
compared to SA and SF welds.
6. A lower diffusible hydrogen in weld metal, coarse
untempered martensite microstructure in HAZ region
close to weld/HAZ interface, the lower hardness in the
weld/HAZ interface, lower residual stress and higher
LCS favoured the high nickel steel welds (SN) to offer
greater resistance to hydrogen induced cracking than
austenitic stainless steel (SA) and the low hydrogen
ferritic steel (SF) welds.
7. The diffusible hydrogen content and the value of
the LCS meets the specified limit for armour grade Q&T
steel welds and hence, the LHF consumables can be
accepted as an alternative to the to the traditionally used
ASS consumables and the proposed HNS consumables.

Acknowledgements
The authors are thankful to Armament Research Board
(ARMREB), New Delhi for funding this project work
(Project No. MAA/03/41), M/s Combat Vehicle Research
Development Establishment (CVRDE), Avadi, Chennai
for providing base material and Department of
Manufacturing Engineering, Annamalai University for
providing testing facility for this investigation.

References
a SA joint; b SF joint; c SN joint
9 Macrostructure of single V butt joints revealing no
evidence of delayed cracks due to HIC

into the HAZ region. Nickel based consumables can


tolerate a higher level of dilution from a carbon steel
BM, restricts the formation of martensite, has a
coefficient of thermal expansion and it has greater
ability overcome restraints due to weld thermal cycle
than the ASS consumables. Thus SN joints offer higher
resistance to HIC than SA joints. On the other hand, the
solubility of hydrogen in ferritic phase is much lower
than austenitic phase, but diffusibility is much higher.
Thus, a larger proportion of acicular ferrite in SF welds
allows a free path for flow of diffusible hydrogen from
weld to HAZ and hence SF welds offers lower resistance
to HIC than SA and SF welds.
4. The higher heat input of the SN welds together
with absence of white grain boundary phase (Type II

1. S. J. Alkemade: The weld cracking susceptibility of high hardness


armour steel, AR No. 009-659, Defense Science and Technology
organization, Adelaide, Australia, 1996, 17.
2. R. M. Mirza and R. Gee: Sci. Technol. Weld. Join., 1999, 4, (2),
104111.
3. G. Madhusudhan Reddy, T. Mohandas and G. R. N. Tagore: J.
Mater. Process. Technol., 1995, 49, 213228.
4. F. R. Coe: Welding steels without hydrogen cracking, 2nd edn,
1973, Cambridge, Abington Publishing.
5. G. Madhusudhan Reddy, T. Mohandas and D. S. Sarma: Sci.
Technol. Weld. Join., 2003, 8, (6), 407414.
6. M. D. Rowe, T. W. Nelson and J. C. Lippold: Weld. J., 1999, 2,
31s37s.
7. N. Yurioka and H. Suzuki: Int. Met. Rev., 1990, 35, 217 249.
8. P. Deb, K. D. Challenger and D. R. Clark: Mater. Sci. Eng., 1988,
77, 155167.
9. H. Kihara: J. Soc. Nav. Archit. Jpn, 1973, 133, 233245.
10. J. M. Sawhill, Jr, A. W. Dix and W. F. Savage: Weld. J., 1974, 53,
554s560s.
11. B. Basu: Proc. Natl Conf. on Weldingproductivity & quality (ed.
A. K. Shah), 7378; 2007, Ambernath, Naval Materials
Laboratory.
12. Standard methods for determination of diffusible-hydrogen
content of martensitic, bainatic and ferritic steels produced by
arc welding, AWS Guidelines, 4, 130, 1986.

Ironmaking and Steelmaking

2008

VOL

35

NO

559

Magudeeswaran et al.

Effect of welding consumables

13. Method for determination of diffusible-hydrogen content of


deposited weld metal from covered electrodes in welding mild
and low alloy steels, IS 11802, 136, 1986.
14. F. R. Coe: Hydrogen in weld metal, 2nd edn; 1969, Cambridge,
Abington Publishing.
15. Recommendations for the use of the implant test as on additional
information on cold cracking susceptibility when welding steels,
IIS/IIW-447-73, Weld. World, 1974, 1, (2), 916.
16. H. Granjon: Metal. Constr. Br. Weld. J., 1969, 11, 505515.
17. V. Ramasubbu, S. K. Albert, V. Guruprasad and A. K. Bhaduri:
Proc. Natl Weld. Semin., (ed. A. K. Bhaduri), 342349; 2006,
Chennai, Indian Institute of welding.
18. J. D. Parker and G. C. Stratford: Sci. Technol. Weld. Join., 1999, 4,
(1), 2939.
19. M. Murugananth, H. K. D. H. Bhadeshia, E. Keehan, H. O.
Andren and L. Karlsson: in Mathematical modelling of weld
phenomena, (ed. H. Cerjak and H. K. D. H. Bhadeshia), Vol. 6,
205230; 2002, London, IOM.
20. T. A. Siewert: Weld. Des. Fabr., 1978, 1, (2), 8788.
21. G. Goodwin: Weld. J., 1985, 64, (8), 1920.
22. R. E. Dobly: Sci. Technol. Weld. Join., 2000, 5, (6), 341346.

560

Ironmaking and Steelmaking

2008

VOL

35

NO

23. Specifications for low alloy steel electrodes for shielded metal arc
welding,ASMEboilerpressurevesselcode,IICSFA5?5,2007,105107.
24. S. Lampman: Weld integrity and performance; 1997, Materials
Park, OH, ASM International.
25. R. K. Dayal and N. Parvathavarthini: Sadhana, 2003, 28, 431451.
26. M. Rowe and S. Liu: Sci. Technol. Weld. Join., 2001, 6, (6), 387396.
27. K. Asami and T. Sakai: Trans. JWRI, 1995, 21, (6), 7382.
28. F. Matsuda and H. Nakagawa: Trans. JWRI, 1984, 3, (1), 159161.
29. A. Fuji, E. Kudo, T. Takahashi and K. Mano: Trans. JWS, 1986,
17(1), 2732.
30. A. Joseph, S. K. Rai, T. Jayakumar and N. Murugan: Int. J. Pres.
Ves. Pip., 2005, 82, 700705.
31. A. Joseph, T. Jayakumar and N. Murugan: Pract. Metall., 2001,
38, (12), 667679.
32. S. Kou: Welding metallurgy, 3rd edn; 1987, New York, John
Wiley and Sons.
33. V. S. R. Murti, Y. R. Sastry, V. G. N. Rao and G. M. Reddy: J.
Mater. Process. Technol., 1993, 37, 759765.
34. G. Magudeeswaran: Fatigue and Fracture toughness behaviour of
armour grade, quenched and tempered, high strength steel joints,
PhD thesis, Annamalai university, Tamilnadu, India, 2008.