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High-strength Fine-grain Constructional Steels

The micro-alloy steels may be divided into three main groups depending on their manufacture: 1. normalised fine-grain constructional steels 2. quenched and tempered fine-grain constructional steels 3. thermomechanically treated fine-grain constructional steels A fine-grain ferritic-pearlitic structure is achieved with the conventionally rolled, normalised fine-grain constructional steels essentially by the elimination of finely dispersed carbonitrides and carbides from the austenitic area during air cooling. Fine-grain constructional steels with yield points up to 500 N/mm are manufactured by this method. The finest grain is achieved by water quenching in the quenched and tempered fine-grain constructional steels whereby micro-alloying elements such as B, V, Nb and Ti as well as to some extent the alloying elements Cr and Ni are of significant importance. With water quenching it is possible to achieve yield points between 450 and 960 N/mm. The special properties of the two steel groups initially mentioned are achieved by a heat treatment carried out after rolling. In the thermodynamically treated steels a targeted heat treatment is included in the rolling process as a result of which it is possible to manufacture high-tensile steels with very low carbon contents. It was possible to significantly increase the mechanical properties of constructional steels and their weldability with the help of the micro-alloying elements and appropriate production methods.

Welding of Fine-grain Constructional Steels

Generally speaking special precautions are required for processing steels with increasing minimum yield strength values where the design of weldments and load analysis are essential. However, the instructions for processing these steels cannot deal with and control every possible problem. Thus in special cases it is useful to consult the steel manufacturer or to carry out in-house tests which may be necessary when first using fine-grained constructional steels. The risk of hot cracking in these steels is low. On the other hand attention must be drawn to the possibility of lamellar tearing and cold cracking which require appropriate design and/or welding technology measures such as reducing stresses, avoiding excessive hardness increase and internal stresses and aiming for low hydrogen contents in the weld metal. The preheat temperature for joint welding and tack welding lies between 50 and 250C (120 and 480F). It depends upon material thickness, chemical compositions of parent material and weld metal, energy input during welding, as well as on predicted residual stresses. As the thickness increases it is necessary to aim for the upper temperature limit. The following table presents figures for thickness limits taking preheat as a function of the minimum yield strength of the parent material. minimum for yield strength [N/mm]
Bhler Schweitechnik Austria GmbH. - Mat-Fine grain Steels.doc

thickness limit [mm] 30 20 12 8

355 >355 to 420 >420 to 590 > 590

The development of temperature and time during welding is of crucial importance to mechanical properties of high-strength welded joints. This development is significantly influenced by plate thickness, geometry of edge preparation, energy input, preheat temperature and sequence of passes. The cooling time t8/5 is generally used to define the development of temperature and time during welding. This is the period of time during which a weld passes through the temperature range from 800 to 500C (1470 to 930F) when cooling. The maximum hardness in the heat affected zone drops as the cooling time t8/5 increases. If a specific maximum hardness may not be exceeded in a particular steel then it is necessary to set the welding parameters in such a manner that the cooling time t8/5 does not fall below a defined value. On the other hand increasing values for the cooling time t8/5 cause a reduction in the impact strength and an increase in the transition temperature of impact strength within the heat affected zone. If it is necessary to meet a specific minimum impact strength for a particular steel, then the welding parameters must be set in such a way that the cooling time t8/5 is kept below a defined value. The
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cooling time t8/5 to be applied in a particular case depends on the collective requirements for mechanical properties including characteristic strength values of the actual weld joint in the postweld heat-treated condition. Selection of a suitable filler metal is of prime importance before welding a specific fine-grained constructional steel. In this case allowance must be made for the fact that the weld metal must meet the mechanical and technological properties of the base metal despite dilution. Welding Procedure When selecting filler metals the weld metal must satisfy the mechanical properties of the base metal despite dilution by the latter. Use only re-dried basic-coated electrodes. Preheat and interpass temperature should be between 80 and 250C (180 and 480F) depending on wall thickness, chemical compositions of base metal and weld metal, energy input and existing state of residual stresses. Thickness limits must be considered when determining preheating as a function of the base metals yield strength. Aim for the upper limit of the temperature range as wall thickness increases. The temperature/time curve (t8/5) is very significant for the mechanical properties of heat-affected zones. Comply with the recommendations of steel manufacturers regarding energy input at all times.

Filler metals
The following table shows suitable BHLER consumables. base material (example) S355NL S500QL S690QL BHLER product FOX EV 50, EMK 6, EMS 2/BB 25 resp. BB 24 FOX EV 65, NiMo 1-IG, 3 NiMo 1-UP/BB 24 FOX EV 85, X70-IG, 3 NiCrMo 2.5-UP/BB 24

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