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Short communication Local mechanical properties of radial friction welded supermartensitic stainless steel pipes C.A. Della Rovere, C.R. Ribeiro, R. Silva, N.G. Alcntara, S.E. Kuri PII: DOI: Reference: To appear in: S0261-3069(13)01068-6 JMAD 6023 Materials and Design

Please cite this article as: Della Rovere, C.A., Ribeiro, C.R., Silva, R., Alcntara, N.G., Kuri, S.E., Local mechanical properties of radial friction welded supermartensitic stainless steel pipes, Materials and Design (2013), doi: http://

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Local mechanical properties of radial friction welded supermartensitic stainless steel pipes
C.A. Della Rovere (a)*, C.R. Ribeiro(a), R. Silva(a), N.G. Alcntara(a), S.E. Kuri(a)

Department of Materials Engineering, Federal University of So Carlos

Rodovia Washington Luis, Km 235. 13565-905 So Carlos, SP, Brazil


In this work, supermartensitic stainless steel pipes were radial friction (RF) welded and their microstructures and local mechanical properties (hardness, fracture toughness and micro-tensile strength) were characterized in the as-welded condition. Defect-free RF welds were produced with a matching consumable ring (CR) under optimized welding conditions. The formation of a ne structure consisting of a mixture of virgin martensite and some stable austenite retained in the CR region was observed. On the other hand, the presence of virgin martensite plus -ferrite was found in the microstructures of the heat affected zone (HAZ) and themo-mechanically affected zone (TMAZ). A ductile fracture was detected in the CR and weld interface regions at 40 oC. Moreover, both the CR and weld interface regions showed higher hardness and strength values than those of the base material (overmatching), without presenting signicant losses in ductility and fracture toughness, which was attributed directly to the ne transformed microstructure of the weld region. Keywords: Supermartensitic stainless steel; radial friction welding; microstructure; hardness; mechanical properties 1. Introduction

Since the early 90s, the oil industry has been furthering the development of new corrosion resistant alloys for onshore and offshore pipeline applications. In this context,
*Corresponding author.;

supermartensitic stainless steel (SMSS) was introduced as a practical and economical alternative to carbon steels and duplex stainless steels for tubing applications in oil and gas wells with moderate corrosive conditions, because they offer better corrosion resistance than carbon steels, do not require coatings and inhibitors, and their production costs are lower than those of duplex grades [1-3]. The main metallurgical changes in relation to conventional martensitic stainless steels is that SMSSs contain up to 3% more molybdenum (Mo) and up to 6% more nickel (Ni). Mo was added to improve the resistance to localized corrosion and sulfide stress cracking, while Ni was added to avoid ferrite formation via austenite () phase field extension. Levels of carbon (C) content have been reduced to as little as 0.01 wt.% to improve weldability. However, despite their superior weldability, mechanical properties and corrosion resistance, the failure in service of SMSS pipe girth welds has been reported in the literature and the properties of the welded material are still cause for concern [4-6]. Today, the major issues and challenges of SMSSs have to do with their weldability and the resulting mechanical and corrosion performance of the welded material, as well as the development of fast, reliable, economic welding processes that minimize or even dispense with expensive and time-consuming post-weld heat treatments (PWHT). In this context, several new and advanced processes have been investigated as alternatives to conventional welding process for SMSSs [7-10]. Omura et al. [7] applied laser welding to produce thin wall seam welded pipes of SMSS with excellent corrosion properties due to the rapid solidification of the weld metal, which had neither precipitation nor segregation. These authors also found that the laser welded pipes showed superior corrosion resistance than those produced by conventional seam welding processes such as gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) and electric resistance welding (ERW). Aquino and co-workers [8,9] have studied the corrosion behavior of SMSS welded joints produced with or without matching consumables, using electron beam welding (EB) process. No PWHT was applied. In both cases, because of the rapid heating and cooling involved in the EBW process, the authors have verified an improvement in the corrosion resistance from the base metal to the weld metal in the EB weldment. However, Bala Srinivasan and co-workers [10] have reported that the

weld metal of SMSS EB welded joints is prone to embrittlement under the conditions of hydrogen charging due to the high hardness and strength levels presented by the microstructure in this region. In summary, much attention is still focused on establishing optimal welding procedures for SMSSs and on understanding the behaviour of these weldments in different applications. Radial friction (RF) welding is a variant of the friction welding process which was developed by TWI as a one-shot joining technique for pipelines, offering significant advantages over conventional welding process, e.g. an extremely fast welding time of less than thirty seconds, no requirement for operator skills, high weld quality, high reproducibility and the possibility of joining dissimilar materials. In addition, many of the metallurgical problems associated with fusion welding processes can be avoided, since RF welding is a solid state joining process [11-15]. In regard to the development of this welding process, there are some works worth mentioning. For example, RF welding experiments were first proposed and carried out by Nicholas et al. [11] using steel pipes. Dunkerton and co-workers [12] applied RF welding to duplex stainless steel pipes and obtained a satisfactory weld quality. A sound weld formation with no defects was observed in the transverse section of the weldment. In addition, the authors have also highlighted that RF welding is a suitable procedure for offshore application. Torster et al. [13] studied the metallurgical and mechanical properties of Ti-6Al-4V-0.1Ru (wt.%) riser pipes joined by RF welding and indicated that the RF welded joints fulfill the basic requirements for a future use in the installation of Ti-6Al-4V-0.1Ru (wt%) production risers. Recently, Luo et al. [14,15] have adopted RF welding to copper/ high carbon steel dissimilar metals and studied the interfacial features of this dissimilar welding joint. They reported that a smooth line occurs in the central welding interface and a good welding seam is formed. Despite the above cited advantages and the excellent potential of RF welding for joining pipes offshore, this solid-state welding process has not yet been widely applied. Moreover, the current literature contains very few studies about the structures and properties of RF welded joints, so further studies are of vital importance to further the development and expand the industrial application of this welding process. In this study,

an evaluation was made of the microstructure and local mechanical properties of RF welded SMSS pipes. The microstructural features of the RF weldment have been investigated by optical microscopy and X-ray diffraction analyses. The local mechanical properties were characterized by microhardness, microtensile and fracture toughness tests. 2. Experimental procedure

The RF welding process is performed by putting together two bevelled pipes that are held in place clamps to prevent any additional rotation or axial movement. A consumable ring of the same material as the pipes is placed between the two pipe ends, as illustrated in Fig. 1. This consumable ring is then rotated and compressed radially to produce frictional heat between the rubbing ring and the stationary pipe surfaces, which in turn will generate the thermomechanical conditions needed to form the weld. To keep the pipe ends aligned radially and to react against external radial welding pressure, a heat resistant mandrel is simultaneously expanded inside the pipe bore at the weld site. After a given period of time and a controlled level of metal displacement (called burnoff), rotation is stopped and the radial pressure is maintained or increased to consolidate the weld [13,16].

Figure 1 Schematic view of the RF welding process.

The SMSS RF welded seamless pipe segments had an outer diameter of 168.3 mm and a wall thickness of 14.3 mm. RF welds were produced using a consumable ring machined from a heavy wall pipe. The pipe material (BM) and the consumable ring (CR) consisted of high alloy SMSS (12.01% Cr, 6.4% Ni, 2.42% Mo, 0.47% Mn, 0.17%Si, 0.10%Ti, 0.01%C, balance Fe) in quenched and tempered condition. The following welding parameters were optimized based on a set of preliminary destructive and nondestructive experiments for quality evaluation, and were employed to obtain the final RF welds: (1) rotation speed: 190 210 rpm; (2) friction pressure: 4 4.5 MPa; (3) friction time: 22 28 s; (4) burn-off length: 7 8 mm; (5) forging pressure: 4 4.5 MPa; (6) forging time: 4 5 s. It is worth noting that the RF welded pipes were not post-weld heat-treated (PWHT) and all the analyses were performed in the as-welded condition. Transverse sections of the RF weldments were cut to examine the microstructural features of the CR and the weld interface regions by conventional metallographic and X-ray diffraction (XRD) techniques. Vickers microhardness was tested along a line at the wall pipe mid-thickness, applying a load of 500 g for 10 s at a distance of 0.5 mm between indentations. To determine changes in the local mechanical properties along the weldment, micro-tensile test specimens were extracted by wire cut EDM from different regions of RF welded joints in the middle region of the pipe wall, as illustrated in Fig. 2 (a) and (b). The micro-tensile test was carried out at room temperature in air, using rates of 0.2 mm/min. In order to conrm the reliability of the micro-tensile tests, a tensile test for a standard round specimen with a diameter of 8 mm for the BM was carried out at room temperature. Figure 3 presents the comparison between the stressstrain curve measured by the microtensile specimen and that measured by the standard round tensile specimen. Note that the curve measured by the microtensile specimen is essentially consistent with that measured by the standard round specimen, although there are slight differences between them owing to the different geometries of specimens. This result is similar to those described by am et al. [17], Kim et al. [18] and Wang et al. [19], who also observed that the mechanical properties obtained from the microtensile specimens are in good agreement with those from the standard round

tensile specimens, and the use of the microtensile specimen technique is a reliable way to determine local mechanical properties of the welded joints.

Figure 2 Schematic views of the (a) extraction mode and (b) dimensions of micro tensile specimens.

Figure 3 Comparison of stress-strain curves for BM obtained by testing standard round and micro-tensile specimens.

To investigate the local fracture resistance of the RF welded pipes, single-edge notched bend (SENB) specimens with cracks located in three different positions of the weldment (the BM, CR, and weld interface) were machined. The specimen thickness, B, was 10 mm, the width, W, was 10 mm (W = B), the loading span, S, was 40 mm (S = 4W), and the final a/W ratio after fatigue precracking was 0.5. The loading point and crack were located at the center of the specimen and the tests were carried out at 40oC. The test was conducted by the of multiple-specimen method, according to the GKSS test procedure EFAM GTP 02 [20]. This method involves testing four or more specimens, each of which represents a single value on the crack resistance curves (R-

curves). In order to characterize the fracture mechanisms, the fractured surfaces of the SENB specimens were examined by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). 3. Results and discussion

Figure 4 (a) shows a macrograph of RF welded SMSS pipe. Note the formation of a sound welded joint without pores, inclusions or cracks along the weld interface. The flash collars appearing at the sides of the CR, which are formed naturally by the extrusion of the original (contaminated) surface material from the weld line, have a beneficial effect on the quality of the welded joint. It should be mentioned that in the case of actual service joints, the weld profile must be machined to blend evenly with the outer diameter and, if necessary, with the inner diameter of connected pipes. The microstructure of the unaffected BM, shown in Fig. 4 (b), reveals a tempered martensite matrix with no evidence of -ferrite. XRD patterns (not shown) also indicate that the BM contains a substantial amount of retained austenite (around 12.2 vol.%). According to the literature [21-23], the formation of stable austenite in SMSSs takes place during tempering at around the austenite formation start temperature (AC1) by means of a Ni enrichment mechanism. In addition, this austenite, which is finely distributed along the martensite interlath boundaries, improves the material toughness and is detectable only by electron microscopy. According to Bilmes et al. [21], the toughening mechanism of stable retained austenite particles is associated with a localized transformation-induced plasticity (TRIP) effect during the fracture process. A fine-grained microstructure consisting of a mixture of virgin martensite and stable retained austenite (12.1 vol.%) was formed in the central portion of the CR region [Fig. 4 (c)] due to the welding thermal cycle. On the other hand, the heat and deformation generated during the RF welding process produced two distinctly different zones across the weld region: (1) a thermomechanically affected zone (TMAZ) located at the weld interface, where the material underwent high plastic deformation due to the compressive pressure applied to consolidate the metallic bond, in addition to heatinduced microstructural changes; and (2) a heat affected zone (HAZ) where the materials microstructure was modified mainly by the thermal field of the welding

process, although this region also underwent some degree of deformation. As indicated in Fig. 4 (d) and (e), the HAZ is composed predominantly of virgin martensite and ferrite stringers surrounding prior austenite grains, while the TMAZ presents a coarsegrained microstructure composed of virgin martensite with a very small fraction of ferrite. XRD patterns indicate that the weld interface presents no retained austenite. As mentioned earlier, the formation of stable austenite in SMSS (which is retained when the alloy is cooled at ambient temperature) takes place during tempering at around AC1 by means of a Ni enrichment mechanism; therefore, very little, if any, austenite is retained in SMSS microstructures after heating to temperatures inside the -ferrite single phase field, which explains the absence of austenite at the weld interface [21-23].

Figure 4 (a) Macrograph of RF welded SMSS pipes and typical microstructures of: (b) BM, (c) CR, (d) HAZ; and (e) TMAZ.

The microhardness profile depicted in Fig. 5 shows that the maximum hardness was developed in the CR region, with an average value of 340 HV0.5 recorded in this region. The hardness value dropped marginally in the HAZ/TMAZ to about 325 HV0.5 and the BM region exhibited the lowest hardness, with values ranging from 282 to 313 HV0.5. It is well known that the hardness of martensite is controlled primarily by its carbon content, and secondarily by prior austenite grain size. Therefore, the hardness of martensite increases with increasing carbon content and decreasing grain size of prior austenite. In addition, any retention of -ferrite in the microstructure will tend to lower its hardness [24,25]. Thus, the higher hardness values in the CR region seem to

be directly associated with the formation of a fine-grained structure consisting of a mixture of virgin martensite and some stable austenite, and with the absence of -ferrite. On the other hand, the somewhat lower hardness values in the HAZ/TMAZ region compared to that of the CR are most likely due to a grain size effect and/or the presence of -ferrite. Micro-tensile specimens were tested to determine the local mechanical characteristics throughout the welded joint. The profiles of the yielding point (Rp0.2), ultimate tensile strength (Rm) and elongation at rupture (r) of the welded joint are plotted in Fig. 5. Note that the local tensile behavior confirms the overmatched nature of the CR and HAZ/TMAZ regions, indicating that the lowest Rp0.2 and Rm values are measured in the BM and that the strength levels increase towards the weld center. This is probably directly attributable to the following microstructural aspects found in the RF welded SMSS pipes: (1) the presence of virgin martensite plus -ferrite in the HAZ and TMAZ microstructures, and (2) the formation of a fine-grained virgin martensite with some stable retained austenite in the CR region. Across the RF welded joint, the Rp0.2 increased from 686 MPa in the BM to around 823 MPa in the CR. The Rm increased from 812 MPa to about 950 MPa. On the other hand, the micro-tensile results also indicate that the increase in strength did not lead to a significant decrease in weld zone ductility. As can be seen in Fig. 5, the r values are lower in the welded CR (about 10%) than in the unaffected BM (around 15%). The values of CTOD 5 at maximum load for the three different positions of the RF weldment are depicted in Fig. 6 (a). Note that the weld interface presents the lower CTOD 5 value, indicating a relative lower fracture toughness of this region, which may be explained by the absence of retained austenite and the presence of fragile -ferrite [21,22,24,2628]. The R-curves are depicted in Fig. 6 (b). An interpolation of the BM results was made for a better comparison of the results. Note that the fracture toughness of the weld interface and CR follow the same trend as that of the BM curve, but the variation in the results is significantly higher. However, even with this greater variation in values, neither the weld interface nor the CR presented a brittle behavior. Figures 6 (c), (d) and (e) show fractographs of the BM, weld interface and CR specimens tested under peak load conditions, respectively. Since the dimples are


known to be created by the nucleation, growth, and coalescence of microvoids, their presence on the fracture surfaces of all specimens indicates that a substantial amount of macroscopic plastic deformation preceded the fracture, conrming the ductile behavior of the RF weldment. This result ensures the excellent fracture toughness of RF welded pipes when loaded at 40 oC.

Figure 5 Profiles of microhardness and tensile properties (Rp0.2, Rm and r).

Figure 6 (a) CTOD values calculated at maximum load; (b) fracture resistance curves (R-curves) for RF welded pipes (cracks located in three different positions: BM, CR, and weld interface); SEM fracture surfaces of: (c) BM, (d) CR, and (d) weld interface specimens.


4. Conclusions

This investigation confirmed the fact that the RF welding process can be applied to SMSS pipes and high quality SMSS (defect-free) welds can be made reproducibly with properties closely matching those of the BM, without requiring PWHT or tempering. Moreover, the RF welds produced with a matching CR exhibited excellent local mechanical properties, not only achieving the minimum requirements of strength (Rp0.2 = 600 MPa and Rm = 800 MPa) for a high alloy SMSS in the as-welded condition but also exhibiting higher strength levels in the HAZ, TMAZ and CR regions (overmatching) than the BM, without presenting signicant losses in ductility and fracture toughness of the weld zone. Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge FAPESP (So Paulo Research Foundation grant no. 12/16113-6), PPGCEM/UFSCar (Postgraduate Program in Materials Science and Engineering of the Federal University of So Carlos) and the Brazilian research funding agency CNPq (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development) for their financial support of this work. The authors are also indebted to Mr. Carlos Eduardo Della Rovere for his invaluable assistance with the illustrations. References

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Figure Captions

Figure 1 Schematic view of the RF welding process.

Figure 2 Schematic views of the (a) extraction mode and (b) dimensions of micro tensile specimens.

Figure 3 Comparison of stress-strain curves for BM obtained by testing standard round and micro-tensile specimens. Figure 4 (a) Macrograph of RF welded SMSS pipes and typical microstructures of: (b) BM, (c) CR, (d) HAZ; and (e) TMAZ. Figure 5 Profiles of microhardness and tensile properties (Rp0.2, Rm and r). Figure 6 (a) CTOD values calculated at maximum load; (b) fracture resistance curves (R-curves) for RF welded pipes (cracks located in three different positions: BM, CR, and weld interface); SEM fracture surfaces of: (c) BM, (d) CR, and (d) weld interface specimens.