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Introduction to Explosive Welding

To form an explosive weld the following conditions need to occur:


Two surfaces that need to be joined are initially spaced at a small distance (standoff distance). An explosive force brings these two surfaces together progressively at a collision front. The collision front's velocity must be lower than the speed of sound in the materials, so that the shock wave precedes the bond being formed. If not, the shockwave would interfere with the contacted surfaces preventing a bond occurring. The interfacial pressure at the collision front must exceed the yield strength of the materials, so that plastic deformation will occur.

A jet of metal is formed just ahead of the collision front, comprising of the two component surfaces, which is finally ejected from the interface. The surfaces and any surface contaminants are removed in the jet. Behind the collision front, the now clean surfaces bond, under extreme pressure, in the solid state. This dynamic welding situation is shown in Fig.1. In cross section, the materials usually bond together in an undulating wave form and the process can weld a parent plate of thickness 0.025mm to over 1m (the maximum flyer plate thickness is one third that of the parent plate). Up to 30m2 can be welded in one explosion.

Fig.1. Dynamic situation at the collision front showing the jetting mechanism

Current Status Explosive welding was first recognised as a solid state process in 1944 when solid state welding had occurred between two metallic discs which had been in contact with a detonator. It was not until the 1960s that the process was exploited commercially throughout the world. The process was mainly used to clad large areas of one metal with another. The materials that are commonly clad are shown in Fig.2.

Fig.2. Common clad material combinations

Current issues More recently the process has moved away from simple cladding and is used to produce corrosion resistant pressure vessels, transition joints for shipbuilding, electrical busbars and heat exchangers for nuclear installations. Future developments of the technique might create advanced composite structures for the aerospace industry. Benefits The advantages of explosive welding over conventional welding techniques are as follows:

Used to join dissimilar metals Achieves high bond strength Maintains parent metal qualities Achieves welds over large areas Requires low capital outlay Produces minimal distortion of parent metals Enables remote welding to take place Enables welding in hostile environments

Introduction Explosive welding is a solid state welding process, which uses a controlled explosive detonation to force two metals together at high pressure. The resultant composite system is joined with a durable, metallurgical bond.

Explosive welding under high velocity impact was probably first recognized by Garl in 1944. Explosive welding was first recognized as a possibility in 1957 in the United States when it was observed by Philipchuck that metal sheets being explosively formed occasionally stuck to the metal dies. Between that and now the process has been developed fully with large applications in the manufacturing industry. It has been found to be possible to weld together combinations of metals, which are impossible, by other means. The Process This is a solid state joining process. When an explosive is detonated on the surface of a metal, a high pressure pulse is generated. This pulse propels the metal at a very high rate of speed. If this piece of metal collides at an angle with another piece of metal, welding may occur. For welding to occur, a jetting action is required at the collision interface. This jet is the product of the surfaces of the two pieces of metals colliding. This cleans the metals and allows to pure metallic surfaces to join under extremely high pressure. The metals do not commingle, they are atomically bonded. Due to this fact, any metal may be welded to any metal (i.e.- copper to steel; titanium to stainless). Typical impact pressures are millions of psi. Fig. 1 shows the explosive welding process.

Explosives The commonly used high explosives are Explosive RDX (Cyclotrimethylene trinitramine, C3H6N6O6 PETN (Pentaerythritol tetranitrate, C5H8N12O4) TNT (Trinitrotoluene, C7H5N3O6) Tetryl (Trinitrophenylmethylinitramine, C7H5O8N5) Lead azide (N6Pb) Datasheet Ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) Applications 1. Joining of pipes and tubes. 2. Major areas of the use of this method are heat exchanger tube sheets and pressure vessels. 3. Tube Plugging. 4. Remote joining in hazardous environments. 5. Joining of dissimilar metals - Aluminium to steel, Titanium alloys to Cr Ni steel, Cu to stainless steel, Tungsten to Steel, etc. 6. Attaching cooling fins. 7. Other applications are in chemical process vessels, ship building industry, cryogenic industry, etc. Advantages 1) Can bond many dissimilar, normally unweldable metals. 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7) Minimum fixturing/jigs. Simplicity of the process. Extremely large surfaces can be bonded. Wide range of thicknesses can be explosively clad together. No effect on parent properties. Small quantity of explosive used. Detonation velocity , m/s 8100 8190 6600 7800 5010 7020 2655

Limitations 1. The metals must have high enough impact resistance, and ductility. 2. Noise and blast can require operator protection, vacuum chambers, buried in sand/water. 3. The use of explosives in industrial areas will be restricted by the noise and ground vibrations caused by the explosion. 4. The geometries welded must be simple flat, cylindrical, conical.