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Consider Penetration When Determining Fillet Weld Size

Consider Penetration When Determining Fillet Weld Size

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Published by davidemol
When the welding process and procedure achieve a depth of penetration beyond the root, then the effective throat dimension is increased for fillet welds with equal leg sizes.
When the welding process and procedure achieve a depth of penetration beyond the root, then the effective throat dimension is increased for fillet welds with equal leg sizes.

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Published by: davidemol on May 29, 2013
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Welding Innovation Vol. XV, No. 1, 1998 
Consider PenetrationWhen Determining Fillet Weld Size
Practical Ideas for the Design Professional by Duane K.Miller,Sc.D.,P.E.
Design File 
A flat-faced, equal-legged fillet weld in a 90° T-joint has atheoretical throat dimension of 0.707
, where
is the legsize (Figure 1).This assumes fusion is achieved to theroot of the joint, but not necessarily beyond that point.When the welding process and procedure achieve a depthof penetration beyond the root, then the effective throatdimension is increased for fillet welds with equal leg sizes.The effective throat dimension, t
, is then equal to thetheoretical throat, t
, plus some additional value due topenetration (Figure 2).Therefore, if penetration beyond theroot is achieved, the leg size can be reduced and the sameweld strength can be achieved.This reduces the requiredquantity of filler metal and, if the penetration fillet weld canbe made at the same or higher travel speeds, weldingcosts can be reduced.It is possible for the designer to use this increase in throatsize due to penetration when sizing welds, but the effortmust be coordinated with manufacturing.If a consistentdepth of penetration can be obtained, then leg size can bereduced without sacrificing weld strength.There are sever-al practical issues that must be addressed, however, suchas applicable welding code provisions, penetration capabili-ty and consistency through process and procedure control,geometric effects, and metallurgical characteristics.It isnot always practicable to utilize this concept;however,engineers should consider penetration when determiningfillet weld size.
What Do the Codes Say?
Currently, the
AWS D1.1-98 Structural Welding Code – Steel and the AASHTO/AWS D1.5-96 Bridge Welding Code 
do not account for penetration when determining filletweld sizes.However, several codes do have provisionspermitting reduced fillet weld sizes.In general terms, the AISC LRFD specification permitsconsideration of penetration when sizing fillet welds madeby submerged arc welding (SAW), while the other codeslisted below all permit consideration of penetration whenthe welding procedure is qualified by test, regardless ofwhich process is used.
Figure 1.Fillet weld dimensions Figure 2.Effective throat dimension with significant penetration.Table 1.Codes permitting reduced fillet weld sizes due to penetration.
AWS D14.3-94Earth moving and constructionequipment
AISC LRFDBuildings and other structuresAWS D14.1-85Industrial mill cranes and othermaterial handling equipmentAWS D14.2-86Metal cutting machine toolweldments
Welding Innovation Vol. XV, No. 1, 1998 
Specifically, section 8 of AISC LRFD reads as follows:“The effective area of a fillet weld A
is the product ofthe effective length of the fillet weld times the effectivethroat thickness of the fillet weld.Except for fillet weldsmade with the SAW process, the effective throat thick-ness of the fillet weld is 0.707
, where
is the weldsize.The deep penetration of fillet welds made by theSAW process is recognized in the LRFD SpecificationSection J2.2a wherein the effective throat thickness isconsidered to be equal to the weld size for 3/8-in.andsmaller welds, and equal to the effective throat thick-ness plus 0.11 in.for fillet weld sizes over 3/8 in.For example, assume a weld throat of 0.45 in (11 mm) isrequired.A standard 5/8 in (16 mm) fillet weld will achievethis result.According to AISC LRFD, if SAW is used, a fil-let weld with a leg of 1/2 in (13 mm) could be used, result-ing in a throat of 1/2 in (0.707) + 0.11 = 0.46 in (12 mm).The volume of weld metal required would decrease from0.195 in
 /linear in (125 mm
 /linear mm) to 0.125 in
 /linear in(80 mm
 /linear mm), resulting in a 56% savings.However,the savings will often be even more significant with filletwelds under 3/8 in (10 mm) where the effective throat isconsidered to equal the leg size.Other codes do not restrict this concept to SAW, or to par-ticular weld sizes.For example,
AWS D14.1-85 
, Table 5,footnote (b) states that“The intent of this table is not to establish the arc weldingprocesses that provide deep penetration, but rather, toestablish the typical allowable decrease of fillet weld size,provided the manufacturer can demonstrate that therequired effective throat can be obtained by the qualifiedwelding procedure in accordance with Section 7.”
AWS D14.2-86 
, section 4.4.2, stipulates:“No allowance for penetration into the plate surfaces atthe root of a fillet weld shall be made when computingthe effective throat, except when sectioned test piecesshow that the welding procedure gives penetration>3/32 in.(2.4 mm) beyond the root of the joint.Then theeffective throat may be considered to extend from theroot of the weld to the face of the weld ...”
AWS D14.3-94 
, paragraph, reads as follows:“Design values based on depth of penetration or effec-tive throat, or both, which are beyond the root of the joint shall only be used when the values have beendetermined from a significant number of cross-sec-tioned samples which reflect the range of materials,material thickness, and welding conditions.All four specifications imply that some restrictions on theuse of this concept are warranted to ensure repeatableresults.Regardless of code treatment, the principle issound, but control of welding conditions is essential.
Practical Considerations
Consistency is a must.To make this approach work “offthe drawing board”and in the shop, there must be tightcontrols over all the variables which affect penetration.Some of these include:Welding proceduresElectrode placement, which can be influenced by thehelical nature of coiled electrodesFitup and alignmentWelding positionPolarityElectrode diameterCurrent and current densityVoltageWire feed speedTravel speedPreheat and interpass temperatureTraditionally, this principle has been applied to SAW, butother welding processes, such as FCAW-g and GMAW, arecapable of achieving this penetration too (see Figure 3).Two GMAW weld samples in Figure 3 reveal the potentialfor significant penetration.Also, it must be noted that SAW
Figure 3.Penetration beyond the root is not limited to SAW, but can be achieved with other processes such as GMAW shown here.

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