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Three-Dimensional Modeling of the Plasma Arc in Arc Welding

Three-Dimensional Modeling of the Plasma Arc in Arc Welding

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G. Xu,
1
J. Hu,
2,a
and H. L. Tsai
1
1
 Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Missouri University of Science and Technology(formerly University of Missouri-Rolla), 1870 Miner Circle, Rolla, Missouri 65409, USA
2
 Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Bridgeport, Bridgeport, Connecticut 06604, USA
Received 29 April 2008; accepted 23 August 2008; published online 17 November 2008
Most previous three-dimensional modeling on gas tungsten arc welding
GTAW
and gas metal arcwelding
GMAW
focuses on the weld pool dynamics and assumes the two-dimensionalaxisymmetric Gaussian distributions for plasma arc pressure and heat flux. In this article, athree-dimensional plasma arc model is developed, and the distributions of velocity, pressure,temperature, current density, and magnetic field of the plasma arc are calculated by solving theconservation equations of mass, momentum, and energy, as well as part of the Maxwell’s equations.This three-dimensional model can be used to study the nonaxisymmetric plasma arc caused byexternal perturbations such as an external magnetic field. It also provides more accurate boundaryconditions when modeling the weld pool dynamics. The present work lays a foundation for truethree-dimensional comprehensive modeling of GTAW and GMAW including the plasma arc, weldpool, and/or electrode. ©
2008 American Institute of Physics
.
I. INTRODUCTION
Gas tungsten arc welding
GTAW
and gas metal arcwelding
GMAW
are both the arc welding processes thatuse a plasma arc between two opposite polarities—an elec-trode and a workpiece, as shown in Fig.1of a GMAW. Acomplete model for an arc welding process should includethree components—the electrode, workpiece
weld pool
,and plasma arc. According to a survey article,
1
models of each separate component are categorized as the first-generation arc welding models. While in the second-generation models, two or three components are integratedinto a more comprehensive system. Among the three compo-nents, plasma arc is the most important one because it carriesthe electric current and welding energy and provides theboundary conditions for the models of other components.Two-dimensional axisymmetric plasma arc models were wellformulated.
220
Most weld pool models
first-generation
ex-cluded the modeling of plasma arc and used presumedGaussian distributionsof the arc pressure, heat flux, andelectric current density.
1
The selection of Gaussian param-eters is rather arbitrary and can be adjusted in accordance toexperimental measurements. Likewise, in a first-generationelectrode model on the droplet generation for GMAW thedistributions of electric current density and heat flux are ap-proximatedby given formulas based on experimentalresults.
2126
The separate or first-generation models are gen-erally able to achieve reasonable numerical results if appro-priate parameters are chosen, but the presumed boundaryconditions are arbitrary and may not represent the real situ-ation. Thus, more rigorous models, i.e., second-generationmodels, are being developed that integrate the two or threecomponents completely.
1
These models treated the arc-weldpool and arc-electrode boundaries as coupled internal bound-aries and, therefore, eliminated the assumptions required foreach separate component.
Hu and Tsai
studied themetal transfer and arc plasma in the GMAW process usingsuch a completely integrated two-dimensional model.Most existing arc welding models are two-dimensionalthat are suitable to simulate the stationary axisymmetric arcand are relatively less complicated in formulation and com-putation. Although three-dimensional arc welding models fo-cusing on the weld pool
with or without droplet impinge-ment
have been developed, the two-dimensionalaxisymmetric Gaussian assumption was still assumed inthese three-dimensional models.
They are not true three-dimensional models as, in reality, the moving arc is nonaxi-symmetric. Even for the stationary arc, some external pertur-bations such as the external magnetic field may deflect thearc from its axisymmetry.
To capture any nonaxisymmetriceffects, a true three-dimensional plasma arc model is a must.This article presents the mathematical formulation of a three-dimensional plasma arc model and the computational results.
a
FAX:
1-203-576-4765. Electronic mail: jjhu@bridgeport.edu.
  X
Y   
Z       
Anode (+)ElectrodeArcCathode (-)WorkpieceDABCHEFGIJKL
FIG. 1. A schematic representation of a GMAW system.
JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS
104
, 103301
2008
0021-8979/2008/104
10
 /103301/9/$23.00 © 2008 American Institute of Physics
104
, 103301-1
Downloaded 04 Jul 2011 to 59.16.138.254. Redistribution subject to AIP license or copyright; see http://jap.aip.org/about/rights_and_permissions
 
The ultimate goal of this work is to unify the present arcmodel with the weld pool and/or electrode models for a com-pletely integrated three-dimensional model for GTAW orGMAW.The major difficulty in three-dimensional modeling of the plasma arc is the calculation of the self-induced magneticfield, which is required to compute the electromagnetic forcefor momentum equations. In the axisymmetric case, the cal-culation of the azimuthal magnetic field
B
 
is simply derivedfrom Ampere’s law
2
 B
 
=
0
0
 J 
 z
rdr 
,where
0
is the magnetic permeability of vacuum,
is theradial distance, and
 z
is the axial current density that can besolved from the current continuity equation and Ohm’s law.The three-dimensional magnetic field may not be azimuthaland cannot be easily calculated. One approach to calculatethe nonazimuthal magnetic field is to solve the integrationfrom Biot–Savart’s law.
The magnetic field vector at apoint
A
is given by
 B
   
 A
=
for all
Q
0
4
 
 j
   
Q
   
QA
   
QA
3
dV 
Q
,where
j
   
Q
is the current density vector at a source volume
Q
and
   
QA
is the vector between a source volume
Q
and thepoint under consideration
A
. It can be found that for eachpoint
A
a triple integration has to be computed. The timecomplexity for this algorithm is
n
3
n
3
=
n
6
, where
n
is thenumber of grids in each dimension of the computation do-main. The computation for this algorithm is extremely inten-sive or time consuming.In this article, a Poisson equation for the magnetic fieldvector is derived from Ampere’s law. As the Poisson equa-tion contains the electric current density vector, this equationis coupled with the current continuity equation. By simulta-neously solving all these equations in addition to the well-formulated conservation equations of mass, momentum, andenergy, the three-dimensional plasma arc can be simulated.The time complexity required to calculate the magnetic fieldvector has been reduced to the order of 
n
3
.
II. MATHEMATICAL MODELA. Governing equations
Figure1is the schematic sketch of a GMAW process,which is used as the study case in this article. In the arcwelding process, a constant current is applied to the elec-trode and a plasma arc is struck between the electrode andthe workpiece. The computational domain includes an anoderegion, an arc region, and a cathode region. For the GMAWcase, the electrode is the anode, and the workpiece is thecathode. The domain is symmetric in
y
direction, i.e., theplane BAIJ is the symmetric plane. The mathematical formu-lation of the plasma flow is the three-dimensional extensionfrom a two-dimensional version in Ref.2.Some assumptions made in the model are:
1
the arc is in local thermal equi-librium
LTE
,
2
the gas flow is laminar,
3
the plasma isoptically thin and the radiation is modeled using an opticalthin radiation loss per unit volume,
4
the electrode is cy-lindrical and the tip of the electrode and the workpiece sur-face are flat, and
5
the consumable electrode is in quasi-steady state and the influence of metal droplets is neglected.The velocity, pressure, and temperature are computed for thearc region because the plasma flow is confined in this regiononly, while the electric potential, electric current density, andmagnetic field are computed for the whole domain. The gov-erning equations for the plasma arc are given below as fol-lows:
1
Mass continuity
 
 
 
+
·
 
   
= 0.
1
2
Momentum
 
 
u
 
+
·
 
   
u
= −
 
 p
 
 x
+
  
 x
2
 
u
 
 x
23
·
   
+
  
 y
 
u
 
 y
+
 
v
 
 x
+
  
 z
 
u
 
 z
+
 
w
 
 x
+
j
 y
 B
 z
j
 z
 B
 y
,
2
 
 
v
 
+
·
 
   
v
= −
 
 p
 
 y
+
  
 y
2
 
v
 
 y
23
·
   
+
  
 z
 
v
 
 z
+
 
w
 
 y
+
  
 x
 
v
 
 x
+
 
u
 
 y
+
j
 z
 B
 x
j
 x
 B
 z
,
3
 
 
w
 
+
·
 
   
w
= −
 
 p
 
 z
+
  
 z
2
 
w
 
 z
23
·
   
+
  
 x
 
w
 
 x
+
 
u
 
 z
+
  
 y
 
w
 
 y
+
 
v
 
 z
+
j
 x
 B
 y
j
 y
 B
 x
.
4
3
Energy
 
 
h
 
+
·
 
   
h
=
·
c
 p
h
+
 j
 x
2
+
j
 y
2
+
j
 z
2
 
e
S
 R
+5
b
2
e
j
 x
c
 p
 
h
 
 x
+
 j
 y
c
 p
 
h
 
 y
+
 j
 z
c
 p
 
h
 
 z
.
5
In Eqs.
1
5
,
is the time,
u
,
v
, and
w
are, respec-tively, the velocity components in the
x
,
y
, and
z
directions,
   
is the velocity vector,
p
is the pressure,
h
is the enthalpy,
 
is the density,
is the viscosity,
is the thermal conductiv-ity,
c
 p
is the specific heat at constant pressure,
 
e
is the
103301-2 Xu, Hu, and Tsai J. Appl. Phys.
104
, 103301
2008
Downloaded 04 Jul 2011 to 59.16.138.254. Redistribution subject to AIP license or copyright; see http://jap.aip.org/about/rights_and_permissions
 
electric conductivity,
S
 R
is the radiation loss term,
b
is theBoltzmann constant,
e
is the elementary charge,
j
 x
,
j
 y
, and
j
 z
are the current density components in the
x
,
y
, and
z
direc-tions, respectively, and
B
 x
,
B
 y
, and
B
 z
are the magnetic fieldcomponents in the
x
,
y
, and
z
directions, respectively. Thelast two terms in the momentum Eqs.
2
4
represent therespective components of the electromagnetic force vector
 j
   
 B
   
. The last three terms in Eq.
5
are, respectively, theOhmic heating, radiation loss, and electron enthalpy flow
Thompson effect
.The current density components
j
 x
,
j
 y
, and
j
 z
required inEqs.
2
5
are obtained by solving for the electric potential
 
from the following current continuity equation:
·
 
e
 
=
  
 x
 
e
 
 
 
 x
+
  
 y
 
e
 
 
 
 y
+
  
 z
 
e
 
 
 
 z
= 0
6
and using Ohm’s law
 j
 x
= −
 
e
 
 
 
 x
,
j
 y
= −
 
e
 
 
 
 y
,
j
 z
= −
 
e
 
 
 
 z
.
7
The magnetic field components
B
 x
,
B
 y
, and
B
 z
are re-quired to calculate the electromagnetic forces for momentumEqs.
2
4
.The equations needed to calculate the magneticfield can be derived from Ampere’s law
 B
   
=
0
 j
   
.
Bytaking the cross product on both sides and applying the fol-lowing vector identity
 B
   
= −
2
 B
   
+
·
B
   
= −
2
 B
   
,
8
where
·
 B
   
=0 is basically the Gauss’s law for magnetism,which means the absence of magnetic monopoles. The Am-pere’s law can be rewritten in the following conservationform
2
 B
   
= −
0
 j
   
.
9
Equation
9
is the Poisson vector equation and has thefollowing three components
 
2
 B
 x
 
 x
2
+
 
2
 B
 x
 
 y
2
+
 
2
 B
 x
 
 z
2
= −
0
 
 j
 z
 
 y
 
 j
 y
 
 z
,
10
 
2
 B
 y
 
 x
2
+
 
2
 B
 y
 
 y
2
+
 
2
 B
 y
 
 z
2
= −
0
 
 j
 x
 
 z
 
 j
 z
 
 x
,
11
 
2
 B
 z
 
 x
2
+
 
2
 B
 z
 
 y
2
+
 
2
 B
 z
 
 z
2
= −
0
 
 j
 y
 
 x
 
 j
 x
 
 y
.
12
The governing equations are now complete. This systemof equations has 12 unknowns,
u
,
v
,
w
,
p
,
h
,
 
,
j
 x
,
j
 y
,
j
 z
,
B
 x
,
 B
, and
B
 z
, and is closed by 12 differential equations, Eqs.
1
7
and Eqs.
. Note Eq.
7
is actually threeequations. The supplemental boundary conditions are thenext considerations in order to solve these differential equa-tions. Compared to calculating the magnetic field from theintegral form of Biot–Savart law, the solution of Eqs.
from three algebraic equations after discretizationgreatly reduces the time complexity from
n
6
to
n
3
.
B. Momentum and energy boundary conditions forthe arc
1. Metal regions 
„ 
workpiece and electrode 
 … 
The present study excludes the computation of the mol-ten metal flow and energy transfer in the workpiece and elec-trode. Therefore, the momentum and energy equations arenot solved in the metal regions. The momentum and tem-perature boundary conditions need to be set at the boundariesbetween the arc and the metal regions.The no-slip boundary condition is simply imposed forthe momentum boundary conditions. The temperatureboundary condition at the anode
electrode
a
is assumed tobe the melting temperature of pure iron, 1810 K, and the
TABLE I. Boundary conditions for momentum and energy equations.BCKJ ADLI CDLK BAIJ ABCD IJKL
u
 
 
u
/
 
 x
=0
 
 
u
/
 
 x
=0
 
u
/
 
 y
=0
 
u
/
 
 y
=0 0
¯
a
v
 
v
/
 
 x
=0
 
v
/
 
 x
=0
 
 
v
/
 
 y
=0 0 0
¯
a
w
 
w
/
 
 x
=0
 
w
/
 
 x
=0
 
w
/
 
 y
=0
 
w
/
 
 y
=0
 
 
w
/
 
 z
=0
¯
a
=300 K
=300 K
=300 K
 
/
 
 y
=0
=300 K
inflow
inflow
inflow
inflow
h
 
/
 
 y
=0
¯
a
 
/
 
 x
=0
 
/
 
 x
=0
 
/
 
 y
=0
 
/
 
 z
=0
outflow
outflow
outflow
outflow
a
Momentum and energy equations not solved in the solid domain.TABLE II. Boundary conditions for electric potential and magnetic field equations.BCKJ ADLI CDLK BAIJ ABCD IJKL
 
 
 
/
 
 x
=0
 
 
/
 
 x
=0
 
 
/
 
 y
=0
 
 
/
 
 y
=0
 
e
 
 
/
 
 z
=
 I 
/
 
 R
a
2
,
 R
a
a
 
 
/
 
 z
=0,
 R
a
a
0
 B
 x
 
 B
 x
/
 
 x
=0
 
 B
 x
/
 
 x
=0
 
 B
 x
/
 
 y
=0 0
y
/
0
 I 
/
2
 
,
 R
a
a
 y
/
0
 I 
/
2
 
 R
a
2
,
 R
a
a
 
 B
 x
/
 
 z
=0
 B
 y
 
 B
 y
/
 
 x
=0
 
 B
 y
/
 
 x
=0
 
 B
 y
/
 
 y
=0
 
 B
 y
/
 
 y
=0
 x
/
0
 I 
/
2
 
,
 R
a
a
 x
/
0
 I 
/
2
 
 R
a
2
,
 R
a
a
 
 B
 y
/
 
 z
=0
 B
 z
 
 B
 z
/
 
 x
=0
 
 B
 z
/
 
 x
=0
 
 B
 z
/
 
 y
=0
 
 B
 z
/
 
 y
=0 0
 
 B
 z
/
 
 z
=0
a
 R
a
is the radius of the electrode and
=
 x
2
+
 y
2
.
103301-3 Xu, Hu, and Tsai J. Appl. Phys.
104
, 103301
2008
Downloaded 04 Jul 2011 to 59.16.138.254. Redistribution subject to AIP license or copyright; see http://jap.aip.org/about/rights_and_permissions

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