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Stainless Layout:Layout 1 2/10/09 2:43 PM Page 20

STAINLESS
BY DAMIAN J. KOTECKI
Q&A
Q: We are making 1-in.-thick butt joints
between 304L stainless steel and ASTM
A516-70 carbon steel, using submerged
arc welding with ER309L electrode. We
use a single U-groove with a 1⁄4-in. root ra-
dius, 1⁄8-in. land, no root opening, and
20-deg included angle. Then we back-
gouge and finish the joint with FCAW or
SMAW. We have a lot of trouble with cen-
terline cracking in the SAW root pass, un-
less we substitute SMAW with 309L filler
metal for the root pass. What can we do to
make SAW root passes successfully?

A: The root cause of your root cracking


problem is dilution from the carbon steel
side causing the root pass to solidify as pri-
mary austenite, instead of the desired pri-
mary ferrite. The root pass cracks during Fig. 1 — Alternate joint preparations for carbon steel to 304L with ER309L filler metal.
solidification and it ends up with virtually
zero ferrite content. Shielded metal arc
welding gets around this problem by re-
duced dilution as compared to SAW, but groove joint preparation to a compound asymmetrical joint preparation works, I
its productivity is low. joint preparation consisting of a single J am sure that you can come up with a num-
One way to combat this is by using preparation on the 304L and a single bevel ber of variants on the approach to suit
DCEN polarity for SAW at low wire feed preparation on the A516-70, so that the other situations. For example, the backing
speed (low current) to reduce dilution to SAW arc will impinge mostly on the 304L. bar need not be inserted into the root for
levels comparable to those obtained with A second possibility is to insert a 304L a single-side joint preparation — a 304L
SMAW. But that is a relatively low produc- stainless steel backing bar into the joint, so backing bar wider than the root opening
tivity approach also, and the DCEN root that, again, the arc will impinge mostly on could be used underneath the joint prepa-
pass bead shape is often not desirable. the 304L, although in this case it is the ration with the same effect. In that case,
A more robust (forgiving) approach is backing bar. These two alternatives, as backgouging to remove the backing bar
to design the joint to get away from sym- compared to your symmetrical joint would only have to remove the backing bar
metry. The problem with high dilution in preparation, are sketched in Fig. 1. Figure and very little of the joint, so that only a
a symmetrical joint, such as a single U- 1A is your symmetrical joint preparation, very shallow backside weld, if any, would
groove, is that the dilution comes approx- while Fig. 1B and C are asymmetrical joint be needed to complete the joint to full
imately equally from the two base metals. preparations as outlined above. penetration.
It is dilution from the carbon steel side In welding either the joint preparation This approach is not restricted to SAW.
that is responsible for loss of ferrite in the of Fig. 1B or that of Fig. 1C, you should It can be used to improve solidification
weld metal. Dilution from the 304L side of still align the electrode along the joint cracking resistance in any situation in
the joint has a more-or-less negligible ef- preparation centerline, not along the which a stainless steel expected to provide
fect on root pass ferrite content (or solid- 304L/A516-70 interface. Then the weld a bit of ferrite (316L, for example) is to be
ification mode). That is because common bead will wash up onto the carbon steel joined to carbon steel or even to a stain-
stainless steels like 304L, 316L, 317L, 321, without a lot of penetration into it. Most less steel in which no ferrite would be ex-
and 347 are generally designed by the of the arc energy will be spent melting pected (310 or 320, for example).◆
steelmaker to solidify as primary ferrite, 304L base metal (possibly including the
just like common stainless steel weld met- backing bar should you choose to use that)
als like 308L or 309L. This helps them to and ER309L electrode. Because the joint DAMIAN J. KOTECKI is president,
get a higher yield from hot working of the preparation is asymmetrical, you should Damian Kotecki Welding Consultants, Inc.
steel. You can easily establish this for find that you will have to backgouge a bit He is a past president of the American Weld-
yourself by simply making a GTAW bead- deeper in order to reach sound metal, but ing Society, currently treasurer and a past
on-plate weld without filler metal on one that is preferable to cutting out a root pass vice president of the International Institute
of these base metals — you will almost cer- with a centerline crack as you have been of Welding, and a member of the AWS A5D
tainly find a magnetic response in the weld experiencing with the symmetrical single Subcommittee on Stainless Steel Filler Met-
indicating presence of ferrite, even if the U-groove joint preparation. In fact, this als, and the AWS D1K Subcommittee on
base metal is completely nonmagnetic be- will be evidence that you have achieved Stainless Steel Structural Welding. He is a
fore welding. lower dilution from the carbon steel. member and past chair of the Welding Re-
The approach I suggest is to make the After a successful root pass, the arc im- search Council Subcommittee on Welding
joint preparation asymmetrical so that pinges mainly on previously deposited Stainless Steels and Nickel-Base Alloys. E-
more of the dilution comes from the 304L weld metal that contains ferrite, and the mail your questions to Dr. Kotecki at
side of the joint than from the carbon steel low dilution effect from the carbon steel damian@damiankotecki.com, or send to
side of the joint. This can be done simply side continues until joint completion. Damian Kotecki, c/o Welding Journal, 550
by, for example, changing from a single U- Once you get the idea of the way this NW LeJeune Rd., Miami, FL 33126.

20 MARCH 2009