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Source: Control of Distortion in Welded Fabrications, The Welding Institute. Introduction I.

Distortion is a problem which exists in many industrial metalworking processes employing heat, but it is very apparent in welding because of the concentrated nature of the heat. II. Distortion: The act of distorting

A. Distort: to twist out of a natural, normal, or original shape or condition. B. Occurs because as the temperature of metal increases it expands and as the temperature of metal decreases it contracts. C. The affects of distortion in welding can be very severe because a high temperature is concentrated in a small area. D. The larger the area that is cooling the greater will be the contraction. E. Two methods which may be used to regulate distortion. 1.The fabrication is designed and assembled and welded so that its shape and dimensions will be within the specified tolerances without further treatment. (control) 2.The fabrication is allowed to distort and, and after manufacture, the distortion is corrected. (correction) F. Selection of method of regulation 1.Repeat production a. For repeat production control is essential. b. Correction would be too time consuming. 2.Single items 3.Correction may be acceptable, depending on the complexity of the item. In many cases control would also be an asset. III. Four ways distortion can appear A. Longitudinal shrinkage 1.The length of the long axis of the item will be reduced B. Transverse shrinkage

1.The length of the short axis will be reduced. C. Angular distortion 1.The item is changed from a flat plate or design angle. D. Bowing 1.A curve forms in the long axis of the item. Causes of Distortion I. The heat input A. If a piece of metal is heated uniformly and has complete freedom to move in all directions, it will return to its original form if allowed to cool uniformly. 1.These conditions do not exist during welding. B. The heating is not uniform C. The heat is concentrated at the joint. D. There is a wide temperature difference between the arc temperature and the temperature of the base metal. 1.Uneven contraction between the weld material and the base metal will occur. This will lead to distortion. E. Additional heat is used (pre-heating) 1.Incorrectly applied pre-heating can increase the distortion that will occur. II. Restraint A. The degree of and type of restraint will influence the magnitude of the distortion. 1.If no external restraint is applied during welding and cooling, the stresses will cause the fabrication to distort and will find a degree of relief. B. Restraint to control distortion may be applied by the stiffness of the fabricator or by the use of external mechanical devices. C. As the amount of restraint increased the internal stresses will increase and care should be taken to

insure the material and the welded metal can accept the stress. 1.This is a greater concern in thicker metal III. Inherent stresses in the parent metal A. Inherent stresses can be present in the metal before fabrication. B. Can be caused by the rolling, forming, shearing, bending, cutting operations used to prepare the metal for welding. C. Most steel shapes; angles, channels, tees, square tubing, etc. are formed by rolling. This process results in internal stresses. D. Very difficult to predict how these metals will react to heat since the arrangement of the internal stress is unknown. E. It is not practical to measure or remove internal stress caused by manufacturing or preparation. Therefore it is advisable to assume the parts contain inherent stresses and apply appropriate measures to control the movement of the metal during welding. IV. Properties of the parent metal A. Different metals expand by different amounts when heated. (coefficient of expansion) B. The greater the coefficient of expansion the greater the tendency to distort during welding. 1.Import consideration if two or more types of metal are being welded together. Prevention of distortion The successful and consistent prevention of distortion requires, chiefly, the determination of satisfactory assembly and welding procedures. There are 5 areas to consider: I. Design A. A minimum number of welded joints and a minimum size of welds is the most economical and the best for preventing distortion.

B. Folded, pressed or forged components should be used when ever possible instead of built-up sections by welding. 1.Were used the joints should be easily accessible. 2.A welder just be able to see his work to form high quality welds. C. Jigs and fixtures must be designed to allow the fabrication to be tacked and welding without removing any constraints. D. Design and planning is more critical with thinner thicknesses of metal. E. Butt joints 1.Butt joints are subject to all four types of distortion. 2.Longitudinal shrinkage is less influenced by the joint preparation than the other three types. 3.Transverse shrinkage a. The amount of transverse shrinkage that occurs depends upon the volume of the weld metal in the joint. b. The root gap should be kept to the minimum needed to insure adequate penetration. c. Angular distortion i. Angular distortion is governed by the difference in the heat input on either side of the neutral axis of the joint. ii.For economic reasons single preparations are used on plate thickness up to 1/2". In such cases the weld is unbalanced and angular distortion is related to the type of joint preparation. iii. For metal thicknesses greater than 1/2" were double preparations are used, distortion can still be a problem if the welding passes are not balanced. iv.Asymmetrical Joint: Recommended when double edge preparation is being used and the first bead is on the short side and will be back gouged. 4

1. In first process, short side welded first-allowed to distort. Extra welding on second side removes distortion. 2. In second process, the root is welded from long side, back gouged, back welded and the joint completed by alternating sides. v. Symmetrical Joint: Satisfactory where the first run dose not have to be gouged, where partial penetration welds are used or where the joint can be welded from both sides simultaneously by two welders. F. Fillet joints 1. Little variation is possible in joint preparation, so the distortion must be controlled by keeping the weld size to a minimum. 2. G. Must take extra care to prevent over welding

Lap joint 1. The lap joint has excellent distortion control if double welded. The only concern is longitudinal shrinkage. 2. Longitudinal shrinkage can cause buckling in long seams 3. Single welded lap joints are very susceptible to angular distortion and transverse shrinkage.


Design of section 1. When uses a group of welds, they must be balanced around the neutral axis. a. If accomplished, longitudinal shrinkage is the only concern. b. Good design can not prevent distortion alone. It must be part of the overall plan.


Accuracy of manufacture

A. Inaccuracies of manufacture in component parts of a fabrication will increase the distortion. B. Inaccuracies mean the components must be forced together, or the fit-up is poor and the joint gap will

vary or the gap will require reworking by cutting or grinding. all of these will increase distortion. C. As the metal thickness decreases the accuracy of fit-up becomes more important. D. Parts that have been forced into position by mechanical means contain stresses which may be added to those caused by welding. III. A. Assembly procedure--two methods Presetting Method 1. Has many advantages since the parts have almost complete freedom to move during welding--less residual stress. 2. Limited to simple assemblies.

3. In complex assemblies, subassemblies my be welded with presetting and then the final assembly completed with restraints. 4. The amount of presetting is difficult to predict. experience helps, but the allowance will have to be altered for any particular assembly. B. Restrained method 1. The assembly is held correct by means of clamps, jigs, or fixtures, or by tack welding the components before welding. 2. As the restraint increases the distortion will decrease. 3. May result in high residual stress, but for many assemblies this is no concern. 4. If internal stress is a concern, a stressrelieving heat treatment must be applied after welding. 5. Movement should not be totally restrained during welding. Restrain the critical dimensions and allow movement in the dimensions which are not critical. 6. Types of restraints a. Strongbacks i. Used to control angular distortion in butt joints but allow movement transversely. 6

ii. Should never be welded rigidly to the plates on both sides of the joint. (note bolts on one side) iii.. Chief form of restraint for site welding butt joints in storage tanks and pressure vessels. b. Jigs and fixtures i. Can be relatively simple, but it is important to consider if their cost can be justified. ii. Four requirements of good welding jigs and fixtures +Accurate location of parts +Simple to operate +Remain accurate and undistorted when subject to heat and forces of welding. +The joint should be accessible as possible. c. Flexible clamps i. Used to control joint gap

ii. Formed by tacking angles to the back of the plate and using bolts to control the space. d. Back to back assembly i. If two identical fabrications are to be welded, it is sometimes possible to tack or clamp them together and control distortion by balancing the welding around the new central axis. e. Temporary bracing i. temporary bracing is used when tack welds, clamps, jigs, etc. are inadequate. f. Tack welds i. Tack welds are very useful in resisting transverse shrinkage if properly used. g. Stiffening 7

i. Longitudinal shrinkage of butt joints may cause bowing in thin plates. ii. Bowing may be prevented by skip welding flats or angles along each side of the seam and a short distance from it. Shrinkage Allowances Shrinkage will occur in all welded fabrications.

IV. A.

B. The fabrications must be designed oversized so that the finished product has the correct dimensions. C. No precise values available to predict shrinkage. Must rely on experience, of over size and machine to correct size. V. Welding procedure A. Welding procedure as an effect on the control of distortion, but welding procedures are usually selected on the basic of higher priority variables--weld quality for instance. B. Covers the areas of: 1.Type and size of electrode, rod or wire 2.Number and sequence of runs 3.Size of deposit and welding position 4.Welding temperature and speed 5.Welding sequence and technique C. Welding Process 1.As a general the more continuous and faster the welding process--the less the distortion. 2.Automatic wire welding = low distortion 3.Stick welding = higher distortion 4.Oxyacetylene welding = most distortion 5.For sheet metal, consideration should be given to the use of resistance, spot and seam welding processes. D. Type and size of electrode, rod or wire

1. The required volume of weld metal should be deposited in the shortest possible time to minimize heat input. a. b. Largest possible size of electrode Correct size of OAW rod

i. Too large causes excessive heat input and heavy top deposit with lack of fusion. ii. Too small causes overheating and increased burning of the filler metal. E. Number and sequence of runs

1. If butt and fillet joints are unrestrained during welding, the amount of angular distortion is a function of the number of unbalanced runs. The greater the number of runs the greater the angular distortion. 2. Size of deposit and welding position

a. A single run deposit will, in general, cause less distortion than an equivalent deposit built up from a number of runs. b. Vertical less than horizontal because usually fewer passes. 3. Welding current and speed a. The largest practicable size of electrode should be used for the specified current. Reduces the welding time and number of passes. b. In gas welding the use of a tip size larger then is recommended will increase the distortion. 4. Welding sequence and technique a. Sequence and technique is concerned with insuring the welding occurs around the neutral axis of the weld. Several techniques can be used. i. ii. VI. Summary Back step Skip welding

A. Recommendations for controlling distortion 9

1.Ensure best possible joint fit up 2. Keep the length of weld seams and number of joints to a minimum. 3. Keep weld deposits to a minimum. 4. Balance welds about the neutral axis. 5. Correct distortion as the assembly is built up. 6. Use correct welding sequence 7. Use appropriate welding process. CORRECTION OF DISTORTION I. Introduction A. Uses of correction 1. It is not always possible to control distortion within acceptable limits. 2. There may be times when distortion will occur in spite of planning done for control. 3. If either of these occur, some fabrications can be salvaged by one or more of the following methods. II. A. Methods of Correction Gouging 1. Gouging has already been discussed as a means of control, but if a weld is distorted after the fabrication is completed, it can also be used as a correction. 2. Must be able to determine the size of the groove needed to for the contractional forces causes by the heat gouging and rewelding are sufficient to straighten the joint. B. Mechanical 1. Press


a. Some fabrications can be restored to required dimensions by use an press. b. Usually must be a relatively simple construction 2. Sizing fixture a. Fabrication is usually heated and placed over fixture and allowed to cool. Fixture is designed to be removed once cooled. b. Must be slightly over sized to allow for spring back. c. Not economical unless have a large number of items. 3. Heavy plate a. Flat fabrications may be corrected by clamping to a heavy plate that is strong enough to hold the fabrication flat. b. Once clamped in place the fabrication is stress relieved c. If steel, Heated slowly to 1200 oF and hold for 1 hr/in. d. C Heat 1. Process a. When metal is locally heated the heated portion will expand. b. The expansion will be opposed by the surrounding colder metal c. Since the heated part is relatively weak, the forces opposing its expansion will squeeze it out of shape d. On cooling the heated part will shrink and the shrinkage will cause the component to deform. e. Relatively easy process to learn. danger is over shrinking. Greatest Cool slowly till below 600 oF.


i. ii.

heating too large of area Heating to too high a temperature No higher than dull red (1000 to 1200 oF)

iii. f.

Four general ways heat is applied i. Spot heating +. Used were thin plate is attached to stronger framework ++. Heat is applied to the convex side.

+++. Distortion is usually fairly regular, so the spots can be arranged symmetrically, starting at the center and working towards each side of the frame. ii. Straight lines

+. Often used to correct angular distortion caused by fillet welds. ++. The heating follows the line of the welded joint, but is applied on the side opposite to the weld. iii. Wedge

+. Used in all applications other than spot heating of thin panels ++. Heating should proceed from the base to the apex, penetrating evenly through the plate. +++Dimensions of wedge Height = 2/3 width of plate width = 2 in/foot of height ++++ Examples of wedge heating Plate Chamber Box