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Nofrijon Sofyan, Ph.D.

Introduction
Nickel has a face-centered cubic crystal structure up
to its melting point; in this respect, nickel and
copper are similar.
Cobalt, however, undergoes a transition from a
close-packed hexagonal crystal structure to a face-
centered cubic structure above approximately
750
0
F.
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As with iron, the addition of nickel to cobalt
stabilizes the face-centered cubic crystal structure to
below room temperature.
Most complex cobalt alloys are designed to retain
this cubic structure to take advantage of its inherent
ductility.
Nickel and some of its alloys are magnetic at room
temperature.
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Unalloyed cobalt is magnetic but its alloys are not.
Commercially pure nickel is weldable by most
common welding processes.
Typical applications are food processing equipment,
caustic handling equipment, chemical shipping
drums, and electrical and electronic parts.
There are relatively few applications for pure
cobalt, and none for welded structures.
Properties of nickel and cobalt
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Nickel alloys
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Nickel is alloyed with a number of other metals to
impart specific properties.
These may include improved mechanical properties
as well as corrosion or oxidation resistance at room
and elevated temperatures.
Alloying significantly decreases thermal and
electrical conductivities.
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 Nickel alloys are representative of the large number of
available alloys, some of which, are referred to as
superalloys.
 Nickel can be strengthened by solid-solution alloying
and by dispersion strengthening with a metal oxide.
 Some nickel alloys may be further strengthened by a
precipitation-hardening heat treatment or by dispersion
strengthening.
 The type of strengthening is a convenient means of
classifying nickel alloys.
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In practice, some of the alloys classified as solid-
solution types may contain minor amounts of
elements that contribute to precipitation hardening.
Their presence may cause some strengthening
during heat treatment or service.
Consequently, the classification of such alloys is
somewhat arbitrary.
Solid-solution alloys
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 All nickel alloys are strengthened by solid solution.
 Additions of aluminum, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron,
molybdenum, titanium, tungsten, and vanadium to nickel
contribute to solid solution strengthening.
 Aluminum, chromium, molybdenum, and tungsten
contribute strongly while the others have a lesser effect.
 Molybdenum and tungsten provide improved strength
at elevated temperatures.
Nickel-copper alloys
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 Nickel and copper form a continuous series of solid
solutions with a face-centered cubic crystal structure.
 Commercial alloys contain from about 30 to 45 percent
copper.
 They are tough and ductile.
 Except for free-machining (high sulfur) alloys, they are
readily joined by welding, brazing, and soldering with
proper precautions.
Nickel-chromium alloys
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Alloys of this family are used primarily for
applications involving high temperatures, oxidation,
and corrosion.
Some alloys are designed for thermocouples or for
electrical resistance applications.
Other alloys are designed for structural
applications at elevated temperatures.
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 Some of the alloys contain iron, molybdenum, tungsten,
cobalt, and copper in various combinations to enhance
specific properties.
 These include improved corrosion resistance and high
temperature strength.
 In general, nickel-chromium alloys can be welded by
processes and procedures that adequately protect the
weld zone from oxidation.
 They may be brazed using special techniques to
promote wetting of the base metal.
Nickel-iron-chromium alloys
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These alloys contain about 20 to 45 percent nickel,
13 to 22 percent chromium, and the remainder iron.
They are generally used for corrosion- or oxidation-
resistant applications that can be fabricated by
welding.
Nickel-molybdenum alloys
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 These are nickel alloys that contain from 16 to 28
percent molybdenum and lesser amounts of chromium
and iron.
 The alloys are used primarily for their corrosion
resistance.
 They are not normally used for elevated temperature
service.
 The nickel-molybdenum alloys are in general readily
weldable.
Nickel-chromium-molybdenum alloys
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 These alloys are designed primarily for corrosion
resistance at room temperature as well as resistance to
oxidizing and reducing atmospheres at elevated
temperatures.
 They are not particularly strong at elevated
temperatures and, therefore, are used for low stress
applications.
 All have good weldability.
Composition of typical nickel alloys
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Precipitation-hardenable alloys
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These alloys are strengthened by controlled
precipitation of a second phase, known as gamma
prime, from a supersaturated solid solution.
Precipitation occurs upon reheating a solution-
treated and quenched alloy to an appropriate
temperature for a specific time.
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Some cast alloys will age directly as the solidified
casting cools in the mold.
The most important phase from a strengthening
standpoint is the ordered face-centered cubic
gamma prime that is based upon the compound
Ni
3
Al.
This phase has a rather high solubility for titanium
and columbium.
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Consequently, its composition will vary with the alloy
composition and the temperature of formation.
Aluminum has the greatest hardening potential, but
this is moderated by titanium and columbium.
The latter has the greatest effect on decreasing the
aging rate.
Weldability
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Precipitation of nickel types of alloys are normally
welded in the solution-treated condition.
During welding, some portion of the heat-affected
zone is heated into the aging temperature range.
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As the weld metal solidifies, the aging metal
becomes subjected to welding stresses.
Under certain postweld combinations of
temperature and stress, the weld heat-affected
zone may crack known as strain-age cracking.
Alloys high in aluminum are the most sensitive to this
type of cracking.
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The problem is much less severe in those alloys
where columbium has been substituted for a
significant portion of the aluminum because
columbium retards the aging reaction.
Consequently, the weld heat-affected zone can
remain sufficiently ductile and yield during heat
treatment to relieve high welding stresses without
rupture.
Composition of typical nickel alloys
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Nickel-copper alloys
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 The principal alloy in this group contains 66 percent
nickel, 30 percent copper, 2.7 percent aluminum and
0.6 percent titanium.
 The recommended heat-treating procedures should be
followed to avoid strain-age cracking when welding this
alloy.
 The corrosion resistance of this alloy is similar to the
solid-solution nickel-copper alloy of similar composition.
Nickel-chromium alloys
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 The nickel-chromium alloys are strengthened by the
addition of aluminum and titanium, and sometimes
columbium.
 Chromium content ranges from about 13 to 20 percent
for good high-temperature oxidation resistance.
 The strength of these alloys after heat treatment is
related to the combined aluminum, titanium, and
columbium content.
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The higher this content, the higher is the strength of
the alloy.
Alloys that contain relatively large amounts of
aluminum and titanium are considered unweldable
because of their strain-age cracking tendencies.
Carefully applied preweld and postweld heat-
treating sequences can be used to reduce the strain-
age cracking tendencies of these alloys.
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One of the principal advantages of columbium
additions for strengthening is the improved
weldability of such alloys compared to those alloys
containing only aluminum and titanium.
This is due to the sluggish formation of the
columbium precipitate compared to the more
rapidly forming aluminum precipitate.
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Molybdenum and cobalt are often added to
improve high-temperature strength.
Their effect on weldability is minor.
The principal areas of application for these alloys
are gas turbine components, aircraft parts, and
spacecraft.
Nickel-iron-chromium alloys
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 These alloys nominally contain 40 to 45 percent nickel, 13 to 15
percent chromium, 30 to 40 percent iron and small amounts of
aluminum and titanium.
 Their weldability is similar to that of the nickel-chromium alloys.
 However, most applications involve forgings that require little
welding.
 The same precautions necessary to avoid strain-age cracking with
other aluminum-titanium-hardened nickel alloys apply to these alloys
as well.
Weldability of some ppt hardenable nickel alloys
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Dispersion-strengthened nickel
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Nickel and nickel-chromium alloys can be
strengthened by the uniform dispersion of very fine
refractory oxide (ThO
2
) particles throughout the
matrix.
This is done using powder metallurgy techniques.
When these metals are fusion welded, the oxide
particles will agglomerate during solidification.
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This will destroy the original strengthening
mechanism afforded by dispersion within the matrix.
The weld metal will be significantly weaker than the
base metal.
The high strength of these metals can be retained
by joining them with processes that do not involve
melting of the base metal.
Cast nickel alloys
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Many nickel alloys can be used in cast as well as
wrought forms.
Some alloys are designed specifically for casting.
Casting alloys are strengthened by both solid-
solution and precipitation hardening.
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Precipitation-hardening alloys high in aluminum
content, such as Alloy 713C, will harden during slow
cooling in the mold and are essentially unweldable
by fusion processes.
However, defects or service damage in some of
these alloys may be repaired by welding.
Many cast nickel alloys contain significant amounts
of silicon to improve fluidity and castability.
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Most of these cast alloys are weldable by
conventional means, but as the silicon content
increases so does the weld cracking sensitivity.
Cracking can often be avoided using welding
techniques that minimize base metal dilution.
The nickel casting alIoy that contains 10 pecent
silicon and 3 percent copper (Hastelloy D) is
considered unweldable by arc welding methods, but
it may be welded with the oxyacetylene process.
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Nickel alloys containing about 30 percent copper
are considered unweldable when the silicon content
is over about 2 percent because of their sensitivity
to cracking.
Defective castings of weldable alIoys may be
repaired by suitable welding procedures.
Generally, a filler metal of the same composition as
the base metal is used.
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In some applications, the casting may be welded to
a wrought product, such as a cast valve body to
wrought pipe.
In such cases, the filIer metal must be compatible
with both base metals and suitable for the intended
service.
Composition of nickel casting alloys
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Effects of minor elements on weldability
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 The presence of very small quantities of some elements can
have a profound effect on the weldability of nickel alloys.
 The presence of sulfur frequently is related to hot cracking
because it forms a low melting eutectic with nickel that will
segregate to the grain boundaries of the weld metal.
 Manganese and magnesium are frequently added to
combine with sulfur and prevent the formation of nickel
sulfide.
Effect of Ca, Ce, Al, and Ti
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Calcium and cerium are used as deoxidizers and
also as malleabilizers interacting with sulfur.
Small additions of aluminum and titanium also serve
as deoxidizers.
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All of these elements tend to contribute to the
formation of oxide films, islands, and slag spots,
which form on the weld surface.
In multipass welding, such tenacious slag films should
be removed between passes to avoid discontinuities
in the weld metal.
Effect of P, S, B, and Zr
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Phosphorus also forms a low melting eutectic with
nickel that segregates to the grain boundaries that
contributes to hot cracking.
Sulfur, phosphorus, and similar impurity elements
tend to have an additive effect, and the total of all
of these elements should be kept low.
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 Boron and zirconium are frequently added to nickel
alloys to improve their hot malleability and to enhance
stress-rupture life.
 However, they also tend to segregate at the grain
boundaries and increase the tendency for cracking in
the fusion and heat-affected zones in the base metal.
 The tendency for cracking is also increased if the base
metal has a grain size coarser than ASTM No. 5.
 The effect of boron and zirconium tends to be additive.
Effect of C
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Carbon is an interstitial strengthening element in
nickel.
During welding, the carbon in the heat-affected
zone is dissolved at elevated temperature.
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When nickel is used in the 600° F range, the carbon
will reprecipitate as graphite at the grain
boundaries.
This reduces the ductility of the heat-affected zone.
This is not a problem with low carbon nickel or
alloys that contain strong carbide-forming elements
such as chromium, columbium, and titanium.
Effect of Si and Pb
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Silicon causes hot-short cracking in nickel alloys.
The severity of cracking varies with the alloy
composition and the joining process, but it is
especially severe in the high nickel-chromium alloys.
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Filler metals containing columbium are often used
for welding castings with high silicon content to
prevent hot cracking of the weld metal.
Lead will cause hot-shortness in nickel alloy weld
metal.
However, it is seldom found in high quality base and
filler metals.
Sensitization
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Some nickel-chromium and nickel-chromium-iron
alloys, like the austenitic stainless steels, exhibit
carbide precipitation (sensitization) in the weld
heat-affected zone.
Sensitization can make the alloys susceptible to
intergranular corrosion.
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Those alloys stabilized with titanium and columbium
are not sensitized by welding.
An alternate approach is to use an extra low
carbon version of the selected alloy.
References
 W.D. Callister, Jr.. Fundamentals of Materials Science
and Engineering, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York,
2001
 R.C. Reed: The Superalloys, Fundamentals and
Applications, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,
UK, 2006.
 J.R. Davis: Heat-Resistant Materials, ASM Specialty
Handbook, 1997.