Web link : http://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/comm/FactSheets/FSMaterialWeldFailure.

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What is a Material Failure and why does it occur?
During the manufacture of steel, impurities can sometimes remain in the molten steel. These impurities can cause an incomplete bonding of the material in the steel plate or solid round steel billet used to produce pipe and other pipeline components. Although early steel-making processes allowed more impurities to remain, newer, improved processes have reduced this potential and vastly improved the quality of the steel used. Still, defects in the steel material can result in failures. The types of material defects that can exist in the steel used to make pipe and other components include:

Laminations and inclusions – Laminations and inclusions can occur as a result of oxides or other impurities trapped in the material. As the material cools in the manufacturing process, a small pocket is formed internal to the steel plate or billet. A lamination or inclusion can eventually lead to failure when they are oriented such that they eventually grow to the inner or outer wall of the pipe or pipeline component through pressure cycles. Blisters and scabs – These appear as raised spots on the material surface caused by the expansion of trapped gas within the steel. These defects reduce the wall thickness of the pipe or pipeline component, and, if large enough, can reduce the pressure-carrying capacity of the pipe or component.

Defects can also occur due to the manufacturing process used to roll steel plate or convert solid steel billets into pipe. During the manufacturing process, rolled steel plate is moved and shaped by mechanical means to make certain types of pipe. Alternatively, “seamless” pipe (pipe without a longitudinal weld seam) is produced from solid steel billets by passing a mandrel through the billet to produce a hollow steel cylinder. The types of defects that can occur during the pipe manufacturing process include “hard spots” created by localized quenching (or cooling) of the plate material during the rolling process and, for seamless pipe only, indentations formed by the expanders or mandrels used to make the pipe. Cracking can occur at “hard spots” that eventually grow in size over time, and stress risers can occur at indentations if they are too deep, eventually leading to pipe failure. And if pipe is not loaded and supported properly prior to being transported long distances, cracks can occur due to a phenomenon called „transit fatique”. Transit fatigue occurs when pipe flexes in a certain manner repeatedly over long periods of time during transport, resulting in cracking of the pipe wall. Fortunately, these defects are typically discovered during the hydrostatic pressure testing that occurs prior to the pipeline being placed in service; however, some can remain and grow during pipeline pressure cycles until a failure occurs.