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Determination of Weld Loads and Throat

Requirements Using Finite Element Analysis

with Shell Element Models — A Comparison
with Classical Analysis
Weld size requirements based on throat shear against electrode allowables were
calculated with loads derived from FEA shell element results

ABSTRACT. Finite element analysis (FEA) the joint in the model. This is useful for predicted. This would seem a fruitful area
has become a practical method of pre- prediction of both static failure and for research. With more accurate predic-
dicting stresses and deflection for loaded fatigue failure. tion and classification of failure resis-
structures. FEA accurately identifies the • Rapid determination of weld tance, the fabrication cost for a given
load path, which can be difficult using throat requirements or stress levels from structural reliability can be reduced.
classical analysis with complex struc- a solved FEA model. The process of ex-
tures. FEA shell element models are tracting weld loads and determining Implementation
effective for predicting loads in weld- throat requirements or stress levels can
ments fabricated from plate, sheet, struc- be highly automated. For fillet and partial penetration
tural shapes and tube. The formulation • Shear loads induced by mismatch groove welds, the criteria used for sizing
used for a finite element shell model is of lateral deflection due to restraint/Pois- welds is to divide the load transmitted
that of full penetration welds at every son effects are included in the calculated (traction) through the weld by the mini-
joint. Although the loads carried through loads. These loads are often ignored with mum throat area and compare that value
joints are calculated by FEA, they are not classical analysis. with the electrode shear allowable. (See
readily presentable. This article presents • An estimate of the ductile reserve Appendix for a description of this criteria
a method to derive the loads at weld of the joint with respect to the hydrostatic and the associated safety factors.)
joints from the stress results of FEA shell load state is available. This has been pro- The applicability of this method for
element models. Additionally, using the posed as a cause of non-ductile failure of single-sided welds where the weld root
calculated weld loads, weld throat weld joints (Ref. 1). Although not per- sees tension is subject to special consid-
stresses or size requirements are calcu- formed in the implementation presented, erations and limitations that are
lated using classical methods. information useful for this evaluation is discussed.
obtained. Investigation is ongoing in this A welded T-joint and a lap-joint are
Introduction area. analyzed for demonstration. First, the
There is room for improvement in fail- weld for a T-joint of a fabricated steel
Most common basic FEA packages ure prediction of fillet and partial pene- bracket is analyzed. The results will be
are suitable for this analysis. COSMOS/M tration welds and research is ongoing at compared to a classical analysis of the
was used for the examples here. With its many sites. Using FEA, the loads at a same joint. Finally, the weld of a lap joint
parametric command files, design varia- weld joint can easily be resolved into di- for an aluminum fall arrest lug is sized.
tions are easily evaluated. With any FEA rections associated with the weld joint. The method is presented in four steps:
package, accurate load estimation de- From this, stress states at the root and toe 1) From the Finite Element Analysis,
pends on the quality of the model built of the weld due to applied loads can be list to a file the stress tensor at each node
by the analyst. predicted. With this information, fracture of a weld joint in one terminated part for
As presented, this method is standard initiation may be better modeled and both the top and bottom stresses.
classical weld stress analysis, except that 2) Extract the stress tractions through
the forces on the weld joint are deter- the weld at each weld joint node for both
mined using FEA. The forces through the element faces (top and bottom) by multi-
weld are divided by the weld throat area plying the joint normal unit vector into
and compared to the shear allowable of KEY WORDS the shell element top and bottom stress
the electrode material. Finite Element Analysis tensors.
The benefits of utilizing this method Fatigue/Fracture 3) From the tractions and the part
are as follows: thickness, solve for the normal load
Loaded Structures
• Accurate determination of weld (lb/in.), bending load (in.-lb/in.) and joint
loads including distribution of weld Static Strength shear (lb/in.) at each node.
loads along the joint. The weld joint Throat Requirements 4) From the formulas appropriate for
loads are resolved at each FEA node of Weld design the weld joint (double-sided fillet,
Throat Shear double-sided partial penetration groove,
M. A. WEAVER, P.E., is with Weaver Engi- or single-sided welds — fillet or partial
neering, Seattle, Wash. penetration with limitations) and the


throat size, calculate the weld stress. continuity by activating results for the
Conversely, from the desired stress level, area of interest only, as is shown by the
solve for the required throat size. comparison of Figs. 4 and 5.
The four steps are described and ap-

plied as follows:
Weld Size Requirement for a Steel
T-Joint Bracket Step 1: List to a file the stress tensor at each
node of a weld joint in one terminated part
for both the top and bottom stresses.
Figure 1 depicts a welded steel
bracket loaded vertically and horizon-
Activate the elements for one termi-
tally. Figure 2 shows a fabrication detail
nated part of the of the weld joint and the
of the bracket where the size of the
nodes of the joint only as shown in Fig.
double-sided fillet weld is S. This T-joint
7. For lap and T-joints, there is only one
is subject to bending in both the strong
Fig. 1 — Depiction of bracket loads. terminated part — Fig. 6. For corner and
and weak directions, tension and shear.
butt joints, both parts terminate and
This bracket is made from ASTM A36
either part may be selected.
steel and welded with matching E60XX
Some weld joints, such as a flare-V-
electrode. The required safety factor
groove between two adjacent rectangu-
against ultimate failure is 3.0, so the
lar steel tubes, have no terminated part.
allowable weld throat “shear” stress used
One solution is to chamfer or round the
to size the joint was 13.2 ksi [1/3.0 ·
tube corners in the finite element model
(60 ksi)(0.3)(2.2)], see Appendix. The ob-
and model the weld itself as shell ele-
jective of this analysis is to determine the
ments connecting the tube walls similar
weld size, S, that results in a maximum
to the actual weld. These weld elements
throat stress of 13.2 ksi.
then become the terminated part.
The loads in the weld are easily de-
List to text files the stresses in the top
termined using classical analysis for this
and the bottom of terminated part at the
bracket. The weld size requirements will
active nodes — Fig. 8A, B. Top and bot-
be calculated first, using the loads from
tom are terms used to distinguish the
finite element analysis and then will be
element sides; they have no significance
compared to the results obtained using
Fig. 2 — Fabrication detail of T-bracket. with respect to up or down. The top face
classical analysis.
of an element is the face where the node
With finite element analysis results,
sequence is counterclockwise. Figure 8D
care must be taken when identifying the
is a list of top stresses at the nodes of the
stresses (loads) at weld joints or other
weld joint with the elements for both
discontinuities. Figure 3 depicts a finite
parts 1 and 2 active — it is incorrect for
element model of the T-joint under in-
extracting weld loads and corresponds to
vestigation. Figure 4 shows the finite ele-
the stress plot of Fig. 5.
ment stress results in part 1 (the stem of
In step 2, a coordinate system aligned
the “t” shown in Fig. 2) of the joint. Figure
with the weld joint in the terminated part
5 shows stress results for the assembly.
is introduced. Depending on the method
Comparison of Figs. 4 and 5 shows that
of implementation, it may be beneficial
the displayed stress in part 1 near the
to list the top and bottom stresses in a co-
weld joint are different in the two plots
ordinate system aligned with the weld
from the same analysis. The elements for
joint. Coordinate system 3, shown in Fig.
part 1 were put on a separate “set” or
7, was used for this example. In addition,
“layer” and the nodal stresses plotted in
Fig. 3 — Finite element model of T-bracket. the stress tensor mathematics as pre-
Fig. 4 are based only on the stresses in
sented in this step, are often not taught in
part 1. This is the most accurate repre-
undergraduate engineering classes;
sentation of the stress state of part 1. The
rather, the concepts are taught using
stresses at the joint of parts 1 and 2 shown
Mohr’s circle. Lemaitre, et al. (Ref. 2), of-
in Fig. 5 are based on the calculated av-
fers a good reference for stress tensor
erage of the stresses in both parts at the
mathematics, as well as failure theory.
joint. The stresses shown in Fig. 5 are un-
realistically low in part 1 and unrealisti-
Step 2: Extract the stress tractions resulting
cally high in part 2 at the joint because of from loads transmitted through the weld joint
this. at each weld joint node for both element
Nodal stress values are calculated as faces.
the average stress of all of the active ele-
ments in contact with each node. At dis- To determine the loads transmitted
continuities such as weld joints, the through the weld joint, as opposed to
plotted stress is the average of the stress loads that run alongside the weld, the
in each side of the discontinuity. To iden- “weld joint normal” of a selected termi-
tify the stresses (and loads) in a part at a nated part is identified — Fig. 6.
Fig. 4 — Von Mises stress results plotted on discontinuity (weld joint), the stresses For this purpose, the weld joint nor-
part one of bracket only. must be calculated for one side of the dis- mal is defined as the direction perpen-

2-s | APRIL 1999

Fig. 5 — Von Mises stress results plotted for the
entire bracket.

Fig. 8 — Tabulated FEA and weld calculation results.

dicular to the plane formed by the axis of weld joint coordinate system, (s, w, j) is
the weld and the normal (perpendicular)
direction of the surface of the terminated Ts   T • us 
   
part at the node of evaluation — Fig. 6.    
In mathematical terms, Tw  = T • uw 
   
 Tj   T • uj 
us ≡ surface normal unit vector
uw ≡ weld axis unit vector
Fig. 6 — Weld joint coordinate system of the uj ≡ weld joint normal unit vector where Ts represents the shear acting per-
terminated part.
uj = us × uw. pendicular to the terminated part, Tw rep-
resents the weld joint longitudinal shear,
The stress traction vector, T, acting on and Tj represents the tension or com-
the plane defined by the weld joint pression in the terminated part through
normal vector, uj, results from loads the weld joint.
transmitted through the weld joint. It is For a lap joint, Tj also represents the
extracted by multiplying the weld joint
transverse shear. If the joint is loaded in
normal, uj, into the stress tensor, σ.
plane, (Ts = 0) and there is a transverse
T = [σ]uj component to the load (Tj ≠ 0),
AWS D1.1, Structural Welding Code —
In expanded notation, the expression Steel (Ref. 3) has alternate increased
is weld load allowables based on trans-
verse/longitudinal load orientation. This
Tx  σ xx σ xy σ xz  uj  transverse/longitudinal orientation is
     x available with these results. Caution
 
Ty  = σ yx σ yy σ yz  ujy  should be exercised, however, because
      although joints with transverse in-plane
 σ zz 
Tz  σ zx σ zy ujz 
loading have greater strength, they have
Fig. 7 — Element and node activation for list- less ductility and energy absorption
ing part stresses at weld joint. One way to resolve the traction into than longitudinally-loaded joints. Refer


to AWS D1.1 Fig. C26 Commentary Step 4: From the formulas appropriate for The resulting calculated stresses from
(Ref. 3). the weld joint and the desired stress level, bending loads in double-sided fillet
solve for the required throat size. welds treated as lines is more conserva-
For the T-bracket, the stresses are
listed in coordinate system 3, which has tive. There is a dearth of references on
Three weld configurations are consid-

the z-axis aligned with the weld joint this subject — most published investiga-
normal. The preceding analysis simpli- ered: 1) double-sided fillet weld, 2) dou- tions of fillet weld strength involve lap
fies as ble-sided partial penetration groove joints loaded in plane (Ref. 5). In the
weld and 3) single-sided welds — fillet or absence of illumination, the safer path
uj = uz partial penetration groove welds. The ex- was chosen.
pressions for weld throat stress are differ-
ent for each of these three and cover most Double-Sided Partial Penetration Groove
Tx  σ xx σ xy σ xz  0 σ xz  cases. Weld
       
The analysis will be presented first
Ty  = σ yx σ yy σ yz  0 = σ yz 
    by developing the expression for weld The section modulus for a double-
   
Tz  σ zx σ zy σ zz  1 σ zz  throat stress given the weld loads, the sided partial penetration groove weld is
joint geometry and the weld size. Next, calculated using the geometrical section
the solution for the weld throat size of the weld throat. The formulation
For node 340 of the T-joint (refer to
given the allowable stress will be de- shown is for the simple case of a weld
Fig. 8), the top and bottom stress tractions
scribed. Finally, the weld size require- with the weld size on both sides of
through the weld joint are
ments for the steel bracket T-joint will be the joint being equal and no fillet weld
evaluated. reinforcement.
Tx   0 384.8 −390.2  0
     
=  384.8 −2, 530
Single-Sided Welds
Ty  4, 468 0 Weld Section Properties
     
Tz  TOP −390.2 −2, 530 19, 560   1 Figure 10 presents the expressions No differentiation is made between
used for weld area and section modulus fillet and partial penetration groove
Tx   −390.2  about the weld axis for the three cate- welds for analyzing single-sided welds.
    The section modulus for a single weld is
Ty  = −2, 530 gories considered.
   
Tz  TOP 19, 560  Double-Sided Fillet Weld

Tx   0 384.8 −390.2 0 The section modulus

      for the double-sided fillet
Ty  =  384.8 2, 531 −1, 210  0
  weld is unique in this
   
Tz  BOT −390.2 −1, 210 7, 884   1 presentation because it is
340 calculated assuming the
Tx  −390.2 centroid of the of the weld Resolution of Weld Loads, Node 340:
    throat on each side is at
Ty  =  −1, 210  the part outer edge in- 3
    tb = ⋅ in. Base Material Thickness
Tz  BOT  7, 884  stead at the physical cen- 8
340 troid of the throat — Fig.
10. This is drawn from σ t = 19 ,560 psi Normal Stress at Top of Joint
The extraction of stress tractions re- the classical method of
σ b = 7884 psi Normal Stress at Bottom of Joint
sulting from loads transmitted through treating the weld as a line
the weld joint is complete. to develop properties τ zx_avg = −390.2 psi Average Shear Stress in Joint
(Ref. 4).
When developing the −2530 psi − 1210 psi
Step 3: From the tractions and the part thick- τ yz_avg =
ness, solve for the normal load (lb/in.), bend- properties for a weld 2
ing load (in.-lb/in.), and joint shear (lb/in.). group using classical
analysis, the method of 2 2
τ avg = τ zx_avg + τ yz_avg τ avg = 1910 psi
The equations used to determine part treating a weld as a line
top and bottom stress due to bending, does not differ much from Joint Normal Load:
normal and shear loads are easily re- calculating the properties
versed to determine bending, normal and using the actual weld cen- σt + σb lbf
P = ⋅ tb P = 5146
shear loads from the stresses. For node troid because compared 2 in.
340, the calculation is presented in to the overall geometry,
Joint Bending Load:
Fig. 9. the distance from the
This calculation determines the load weld centroid to the part σt − σb t b2 in. lbf
per inch of weld joint. Columns 2–4 in wall is small. Treating the M = ⋅ M = 136.8
2 6 in.
Fig. 8C show the results of these calcula- weld as a line results in a
tions for the T-joint of the steel bracket. much simpler calculation Joint Shear Load:
For comparison with classical analysis, With a double-sided fillet
weld of a plate in a T-joint, lbf
the values for joint normal load, P and V = τ avg t b V = 716.4
joint shear load, V are divided by 2 to ob- however, the difference in.
tain load per inch of weld, since there are between the two methods
two welds in the joint. is significant. Fig. 9 — Load calculation for one node.

4-s | APRIL 1999

Fig. 10 — Weld section properties.

Stress due to shear: Aw and Sw are linear with respect to tw,

and this can be solved explicitly for the
V required throat size:
fshear =
Aw For the double-sided fillet weld on the
steel bracket at node 340, the formula-
Total stress magnitude: tion is as follows:

(f ) M 
V 

+ (fshear )
2 1 P
f weld = + fnormal tw = ⋅  +  +
bending MIN
Fa  tb 2  2
Fig. 11 — Components of weld throat stress
 137 in. - lb   716.4 lbf 
2 2

traction. Refer to Fig. 11. Note in the above lb

equation that the bending and normal  in.
in. 
 in. 
stresses are combined so that their mag-  0.375 in. 2   2 
nitudes are additive — this will always be    
calculated using the geometrical section tw =
of the weld throat. the case on one side of the joint. MIN
13, 200 psi
For evaluation of the weld size, the tw = 0.224 in.
Weld Throat Stress total traction magnitude is compared to MIN

the electrode shear allowable, Fa.

The calculation for the total weld For an equal leg fillet weld, the weld
From the weld load components de-
throat traction just presented is of practi- size, S, is equal to the square root of 2
termined in step three and the weld sec-
cal use for determining stress levels of ex- times the throat,
tion properties for a given weld size, the
weld throat stress components can be de- isting designs. For new design, a method
termined as follows: of calculating throat size requirements is S = 2 ⋅ tw
Stress due to normal load: = 2 ⋅ (0.224 in.)
Determination of Weld Size = 0.317 in. or 0.32 in.
fnormal =
Aw Given the weld loads determined in This is the value for S that should be
step 3, the joint type and geometry and used for the joint callout in Fig. 2.
the allowable shear stress, there will exist Figure 8C displays the results of the
Stress due to bending:
a throat size where the calculated mag- above calculation for every node in the
nitude of the weld throat stress traction joint. Figure 12 shows a plot of the weld
fbending = will equal the allowable shear stress. For throat stress as a function of the weld
Sw double-sided fillet welds treated as lines, throat size.



Fig. 12 — Plot of weld throat stress vs. weld throat size for souble-sided Fig. 13: — Plot of weld throat stress vs. weld throat size for double-sided
fillet weld at node 340. partial penetration groove weld at node 340.

treating a weld as a line, as described by Weld Loads:

Blodgett, et al. (Refs. 3–5).
Refer to Figs. 2 and 3 for the joint ge- Normal Load, fnormal:
ometry and loads. The classical calcula-
tion is as follows:
fnormal =
Section Properties: Aw
3000 lb
Aw = 2 ⋅ d =
10 in.
= 2 ⋅ (5 in.)
Fig. 14 — Comparison of weld loads along = 300 lb / in.
= 10 in.
joint from FEA and classical calculations.
Sw x =
3 Shear Load, fshear:
An explicit expression for a double-
sided partial penetration groove weld =
(5 in.)

requires solution of a sixth-order polyno- 3 V

fshear =
mial, while a single-sided weld results in = 8.33 in.2 Aw
a fourth-order polynomial that must be Sw y = b ⋅d
2814 lb
= (0.375 in.) (5 in.)
solved. Rather than pursue these, it was =
more expedient to implement an iterative 10 in.
search in the computer program. The = 1.88 in.2
= 281 lb / in.
weld throat size, tw, is adjusted until the
calculated throat traction equals the
allowable shear stress for the electrode. Applied Loads: Bending Load About x, fbx:
This method is employed for both double-
sided partial penetration groove welds Normal Load, P:
and single-sided welds. Figure 13 shows Mx
P = 3000 lb fbx =
a plot of the weld throat stress as a func- Sw x
tion of the weld throat size at node 340 Shear Load, V:
of the T-joint, if it were a double-sided, 14, 050 in. − lb
partial penetration groove weld. The re- 8.33 in.2
sulting throat size for a maximum throat V = (146 lb)2 + (−2810 lb)2
= 1690 lb / in.
traction of 13,200 psi is 0.304 in.
This concludes the calculation of the = 2814 lb
weld throat size of the steel bracket T-
Bending Load About x, Mx: Bending Load About y, fby:
joint based on the results of finite element
analysis. For comparison, the same joint
Mx = (2810 lb) (5 in.) My
is now analyzed using classical methods.
fby =
= 14,050 in.-lb Sw y
Determination of T-Joint Weld Size
Using Classical Analysis Bending Load About y, My: 730 in. − lb
My = (146 lb) (5 in.) 1.88 in.2
The T-joint double-sided fillet weld
will be evaluated using the method of = 730 in.-lb = 388 lb / in.

6-s | APRIL 1999

Fig. 15 — T-joint welded to matching channel. Fig. 16 — Von Mises stresses in part 1 welded to channel.

Total Weld Load, fw: 2) Uneven distribution of the load loading on this weld joint is similar to the
path due to the bolts and the non-linear weld loading on a double lap joint.
effects of out-of-plane forces on part 2. In contrast, the steel T-joint bracket
fw = (f
+ fbx + fby ) + (f )

3) End effects. under investigation — Figs. 1–5 — is not

The FEA accounts for these effects, recommended for a single-sided joint
 300 lb   281 lb 
2 2
lb lb while the classical analysis used does without careful consideration of the ap-
= + 1690 + 388 +
 in. in. in.   in.  not. The difference between these meth- plied loads and the resulting resistance to
ods for this joint design is not great and failure. The three loading directions will
= 2390 lb / in. this steel T-bracket is a good candidate be considered separately.
for classical evaluation. If Px can put the root of the joint in
Required Weld Throat Size, tw: The finite element analysis method of tension and is unrestrained, no amount of
determining weld loads becomes useful deformation will take the weld out of
when estimating weld loads using classi- bending and stop continued deforma-
fw cal analysis is difficult. tion. This condition has the lowest resis-
tw =
Fa For a quick, simple example, Fig. 15 tance against failure.
shows the same 0.375-in. thick part 1 When Px puts the root of the weld in
2390 lb
= bracket welded to a matching 5 x 9 lb/ft compression, the weld will not have de-
13,200 psi channel. By inspection, most of the ap- graded resistance based on calculated
plied normal and bending load will be weld stresses.
= 0.188 in.
transferred from the part 1 bracket to the The application of a tensile Pz load
channel near the channel flanges. again puts the weld in bending with the
The required weld throat size as cal- Figures 16 and 17 confirm this. This root in tension. The bending load will be
culated using classical analysis is 20% design is not suitable for the classical equal to the load times the distance be-
smaller that the value calculated using beam formulas. More advanced classical tween the centerline of the part and the
the loads from the FEA. Figure 14 com- analysis similar to that presented for rec- weld centroid. Therefore, fillet welds will
pares the weld loads calculated using tangular tubular structures (Ref. 3) or see more severe induced bending than a
FEA and classical analysis. The results are conservative assumptions would be partial penetration groove weld. Of note
reasonably close. Some causes of the dif- appropriate. with this loading is that the joint will see
ference are: bending deformation only until the ap-
1) Poisson Effect — Part 2 of Fig. 2 Design of Single-Sided Welds plied load is in line with the weld
(0.75-in. thick) restrains part 1 (0.375-in. centroid.
thick) from the lateral contraction/expan- Design of single-sided welds where The application of Py puts the joint in
sion associated with the Poisson Ratio, the root of the weld is subject to tension bending about its strong axis. One end of
due to normal loads at the weld joint. requires careful study of joint restraint, the joint will experience tension and the
This induces a shear load that is carried loading geometry and has limitations. other will see compression. The moment
through the weld. The loads obtained Figure 18 depicts a pipe welded in a from the load offset at the tensile end will
from FEA account for this for fnormal, T-joint loaded in bending. This is an ac- induce the part to rotate so that the weld
while it is not accounted for in the beam ceptable single-sided joint with the root root opens, while the load offset at the
formulas used with classical analysis. in tension. Figure 19 is a diagram of the compression end will induce the part to
(With the current implementation, the joint, loading and restraint through the rotate so that the weld root closes. This
Poisson effect due to bending about the top section, where the single-sided weld creates a warping, twisting load in the
weld-weak axis is ignored, because the is subject to tension. The weld in this sec- part. A shorter, stubbier part will provide
shear stresses are opposite and they tion is not subject to severe bending, be- more restraint against opening the weld
cancel each other in the shear load cause the section of the pipe adjacent to root at the tensile end than will a long
calculation.) the weld is restrained from rotating. The thin part. Again, special investigation of


weld. Specifically, because the post is
fabricated of plates with overhang of part
4 with respect to part 2, the x direction
load combined with the overhang induce

a bending moment in the weak direction

of the single sided weld — Fig. 23. The
distribution of the load transmitted
through weld #01 (V14 and M14) along
the joint is difficult to calculate using
classical analysis. Conservative assump-
tions would be required, resulting in
larger welds and thicker material
Special care is required when creating
a finite element model of lap joints with
Fig. 21 — Finite element model of fall arrest either shell or solid elements. It must be
platform. ensured that only the nodes of the weld
joint in the two parts are merged (joined).
Fig. 17 — Weld loads in T-joint with channel.
The nodes on the faying surfaces that are
the joint against the desired resistance to not part of the weld joint must be re-
failure is required. moved from the selection set or layer
Configurations with one-sided fillet before merging is performed — Fig. 24.
welds where the root is in unconstrained For weld 1, the terminated piece is
tension are good candidates for redesign. part 4, the post side (Fig. 22). Coordinate
The single-sided formulation is used system 15 was used to evaluate the loads
for double fillet welded lap joints as in weld 1 — Fig. 25. The elements of part
shown in Fig. 20. Even though this is a 4 and the nodes of weld 1 are shown in
double weld joint, each weld is evalu- Fig. 26. The results are plotted in Fig. 27.
ated individually Finite element analysis provided a
reasonable estimation of loads for this
Weld Size Requirement for a Lap analysis that would have been difficult to
Joint of a Fall Arrest Lug estimate using classical methods. Also,
FEA was of value determining the con-
Figure 21 is a depiction of a fall arrest figuration of the lug to avoid hot spots at
platform. This platform is designed to the top and bottom.
Fig. 18 — Pipe T-joint welded on one side, withstand the most severe type of fall ar-
loaded in bending.
rest system — that of a simple lanyard al-
lowing a maximum free-fall of six feet. Intermittent Welds
OSHA (Ref. 8) stipulates by the simplest
method that the structure for such a fall On the first cut when modeling struc-
arrest system must withstand a lanyard tures with intermittent welds, it is expe-
load of 5000 pounds without failure. dient to merge (connect) all of the nodes
This structure is fabricated from 5086- along the weld joint. The results of the
H112 Aluminum with 5356 electrode. weld analysis will predict a required
The published minimum tensile strength weld size for a continuous weld. This
of 5086-H112 is 31,500 psi and the pub- gives the designer the distribution of the
lished minimum shear strength for 5356 load along the joint for refinement of
electrode is 17 ksi (Ref. 9). weld deposit requirements. If the joint is
There were 54 welds evaluated for 13 uniformly loaded and designed against
load cases. Ten load cases were used to static failure, it may be reasonable to use
evaluate fall arrest loads at various loca- this result to size the intermittent weld by
Fig. 19 — Section through top of pipe T-joint, tions and three load cases were used to providing the same throat area as the pre-
loaded in tension. evaluate the floor and structure for the fa- dicted continuous weld.
tigue loading of day-to-day usage. This On the other hand, if the loads exhibit
analysis was highly automated and nu- non-uniform distribution or the structure
merous platform material sizing and ge- is to be cyclically loaded, it is recom-
ometry variations could be evaluated mended that further models be built with
overnight with batch processing. the nodes merged at only the locations of
Weld #01 of the fillet welds in the lap welded connection.
joint between the fall arrest lug (part 1)
and the support post side (part 4) is ana-
lyzed for demonstration — Fig. 22, De- Applicability and Limitations
tail A. This is the inside weld between the
lug (part 1) and the post side (part 4). This form of design evaluation is
Fig. 20 — Welds of double fillet-welded lap The geometry of this joint has some based on elastic behavior only. Depend-
joint are evaluated individually. features that increase the load in this ing on the expected failure mode and the

8-s | APRIL 1999

Fig. 22 — Details of the fall arrest anchor and post. Fig. 23 — Loading aiagram of the fall arrest post side.

Fig. 24 — Finite element model of lap joint. Fig. 25 — Coordinate systems used for post weld joints.

definition of failure, elastic analysis is entirely appropriate and accurately pre- regarding the design intent. Under this
either a reasonable model or is conser- dicts the onset of yield. For applications latter case, non-linear plastic analysis or
vative (in terms of rupture strength). Elas- where loss of function occurs when load- the use of tabulated plastic factored re-
tic stress ranges are a very meaningful bearing capacity is lost, but large plastic sistances provide a better prediction of
predictor of resistance to fatigue. For deformation can be tolerated and may be behavior.
static, ductile failure resistance, the defi- desired — as in seismic design or auto-
nition of failure determines the applica- motive frames — elastic analysis with a The Choice of Shell Elements
bility of elastic analysis. For design where safety factor against ultimate strength will
meaningful change in geometry would generate conservative strength results An alternative to using shell elements
cause loss of function (as for most me- and is not likely to provide an accurate for generic analysis of weldments with
chanical equipment), elastic analysis is prediction of the behavior of the structure FEA is the use of solid elements.



Fig. 26 — Von Mises stresses in part 4 post side

plate with nodes of weld 01 displayed.

Fig. 27 — Calculated throat requirement for

weld 01. Fig. 28 — FEWELD database.

Reasons for Not Modeling Welds with Solid 2) For structures where the stiffness Future Development
Elements difference between the actual weld ge-
ometry and a shell element representa- With the information that the finite el-
1) The published strength data for
tion of the joint would be meaningful. ement analysis results readily provide,
static and fatigue failure is in terms of
3) For situations where plastic be- that is, the orientation and magnitude of
nominal throat stress. This information is
havior of the weld itself is of interest. the traction at the root and face of the
not easily presented or extracted from a
solid element model. weld, improved failure prediction may
2) The size of the weld would have to The Present System be possible compared to the method of
be known a priori. The benefit of using comparing the weld shear allowable to
shell elements as presented is that the re- the magnitude of the traction divided by
Presently, this analysis is performed the throat area. This would result in more
quired weld size can be calculated from
external to the finite element analysis efficient designs — less material used for
the results of the FEA analysis.
software. A database of welds is created a given reliability.
3) The effort required to build solid
that contains the necessary information:
models of welds and the computational
part thickness, weld type, allowable
resources needed to solve such models Solicitation
throat stress and definition of the shell el-
make their use uneconomic for most de-
ements and nodes by surfaces and weld
signs within most organizations.
end points to be evaluated for weld loads The author is interested in comments
Situations Where a Solid Model of the Weld — Fig. 28. A database such as this orga- on this method and recommendations for
is Appropriate nizes the work to automate many of the improvement. He can be reached
tasks; however, improvements in pro- through email at
1) Solid modeling can provide useful ductivity can be obtained from improve- or at Weaver Engineering, 1219 Westlake
predictions of notch stresses for fatigue ments in the modeling environment. Avenue N, Suite 210, Seattle, WA 98109.
evaluation if the weld profile and pene- More of the manual effort of building the Related information is available on the
tration can be modeled to accurately. database can be automated. internet at

10-s | APRIL 1999

References able stress is based on a safety factor will be attenuated and further investiga-
ranging from 2.2 for in-plane longitudi- tion is suggested. Also, in the case of
1. Blodgett, O. W. 1995. Details to In- nal shear to 4.6 for in-plane transverse plastic design where the base material is
crease Ductility in SMRF Connections. The
loads based on test results (Ref 5). These expected to see large deformation, the
Welding Innovation Quarterly XII (2). The

James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation. tests were performed on lap joints loaded combined effects of axial and through
2. Lemaitre, J., and Chaboche, J. -L. 1990. in-plane. Based on this datum, the mini- weld elongation must be considered in
Mechanics of Solid Materials. Cambridge Uni- mum ultimate shear strength for steel the resistance of the joint. A high, tensile
versity Press. electrode used for analysis is taken as hydrostatic stress state (associated with
3. ANSI/AWS D1.1-96, Structural Weld- 0.66 (= 0.3 x 2.2) times the electrode large welds combined with severe cross-
ing Code — Steel, 15th Ed. 1996. American
minimum tensile strength. Because out- section or load path discontinuities, such
Welding Society, Miami, Fla.
4. Blodgett, O. W. 1963. Design of Weld- of-plane loading was not evaluated in the as mismatched base metal sizes) will
ments. The James F. Lincoln Arc Welding testing referenced by the AWS D1.1 and cause a crack to propagate across the
Foundation. very few testing results of out-of-plane joint before its theoretical ductile limit is
5. Higgins, T. R., and Preece, F. R. 1968. loading have been published, the lower reached. It is good to remember that fil-
Proposed working stresses for fillet welds in safety factor of 2.2 is used to estimate let and partial penetration welds are
building construction. Welding Journal
joint strength by the author for all joints brought into this world with the equiva-
47(10): 429-s to 432-s.
6. Shigley, J. E., and Mischke, C. R. 1989 loaded out of plane. For E60XX elec- lent of a crack at the root.
Mechanical Engineering Design, 5th Ed. trode, this results in an ultimate shear The method used to size fillet welds
McGraw-Hill Book Company. strength of 39.6 ksi. For tubular structures against ductile failure is based on the
7. Welding Handbook. 8th Ed., Vol. 1. welded with 60 or 70 ksi electrode, the practical approach of comparing the
1987. American Welding Society, Miami, Fla. strength is taken as 2.67 times the magnitude of the stress resulting from
8. 29 CFR 1910.66 Appendix C. 1997.
allowable stress, per loads passing through the weld joint to
Occupational Safety and Health Administra-
tion. Office of the Federal Register, National This is useful when designing for the electrode and base metal shear
Archives and Records Administration. U.S. compliance with codes and specifications strengths. From the standpoint of the me-
Government Printing Office. requiring other safety factors for static chanics discipline of physics, this ap-
9. Specifications for Aluminum Structures, loading. For example, ANSI/ALI proach is close for a joint in pure
5th Ed. 1986. The Aluminum Association. B153.1-90, American National Standard longitudinal shear only. In general, for
10. Lesik, D. F., and Kennedy, D. J. L.,
for Automotive Lifts — Safety Require- other loading geometries, this approach
1990. Ultimate strength of fillet welded con-
nections loaded in plane. Canadian Journal of ments requires a safety factor of 3.0 results in a more conservative (earlier
Civil Engineering. 17: 55–67. against ultimate failure for ductile material failure) prediction than other ductile fail-
11. Fisher, J. W., Frank, K. H., Hirt, M. A., while deferring to “ANSI/AWS D1.1-90 ure theories. However, factors such as
and McNamee, B. M. 1970. Effect of Weld- Sections 1 through 7, Section 8 where ap- the high-stress concentration at the weld
ments on Fatigue Strength of Steel Beams. Re- plicable, …”, “… and the Commentary on root, residual stresses and distortion in-
port No. 102. National Cooperative Highway
Structural Welding Code — Steel, (Part of duced by the welding process, and weld
Research Program, Transportation Research
Board, National Academy of Sciences. ANSI/AWS D1.1)” for welding techniques defects call for a conservative approach.
12. Fisher, J. W., Albrecht, P. A., Yen, B. T., and weld joint design. The resulting al- Per AWS D1.1-96 for dynamically-
Klingerman, D. J., and McNamee, B. M. 1974. lowable weld throat shear stress used for loaded structures (fatigue), the allow-
Fatigue Strength of Steel Beams with Welded design with this code is 13.2 ksi (= 1/3.0 · ables for stress range in the fillet weld are
Stiffeners and Attachments. Report No. 147. 39.6 ks) for E60XX electrode. also in terms of shear on the weld throat
National Cooperative Highway Research Pro-
Of note is the evaluation of only the (Category F, Table 2.4 and Figs. 2.9 and
gram, Transportation Research Board, Na-
tional Academy of Sciences. stresses due to loads carried through the 2.10). The values for redundant struc-
weld joint. Stresses along the axis of the tures correspond to the underlying study
Appendix weld from loads not passing through the referenced in the commentary (Refs. 11,
weld are not used (see note 3 in Table 2.3 12), where the recommendations are
Stress Criteria for Fillet Welds of AWS D1.1-96). With respect to static drawn for a 95% survival rate at a 95%
with AWS D1.1 loading resistance, these axial stresses confidence level from the underlying test
will participate in the onset of yield, in- data. These studies are oriented directly
The following is the method and ratio- creasing or decreasing the load at which at bridge construction. The total stress
nale of applying the requirements of AWS yield initiates depending on the load ge- state in a fillet weld — not just the trac-
D1.1 (Ref. 3) for weld size determination. ometry. A justification for this approach tion through the throat — will contribute
The shear stress allowable for static can be made for fillet and partial pene- to fatigue failure; however, the traction
loading in the Structural Welding Code, tration welds, where the weld cross sec- through the throat is subject to the stress
AWS D1.1, is 0.3 times the electrode ten- tion is less than the base metal cross concentration at the root, while stresses
sile strength for fillet welds and partial section for axial loads and the weld sizes along the weld axis are not. Because the
penetration groove welds not in bearing, are not great. As far as the weld is con- root is essentially a crack, the weld is
except fillet welds of lap joints loaded in cerned, these axial stresses are seen as born into stage 2 fatigue with respect to
plane with a transverse load component applied axial strains and a small amount loads through the weld while the weld is
have an increased allowable per 2.14 of of yielding will relieve the stresses asso- closer to stage 1 fatigue for loads along
AWS D1.1-96. See also Lesik (Ref. 10). ciated with them, while the base metal the weld axis. Additionally, there are sep-
The increased allowable is new with the remains in an elastic state. This is true, arate allowables for stresses in the base
1996 code. There are no directly pub- because the weld will be constrained to metal adjacent to weld joints that are
lished shear strengths for steel electrodes strain in the axial direction by the same near the same range as the allowables for
in AWS D1.1 or AWS electrode specifi- amount as the base material adjacent to the weld throat shear (Categories B
cations; however, the commentary for the weld. If the weld cross section is sig- through E, Table 2.4 of AWS D1.1-96).
section 2 (section 8 for pre-1996 versions nificant compared to the base metal cross- These account for the load path discon-
of AWS D1.1) does reveal that the allow- section for axial load, this assumption tinuity at the welds and notch effect.