You are on page 1of 8

International Journal of Pressure Vessels and Piping 83 (2006) 365372 www.elsevier.


Achieving cost savings with innovative welding and examination techniques

B. Messer a,*, C. Patrick b, S. Seitz a

Fluor Corporation, 55 Sunpark Plaza SE, Calgary, Alta., Canada T2X 3R4 b Fluor Corporation, P.O. Box 5014, Sugar Land, TX, USA

Abstract In an effort to maximize quality and production in both eld and shop fabrication while minimizing cost, Fluor has assessed new and innovative welding and examination technologies. Welding applications, power sources, arc transfer modes, and shielding gas mixtures using various semiautomatic processes were compared. The strategies for the selection of these welding variables, as well as the successful application of a modied short-circuiting gas metal arc welding process to carbon, alloy, and stainless steels are discussed. The optimized process combination can achieve three times the deposition rate and one-tenth of the repair rate commonly obtained with traditional processes. In weldment examinations, a modied phased array ultrasonic technique is presented. As an alternate for radiography, phased array technology allows for 10 times lower inspection times and lends itself to an ideal weld-and-check methodology. Additional cost savings and further, productivity improvements have been achieved by combining these novel welding and examination techniques. This technology has demonstrated itself with a supporting track record on several major construction projects in North America. q 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Short-circuiting gas metal arc welding; No backing gas procedures; Software driven power sources; Phased array ultrasonic testing

1. Introduction Welding plays a critical role in the fabrication of modern facilities for the pressure equipment industry. Equally important during construction is the inspection and verication of nished welds using non-destructive techniques. Any complications or delays associated with welding or inspecting can negatively impact the cost and schedule of a project. Over the past 50 years, several improvements have been made to welding machines but the basic welding practices have remained unchanged. For example, the only reliable method for welding austenitic stainless steel piping while preventing oxidation of the root bead was through the use of a gas tungsten arc welding process and an inert backing gas. However, this process requires a substantial amount of time, effort, and materials to implement. Similarly, during the previous 40 years, radiography has been the primary means of inspecting welds in geometrically complex or high-noise materials. Fluor has been a leader in the development of innovative welding and examination techniques. The present work outlines the developments and implementations that have

emerged over the past decade. Details of the unique modied short-circuiting semi-automatic no-backing gas welding processes are provided, as well as their respective application to carbon, alloy, and stainless steels. Weldments were subsequently examined with a novel phased array ultrasonic technique that considerably reduces measured defect ambiguity and required inspection time. A brief assessment of the methods traditionally used for welding and inspection is also included for comparison. 2. Background The welding and examination processes implemented are major contributors to the project schedule and budget. Skilled labor shortages coupled with dated technologies provided the impetus for the development and implementation of improved welding and examination processes. A historical account of traditionally employed welding and inspection methods serves to substantiate the need for improved processes. 2.1. History One of the most crucial weld deposits to make is the root pass, which is typically in direct contact with the process commodity. Proper fusion and internal bead prole of the root pass are critical to the completion and acceptance of the nal weld. Furthermore, the combination of root, hot, ll, and cap

* Corresponding author. E-mail address: (B. Messer).

0308-0161/$ - see front matter q 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.ijpvp.2006.02.027


B. Messer et al. / International Journal of Pressure Vessels and Piping 83 (2006) 365372

pass process optimization dictates the deposition rates, which ultimately affects the completion rate of the project. Historically, open root welding on carbon, low alloy, and stainless steels was performed with one of three main methods, each of which has related advantages and disadvantages: 1. Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) is a very common process, which involves the use of low cost equipment. However, this manual process requires the welder to continually manipulate the arc while compensating for the burn-off rate and thus, is dependent on operator skill. Frequent stops and starts associated with the discontinuous ller metal rods further introduce areas for possible weld defects. 2. Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) produces high quality low-hydrogen welds at the cost of slower travel speeds and higher heat inputs. This manual process requires the welder to demonstrate increased agility and skill with both hands and therefore, is highly operator dependent. 3. Gas metal arc welding (GMAW) is a fast semi-automatic process with high deposition rates. However, due to the difculty in controlling heat input with GMAW applications, lack of fusion commonly results. The SMAW and GMAW processes, as implemented over the previous decades, are now viewed as slow and inefcient due to the level of welder dexterity and coordination required when compared to semi-automatic processes. Since, GTAW and SMAW are manual processes, a signicant number of man-hours are invested in weld deposition and grinding, thus decreasing efciency of production rates. Furthermore, these welding processes typically yield repair rates that exceed 5%. Understandably, during the last 2030 years, there has been a worldwide paradigm shift from manual processes to those that lend themselves to automation and higher deposition rates. Commonly, when welding with 5% or higher chrome alloy and stainless steels an inert backing gas purge is required to prevent sugaring oxidation on the process side of the weld. The proper selection of a backing gas and the subsequent setup of a gas-tight seal for the weld areas are typically performed at the expense of higher costs and extended schedules. Other methods such as using ux paste, ux coated, and ux cored ller metals with the GTAW process have been previously investigated as a means to inhibit oxidation, but all exhibited limited and varying results. The development of a reliable substitute for the gas purging process had not been presented until recent years [13]. Another important aspect of construction which impacts a projects production rate is the methodology applied for nondestructive examination (NDE). NDE testing historically required visual checks or costly examination methods that subjected the users to various hazards. Radiography (RT) and liquid penetrant testing (PT), for example, put the inspector in direct contact with harmful radiation or chemicals. Although, relatively safe, magnetic particle testing (MT) and eddy current inspections are limited to detecting surface or near surface welding defects. Ultrasonic testing (UT) with contact or

immersion probes has been used for weld inspection, as referred to herein as conventional UT; however, several limitations occur with this method. Conventional UT, for example, is limited to use on homogeneous parts with simple geometries and smooth surfaces. The accuracy of this method is also limited by the experience and knowledge of the operator. Until recently, inspection of irregular or complex part geometries, often associated with welded connections, was limited to RT. This method is generally limited to material thickness less than 51 mm and requires qualied operators. Although, RT does provide accurate and permanent records, it requires substantial set-up and lm development time. Over the past decade, developments in digital radiography or radioscopy have allowed its use for detecting aws in the pressure equipment industry. Unlike conventional RT, which uses a phosphorus lm, radioscopy uses an imaging plate compromised of photo-stimulable phosphors. Exposed plates can be electronically scanned allowing for immediate digital processing of the recorded image. This eliminates the tedious lm development time associated to conventional RT, but does not reduce the cost and time for set-up and scheduling. Because, a radiation source is still required with radioscopy methods, special precautions must be employed and examinations are limited to times when the work site is free from workers. Coupling slower NDE methods, such as RT, with dated welding processes of SMAW and GTAW can cause considerable delays in project completions. To avoid these delays and their associated costs, substantial steps have been taken in the development of improved welding and examination techniques. 2.2. Development The technological advancement of semi-automatic welding processes afforded a signicant decrease in required welder dexterity and coordination. Combined with a subsequent decrease in repair rates this advancement also contributed to an increase in productivity and efciency. The continual feeding of the wire negated the need to adjust for burn-off rate of the electrode and further liberated the welder to direct the gun with one hand and steady with the other. Fluor has been proactively involved in the development of several semiautomatic processes. One such process was the rst generation Short-circuit gas metal arc welding (GMAW-S) process. Using transformer-rectier machines, the arc produced by GMAW-S was violent and unstable which had a strong tendency towards lack of fusion; therefore, the t-ups and position welds still required an exact placement. This limitation prohibited the use of the GMAW-S process on eld t-ups that exhibited even the smallest degree of weld joint mismatch or out of roundness. The introduction of the inverter power source provided the technology for a second generation of GMAW machines. The inverter GMAW machines demonstrated a signicant improvement in arc optimization and control of GMAW-S when compared to those of the transformer-rectier. With the added control, a reduction in operating expenditures resulted due to

B. Messer et al. / International Journal of Pressure Vessels and Piping 83 (2006) 365372


increased efciency and reduced energy losses in the power conversion process. However, the inverter failed to compensate for weld joint mismatch or out of round piping, thereby negating the desired reduction of specialized welders. Over 10 years ago, a third generation of software-driven power sources was introduced with controlled waveform technology that enabled optimization of arc characteristics. This technology allowed for modications to the shortcircuiting transfer mode by remotely monitoring and controlling the electrode current output via computers through all phases of weld metal transfer. This facilitated the development of the modied Short-circuit gas metal arc welding (GMAWSm) process. This process overcame many limitations of conventional GMAW-S while maintaining comparable weld metal deposition rates and consistently achieving radiographic quality welds. In addition, GMAW-Sm exhibited an increased tolerance of less experienced and less skilled welders, thus overcoming the hurdle of misalignment and out of round piping. The GMAW-Sm process is also tolerant of gaps and capable of automatically maintaining the optimum wire feed speed and contact tip to work distance thereby increasing production rates and reducing welder fatigue. Table 1 shows a typical optimized welding strategy. A noteworthy track record with GMAW-Sm on carbon, alloy, and stainless steels has been developed by successfully implementing the method on tens of thousands of welds in various large scale projects. Approximately 5 years ago, the GMAW-Sm process was coupled with a no-backing gas (NBG) technique for use on Types 304/304L and 316/316L stainless steels [1]. This new technique completely removes the use of a purging gas while maintaining corrosion integrity of the root. Oxidization of the root is eliminated by directing a small quantity of the shielding gas ahead of the root weld puddle. Initially established as an in-house development, an extensive investigation was conducted regarding the mechanical, chemical, and corrosion properties of the welds made using
Table 1 Shop and eld process optimization for welding pipe Pipe diameter and wall thickness dZ1525 mm dR40 mm dZ1550 mm dZ80200 mm tZ38.2 mm Joint Socket weld Socket weld Butt weld Butt weld Butt weld Butt weld Butt weld Butt weld Recommended process GTAW (two pass minimum) GMAW-Sm (two pass minimum) GTAW (all passes) GMAW-Sm (all passes) or GMAW-Sm (root) and GMAW-P (balance) GMAW-Sm (root) and GMAW-P (balance) GMAW-Sm (root) and GMAW-P (balance) or GMAWSm (root) and FCAW (balance) GMAW-Sm (root) and GMAW-P (balance) GMAW-Sm (root), GMAW-P (hot pass) and FCAW (balance)

the GMAW-Sm and NBG procedure. Following further eld testing and procedure approval by the local authorized inspection agency, the welding method was implemented in several renery projects in North America. Currently, the GMAW-Sm with a NBG technique is commonly being used for Types 304/304L and 316/316L stainless steel production welds and has found extended application to heavy walled, chemically stabilized 321 and 347 stainless steels [2]. By utilizing NBG with the wide operating window of GMAW-Sm, considerable time and costs are saved without compromising production performance or weld quality. The new GMAW-Sm process totally eliminated the lack of fusion and penetration concerns typically linked with GMAW-S. To extend the benets of GMAW-Sm and NBG, a new NDE method for welded connections has been investigated [4]. The new technique is a modied version of UT, known as ultrasonic testing-phased array (UT-PA), which has an arrangement of multiple piezoelectric elements that are independently controlled for developing synchronized and manageable sonic waves. The technique is applicable to carbon, alloy, and austenitic stainless steels; requires less time than conventional UT; is not hazardous as compared to RT; and allows for 100% volumetric inspection. Other advantages of UT-PA include its ease of use, increased accuracy, and development of instantaneous digital inspection records for tracking defect propagations in the future. Combining UT-PA with GMAW-Sm allows for rapid weld production and integrity verication and therefore, establishes a more efcient weld-and-check methodology in comparison to the dated methods previously mentioned. 3. Welding techniques The development of more productive and cost efcient welding processes has been done in conjunction with signicant in-house, laboratory, and eld investigations. Currently, the presented welding processes are being implemented on several projects. This section summarizes some of the results obtained over the past decade in regards to improving welding methodologies for carbon, alloy, and stainless steels. The ease of process mastery, high deposition rate, and increased gap bridging characteristics of modied shortcircuiting GMAW makes this technique very desirable for welding carbon, alloy, and stainless steels. Before GMAW-Sm was used in shop or eld environments several mechanical, chemical, and corrosion tests were conducted on nished welds. Further NDE, microscopy, and spectrocopy tests indicated positive results. 3.1. Carbon steel Carbon steels are used in a multitude of services including low temperature, sour, and other critical services. To preserve the versatility of carbon steel when using GMAW-Sm, an extensive testing program was implemented. This program

dZ100200 mm tR8.6 mm dR150 mm tZ18.2 mm

dR250 mm tZ4.115.1 mm dR250 mm tR15.1 mm


B. Messer et al. / International Journal of Pressure Vessels and Piping 83 (2006) 365372

involved a full range of mechanical properties with an in-depth hardness evaluation and chemistry analysis. Various consumables and shielding gases were used with the GMAW-Sm process. Excellent results were obtained when an ER70S-6 electrode with controlled chemistry was used in conjunction with a SG-AC-25 shielding gas, as shown in Table 3. Although, a SG-AC-25 works well, a SG-AC-50 is recommended where tack welds are to be incorporated into the weld joint. 3.2. Alloy steel Following the successful outcomes with carbon steel, the modied short-circuit welding process was employed on PNo. 4 (1Cr0.5Mo and 1.25Cr0.5Mo) and P-No. 5B (5Cr0.5Mo) alloy steels. Similar to carbon steel, positive results were obtained in all testing areas. Extending the application to alloys with relatively higher levels of chromium such as P-No. 5B, P9 (9Cr1Mo) and P91 (9Cr1Mo1V) materials, could not be possible without rst considering the oxidation of the root pass. Traditionally, a GTAW process is performed with a backing gas for welding P9 and P91 piping at the expense of additional materials and higher set-up costs. In an effort to decrease these costs, a wire and gas combination that supports the use of a NBG procedure was developed [3]. Combining this novel technique with semiautomatic GMAW-Sm eliminated all costs associated with the use of a backing gas (i.e. installation of purge dams, backing gas materials, man-hours required for setup and application, etc.). The research and experimentation stages of NBG evolved over a several year period. Test results for welding P9 and P91 materials are summarized in Tables 2 and 3. An extensive eld testing program was established on P91 piping with diameters up to 610 mm and thickness up to 45 mm Inspection by 100% RT found no rejectable indications [3]. 3.3. Austenitic stainless steel Austenitic stainless steels are commonly used in pressure equipment and piping systems due to their high heat and corrosive resistant properties. However, the high susceptibility to oxidation that occurs when welding stainless steel requires the use of special preventative measures similar to those used
Table 2 Qualied welding parameters using GMAW-Sm with a NBG technique Material Carbon steel 1.25Cr 5Cr 9Cr P91 304/304L 316/316L 321/347
a b

with P9 and P91 alloy steels. To counteract the drawbacks of traditionally used processes, the user friendliness and economic benets of the NBG procedures were applied. 3.3.1. Types 304/304L and 316/316L The combined GMAW-Sm and NBG processes as established with carbon and alloy steels were initiated on Types 304/304L and 316/316L materials at two major renery projects in North America. To prepare the existing welders for the GMAW-Sm and NBG procedures, a 3-day training course was conducted on the job site. Welders with little or no experience in short-circuit GMAW were able to make code quality welds by the end of the training session. Fieldwork with shielding gases, combined with exhaustive laboratory testing, revealed that a higher than normal ow of a tri-mix shielding gas, containing SG-HeAC-7.5/2.5, resulted in a reduction of oxidation of the root. Optimized shielding gas rates were used to ood the weld root area during welding. The consumables that proved to be the most effective were ER308L-Si and ER316L-Si. Although, these electrodes are the same classication as the commonly used ER308L and ER316L materials, ER308L-Si and ER316L-Si possess a higher silicon content that improves the oxidation immunity and uidity of the weld metal. The chemical combination of the electrodes further protects the backside of the weld bead from the damaging oxidation that traditionally required the use of an inert backing gas on stainless steel pipe welds. Recorded welding variables and testing results on 304/304L and 316/316L materials are detailed in Tables 2 and 3. The main concern with welding stainless steels without a backing gas was the nished welds resistance to corrosive eld environments. To resolve this issue, extensive corrosion and oxide testing programs were conducted, as summarized for 316L stainless steel in Table 4. A series of welding coupons were prepared and welded with no backing gas in the shop with production welders using Types 304/304L and 316/316L steels. Matched control samples were also prepared with the same welding parameters, but with the use of a backing gas for comparison. An analysis of the sample and matched control welds exhibited no signicant difference, as all samples passed the subjected tests. A typical root bead in Types 316/316L material welded with ER308L-Si is pictured in Fig. 1.

Shielding gas SG-AC-25 SG-AC-25 SG-AC-25 SG-HeAC-7.5/2.5 SG-HeC-14 SG-HeAC-7.5/2.5 SG-HeAC-7.5/2.5 SG-ACO-3/1

Filler metal ER70S-6 ER80S-B2 ER80S-B6 ER80S-B8 ER90S-B9 ER90S-G ER308L-Si ER316L-Si ER347Si

Volts (V) 15.6a, 16.3b 13.7a 15.5a 19.5a, 19.520b 11.814.7a 1617a, 1618b 1617a, 1618b 13.515.2a

Amperes (A) 280 PeakC50 background 156a 145a 137a, 129b 83.3128.2a 110120a, 90130b 110120a, 90130b 142165a

Max heat input (kJ/mm) 1.2a, 4.8b 1.1a 1.2a 1.6a, 1.5b 1.6a 0.6a, 2.4b 0.6a, 2.4b 0.7a

Root pass. Fill and cap passes.

B. Messer et al. / International Journal of Pressure Vessels and Piping 83 (2006) 365372 Table 3 Laboratory results of welds detailed in Table 2 for carbon, alloy, and stainless steel materials Material Carbon steel 13 mm without PWHTa 13 mm with PWHT 25 mm with PWHT 1.25Cr with PWHT 5Cr with PWHT 9Cr with PWHT P91 Guided bend test, ASME Section IX Acceptable Acceptable Acceptable Acceptable Acceptable Acceptable Acceptable Acceptable Acceptable Acceptable Acceptable Tensile test, ASME Section IX 549 MPa acceptable 536 MPa acceptable 498 MPa acceptable 471 MPa acceptable 556 MPa acceptable 574 MPa 718 MPa acceptable 690 MPa acceptable 364 MPa, acceptable 527 MPa, acceptable 620 MPa, acceptable Charpy V notch test 46 J (K40 8Cb), 53 J (K40 8Cc) 130 J (K40 8Cb), 47 J (K40 8Cc) 107J (K40 8Cb), 96 J (K40 8Cc) 109 J (20 8Cb), 195 J (20 8Cc) 156 J (K46 8C) 128 J (K46 8C) 53 J (K196 8Cb), 128 J (K196 8Cc)


Hardness test (max. weld hardness) 86 HRB 84 HRB 77 HRB 240 HV 238 HV 98 HRB 242 HV 253 HV 202 HV 209 HV

10 mm with PWHT 38 mm with PWHT

304/304L 316/316L 321/347

a b c

PWHT refers to post weld heat treatment. Charpy impact test in weld metal. Charpy impact test in HAZ.

Furthermore, RT and PT of the welds were determined to be acceptable to piping and pressure vessel code requirements. In the eld, increased productivity and welding efciency have resulted from the reduced set-up times previously required to install and remove inert gas purge dams within the piping. The welding repair rate was reduced to less than 1%. To date, tens of thousands of welds have been performed on 304/304L and 316/316L stainless steel piping with various thickness and diameters up to 762 mm at typical deposition rates of 1.593.4 kg/h. 3.3.2. Chemically stabilized 321/347 An expansion of the GMAW-Sm NBG process, previously implemented and characterized for welding all thickness of Types 304/304L and 316/316L stainless steels was evaluated for chemically stabilized heavy wall 321/347 materials. The combination of GMAW-Sm with other semi-automatic processes such as Pulsed gas metal arc welding (GMAW-P), and ux cored arc welding (FCAW) were evaluated for shop and eld welding [2]. The results of these evaluations were based on visual appearance, welder appeal, metallurgical test results, and the potential for increased productivity. Various laboratory results from these evaluations are shown in Table 5. The selection of process and transfer modes for the root pass, hot pass layers, and ll and cap passes was directed by the requirement for prompt and reproducible code acceptable welds by moderately skilled craftsmen. Downhill GMAW-Sm
Table 4 Type 316L corrosion test summary Test ASTM A 262-02a, practice E (as welded) ASTM G 48-00 method A ASTM D 1141, pH 8.2 Electrolytic test, pH 5.0 (100 ppm chloride solution) Result Passed Passed Passed Passed

was selected for the root pass producing a smooth, convex top surface which required supercial clean-up prior to depositing subsequent weld layers. Higher heat transfer modes such as uphill GMAW-Sm, uphill and downhill GMAW-P, and FCAW were discounted due to their higher degree of difculty. Succeeding hot passes were completed with GMAW-P thereby providing the advantages of a higher deposition rate and more manageable weld puddle in comparison to conventional spray transfer. Additional, hot passes provided adequate backing thickness for the absorption of the heat generated by the ll passes without causing reheat damage to the non-purged root. A combination of GMAW-P and FCAW was chosen as a viable process for depositing the ll and cap passes based on the unique attributes afforded by individual processes. FCAW also provides higher deposition rates that attribute to larger weld beads and higher heat inputs. This, in turn, provides additional advantages since, larger weld beads can be obtained in fewer

Fig. 1. Cross sectional macrograph of a root weld in Type 316/316L stainless steel without backing gas (note: polymer added above root to enhance contrast of macro cross-section).


B. Messer et al. / International Journal of Pressure Vessels and Piping 83 (2006) 365372

Table 5 Test summary for 321 stainless steel welds Test ASTM A 370-03a, elevated tensile test (400 8C) ASTM A 370-03a, elevated tensile test (500 8C) ASTM A 262-02a, practice A (as welded) ASTM A 262-02a, practice A (PWHT) ASTM A 262-02a, practice E (as welded) ASTM A 262-02a, practice E (PWHT) ASTM G 48-00 method A Result 256 MPa yield 244 MPa yield Passed Passed Passed Passed Passed

thickness of 40 mm. All welds were fully inspected with RT per American society of mechanical engineers (ASME) B31.3 with no rejections. Current eld production maintains similar weld results. A survey of the foreman and the welders further demonstrated a high degree of preference of the three welding processes implemented in tandem over the traditional GTAW and SMAW commonly utilized in industry. 4. Examination techniques Time and cost saving benets of welding technological advancements can only be realized if the restrictive weld inspection process can be improved. The UT-PA method provides a solution to this setback through its fast application after welding and instantaneous output. This novel technique can be used to inspect all types of steels in both thin and thick wall applications. 4.1. Ultrasonic testingphased array Ultrasonic inspection of complex geometry components and austenitic stainless steels with conventional UT methods can lead to limited performances. Similarly, other NDE methods have several drawbacks when applied to irregular parts with anisotropic grain structure. Phased-array technology allows for the UT inspection of these materials without sacricing the benets of conventional UT. Phased array ultrasonic inspection is an extension of conventional ultrasonic inspection and utilizes an array of piezoelectric elements rather than just one. The elements are contained in a signal probe; however, with computer controls the individual elements can be manipulated and coordinated to produce a focused ultrasonic beam with steering capabilities as shown in Fig. 2. With electronically controlled ultrasonic wave beams it is possible to detect defects in joints with complex geometry, thereby allowing complete volumetric inspection. Focusing of the beam also enhances space resolution with better sizing and mapping characteristics. These expanded capabilities of UT-PA can be performed in a fraction of the time required than when using conventional UT methods. Another plausible aspect of UT-PA is its application to high noise materials such as stainless steel castings and weld areas. Stainless steels are normally very difcult to inspect with conventional UT because of the beam distortion and scattering effects of large anisotropic grains typically found in these metals. These grains are generally characterized by coarse columnar shapes and provide numerous interfaces with a range of orientations. A variation in the sound velocities amongst the crystals can lead to signal scattering, mode conversion, and beam attenuation. UT-PA combats the adverse effects in high noise materials by focusing the ultrasonic beam on these parts and obtaining improved signal-to-noise ratios. 4.2. Field application

passes with fewer stops and starts, thereby reducing the opportunities to produce weld defects. A comparison of typical deposition and repair rates for traditional and the presented methods is shown in Table 6. The optimized ller metals for the root pass and balancing passes were determined to be ER347Si and ER16.8.2, respectively. ER347Si is a high silicon niobium stabilized ller metal formulated to specically weld stabilized 321 and 347 type stainless steels. The molybdenum content found in ER347Si also provides an additional benet regarding creep rupture ductility of chromium-nickel austenitic steels, thus afrming its use in high temperature plants. Since, ER347 ller metals have a tendency to experience hot cracking, low stress rupture ductility, and in service heat affected zone (HAZ) relaxation cracking at elevated service temperatures, a modied ER16.8.2 ller metal was selected for the balancing passes. This modied version had a specied minimum carbon content of 0.04%, maximum molybdenum content of 1.30%, and ferrite range of 16. Of the several shielding gases investigated a SG-ACO-3/1 mixture was determined to be most suitable for the GMAW-Sm root and GMAW-P passes when welding 321/347 stainless steels. Although, efciency and favorable economics favored the use of a single gas for all processes, this ternary gas mixture produced unacceptable dirty welds when used with FCAW ER16.8.2 ller metal. Therefore, it is recommended to use a SG-AC-25 mixture since, it has historically performed well with ER16.8.2 FCAW. Sampled data of a weld completed in 321/347 stainless steel is presented in Tables 2 and 3. In production, the combinations of a GMAW-Sm root and GMAW-P hot pass with GMAW-P and FCAW ll and caps were implemented. Numerous welds were completed on 321/347 piping with diameters up to 457 mm and maximum
Table 6 Comparison of deposition and repair rates for traditional and new welding practices when using a NBG technique Process GTAW (all passes) GTAW (root) and SMAW (balance) GMAW-Sm (root) and GMAW-P (balance) GMAW-Sm (root), GMAW-P (hot) and FCAW (balance) Deposition rate (kg/h) 0.50.7 0.51.2 1.63.4 1.84.3 Shop repair rate (%) 35 45 !1 !1 Field repair rate (%) 510 610 !1 !1

A UT-PA technique was used on a large scale project in North America. For this case study, accurate and fast

B. Messer et al. / International Journal of Pressure Vessels and Piping 83 (2006) 365372


[6]. With these supporting provisions, the issue of UT-PA compliance to code is satised. Application of UT-PA on this case study with 624 complex connection examinations revealed that 128 (20.5%) failed to meet ASME B31.3 [7] acceptance criteria. Field inspection times were one-tenth of the time demanded by conventional RT methods and as such, presented UT-PA as a plausible technique a quick weld-and-check eld or shop application. UT-PA also provided the client with a method of tracking over 400 non-rejected welds for future preventative inspections. A trial correlation of RT versus UT-PA established a 100% correlation of defect detection or, in some cases, an indication providing evidence that UT-PA located more aws than RT [4]. Output data samples of the correlation tests for the UT-PA and RT methods are shown in Fig. 3.

5. Results and cost savings Completion and inspection of pipe welding is a critical step before further actions can be taken on the piping system. Hydrotesting, coating, painting, heat tracing, insulation, and instrument loop checks are all downstream activities affected by any delays in welding. On a typical renery or power plant project, approximately one-half of the total eld hours are restrained by the completion and inspection of welds. Minimizing this restraint is the goal of using a combination of the GMAW-Sm and UT-PA technologies. By avoiding the slower welding practices, current welding data suggests a potential savings in welding time of up to 70%. Furthermore, a ten times reduction in the weld rejection rate from the industry

Fig. 2. Illustration demonstrating beam steering and focusing capabilities of phased array probes.

verication results for the reinforced ttings and outlets were critical to the success of the project. At site, there were considerable challenges in examining weld integrity for the branch connections as the welds were in locations where pipe congurations made examination by traditional RT methods very difcult and time consuming. In addition, to these challenges, poor results from sample radiograph tests motivated a search for an alternative examination method that could be applied to the welded connections. The welds inspected consisted of a cast modied chromium-iron-nickel alloy with thickness up to 38 mm; traditionally not suitable for traditional ultrasonic examination. To ensure that the UT-PA method was compliant to Code, several standards and guidelines were referenced. The ASME boiler and pressure vessel Section VIII, code case 2235-6 allows use of ultrasonic examination in lieu of radiography for welds in material 12.7 mm or greater in thickness [5]. This case restricts UT use to the conformance of ASME boiler and pressure vessel Section V, which references UT-PA in paragraphs T-452 and E-474. Furthermore, in cases where weldment geometries or materials prohibit conventional UT, the statements of API-560 and ASME B31.3 support UT-PA examination. API-560, Paragraph states In cases, where weld or material conguration makes radiographic examination difcult to interpret or impossible to perform, such as nozzles welds, ultrasonic examination may be substituted

Fig. 3. Flaw indication on UT-PA output screen (above) and on a double wall RT shot (bottom).


B. Messer et al. / International Journal of Pressure Vessels and Piping 83 (2006) 365372

average is obtainable when GMAW-Sm is implemented, thus considerably diminishing repair time and associated costs. In addition, the use of NBG while welding above 5% chrome alloy and stainless steels eliminates the costs of sealing and purging. When comparing UT-PA to RT, additional benets can be realized through: 1. No downtime while area is being prepared for radiation hazard. 2. No downtime due to radiation source being present. 3. Immediate interpretation and results are available. 4. An approximate 90% decrease in time required to perform examination. The degree of savings is dependent upon the degree of implementation. Cumulative direct savings from employing GMAW-Sm with NBG on a typical project can exceed 14% of the total eld labor cost for the project when used in conjunction with phased array NDE. An additional 810% in savings is realized from the indirect effects of these new welding and examination practices on downstream activities. This is accomplished primarily through an improved efciency of sequential fabrication and reduced construction schedules. Although, other considerations of added equipment costs and required training offset some of the savings of GMAW-Sm, NBG, and UT-PA, these expenses are minor in comparison. For example, GMAW-Sm welding machines are now commercially available at nominal pricing and the training requirements for the proposed welding and inspection techniques should not extend beyond one week. With these benets, complete industry implementation of the processes presented here is only a matter of time. 6. Summary The competitive market of facility and pipe fabrication, coupled with skilled labor shortages and a xed industry mindset towards traditional technologies, has necessitated the research and development of improved welding and examination techniques. Using the combined processes of GMAW-Sm with NBG, GMAW-P, and FCAW in conjunction with a UTPA inspection technique has been investigated and proven to be

a viable and code compliant substitute for current dated methodologies. A comprehensive track record has been developed using GMAW-Sm on various materials. The process allows for high deposition rates and yields high quality welds. Of particular importance, this welding process is ideal in situations where backing gas is difcult or uneconomical to use including repairs, revamps, furnace applications, module tie-ins, and long complex spools. Using NBG procedures with GMAW-Sm for higher chromium alloy and stainless steels generates similar positive results without the cost of implementing a backing gas. An optimized practice has been developed for these situations using specialized ller metal with suitable shielding gas mixtures and ow parameters. Proven mechanical and chemical weld properties have been achieved without sacricing corrosion resistance. Three times greater deposition rates and one-tenth repair rates are the major benets of using GMAW-Sm with NBG, GMAW-P, and FCAW in comparison to the traditional SMAW and GTAW processes. Further attributes can be achieved by using UT-PA technology for inspections. With a 90% reduction in examination time versus RT, phase array ultrasonics allows for efcient detection and remedy of welding aws. References
[1] Messer B, Lawrence G, Opera V, Patrick C, Phillips T. Welding stainless steel piping with no backing gas. Weld J 2002;December: 324. [2] Messer B, Seitz S, Patrick C. A novel technological assessment for welding heavy wall stainless steel. Proceedings of PVP2005: ASME pressure vessels and piping division conference; July 1721, 2005. [3] Patrick C, Ferguson T. Pipe welding breakthrough. EPRI fourth international conference on advances in materials technology for fossil power plants; 2004. [4] Messer B, Fuentes JR, Tarleton B, den Boer P. Novel ultrasonic testing of complex welds. Proceedings of PVP2005: ASME pressure vessels and piping division conference; July 1721, 2005. [5] The American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Case 2235-6 supplement #10: cases of ASME boiler and pressure vessel code; May 2003. [6] Manufacturer Standardization Society of the Valve and Fitting Industry, Inc. MSS SP-97-2001 integrally reinforced forged branch outlet ttings socket welding, threaded, and butt welding ends. [7] The American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Process piping ASME B31.3-2002.