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Metallurgical qualification of AISI
316L TIG welded tubes
Summery - Richard French
Report and testing - S.Sogobba, A. Geradin, P.Deweulf CERN EN/MME

• Full document available on EDMS
https://edms.cern.ch/document/1178420/1

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Overview

316L weld

•NDT carried out at Sheffield in 2009-2010 showed
good results. No real DT readily available for these
diameters/wall
•1000 316L tube butt weld samples were produced in
late 2011 to demonstrate automatic welding process
repeatability.
•Initial set up problems [gas purge + electrode life]
once understood, enabled mass production
•1036 samples tube samples were made in total
•994 completed one after the other without failure.

316L weld batch

•Samples 137,428,968, 2, 205, 309 were randomly selected. The only control was I chose samples
made by 3 different people operating the welding system. The samples were then sent to CERN
EN/MME for metallurgical testing after discussions of the best testing methods

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Testing:
Six samples have been cross-sectioned, polished and etched (etchant 13a of ASTM E407 see note (a)).
Metallographic observations have been performed on a LEICA MZ16 stereomicroscope. Micro-hardness
profiles across the weld bead have also been carried out on the three metallographic samples with a
WOLPERT 402 MVD micro-hardness tester. Tensile tests on 3 samples have been performed on a UTS
tensile test machine equipped with auto-tightening grips and a 200 kN load cell.
Tested samples:
Metallography: 137, 428 and 968
Tensile tests: 2, 205 and 309
NOTE (a):
By virtue of the fact that Stainless Steels are highly corrosion resistant exceptionally strong acids are required to reveal
their structure.
ASTM E407 is a method of etching a metal sample to reveal its microstructure (observance of grain size, direction etc v
adjacent grains in the tube). This microstructure can be inspected by mounting, cross sectioning, and polishing the
tube, followed by etching per ASTM E407. This standard specifies what etching chemicals (acid in etchant 13a -approx
40% aqueous sodium hydroxide solution) and procedures are required to reveal the microstructure of different types of
metals.
Differences in microstructure are important because they can help to determine if a metal has been subjected to
corrosive chemicals, is softer or harder at the surface, has been deformed, was welded properly, or has been overheated. Microstructural results are typically reported as pictures of the microstructure along with a paragraph interpreting
the meaning of the structure.

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Metallographic
observations
Metallographic observations have been performed on a LEICA DMRME microscope.

Figure 1- Sample 137
a/ Original magnification: 25 x:
General view of the weld

A

B

b/ Original magnification: 200
x: Detail of the weld bead

c/ Original magnification: 200
x: Detail HAZ (polarized light)
d/ Original magnification: 200
x: Detail base metal (polarized
light)
Black marks seen are the
fiducial indicators required for
inspection purposes
A – the darkening is indicative
of the chemical etchant to
highlight grain structure.

C

D

Metallographic observations

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Samples are again
showing fiducial indicators
for inspection purposes
Picture A shows the
darkening of the etchant to
highlight grain structures.

A
B

One very important
comment to note; when
welding thin wall tube:
What you see is what you
get! Tests such as dye
penetrant are negated.

C
Figure 2- Sample 428
a/ Original magnification: 25 x: General view of the weld
b/ Original magnification: 200 x: Detail of the weld bead
c/ Original magnification: 200 x: Detail HAZ (polarized light)
d/ Original magnification: 200 x: Detail base metal (polarized light)

D

Metallographic observations
Figure 3- Sample 968
a/ Original magnification: 25 x:
General view of the weld
b/ Original magnification: 200
x: Detail of the weld bead
c/ Original magnification: 200 x:
Detail HAZ (polarized light)
d/ Original magnification: 200
x: Detail base metal (polarized
light)

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Micro-hardness profiles
& tensile testing

Micro-hardness profiles across the weld bead have
been carried out on the three metallographic samples
with a WOLPERT 402 MVD micro-hardness tester with
HV0.1.

Tensile tests on 3 samples have been performed on a
UTS tensile test machine equipped with auto-tightening
grips and a 200 kN load cell. Elongation has been
measured with a MF25 extensometer. One pin has
been inserted at each extremity of the samples to avoid
crushing.

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Conclusions
To the extent of the performed micro-optical observations neither structural nor geometrical imperfections could be
detected.
For the micro-hardness tests, tests have been performed according to NF EN 1043-2 maximum value in the weld bead is
231 HV0.1 (sample 428).
For the tensile tests, all samples broke in the weld. The average Ultimate Tensile Strength (UTS) is 588 ± 11 MPa.
According to NF EN 288-3, the UTS should not be less than the minimum specified value of the parent metal. The minimum
UTS value for AISI 316L pipes as stated in ASTM A312 is 485 MPa.

What does this mean?
Tensile test:
Looking at test data from TIG butt welded AISI 316L pipes (OD = 4 mm with 0.5 mm and 0.7 mm thicknesses) used by the
AMS experiment. Similar results around 550-600 MPa for UTS, no extensometer could be used to determine RP0.2
(estimation according to elastic-plastic transition on the curve around 300 MPa). Elongation determined with measurement of
the whole sample before and after test was about 20 %. Failure occurred either in the weld or in the HAZ (Heat Affected
Zone). Results obtained for our pipes are very similar to these ones.
Looking at other test data from large bore tubes and pipes – this is a virtually identical mode of failure indicative of an
excellent weld.
Metallographic /hardness observations/tests:
Parent and weld material hardness and strength look fine eg, the weld is not too hard or brittle. The weld bead grain looks
correct when compared to other 316L welds (grain size). The adjacent grains in the tube look marginally bigger, ( we assume
they are not bigger through the heat generated by welding). There are enough grains though the cross section not to have
potential leak path issues via grain boundaries as we have previously proved by rigorous leak and pressure testing.

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