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Weldability of a 2205 duplex stainless steel


using plasma arc welding
ARTICLE in JOURNAL OF MATERIALS PROCESSING TECHNOLOGY FEBRUARY 2007
Impact Factor: 2.04 DOI: 10.1016/j.jmatprotec.2006.08.030

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Journal of Materials Processing Technology 182 (2007) 624631

Weldability of a 2205 duplex stainless steel using plasma arc welding


A. Urena , E. Otero, M.V. Utrilla, C.J. Munez
Departamento de Ciencia e Ingeniera de Materiales, Escuela Superior de Ciencias, Experimentales y Tecnologa,
Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, 28933 Mostoles, Madrid, Spain
Received 22 June 2005; received in revised form 28 July 2006; accepted 15 August 2006

Abstract
This paper reports the determination of optimum welding conditions (welding intensity and travel speed) for butt joints of 2205 duplex stainless
steel sheets using plasma-arc welding (PAW). Minimum net energy input for proper operative and metallurgical weldabilities is studied using two
different welding modes: the melt-in or conduction mode and the keyhole mode. The influence of the welding parameter for each mode on the
dimensions and shape of the welds and on their ferrite contents is investigated.
2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Plasma arc welding; Duplex stainless steels; Keyhole; Weldability

1. Introduction
Use of duplex stainless steels is one the increase thanks to
their combination of excellent anti-corrosion properties with
good mechanical behaviour, especially in temperature-sensitive
components such as heat exchangers and chemical reactors
used in the chemical and petrochemical industries [13]. Good
mechanical properties (high strength combined with high toughness) are associated with the presence of a duplex structure with
a good balance in the proportion of austenite/ferrite, which is
usually 50/50.
Given this increased use of duplex stainless steels, we need
to gain a better understanding of those metallurgical factors that
influence weldability. Conventional fusion welding processes
required for construction assembly have a considerable impact
on duplex structure, both in the fusion zone (FZ) and in the heat
affected zone (HAZ). It is well known that impact toughness of
the welds in duplex stainless steels decreases with the increase
of -ferrite in the HAZ [4], since the local duplex structure is
severely ferritized by the high peak temperature and by the fast
cooling rate of the thermal cycle. Another problem associated
with fusion welding of these materials is their susceptibility to
solidification cracking, which is greater than that of the 304 L
austenitic stainless steels [5]. The precipitation of undesirable

Corresponding author. Tel.: +34 914887015; fax: +34 914888143.


E-mail address: alejandro.urena@urjc.es (A. Urena).

0924-0136/$ see front matter 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.jmatprotec.2006.08.030

phases such as intermetallic compounds, carbides and nitrides


can cause a drastic deterioration in toughness and corrosion
resistance, for instance in the case of phase, which has very
fast formation kinetics [6].
Therefore it is necessary to assure the continuity of duplex
structure properties across the weld by controlling the phase balance both in the FZ and in the HAZ. For practical application
of this kind of welded joints, an adequate proportion of ferrite
in the FZ would be in the range of 3070%. This ferrite content
depends on the chemical composition of the FZ and the cooling
rates of the weld, which are related to the input energy applied
during welding [7,8]. For this reason, the present research is
intended to determine the optimal welding conditions for autogenous welding (without filler) of duplex stainless steels while
controlling the input energy.
The welding technique used in this research is plasma arc
welding (PAW), in which the electric arc generated between a
non-consumable tungsten electrode and the working piece is
constrained using a copper nozzle with a small opening at the
tip. By forcing the plasma gas and arc through a constricted orifice, the torch delivers a high concentration of energy to a small
area, giving higher welding speeds and producing welds with
high penetration/width ratios, thus limiting the HAZ dimensions. For these reasons PAW is a very useful technique for
welding austenitic steels and can also be applied to duplex stainless steels [911].
In addition to the melt-in welding mode, which is usually
adopted in conventional welding processes (such as gas tungsten

A. Urena et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 182 (2007) 624631

625

arc welding-GTAW), the keyholing mode can also be used


in PAW in certain ranges of metal thickness (e.g. 2.56 mm).
With a proper combination of orifice gas flow, travel speed and
welding current, keyhole forming is possible, allowing higher
welding speeds than GTAW with full penetrations. The present
work addresses the use of both the melt-in or conduction
mode and the keyhole mode of welding, for each of which it
defines the minimum net energy input needed to achieve proper
operation and metallurgical weldability in a 3 mm thick 2205
duplex stainless steel sheet.

Table 2
Welding conditions applied for PAW of duplex stainless steel sheets

2. Experimental procedure

Orifice gas nozzle diameter (mm)

Parent material used in this research was a 3 mm thick rolled sheet of 2005
commercial duplex stainless steel. Its chemical composition in weight percentages is given in Table 1. Prior to welding, sheets were solution annealed at
1000 C for 30 min and quenched to achieve a homogenized microstructure (as
indicated by ASTM A923-A) and eliminate any intermetallic phases [12].
Autogenous butt joints were made by transferred plasma arc welding
(TPAW). Standard coupons were obtained by welding 25 mm wide 100 mm
long blanks with a square-groove joint configuration, without filler. Work pieces
were welded with the weld bead perpendicular to the rolling direction, so that
weldability would not be affected by a change of grain orientation. Sides to be
welded were wire brushed and degreased with acetone.
Welds were produced using plasma welding equipment (Plasmaweld 202)
in which the torch is fixed to an automatic mobile system (Miggytrac 2000)
to control both the travel speed and the nozzle/parent sheet distance. Welding
current (I) and welding speed () were changed to control the welding mode
(melt-in or keyhole modes), and the influence of energy input (H) on duplex steel
weldabililty was investigated. Arc voltage (E) was measured during welding, and
H was calculated from its average value. All joints were made using a ceramic
backing attached to the root side to control penetration and protection; pure
argon was used both as shielding and backing gas. The orifice gas was a mixture
of 98% Ar2% H2 . Welding conditions, including gas flows and electrode and
orifice nozzle diameters, are given in Table 2.
From the welded coupons, specimens were machined for both macroscopic
and microstructural studies. The first group of coupons was also used to measure
hardness profiles across the welded joints (according to standards EN 1043-2
and EN-ISO 6507-1) [13,14] and to calculate the ferrite contents. These last
measurements were carried out on polished and etched specimens, using a Fisher
FerriteScope calibrated to IIW secondary standards, although for comparative
purposes prior calculations of austenite content were conducted on the parent
sheet using X-ray diffraction (XDR) [15]. X-ray diffraction (XRD) patterns of
parent sheets were obtained using a Philips Xpert PW3040/00 diffractometer
operating at
(Philips, Netherlands) equipped with a Cu source ( = 1.5406 A),
40 kV and 50 mA and scanning rate of 0.04 /s from 2 10 through 120 . Data
were processed using the XPert Organizer software.

Table 1
Composition of 2205 (UNS S32205) duplex stainless steels (in wt.%)
Composition (wt.%)
C
Si
P
Cr
Ni
Mo
Cu
N
Nb
Mn
S
Fe content has been balanced.

0.020
0.40
0.021
22.37
5.74
3.20
0.17
0.171
0.05
1.52
0.001

Welding conditions

Welding speed (cm/min)

Welding current (A)


Shielding gas nozzle/workpiece distance (mm)

Tungsten electrode diameter (mm)


Orifice gas flow: Ar2% H2 (L/min)
Shielding gas flow: Ar (L/min)
Backing gas flow: Ar (L/min)

Melt-in
mode

Keyhole
mode

15
20

35
40
45
75

100
125
150
3
1.75
2.25
2.40
0.4
13.0
7.0

3
4
1.15
2.40
1.0
14.0
7.0

The different weld zones were examined by light microscopy. Marbles metallographic reactive solution was used to develop the weld macrostructure, and
the dimensions of the welding zones (width and penetration of weld pools and
HAZ extension) were measured from them. Electrolytic etching with oxalic
acid (10%) was used to develop the weld microstructures. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) using a 200 kV Philips Tecnai 20 was used to detect the
presence of phases other than the majority ones.

3. Results
3.1. Inuence of the net input energy on operative
weldability
The influence of the net input energy (Hnet ), defined as the
proportion of heat input per unit of length reaching the workpiece, on the penetration, shape and size of the welds was
evaluated as indicated in Eq. (1). To that end the values of Hnet
were calculated considering the plasma welding conditions I,
E and together with the values of energy transfer efficiencies
() for both groups of welds (melt-in and keyhole). The values
of melt-in and keyhole used were typical of plasma arc welding as
reported by other authors [16] given transfer efficiency ranges of
0.700.85 for melt-in mode and 0.850.95 for keyhole mode. In
both cases, we chose an intermediate value within these ranges
(melt-in = 0.8 and keyhole = 0.9).
Hnet =

IE
(J/cm)

(1)

For purposes of comparison, Eq. (1) is valid assuming that


most of the parameters that could influence the energy losses
occurring between the welding source and the work piece during
welding are fixed. Therefore, the mode of energy deposition
(melt-in or keyhole) will be the main factor determining the
difference in transfer energy between the two groups of welds.
Table 3 gives the Hnet values calculated for melt-in and keyhole
welds, respectively, and also the dimensions of the fusion pools
obtained for PAW joints with complete penetration.
The ratio of fusion pool width to net input energy is plotted in Fig. 1 for the two welding modes applied, showing the
influence of other variables, such as welding speed (for melt-

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A. Urena et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 182 (2007) 624631

Table 3
Net input energies and fusion pools dimensions of duplex stainless steel welds
made with PAW
I (A)

(cm/min)

Melt-in welds
100
20
100
15
125
20
150
20
125
15
150
15
I (A)

(cm/min)

Key-hole welds
75
45
75
45
75
40
75
40
75
35
75
35

Nozzleworkpiece
distance (mm)

Hnet
(J/cm)

Fusion pool
width (mm)

3
3
3
3
3
3

5350
6450
7400
9000
9850
12600

6.7
8.3
8.2
9.5
9.4
11.0

Nozzleworkpiece
distance (mm)

Hnet
(J/cm)

L1

L2

3
4
3
4
3
4

2500
2550
3750
2850
3100
3200

3.0
3.0
4.2
3.7
3.9
4.4

1.2
1.2
1.2
1.6
1.3
1.2

L1 and L2 are defined in Fig. 3.

in joints) or the distance between the shielding nozzle and the


workpiece (for keyhole joints). The increase of Hnet generally
produced joints with wider fusion pools, and there was a close
linear dependence between the two parameters in both welding
modes. Only in the case of keyhole welds with a short arc distance (3 mm) was any anomalous behaviour observed, mainly
arising from the difficulty of keeping the keyhole stable during
welding.
Macroscopic studies of the cross-sections of the melt-in
welded joints (Fig. 2) showed that the lowest net input energy
condition (5350 J/cm) was insufficient to produce complete penetration, while Hnet values in the range of 9000 J/cm or higher
produced welds with excessive penetration and concavity. Optimal energy conditions for operative weldability in the met-in
mode are in the range of 65007500 J/cm, although even in

Fig. 1. Ratio between fusion pool width and net input energy for PAW joints in
a 3 mm duplex stainless steel sheet.

these conditions fusion pools are wider than parent sheet thicknesses and welding faults such as misalignment are difficult
to avoid.
Keyhole welds, which were all carried out using the same
orifice gas nozzle with a diameter of 1.15 mm, presented lower
width/penetration ratios, with fusion pools ranging from 3.0 to
4.4 mm in width at the top (L1 ) and from 1.2 to 1.6 mm at the
root weld (L2 ). The macrographs in Fig. 3 reveal that operative weldability is possible working with Hnet values lower than
3000 J/cm and welding speeds down to 40 cm/min. However,
some welding faults were detected, such as root concavity and
some undercuts, generally located at one side of the fusion welds.
All welds were made under constriction conditions by clamping the weld coupons on the backing plate, but there were no
signs of cracking in either melt-in or keyhole mode welds, or
within the molten pool or the HAZs. For this reason, the stress
levels in both welding zones were not considered significant
with the given work-piece thickness and welding conditions.

Fig. 2. Cross-section of melt-in PAW welds in duplex stainless steel sheets.

A. Urena et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 182 (2007) 624631

Fig. 3. Cross-section of keyhole PAW welds in duplex stainless steel sheets.

Fig. 4. Microstructure of the parent duplex stainless steel. (a) lamination plane (LTL ); (b) transverse plane (TL TC ). (c) TEM image of the parent sheet.

627

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A. Urena et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 182 (2007) 624631

Table 4
Average compositions of ferrite and austenite phase determined by quantitative
EDS microanalysis
Phases

Cr

Ni

Mo

Mn

Si

Fe

Ferrite ()
Austenite ()

23.80
22.08

4.59
7.19

3.90
2.98

1.58
2.02

0.85
0.76

Balance
Balance

3.2. Inuence of net input energy on metallurgical


weldability
3.2.1. Microstructural characteristics of parent material
In the solution annealed condition, parent duplex stainless
steel presented the typical biphasic microstructure composed
of alternating bands of ferrite and austenite, showing partially
recrystallized grains elongated in the direction of roll (Fig. 4).
Compositions of both phases were determined by quantitative
energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis (EDS) and are shown in
Table 4. Ni and Mn contents were higher in the austenite grains,
and the proportion of Cr and Mo in the ferrite was greater. No
signs of other majority phases, such as sigma, were detected in
either XDR tests or transmission electron microscopy (TEM)
observations on the parent sheets. Fig. 4c shows a TEM image
of the parent alloy: ferrite and austenite grains are visible, their
grain boundaries and interiors completely free of precipitates.
The distribution of both phases in the sheets was also analysed
using X-ray diffraction (XRD) and ferritoscope measurements.
Fig. 5 shows the quantitative values from the XRD of the two
metallographic sections shown in Fig. 4a and b. In the case of the
LTL plane, diffractions were done at the original sheet surface
and 0.1 and 2 mm deeper.
With this method, the proportion of austenite phase is
deduced from the ratio between the integrated intensity (I ) of
and the integrated intenthe (1 1 1) reflection (d111 = 2.075 A)
sity of the same reflection (Ip ) obtained from a pure austenitic
phase of an austenitic stainless steel (AISI 316). The proportion

Fig. 5. Ferrite/austenite ratios measured on the parent sheet by XRD.

Fig. 6. Microstructure of the melt-in weld (input energy = 7380 J/cm). (a) HAZ
and (b) fusion pool.

of ferritic phase is calculated from the relation w + w = 1.


The ferrite values calculated in this way ranged from 30% to
45%; however, these were influenced by the duplex texture, and
higher ferrite contents were determined at the lamination sheet
surface.
Ferritoscope measurements were used to calculate the volumetric percentage of -phase, which is less influenced by the
sheet texture. These measurements determined average ferrite
contents of 45.9 5.5%. In this case, the volumetric percentage
of phase was determined by the difference between 100% and
the measured ferrite content.
3.2.2. Microstructure of the melt-in PAW welds
Melt-in plasma arc welded joints with medium net input energies (65007500 J/cm) were characterized by narrow HAZs in
the range 400500 m, but they exhibited considerable ferrite
grain growth (Fig. 6a). This grain growth zone (marked A) influenced subsequent epitaxial growth of the columnar ferrite grains
inside the fusion pool (marked B) (Fig. 6b). The precipitation of
secondary austenite in the form of Widmanstatten needles from
the ferrite grain boundaries (arrowed in Fig. 6b) was enhanced in
the fusion pool, and the proportion and needle width increased
when more energetic welding conditions were used.
The proportion of volumetric ferrite content was determined
in the different zones of the welds for the various input energies used for melt-in PAW (Fig. 7a and b). The results show

A. Urena et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 182 (2007) 624631

629

Fig. 7. Variation of ferrite content (a and b) and of microhardness (c and d) in different zones of melt-in PAW welds in the different welding conditions (welding
speed and current) applied.

an increase in ferrite content in the HAZ and particularly in the


fusion pool, where proportions in excess of 60% were recorded
for the most energetic conditions. The proportion of ferrite
depends on the net input energy and the maintenance of welding
power; increasing welding speed from 15 to 20 cm/s reduced the
proportion of ferrite inside the melting pool.
It was observed that the increases in ferrite in the different
melt-in welds produced a hardening effect inside the melting
pools, and hardnesses ranged from 262 to 270 HV. These values
increased in proportion to the welding input energy. The opposite
effect was observed in the HAZ, where the growth of the ferritic
grains produced a softening effect and average values of 250 HV
were recorded in the grain growth zone (Fig. 7c and d).
3.2.3. Microstructure of the key-hole PAW welds
Fig. 8a shows the microstructure in the proximity of the fusion
line of a keyhole plasma arc weld made with a welding current of
75 A at a speed of 45 cm/min. The working distance for this joint
was 4 mm. In these welding conditions there was very little thermal damage to the duplex stainless steel sheet; a narrow HAZ
was formed with widths of less than 150250 m where the
grain growth was very limited although there was some recrystallization of the banded texture. A detail of this zone at higher
magnification (Fig. 8b) shows a microstructure formed by quasiequiaxial ferrite grains, with allotriomorphic austenite at grain
boundaries and a low proportion of intracrystalline austenite
needles. The formation of Widsmanstatten austenite in the HAZ
was suppressed. Moreover, the limited grain growth in the HAZ

reduced the sizes of the columnar ferrite grains formed by epitaxial solidification from the base grain at the fusion line. The
small grain size of the fusion pool also limited the formation of
secondary Widsmanstatten austenite in this zone, increasing the
proportion of intracrystalline acicular austenite.
The formation of intermetallic phases (e.g., sigma phase) was
not detected in these low-energy conditions. However, when the
input energy was increased to 3100 J/cm during keyhole welding, and especially when short arc distances were used (3 mm),
the formation of partial melting zones was detected at base metal
grain boundaries along with precipitation of intermetallic phases
(Fig. 9). This phenomenon could be a result of the higher input
energy used on these welds combined with the high thermal
gradient produced during application of a high density energy
welding process like PAW in keyhole mode.
The ferritometry measurements confirm the microstructural
studies (Fig. 10a and b). Ferrite contents in the fusion pools of
keyhole welds were generally lower than in melt-in welds, with
a proportion of consistently around 50%. No great differences
where detected in the ferrite proportion for the different input
energy conditions used, although reduction of the working distance between plasma torch and piece produced a slight increase
of the ferrite content in the central zone of the welds.
Vickers hardness measurements (Fig. 10c and d) confirmed
that levels of hardening inside the fusion pools were higher than
those measured in melt-in welds, with maximum values in the
range of 280300 HV, and were higher in less energetic welding
conditions. This is explained by the fact that the grain structure of

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A. Urena et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 182 (2007) 624631

Fig. 9. Formation of intergranular intermetallic compounds in the HAZ of a


keyhole PAW weld made with a Hnet of 3100 J/cm (I = 75 A, = 35 cm/min and
work distance = 3 mm).

Fig. 8. Microstructure of a keyhole weld (Hnet = 2550 J/cm). (a) Fusion line, (b)
detail at higher magnification.

these welds was finer and temperature gradients were higher; this
increased the cooling rates and also produced finer secondary
austenitic aggregates. Moreover, the softening effects detected
in the HAZ of melt-in welds and associated with excessive grain
growth did not occur in this case; here, hardness in HAZs was
intermediate between the fusion pool and the parent material.
Fig. 11 compares the maximum Vickers hardness measured
at the centre of the welds in relation to input energy, welding
mode and welding parameters. In the case of melt-in welds, the
variation of hardness was as expected because the increase of
input-energy is generally associated with an increase of welding

Fig. 10. Variation of ferrite content (a and b) and of microhardness (c and d) in different zones of keyhole PAW welds in the different welding conditions (welding
speed and work distance) applied.

A. Urena et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 182 (2007) 624631

631

lower input energies and the higher temperature gradient


used.
(6) If the net input energy is increased to 3000 J/cm in keyhole
welds, there is a risk of melting fusion near the fusion line
and formation of brittle intermetallic phases.
Acknowledgements
The authors wish to thank the Spanish Ministerio de Educacion y Ciencia for the financial support given to the present
research (MAT 2001-1123-C03-03). Also are grateful with Mr.
Gilberto del Rosario from Centro de Apoyo Tecnologico (CATURJC) for his contribution to the quantitative X-ray diffraction
study of parent sheets.
References
Fig. 11. Comparison of the maximum hardness attained in fusion pools as relating to the net input energy and the welding mode.

current or a decrease of welding speed, producing an almost linear hardening effect in the fusion zones in correlation with their
higher ferrite contents. In the case of keyhole welds, the reduction of ferrite content did not produce a reduction of hardness. On
the contrary, the finer microstructure of the melting pools resulting from the low growth in the fusion line and the higher cooling
rates determined by the steep temperature gradients increased
the hardening levels, which were generally higher because of
the low net input energy and high density energy used to weld.
4. Conclusions
(1) Good operative weldability by PAW in 3 mm thick sheet of
a 2205 duplex stainless steel is achieved by welding with a
net input energy in the range 25003200 J/cm, if the keyhole
mode is used.
(2) Welds produced by keyhole PAW have higher penetration/width ratios than welds produced in the melt-in mode.
(3) Welds produced in duplex stainless steels under high energy
conditions in conduction mode are characterized by an
increase of ferrite contents inside the fusion pools to over
45% more than in the parent material. Ferrite enrichment is
limited to less than 20% when the keyhole mode is used.
(4) HAZs of melt-in PAW joints undergo a softening effect associated with excessive grain growth near the fusion line. This
effect was not observed in keyhole welding.
(5) Although both modes of PAW enhance hardening in the
fusion pool, this effect is more pronounced in keyhole welds
because they have a finer microstructure resulting from the

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