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BARC Newsletter

Post-Weld Heat Treatment – Case Studies

Khaleel Ahmed and J. Krishnan
Centre for Design and Manufacture
Bhabha Atomic Research Centre

Introduction When combined with normal load stresses these

may exceed the design stresses. The removal of
EAT TREATMENT IS AN IMPORTANT residual stresses takes place due to the fact that
operation in the final fabrication process the thermal energy received by the metal allows
of many engineering components. Only for grain boundary sliding and removal of
by heat treatment it is possible to impart high metallurgical defects like dislocations, vacancies
mechanical properties to steel parts and tools for and slip planes. A most important aspect of Post
sophisticated applications. Weld Heat treatment is the prevention of Brittle
Heat treatment is considered to be very Fracture. Post weld heat treatment softens the
important tool of the metallurgist by which he hardened zones and makes the machining easy.
can alter the properties of steel easily. The Removal of residual stresses becomes necessary
same steel can have a very wide range of where dimensional stability is required. The
mechanical properties if subjected to different heat treatment consists of the stress-relief,
heat treatment. Today when science and annealing or solution annealing depending upon
technology are advancing very rapidly in pursuit the requirements.
of higher and higher properties in materials,
Thermal Stress Relief
heat treatment plays a very important role.
Residual stresses resulting from welding are
Principles of Heat Treatment reduced by a post weld thermal stress relief heat
Heat treatment may be defined as a sequence of treatment. The residual stress remaining in a
heating and cooling designed to get the desired material after stress relief treatment will depend
combination of properties in the steel. The on rate of cooling.
changes in the properties of steel after heat The percentage relief of internal stress is
treatment are due to the phase transformations independent of steel type, composition or yield
and structural changes that occur during the strength. The effect of varying time and temper
heat treatment. The factors, which determine are shown in the graph below:
and control these structural changes, are called
the principles of heat treatment. The important
principles of heat treatment are as follows:
1. Phase transformations during heating.
2. Effect of cooling rate on structural changes
during cooling.
3. Effect of carbon content and alloying

Post Weld Heat Treatment

High level residual stresses can occur in
weldment due to restraint by the parent metal
during weld solidification. The stresses may be
as high as the yield strength of material itself. Stress relieving temperature 0C

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move and do not restrict the expansion of the

The temperature reached during the stress relief
heated part.
treatment has a far greater effect in relieving
stresses than the length of time the specimen is The heating and cooling must be gradual and at
held at that temp. The closer the temperature is a rate that will ensure approx. uniform
to the critical or re-crystallization temperature, temperature across wall thickness. In general,
the more effective it is in the removal of residual the greater the difference between max. and
stresses. min. thickness, the slower should be the rate of
temperature change. Because of variable
When a thermal stress relief treatment is
factors such as strength characteristics of the
employed to reduce residual stresses, other
metal and geometry of the parts, it is not
important properties must be taken into
possible to recommend formula for max. heating
account. The micro-structure, tensile and
or cooling rates. The following rules can be
impact strength are among the properties
used as an approx. guide for simple cases:
affected by the Stress relief treatment.
Case 1
A post weld heat treatment at 1040° C – 1090°
C, spheroidizes the ferrite present in type 347 SS Where the ratio of max. to min. thickness does
weldments, which effectively reduces sigma not exceed 4 to 1 heating or cooling rate should
formation. This treatment also takes some of not exceed 200° C/hr divided by the max.
the ferrite into solution. An intermediate hold at thickness in inches at the weld.
595° C is recommended for those weldments to
relieve residual stresses and to reduce the Case 2
susecptibity to cracking during post weld heat Where the ratio of maximum to minimum
treatment. thickness exceeds 4 to 1, heating or cooling
The heat affected zone (HAZ) in the vicinity of rates should not exceed
welded joints are aided considerably by post 1 inch thick – 95° C/hr
weld heat treatments. The properties of those 2 inch thick – 65° C/hr
zones are improved by the reduction of residual 3 inch thick – 38° C/hr
stresses together with the metallurgical changes 4 inch thick – 27° C/hr
brought about by the H.T. If any dissolved 5 inch thick – 16° C/hr
hydrogen is present it is given an aided 6 inch thick – 10° C/hr
opportunity to escape.
For complicated structures with members of
The necessity for post heating increases with widely varying thickness the safest procedure is
higher carbon content, increased alloy content to attach thermo-couples to all critical sections
and cross-sectional thickness of the part. and not permit more than 42°C difference
The temperatures recommended for stress between any two sections
relieving low carbon steels are 595° C to 675° C. In this paper six case studies of post weld heat
One hour per inch of thickness is the basis used treatment for nuclear components have been
to determine the length of time at the desired discussed.
temperature. Larger periods of time are
required at 595° C to achieve the same degree Case Studies
of stress relief as of 675° C.
12” NB Carbon Steel Pipe: 12” NB Carbon
Thermal stress relief can be conducted in any Steel pipe have been welded by GTAW required
furnace suitable for heating of the entire for Kaiga Atomic Power Project. After
weldment. Same time only a portion of the joining/welding, thermal stress is developed, to
weldment is heated if the structure is uniform in reduce their thermal stresses post weld heat
cross-section and the unheated ends are free to treatment done.

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The welded pipe, after cleaning the joint has arm magnets) out of Aluminium Alloy 6061 T6.
been loaded in a localised set up furnace and Each of these structures consists of 4 Front and
pre-heated to 300° C and then Temp. raised to 4 Rear chambers and each of these chambers
625°C to 650° C at the rate of 150° C/hr (max.) is made up of a pair of Al. Alloy Frames.
Soaking time: 45 minutes To develop the manufacturing procedure, one
North side Front chamber was built on prototype
Rate of cooling 150° /hr cool up to 300° C and
basis, adopting weldment route for Aluminimum
then still air cool. The treatment has been done
structures, welded structure calls for post-weld
to achieve full strength.
heat treatment (Stress relief) for which a special
12” NB C.S. Elbow: 12” NB C.S. Elbows furnace, of triangular shape with 2.5 m long
welded by GTAW required for Kaiga Atomic slides was built. The prototype chamber was
Power Project. After welding post weld heat inspected and approved by Los Alamos National
treatment have been done. Labs, USA at CDM.
The job loaded in BHF and pre-heated to 300° C
Temp. raised to 625° C to 650° C at the rate of
Soaking time: 45 minutes
Rate of cooling 150° C/hr cooled up to 300° C
then still air cool.
The purpose of the treatment was to achieve full
Phenix aluminium frame

Solution annealing of the frame carried out (Fr.

Stress relieving to effect solid solution of alloying
constituents (e.g. Mg, Cr, and Si) and to improve
mechanical properties of Aluminium alloy.
Material: Al 6061 (Al, 1.0 Mg, 0.25% Cu, 0.6%
Si, 0.20% Cr)
Soaked for 2 hrs at 55° C ± 5° C and then water
Aging (precipitation hardening) (to be done
within 18 Hrs of solution treatment) at temp.
170° C ± 5° C
Soaked for 12 hrs and still air-cooled.
(Hardness obtained 100 – 120 BHN).
During this process precipitation of soluble
constituents (e.g. Mg, Cr, Si) from Super
saturated solid solution takes place. As this
precipitation progress the strength of material
12" NB C.S. elbow
Stress Relieving of SS 316 Pipe
Detector Frames for Station II –
after Stellite Deposition
CDM was assigned to develop and manufacture Pipe loaded in furnace at 300°C pre heat temp.
North and South hanging structures (for N & S of and heated to 900°C (rate 150°C/hr) soaked

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for 30 minutes at 900°C and allowed to cool at consists of a disc made of 17-4 PH heat treated
rate of 150°C/hr up to 400°C and then furnace to H 1100 condition to which is bonded an
cool. This operation was carried out to obtain annular disc of nickel, about 1.5 mm thick by
full hardness and uniform stresses. electro deposition from an aqueous bath.
Sealing is accomplished by deflecting the sealing
disc on the face of the end fitting of the coolant
channel and then locking the deflection. Nickel
serves as a sealing gasket. For efficient sealing
the nickel should be soft (hardness not more
than 170 HV) and the bond between nickel and
SS should be adequately strong.

Seal Disc
PFBR sleeve

Post Weld Heat treatment of

Aluminium Servo-Drive Housing

Material: Al LM-14
Composition: Al, Cu: 3.5% to 4.5%
Si: 0.7 % SS 17-4PH
Mg – 1.2 to 1.8% Disc

Cr < 0.21%
Solution Heat treatment – Seal disc
Temp. 515° C ± 5° C for 6 hrs and then Air blast
quenching The seal disc is heat treated after Nickel
Aging (Precipitation Hardening) diffusion bonding as per procedure stipulated
Temp: 232° C ± 5° C for 1 to 3 hrs below.
And cool in still air Seal disc are given solution treatment and
T.S: 215 to 280 Mpa precipitation hardening. Seal disc are heated in
Hardness: 100 BHN (approx.) furnace to 1050°C at the rate of 25-50° C/hr and
This has been done for stress relieving of the held for 30 minutes. Thermo-couples are fitted
housing. at the ends and the middle zone. The job then
Post Weld Heat Treatment of SS quenched in oil at room temp. 30° C.
Subsequently quenched in cold water at 5-10° C.
430 (Martensitic) + SS 304
Then precipitation hardening at H1075 (570 to
(Austenitic) Weld 585° C) carried out.
Job heated at the rate of 100° C/hr up to 700° C This has been done to achieve appropriate
20° C and soaked at this temp. for 5 hrs. conditions prior to diffusion bonding.
Furnace cool at rate of 30° C/hr up to 595° C
and then cool in still air. This operation carried
out to achieve impact properties.
Post weld heat treatment is necessary to satisfy
Seal Disc one or more end requirements. Every case has
Seal disc is used to prevent escape of heavy to be independently treated.
water from the coolant channel. The seal disc

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This paper was adjudged as the Best Paper presented at the International Symposium
on Thermal Spray held at Mumbai during May 2-4, 2002

About the author …

Mr Khaleel Ahmed, F.I.E, is working as Engineer-in-charge of Surface Treatment and FHT

group of Manufacturing Section of Centre for Design and Manufacture, BARC. He is a B.E
(Mechanical) from College of Engineering, Guindy (University of Madras).

Dr J. Krishnan is heading the Manufacturing Section of Centre for Design and

Manufacture, BARC. He is a Ph.D in Welding from I.I.T Mumbai and a Fellow of
Indian Institution of Welding. Apart from welding and fabrication, surface
engineering is also a part of Manufacturing Section. He has 50 technical papers
presented / published. He is actively involved in various programmes of IIW,
ISNDT, ASM and various educational institutions.

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