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Section 23

Application and Control of Preheat

Rev 2 April 2013

Application and Control of Preheat
Copyright TWI Ltd 2013


Application and Control of Preheat


Preheat is the application of heat to a joint immediately prior to welding and
usually applied by a gas torch or induction system, although other methods
can be used.
Preheat is used when welding steels for a number of reasons and it helps to
understand why. One of the main reasons is to assist in removing hydrogen
from the weld. Preheat temperatures for steel structures and pipework are
calculated by taking into account the carbon equivalent (CEV) and thickness
of the material and the arc energy or heat input (kJ/mm) of the welding
Standards such as BS EN 1011: Recommendations for welding of metallic
materials for guidance on selection of preheat temperature ranges based on
CEV, material thickness, arc energy/heat input and the lowest level of
diffusible hydrogen required.
The welding inspector would normally find the preheat temperature for a
particular application from the relevant WPS. In general, thicker materials
require higher preheat temperatures, but for a given CEV and arc
energy/heat input, they are likely to remain similar for wall thickness up to
approximately 20mm.


Preheat temperature
Temperature of the workpiece in the weld zone immediately before any
welding operation (including tack welding).
Normally expressed as a minimum but can also be specified as a range.
Interpass temperature
Temperature of the weld during welding and between passes in a multirun weld and adjacent parent metal immediately prior to the application
of the next run.
Normally expressed as a maximum but should not drop below the
minimum preheat temperature.
Preheat maintenance temperature
Minimum temperature in the weld zone which should be maintained if
welding is interrupted.
Should be monitored during interruption.


Rev 2 April 2013

Application and Control of Preheat
Copyright TWI Ltd 2013


Application of preheat

Less energy required.

Possible stresses due
to non-uniform.




Resistive heating

More energy required.

Uniform heating no
additional stresses.

HF heating

Flame applied


Rev 2 April 2013

Application and Control of Preheat
Copyright TWI Ltd 2013

Gas/electric ovens
Generally used for PWHT but can be used for large sections of material to
give a controlled and uniform preheat.
Resistive heating elements
Heating using electric current flowing through resistance coils.
High frequency heating elements
Heating effect is produced electrostatically providing uniform heating
through a mass of material. Heat is generated by the agitation of the
molecules in the material when subjected to a high frequency field.
Flame applied preheat
Probably the most common method of applying preheat using either torches
or burners. Oxygen is an essential part of the preheating flame as it
supports combustion but the fuel gases can be acetylene, propane or
methane (natural gas).
With flame applied preheating sufficient time must be allowed for the
temperature to equalise throughout the thickness of the components to be
welded, otherwise only the surface temperature will be measured. The time
lapse depends on the specification requirements.


Control of preheat and interpass temperature

Immediately before passage of the arc.
Work piece thickness, t

t 50mm

t > 50mm

A = 4 x t but maximum
Temperature shall be
measured on the surface
of the work piece facing
the welder.

A = minimum 75mm.
Where practicable
temperature is measured on
the face opposite that being
Allow 2min per 25mm of
parent metal thickness for
temperature equalisation.


Rev 2 April 2013

Application and Control of Preheat
Copyright TWI Ltd 2013

Interpass temperature is measured on the weld metal or immediately

adjacent parent metal.
Applying preheat has the following advantages:

Slows down the cooling rate of the weld and HAZ, reducing the risk of
hardened microstructures forming; allowing absorbed hydrogen more
opportunity of diffusing out, thus reducing the potential for cracking.
Removes moisture from the region of the weld preparation.
Improves overall fusion characteristics during welding.
Ensures more uniform expansion and contraction, lowering stresses
between weld and parent material.


Rev 2 April 2013

Application and Control of Preheat
Copyright TWI Ltd 2013

Two dimensional heat flow

Three dimensional heat flow


Rev 2 April 2013

Application and Control of Preheat
Copyright TWI Ltd 2013

23.4.1 Temperature sensitive materials

Made of a special wax that melts at a specific temperature (Tempilstik

TM) or irreversible colour change (Thermochrome TM).
Cheap, easy to use.
Do not measure the actual temperature.

Temperature indicating crayons


Contact thermometer

Use either a bimetallic strip or a thermistor (ie a temperature-sensitive

resistor whose resistance varies inversely with temperature).
Accurate, gives the actual temperature.
Need calibration.
Used for moderate temperatures (up to 350C).

Examples of a contact thermometer.


Rev 2 April 2013

Application and Control of Preheat
Copyright TWI Ltd 2013

23.4.3 Thermocouple

Based on measuring the thermoelectric potential difference between a

hot junction (placed on the weld) and a cold junction (reference junction).
Measures a wide range of temperatures.
Accurate, gives the actual temperature.
Can be used for continuous monitoring.
Need calibration.


Examples of thermocouples.


Optical or electrical devices for contactless measurement

Can be infrared or optical pyrometers.

Measure the radiant energy emitted by the hot body.
Can be used for remote measurements.
Very complex and expensive.
Normally used for measuring high temperatures.

Example of contactless temperature measuring equipment.


Rev 2 April 2013

Application and Control of Preheat
Copyright TWI Ltd 2013


The visual/welding inspector should refer to the WPS for both preheat and
interpass temperature requirements. If in any doubt as to where the
temperature measurements should be taken, the senior welding inspector or
welding engineer should be consulted for guidance.
Both preheat and interpass temperatures are applied to slow down the
cooling rate during welding, avoiding the formation of brittle microstructures
(ie martensite) and thus preventing cold cracking.
Preheat temperatures can be calculated using different methods as
described in various standards (eg BS EN 1011-2, AWS D1.1, etc) and are
validated during the qualification of the welding procedure. According to BS
EN ISO 15614 and ASME IX both preheat and interpass temperatures are
considered essential variables hence any change outside the range of
qualification requires a new procedure qualification.