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International Congress on Advances in Welding Science and Technology for

Construction, Energy and Transportation Systems (AWST - 2011)

24-25 October 2011, Antalya, Turkey

3-Dimensional Geometrical Effects on the Fatigue Strength

of Manual Butt-Welds in Thin Plates
O. Feltza, W. Frickeb
Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), Hamburg, Germany

more than 22 - 25 mm. Investigations of this effect were
Manually produced butt-welds in thin plates, here consi- described in [4], [5] and [6]. Current classification rules
dered with a plate thickness of 4 mm, show high pre- regard this thickness effect, e.g. [7]. Frequently the in-
deformations induced by the welding process. These verse effect is postulated for thin plates [8]. This behav-
deformations have a large influence on the stresses ap- iour cannot be observed here, corresponding to investi-
pearing at the weld toe under cyclic loads. Angular dis- gations in [9].
tortion and axial misalignment are the common va-
riables, which have to be regarded while calculating the
structural hot-spot stresses by finite elements. Even if
these deformations are taken into account in the stresses
by a FE-model, a decrease of fatigue strength was ob-
served in former investigations. Also FEM-calculations
by notch stress approach give a rather low result and no
explanation, although more geometric parameters were
taken into account in these calculations. The additional
parameters are flank angles, weld reinforcements and
weld breadths, the weld radii were set to 1 mm following
the IIW recommendations. During these investigations it
was observed, that a number of specimens have a vary- Figure 1. Fatigue strength of 4, 6 and 9 mm plates given for
ing weld breadth and a crack in the specimen often starts 50% and 97.7% probability of survival
at the point where the breadth of the weld is especially (based on structural hot-spot stress)
wide. This circumstance cannot be considered in a typi-
cal 2-dimensional FE-model. Only FEM-calculations
with a fine-meshed 3-dimensional model reveal stress
magnification at these points. These are particularly high
in relatively thin plates.
Keywords: Butt-weld, fatigue strength, axial misalign-
ment, angular misalignment, notch stress

1. Introduction Figure 2. Axial and angular misalignment

Former unpublished investigations [1] of manually butt- Welded steel designs with small plate thicknesses gener-
welded plates with 4 mm thickness show a decrease of ally show deformations (axial and angular misalign-
15% of the fatigue strength compared to similar connec- ment), especially when they are welded manually. In
tions in 6 and 9 mm plates. In Figure 1 the summary of shipbuilding these weld seams appear at block joints and
fatigue strengths based on structural stresses is shown. are carried out under constraints. Rules regulate a maxi-
Structural stresses, calculated by the hot-spot concept mum value for axial misalignment (e/t = 0.1), angular
[2], [3], take typical deformations like axial and angular misalignment is not regulated, e.g. [10] and [11]. The
misalignment (Figure 2) into account, but give no expla- limits cannot be fulfilled in thin-plated structures.
nation for the ascertained decrease of the fatigue While measuring the misalignments of the test speci-
strength. In the nominal stress approach, where pre- mens used in [1], it was observed, that there is another
deformations are considered in the S-N curve, the differ- irregularity, which was not noted in stress calculations.
ences are even larger. Rules also do not regard this irregularity. Meant is a
Well known is the plate thickness effect, which describes varying breadth of the weld seam (here called jut), which
a decrease of the fatigue strength at plate thicknesses of occurs because of variations in the welding process due
to unequal speed, wobbling of the welding electrode or All tests were carried out at a nominal stress range of
the fluid welding bead creeps down at horizontal weld 200 MPa and with a stress ratio of R = 0.
position. Another reason is restarting the welding proc-
The specimens were made from higher strength steel
ess after straightening the plate edges, what has to be
D36 (chemical composition in Table 1) having a nominal
done often at thin plates. Figure 3 shows an example of
yield stress of 355 MPa and were assembled under pro-
such an irregularity, obviously this jut arises by a vary-
duction conditions on six different shipyards in four
ing welding speed.
different weld position (PA, PC, PG and PF). The basis
for each series were two plates of 1000 x 300 mm, which
were welded together but not straightened afterwards. At
the laboratories of Hamburg University of Technology
they were saw-cut into small scale specimens. The data
measured for each specimen (partly by laser scan) were:
breadth, length and plate thickness, axial and angular
misalignment, weld breadth, weld reinforcement, weld
toe angles and weld toe radii.
Table 1. Chemical composition [%] D36 steel, 4 mm plate
Figure 3. Example of butt-weld seam with jut (specimen already
fractured in test) Material C Si Mn P S Al
D36 0.176 0.02 1.47 0.014 0.005 0.039
In [12], [13] and [14] it was found out, that a waviness of
the toe along a weld seam is beneficial for the fatigue For an investigation under the aspect described here, the
life. In the present studies it will be investigated, if this is 4 mm specimens were sorted according to well-defined
also true for single discontinuities of weld breadth found juts with the crack starting at the forefront. From the 143
here and how possible effects depend on the plate thick- specimens with a plate thickness of 4 mm, 31 specimens
ness. with juts have been found. These were mainly produced
in the PC position, i.e. transverse position (Table 2).
2. Specimen
Table 2. Weld positions of specimens with observed juts

Basis for this investigation are fatigue test results from Position PA PC PG PF
[1]. The aim of that investigation was improving the Number of specimens 7 14 8 2
fatigue strengths for manual butt-welds in 4, 6 and 9 mm
thick plates. In total 418 specimens were tested: 3. Notch Stress Calculations
4 mm: 143 specimens,
6 mm: 150 specimens, For checking the influence of the detailed weld geome-
9 mm: 125 specimens. try, notch stress calculations were done. A parametric
FE-model which uses for each specimen a slightly ideal-
The summary of structural hot-spot stress calculation ized geometry based on measured data allows a specific
and following statistical evaluation of the fatigue test investigation. The 2D model uses 8-node plane strain
results are shown in Figure 1. The geometric dimensions elements and the calculation proceeds in two parts, first
of the specimens is shown in Figure 4. The force was the clamping of the specimen is simulated, subsequently
induced normal to the weld seam and the tests were the load is applied in a geometric nonlinear calculation.
performed in a resonance-type fatigue testing machine Following the recommendations of the IIW [2] the toe
with a maximum load of 200 kN (Figure 5). Tests were radii were set to 1 mm. In Figure 6 a typical model is
carried out in air at room temperature. shown. The toe radii are very fine meshed (8 elements
on the quadrant of the weld toe radius) and the maximum
principal stresses at the surface nodes were evaluated.
The calculations were carried out with ANSYS 11.0
Figure 4. Geometry of butt-weld specimens
finite element program [17].

Figure 6. Typical FE model of butt-weld specimens

In Figure 7 an S-N diagram with the fatigue tests based

on notch stress are plotted with S-N curves from a statis-
tical evaluation assuming a slope exponent of m = 3.
Figure 5. Fatigue testing machine Schenck 200kN According to [15], a minimum weld shape factor of
International Congress on Advances in Welding Science and Technology for
Construction, Energy and Transportation Systems (AWST - 2011)
24-25 October 2011, Antalya, Turkey
Kw = 1.6, i. e. the ratio between the notch stress and the in comparison to FAT 225 proposed in [2] for notch
structural hot-spot stress, has been assumed in order to stress evaluation with reference radii of 1 mm. The
consider material effects on the fatigue strength in case 6 mm thick plates have a fatigue strength of 205 MPa.
of mild notches. This is below FAT 225. A comparison of the Ps,50% val-
ues show similar values for 6 and 9 mm thick specimens,
only the 4 mm thick specimens have a reduced fatigue
strength. The results are nearly the same as found with
structural hot-spot stress. An increased slope exponent
for welds at thin plates as proposed in [8] and found in
the tests (Table 2) would result in characteristic fatigue
strength above FAT 225, however, the fatigue strength
of thin-plated joints still remain below those for thicker
plates in the high-cycle regime.
Taking detailed data of the weld geometry into account
gives no hint for the decreasing fatigue stress of butt-
Figure 7. S-N Diagram based on notch stress evaluation, all welds in thin plates. Obviously, beneficial effects on the
specimens, not corrected, plate thickness 4 mm
notch stress, e.g. the smaller ratio between toe radius and
The black dots mark specimens without jut, grey dots plate thickness, and detrimental effects, e.g. high weld
with jut. The specimens with observed jut are clearly reinforcement at thin plates, seem to cancel each other.
very near or below the line of 50% probability of sur-
vival, except for three specimens, which are found near 4. The Observed Juts
the line for 90% probability. Reviewing these three, very
shallow juts have been found. As mentioned above some specimens of the tested series
The statistical evaluation results in a characteristic fa- show irregularities like a jut on the weld seam (Figure 3
tigue strength of 163 MPa for Ps = 97.7% probability of and Figure 9). In contrast to common irregularities, like
survival. The value for Ps = 50% is 245 MPa. An over- the waviness of the weld seam as consequence of the
view of the characteristic S-N curve parameters, calcu- weld process (pulsating weld arc), it is assumed that
lated for the 4, 6 and 9 mm specimens, is given in Table these irregularities have a negative influence on the fati-
3 (KW 1.6 is used for all evaluations, although this limit gue strength.
applies mainly for the 4 mm thick specimens).
Table 3. Calculated parameters of the S-N curves of
4, 6 and 9 mm specimens
Plate thickness 4 mm 6 mm 9 mm
Assumed slope exponent 3.0 3.0 3.0
Scatter ratio on life TN* 1:4.82 1:4.06 1:2.84
Scatter ratio on strength T 1:1.69 1:1.60 1:1.42 Figure 9. Principle of measured jut depth
fatigue strength Ps = 50% 245 MPa 296 MPa 302 MPa
fatigue strength Ps = 97,7% 163 MPa 205 MPa 231 MPa Figure 9 shows, how the jut depth dj is defined. The
Slope exponent from regression 5.2 4.5 3.4 dimensions of the jut depths were taken from laser scans
*) Ratio between Ps = 90% and 10%
of the surface of the specimens, which have been taken
before the specimens were tested. This method gives the
The decrease between the Ps=50% values of 4 and 6 mm possibility for re-evaluating the undestroyed specimens
is 17% (Figure 8), which nearly corresponds to the re- with the knowledge of the crack location. The specimen
sults based on structural hot-spot stress, see Figure 1. shown in Figure 3 and Figure 10 gives a jut depth of
0.96 mm when utilizing the laser scan.

Figure 8. Fatigue strength of 4, 6 and 9 mm plates given for

50% and 97.7% probability of survival
(based on notch stress)

The calculated fatigue strength for 9 mm is conservative Figure 10. Example: laser scan of the specimen shown in Figure 3
In the 31 out of 143 specimens showing juts, the depths
vary between 0.2 mm and 1.54 mm. Further FE calcula-
tions described below show, that a minimum jut depth of
0.06t mm is necessary to have an increasing influence
on the stresses at the forefront notch, resulting in remain-
ing 28 specimens to be further looked at.

5. 3-Dimensional FEM Calculations

For calculating the stress increase at such a small detail
in the weld seam, a fine-meshed model is necessary. A
3-dimensional FE-model considering the recommenda- Figure 12. FE-model of weld seam with jut (1.5 mm), calculated
tions [2] for notch stress calculation is preferred. The 1st principal stress distribution
generated model follows these rules and implies an ide- For the example of Figure 10 the stress increase is 14%
alized shape of a weld jut (Figure 11). The possibility of (jut depth 0.96 mm).
a direct comparison with the results of the previous val-
ues is an advantage of this model. For this model quadri-
lateral 20-node elements are used and the calculation
procedure is the same as for the 2-dimensional model. A
parametric study using the program ANSYS 13.0 [18]
was carried out. The parameters were:
Plate thickness (4, 6, 9 mm)
Angular misalignment (0.0, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5)
Jut depth (0.00, 0.13, 0.31, 0.62, 0.93, 1.56 mm)

Figure 13. Factor fj computed for various jut depths and plate

All values are approximated by the following equation:


for jut depth dj > 0.06t mm

Figure 11. FE-model of weld seam with jut (1.56 mm)
The broken lines in Figure 13 show the approximation.
Calculations with a varying axial misalignment showed a
negligible influence. All other geometric values were set Jut depth below 0.06t mm show no appreciable increase
to the standard: specimen breadth 60 mm, specimen of stress. It seems, that the jut depth has a threshold size
length 400 mm, weld breadth 8 mm, weld reinforcement before the stress distribution shows a concentration at the
1 mm, weld toe angle 30 and weld toe radii 1 mm. The forefront.
jut breadth is set to 11 mm according to a common ob- In Figure 14 the S-N diagram with the notch stresses
served breadth of the juts. The evaluations of these data corrected by the factor fj is shown, the results presented
show, that also the angular misalignment has a minor by the grey dots are raised towards the S-N curve for
influence as assumed. The stress increase at the jut fore- 50% probability of survival.
front also occurs in straight specimens.
Figure 12 shows the calculated model with the maximum
1st principal stress 1,j at the forefront of the jut. A ratio fj
is calculated from this stress and the maximum 1 st prin-
cipal stress 1 of the same model without jut:
fj 1, j 1 (1)

The computed factors are shown in Figure 13. Obviously

the influence of the jut increases with increasing jut
depth and decreasing plate thicknesses.
Figure 14. S-N curve notch stress evaluation,all specimens,
corrected, plate thickness 4 mm
International Congress on Advances in Welding Science and Technology for
Construction, Energy and Transportation Systems (AWST - 2011)
24-25 October 2011, Antalya, Turkey
An overview of the statistical evaluation is given in 7. References
Table 4. The calculated characteristic fatigue strength
increases by 4.9% from 163 MPa to 171 MPa, as also [1] Doerk, O., Feltz O., Fricke, W., Paetzold, H., Reimer, N., Ein-
indicated in Figure 8 by dotted lines. The width of the fluss von Vorverformungen auf die Betriebsfestigkeit von schiff-
baulichen Dnnblechschweiungen, Technische Universitt
scatter band shrinks from TN = 1:4.82 (T = 1:1.69) to Hamburg-Harburg, 2007 (unpublished)
TN = 1:4.37 (T = 1:1.63). The calculated slope exponent [2] Hobbacher, A., Recommendations for Fatigue Design of Welded
decreases from m = 5.2 to m = 4.9 and fulfils nearly the Joints and Components, IIW Doc.1823-07, Welding Research
proposed slope of m = 5 for thin-plated joints, proposed Council Bulletin 520, New York, 2009
[3] Haibach, E., Betriebsfestigkeit: Verfahren und Daten zur Bauteil-
in [8] and [16]. However, the results are still considera- berechnung, Dsseldorf, VDI-Verlag, 1989
bly below those for 6 mm and 9 mm joints. [4] Maddox, S.J., The effect of plate thickness on the fatigue strength
of fillet welded joints, The Welding Institute, Cambridge, 1987
Table 4. Calculated parameters of the S-N curves of 4 mm speci-
[5] Taylor, D., Barrett, N., Lucano, G., Some new methods for
predicting fatigue in welded joints, International Journal of Fati-
Plate thickness 4 mm 4 mm with gue, Vol. 24 (2002), No.5, p.509-518
jut [6] Lazzarin, P., Livieri, P., Notch stress intensity factors and fatigue
Assumed slope exponent 3.0 3.0 strength of aluminium and steel welded joints, International Jour-
Scatter ratio on life TN* 1:4.82 1:4.37 nal of Fatigue, Vol. 23 (2001), No.3, p.225-232
1:1.69 1:1.63 [7] Germanischer Lloyd: Rules for Classification and Construction, I
Scatter ratio on strength T *
- Ship Technology, Part 1 - Seagoing Ships, Chapter 1: Hull
fatigue strength Ps = 50% 245 MPa 249 MPa
Structures, self publishing, Hamburg, 2011
fatigue strength Ps = 97,7% 163 MPa 170 MPa
[8] Sonsino C.M., Bruder T. and Baumgartner J., S-N lines for
Slope exponent from regression 5.2 4.9 welded thin joints - suggested slopes and FAT values for apply-
*) Ratio between Ps = 90% and 10% ing the notch stress concept with various reference radii. Welding
in the World 54, No. 11/12 (2010), R375-R392
6. Conclusion [9] Pedersen, M.M., Mouritsen, O.., Hansen, M.R., Andersen, J.G.,
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the notch stress approach, International Journal of Fatigue,
Similar to the results based on structural hot-spot Vol. 32, No.10 (2010), p.1620-1626
stresses, the notch stress evaluation of manual butt-joints [10] NN, Eurocode 3, 1999, Design of steel structures, part1-1: Gen-
eral and rules for building, European Committee for Standardisa-
shows a significant decrease of the fatigue strength for tion, Brussels, 1998 ENV, 1999-2
the 4 mm thick plates in comparison to 6 and 9 mm thick [11] NN, Production standard of the German shipbuilding industry
ones. Misalignments are already taken into account on (VSM), 6th edition, Hamburg, 2003
the load side (applied stresses) in both methods. The [12] Haagensen, P.J., Fracture and fatigue of welded joints and struc-
tures (Macdonald, K.A), Woodhead Publishing, Cambridge, 2011
finding is, that the consideration of the local geometry [13] Chapetti, M.D., Otegui, J.L., Importance of toe irregularity for
such as weld toe radius, flank angle and weld reinforce- fatigue resistance of automatic welds, International Journal of Fa-
ment, gives not an arbitrative explanation of this behav- tigue, Vol. 17 (1995), No.8, p.531-538
iour. The decrease with the structural hot-spot stress [14] Chapetti, M.D., Otegui, J.L., Controlled toe waviness as a means
to increase fatigue resistance of automatic welds in transverse
method is 15%, with the notch stress method 17% for the loading, International Journal of Fatigue, Vol. 19 (1997), No.10,
fatigue strength at 2106 load cycles and 50% probability p.667-675
of survival (Figure 1 and Figure 8). This means that [15] Fricke, W., Guideline for fatigue assessment by notch stress
other effects must have an influence on the fatigue analysis for welded structures, IIW Doc.XIII-2240r1-08/XV-
1289r1-08, Int. Inst. of Welding 2008
strength of butt-welds in thin plates. [16] Cupri, V., Guglielmino, E., Maestro, M. and Marino, A., Fatigue
It was shown that the examined weld irregularity in form analysis of butt welded AH36 steel joints: Themographic and de-
sign S-N curve, Marine Structures 22 (2009), p.373-386
of a jut has a negative influence on the fatigue strength [17] Ansys 11.0, Ansys Inc., 2007
particularly in thin-plated joints, but less than the de- [18] Ansys 13.0, Ansys Inc., 2010
scribed decrease. It is an aspect, which especially at
manually produced welds occurs and which has a nega-
tive influence on the durability of welded steel designs.
However, manually produced butt-welds cannot be
avoided e.g. in ships.
The maximum increase of the 1st principal stress is 31%,
but the average influence is 11%. It is mainly observed
in weld position PC (transverse position).
The average influence shows, that there is no need for
considering this effect in production standards. Further-
more, complying with a limit depth dj is difficult in a
manual welding process.
Interesting is the negative effect of decreasing plate
thicknesses. This behaviour is contrary to the plate
thickness effect.