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Proceedings of the Twenty-first (2011) International Offshore and Polar Engineering Conference

Maui, Hawaii, USA, June 19-24, 2011

Copyright © 2011 by the International Society of Offshore and Polar Engineers (ISOPE)
ISBN 978-1-880653-96-8 (Set); ISSN 1098-6189 (Set);

Comparison of Hybrid Laser-arc and Conventional Welding for Arctic Applications

Xiaobo Ren1, Sigmund K. Ås2, Odd M. Akselsen1, 2, Bård Nyhus2

Department of Engineering Design and Materials, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
Trondheim, Norway
Department of Applied Mechanics and Corrosion, SINTEF Materials and Chemistry
Trondheim, Norway

practice, e.g. CO2 or Nd:YAG laser and gas metal arc welding
(GMAW), laser and gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), laser and
plasma arc welding (PAW). Hybrid laser-arc welding combines the
In this paper, a numerical investigation of the difference between
advantages of both laser welding and arc welding, which has been
hybrid laser-arc welding and conventional multi-pass GMAW is
applied into many industries, for instance ship building, automotive,
described with respect to residual stresses and their potential effect on
aerospace and pipelines, but not yet for offshore structures. Compared
the structural integrity under Arctic conditions. A two-dimensional
with the use of laser or arc welding alone, hybrid laser-arc welding
axisymmetric model has been used to simulate welding of X70 pipe.
offers the following benefits:
Welding simulations were performed in the WeldsimS FE code, which
models the thermo-mechanical process from viscoplastic strains,
• higher welding speed compared to GMAW
including strains due to phase transformations. A one-pass hybrid laser-
arc welding process and a four-pass Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) • deeper penetration compared to GMAW
process were simulated on the same geometry. The aim of the present • improved tolerance to joint fit-up compared to laser
study is to compare the two methods and to evaluate the potential • better weld quality compared to laser or GMAW
applicability of the hybrid laser arc welding in the Arctic region. The • lower heat input and thus low distortion compared to GMAW
main focus in this study is to investigate the welding bead profile,
welding residual stresses, temperature field and microstructures. More information about hybrid laser-arc welding can be found in the
review paper by Ribic et al., (2009).
KEY WORDS: Hybrid laser-arc welding; GMAW; residual stress;
finite element method


Over the past decade, the petroleum resources in the North Sea have
shown a steady decline in production. Oil and gas exploration have
therefore moved into Arctic regions, where there is little or no
infrastructure and harsh weather conditions. More cost effective
exploration and production facilities are required in order to exploit
these resources, and the vulnerable biological environment means that
highly robust materials and structures are required. The fabrication
technique of pipeline is highly relevant both with regard to
development costs and safety. It has been shown that the productivity Fig.1 Illustration of hybrid laser-arc welding (Jasnau et al. 2002)
of pipeline construction is determined by the root pass welding speed
and numbers of the follow-up fill passes (Yapp and Kong, 2008). At Many studies have been carried out concerning the hybrid laser-arc
the same time, it is vital that the welds meet the demands, for example, welding. Kong and Kovacevic, (2010), Zain-ul-Abdein et al., (2009)
low temperature toughness. investigated the hybrid laser-arc welding induced residual stresses and
distortion. Bang et al. (2010) compared the conventional submerged arc
Hybrid laser-arc welding refers to the coupling of at least two welding welding and hybrid laser-arc welding. Damage behavior of hybrid
processes into one single process (Booth et al. 2003), as illustrated in laser-arc weld has been studied by Nonn et al. (2008), and parameters
Fig.1. There are several options of combining laser and arc welding in that can influence hybrid-laser arc welding by El Rayes et al., (2004)

and Wouters (2005). There are also studies focusing on the numerical The travel speed of four-pass GMAW is 4 mm/s.
modeling of hybrid laser-arc welding. For instance, Liang et al., (2009)
studied the hybrid heat source for overlap welding of magnesium alloy Finite element model
AZ31B; thermal mechanical analysis for hybrid laser-GMAW-P
welding conducted by Zhang et al. (2010) and 2D hydrodynamic and The finite element models are generated in ABAQUS, and consist of
3D thermal simulations in molten bath of hybrid laser-MIG welding by four-node continuum elements of type CAX4. The hybrid laser-arc
Le Guen et al., (2008). welding model has 4100 elements, and the four-pass GMAW welding
model has 2894 elements. Considering the large temperature gradients
Under low temperature conditions, e.g. -60˚C which is often used as a and the inhomogeneous microstructures near the fusion line, a finer
target qualification temperature for new steel in Arctic regions, pipeline mesh is applied in the weld metal and heat affected zone (HAZ), while
steel tends to fail by brittle fracture. It has been found that welding relatively coarse mesh is used for rest part of the model.
residual stresses have significant effect on cleavage fracture (Ren,
2010). In the investigation of hybrid laser-arc welding, residual stresses
are therefore very important for the applicability of this method. In this
study, a comparison is made between hybrid laser-arc welding and
multi-pass GMAW by using a numerical approach. The main objective
of this study is to simulate the welding residual stresses of both (a)
methods and investigate the potential effects of residual stresses on
safety assessment of pipelines.

Problem description
Fig.3 Finite element mesh used in this study, (a) hybrid laser-arc
2D axisymmetric models are used to simulate the pipe sections. The welding and (b) GMAW
inner radius of the pipe is 150 mm, and the thickness of the pipe is 20
mm. Fig.2 shows a sketch of the selected weld configurations.

The material used in this study is X70 pipeline steel, with chemical
composition and mechanical properties as given in Table 1.

Table 1: Chemical composition (wt%) and mechanical properties of

X70 steel (Onsøien et al. 2010)

(a) C Mn S Ni Cr Mo N Cu
0.09 1.71 0.001 0.05 0.07 0.02 0.005 0.04

Modeling details

Welding simulations have been performed using the WeldsimS finite

(b) element code (Fjær et al., 2006), which was developed by Institute for
Energy Technology and SINTEF. WeldsimS is implemented in
Fig.2 Weld configurations for the two welding methods, (a) one-pass FORTRAN 90, and a validation study has been carried out by Aarbogh
hybrid laser-arc welding and (b) four-pass GMAW welding et al. (2010). WeldsimS is purpose built for the requirements of
welding simulations, and includes features such as moving heat
Due to the deep penetration of hybrid laser-arc welding, such geometry sources, multi-pass welding, phase transformations and microstructure
can be finished with one pass, while four-pass GMAW is required for evolution. It can also predict welding residual stresses and hydrogen
the same pipe thickness. diffusion.

For hybrid laser-arc welding, the laser beam and the arc are assumed to As known, the metallurgical state of low alloy ferritic steel consists of
run along the welding path simultaneously. The laser power is 8 kW, austenite, ferrite, pearlite, bainite and martensite with different
and the GMAW current and voltage are 200 A and 20 V respectively. fractions. Thermo-physical and constitutive relations are assigned for
The travel speed of hybrid laser-arc welding is 15 mm/s. each phase, and a law of mixture is used to evaluate the properties in a
volume element (Fjær et al., 2009). The enthalpy and volume change
The current and voltage of the four-pass GMAW welds are as follows: associated with the phase transformation, as well as transformation
plasticity is taken into account.
• Pass 1, 150 A, 20 V
• Pass 2, 230 A, 27 V So-called “diffusion-controlled” phase transformations are modeled
• Pass 3, 270 A, 32 V using JMAK kinetics, while the Koistinen-Marburger law is applied to
• Pass 4, 350 A, 35 V describe martensite formation (Fjær et al., 2009). The flow stress is
scaled with a function dependent of local cooling time between 800 and

500 ˚C ( ∆t8/5 ), which is normally used to characterize the weld source has been used.
cooling rate. A normalized form of the Ludwik-Hollomon equation is Boundary conditions
used for computing the flow stress of each phase, as shown in the
following form (Fjær et al., 2009): The model accounts approximately for convective heat transfer in the
weld pool by increasing the thermal conductivity by a factor of 5 when
m(T )
 ε p 
n (T )
 φ + φ (T − T1 ) + φ  the temperature is above the liquidus temperature. A temperature
σ = F (T )· a b  ·
   (1) dependent heat transfer coefficient accounting for both radiation and
 φa + φb (T − T1 )   ε0
convection was used as boundary condition, as shown in Fig.5.

where F, m, n and φ0 are temperature dependent functions, ε0 is a
reference strain rate and φ is a work hardening parameter that
basically corresponds to the integrated plastic strain as following:

d ε for T ≤ T1
dφ =  p (2)
0 for T > T1

Heat source model

Establishing an accurate heat source model without extensive fitting to

measurements is difficult. However, it is very important to modify the
heat source model to fit the real weld case. In WeldsimS, elements in
the weld bead domain become activated when the heat source
approaches, and a density factor that is initially zero is increased
simultaneously as heat is added to keep the temperature above the
liquid temperature. Fig.5 Temperature dependent heat transfer coefficient h

In this study, the Goldak double ellipsoid distribution function was Data sets for the transformation model were based on CCT diagrams
used as GMAW heat source, as illustrated in Fig.4. and metallographic investigation of the X70 steel in both primary and
reheated conditions (Onsøien et al. 2009)


The weld bead profile is an important indication of the accuracy of the

simulations. Usually, the quality of a welding procedure is evaluated by
microstructure characterization and properties testing. Welding residual
stress is another important issue that is addressed here due to its
potential impact on the structural integrity.

Weld bead profile

Fig.4 Illustration of a Goldak double ellipsoidal source, indicating the
parameters a, b, cf and cr (Aarbogh et al. 2010) The experimental fusion zone is often used to determine the geometry
of numerical heat source. It is thus important to reproduce the weld
bead profile. Fig.6 shows the predicted weld bead profiles in this study.
The volumetric sources consist of the ellipsoids qv f and qv :

6 3ffQ −3[( x − v·t )2 ]/ c 2f

qv f ( x, y, z , t ) = e −3 y / a 2 −3 z 2 / b 2
e e (3)
abc f π π
6 3 f r Q −3[( x −v·t )2 ]/ cr2 −3 y 2 / a2 −3 z 2 / b2
qvr ( x, y, z , t ) = e e e (4)
abcrπ π

where ff and fr denote the heat fraction to the front and rear ellipsoidal,
fulfilling the relation ff+fr=2. Q, v and t represent the total power, (b)
welding speed and time respectively.
Fig.6 Predicted weld bead profile, and the maximum temperature used
For hybrid laser-arc welding, a superimposed heat source model that is set to 1450˚C (peak temperature above 1450˚C, i.e., the fusion zone,
combines a cylindrical volume heat source and a double ellipsoidal heat is thus grey), (a) hybrid laser-arc welding and (b) GMAW

It can be seen from the figure that four-pass GMAW produced a much
wider fusion zone due to larger heat input and larger gap used
compared to hybrid laser-arc welding. Meanwhile, hybrid laser-arc
welding has good gap bridging ability compared with laser welding
alone. Since the present study is purely numerical, it is difficult to find
experiments to calibrate the current case studied. However, it is
possible to compare the current result with published results. Fig.7
shows the comparison of weld bead profile of submerged arc welding
and hybrid laser-arc welding carried out by Zwick (2007).


Fig.7 Comparison of the weld bead profile of the Submerged Arc

Welding (SAW) and hybrid laser-arc welding (Zwick, 2007)

Although the welding methods are different from the current

simulation, the result shown in Fig.6 is good reproduction of the main
features of conventional welding and hybrid laser-arc welding shown in

Residual stresses

Fig.8 shows the equivalent residual (Mises) stress simulated by


(a) (b)


Fig.8 Distribution of equivalent residual stresses for two welding

methods, (a) hybrid laser-arc welding, (b) GMAW

Obviously, due to larger gap and reheating effects, the residual stress
dominant zone is much larger in the GMAW joint. It should be noted
that the distribution of residual stresses shown in Fig.8 represents the
stresses generated in the welding procedure without any external load.

In order to compare, residual stresses are also plotted along different

paths. Inner surface represents the path transverse to welding direction
and with weld root included; outer surface indicated the path transverse
to welding direction and with weld cap included; and through thickness (c)
path denotes the path along the middle line of weld region from weld
root to cap. Fig.9 shows the distribution of equivalent residual stresses Fig.9 Distribution of equivalent residual stresses along different paths,
along different paths. (a) inner surface; (b) outer surface and (c) through thickness

It can be seen that the level of equivalent welding residual stresses for
four-pass GMAW is higher than hybrid laser-arc welding.

It is also interesting to investigate the components of residual stresses through thickness
along different paths. Fig.10 shows the distribution of hybrid laser-arc
welding residual stresses along the inner surface, the outer surface and Fig.11 shows the corresponding distribution of GMAW residual
the through-thickness path. stresses along inner surface, outer surface and trough-thickness path.

(a) (a)

(b) (b)

(c) (c)
Fig.11 Distribution of residual stresses of four-pass GMAW along
Fig.10 Distribution of residual stresses of hybrid laser-arc welding different paths, (a) inner path, (b) outer path and (c) through thickness
along different paths, (a) inner surface, (b) outer surface and (c)

It can be seen that residual stresses in the weld region are mainly Failure assessment analysis
tensile, which is due to the shrinkage effect. For hybrid laser-arc case,
the through-thickness axial stress near the root is compressive, which is From the results of residual stress simulations, it is clear that the most
also often observed to be beneficial for root defect. critical area will be in the middle of the weld and close to the inner
surface under tensile load conditions. In order to investigate the effect
Temperature field of residual stresses on the structural integrity, a simple failure
assessment has been carried out. A depth of 3 mm crack was introduced
The temperature-time evolution in welding, including the heating and into both the hybrid laser-arc welding and the four-pass GMAW model,
cooling rates, may largely control the microstructure that is formed, as shown in Fig.13.
together with the chemical composition of the material. Also,
comparison between numerical and experimental temperature fields is
needed to verify the accuracy of a numerical model. Such experimental
measurements have not been carried out yet. However, numerical
simulation can still give quantitative comparison of heating and cooling
of the two welding methods. For hybrid laser-arc welding, due to
intense heat input in a narrow weld, very large thermal gradients are
present near the fusion line, which may induce additional effect of weld
joint properties. Reheating of the weld metal may be a concern in
multi-pass GMAW welding, and may cause substantial changes of

Fig.12 shows the development of temperature at different positions

along the central line in weld from inner surface to outer surface. Fig.13 Illustration of crack location for cases, hybrid laser-arc welding
(left) and four-pass GMAW (right), the depth of crack is 3mm

It should be noted that the crack was inserted after the welding residual
stress was imported, and redistribution of welding residual stress may
occur. The effect of residual stresses on the crack driving force of the
two welding methods has been investigated. The models for both with
and without residual stress were subjected to the same external load
level, i.e. a displacement of the ends of 2 mm. The relative effect of
residual stresses on crack driving force for the two welding methods is
plotted in Fig.14 as the function of ε22 (axial direction).


Fig.14 Relative effect of residual stress on crack driving force for four-
pass GMAW and hybrid laser-arc welding; ε0 is the yield strain, δwith
represents the CTOD with residual stress effect and δno denotes the
CTOD without residual stress.

It can be seen that the effect of residual stress on crack driving is much
stronger for the four-pass GMAW than that of the hybrid laser-arc
(b) welding at early stage of loading. However, with the increase of
external load, especially after yielding, the effect of residual stresses on
Fig.12 Development of temperature along center line of weld from crack driving force decreases.
inner surface to outer surface, (a) hybrid laser-arc and (b) GMAW

Microstructure Bang, HS, HS. Bang, Kim YC and Joo SM (2010). "Analysis of
residual stress on AH32 butt joint by hybrid CO2 laser-GMA
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phase transformation during heating and cooling. Fig.15 shows the Booth, GS; Howse, DS and Howard, RD (2003). "A New Technique
ferrite phase fraction at the end of the simulations. for Girth Welds in Land Pipelines: Hybrid Laser-Arc welding,"
Proceedings of 2nd international WLT-conference on: Lasers in
Manufacturing” LIM2003, Munich, Germany, 145-148
EL Rayes, M, Walz, C and Sepold, G (2004). "The Influence of
Various Hybrid Welding Parameters on Bead Geometry," Welding
Journal 83(5): 147S-153S.
Fjær, HG, Liu, J, M'Hamdi, M, Lindolm, D (2006). "On the use of
residual stress from welding simulations in failure assessments
analyses for steel structures," In: Cerjak, H.K.D.H., Bhadeshia, E.K.
(Eds.), Methematical Modelling of Weld Phenomena, Verlag der
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Fjær, HG, Aune, R, M'Hamdi, M and Akselsen, OM (2009). "Modeling
the development of stresses during single and multi-pass welding of
a ferritic steel in an instrumented restraint cracking test, " In
Modeling of Casting, Welding, and Advanced Solidification
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Jasnau, U, Hoffmann, J, and Seyffarth, P (2002). "Nd: YAG-laser-gas
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CONCLUSIONS Kong, F and Kovacevic, R (2010). "3D finite element modeling of the
thermally induced residual stress in the hybrid laser/arc welding of
In this paper, comparison between hybrid laser-arc welding and four- lap joint," Journal of Materials Processing Technology 210(6-7):
pass GMAW has been carried out. A 2D axisymmetric model has been 941-950
used. WeldsimS was used to perform the welding simulation with Le Guen, E, Fabbro, R, Coste, F, Carin , M and Le Masson, P (2008).
phase transformation being taken into account. The main conclusions "Modeling 2D and 3D of Hybrid-Laser Nd: Yag-MIG Welding
are as follows: Processes," COMSOL Conference.
Liang, GL, Zhou, G and Yuan SQ (2009). "Study on hybrid heat source
• The predicted weld bead profile shows that WeldsimS can well overlap welding of magnesium alloy AZ31B," Materials Science and
capture the main feature of both welded joints. Engineering: A 499(1-2): 93-96.
Nonn, A, Dahl, W and Bleck, W (2008). "Numerical modelling of
• The results show that the residual stresses generated by GMAW are
damage behaviour of laser-hybrid welds," Engineering Fracture
higher than that produced in hybrid laser-arc welding.
Mechanics 75(11): 3251-3263.
• For Arctic applications, the effect of residual stresses is an
Onsøien, MI, M’Hamdi, M and Akselsen OM (2010). "Residual
important issue to be considered. A simple failure analysis has been
Stresses in Weld Thermal Cycle Simulated Specimens of X70
performed, and the result shows that the contribution of residual
Pipeline Steel," Welding Journal 89: 127s-132s
stresses on the crack driving force for four-pass GMAW is
Onsøien, MI, M’Hamdi, M and Mo, A (2009). "A CCT diagram for an
significantly higher than that of hybrid laser-arc welding at the
offshore pipeline steel of X70 type," Welding Journal 88: 1s-6s
early state of loading. However, with the increase of the external
Ren, XB (2010). Effect of welding residual stress on fracture, Ph.D
loading, the effect of residual stresses decreases. From the integrity
Thesis, Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
assessment point of view, four-pass GMAW is potentially weaker
Ribic, B., Palmer, TA and DebRoy, T (2009). "Problems and issues in
than hybrid laser-arc welding. Further experimental validation of
laser-arc hybrid welding." International Materials Reviews 54(4):
the results will be conducted in future.
Wouters, M (2005). "Hybrid Laser-MIG welding-An investigation of
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS geometrical considerations," Department of Applied Physics and
Mechanical Engineering. Luleå Luleå University of Technology.
The authors wish to thank the Research Council of Norway (Arctic Licentiate Thesis.
Materials project supported through the Petromaks programme, Yapp, D and Kong, C,-j (2008). "Hybrid laser-arc pipeline welding,"
Contract No.187389/S30) and the industry companies ENI, Statoil, Welding and Cutting 6: 342-345
Total, JFE Steel, Nippon Steel Corporation, Miras Grotnes, Scana Steel Zain-ul-Abdein, M, Nelias, D, Jullien, J.-F., Deloison, D (2009).
Stavanger, Brück Pipeconnections, Trelleborg, Bredero Shaw, Aker "Prediction of laser beam welding-induced distortions and residual
Solutions, Technip and GE Oil and Gas for financial support. stresses by numerical simulation for aeronautic application," Journal
of Materials Processing Technology 209(6): 2907-2917.
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