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Tandem GMAW for Ship Structures

Status: Technical Success

PROBLEM / OBJECTIVE
Construction of Navy ships requires an extensive amount of out-of-position (horizontal, vertical, overhead) welding of high strength steel joints for units, blocks, and other major structures. The majority of these erection joints are currently accomplished with gas metal arc welding (GMAW) and flux cored arc welding (FCAW) processes. Travel speeds and deposition rates are relatively low with these processes limiting productivity. The objective of this project was to develop Tandem GMAW (T-GMAW) for out-ofposition steel erection joints used on Navy carriers and submarines in order to increase productivity.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS / PAYOFF
Process Improvement: Procedures for T-GMAW have been developed for high strength steel in the horizontal welding position. During this initial phase of process development, deposition rate improvements of over 200% were achieved while maintaining acceptable heat input levels, and weld quality. Horizontal welding procedures were also prequalified on high strength steel plate material at EWI. Similar gains have been attained for the overhead welding position. These welds have passed Level l nondestructive test procedures given in Navy technical publications. Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding Newport News (NGSB-NN) has indicated that preliminary qualification test plates are not necessary at this time. Implementation and Technology Transfer: The project team was led by the Navy Joining Center (NJC) working with NGSB-NN and Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC). During Phase III of the project, the welding procedures were further refined, and a shipyard system was acquired by NGSB-NN. The NJC supported the shipyard with the transition and qualifications required for each welding position using the production machinery. BIW expressed interest in the technology pending results from the program.

Expected Benefits and Warfighter Impact: NGSB-NN used mechanized GMAW on approximately 7,200 feet of out-of-position weld joints to fabricate the CVN-78 carrier and the SSN-781 submarine. This represented a labor effort of approximately 30,000 manhours. Doubling or tripling the welding deposition rate through the use of T-GMAW will result in savings of 15,000-20,000 man-hours on these two platforms. Preliminary estimates for the horizontal welding position showed a per-hull savings of $500K for CVN21 platforms, and $120K for the Virginia-Class submarine modules fabricated at NGNN.

TIME LINE / MILESTONE
Start Date: April 2006 End Date: September 2010

FUNDING
Total ManTech Investment (Phase I, II & III): $0.701M

PARTICIPANTS
Edison Welding Institute (EWI) Northrop Grumman Newport News Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division

NJC SS_S2123 Tandem GMAW for Ship Structure Rev C OCT09 Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.