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Journal of Materials Processing Technology 89±90 (1999) 410±414

TIG pulse welding of 304L austenitic stainless


steel in ¯at, vertical and overhead positions
G. Lothongkuma,*, P. Chaumbaib, P. Bhandhubanyonga
a
Department of Metallurgical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
b
Volvo Thailand Ltd., Bangkok, Thailand

Abstract

The TIG pulse welding parameters of 304L stainless steel sheet of 3 mm thickness in ¯at, vertical and overhead positions were
investigated. The shielding gases were Ar, and Ar‡N2 (0±5%, v/v). The base and pulse currents in all welding positions were adjusted to
achieve a weld bead contour corresponding to DIN 8563 class AS at 3.4 mm/s welding speed, 1 pulse/s pulse frequency and 55% on-time.
The weld bead aspect ratios (W/D) are 2.7±2.8. Increasing welding speed to 5 and 6.8 mm/s whilst simultaneously increasing the pulse
frequency, the base and pulse currents, at constant 55% on-time was not successful in achieving weld bead contours to satisfy DIN 8563. In
the vertical and overhead positions, gravitational force made the weld pool fall down, leading to undercut after solidi®cation. With the
appropriate welding parameters, the gravitational effect can be eliminated. The d-ferrite content in the weld metals was in the acceptable
range (3±12%, v/v) when the nitrogen content in the Ar shielding gas was between 3±5%, v/v. # 1999 Elsevier Science S.A. All rights
reserved.

Keywords: TIG pulse welding; Stainless steel; Weld bead

1. Introduction 2. Experimental

Austenitic stainless steels are used widely in Thailand's Fig. 2 is the ¯ow line diagram of the shielding gas.
industries. It is estimated that the 304, 304L, 316L austenitic Nitrogen (99.99%) was mixed to argon (99.995%) through
stainless steels are used to the extent of more than 20 000 a mixer M1. The mixed gas after the mixer M1 was split to
tons a year [1,2]. In many cases, those stainless steels must ¯ow in the root shielding gas line with rate of 8 l/min and
be welded, for example, the welding of stainless steel pipe, ¯ow in the arc shielding gas line with rate of 16 l/min. The %
the welding of automotive exhaust gas systems, welding on-time nitrogen content in the argon shielding gas was
repair of chemical industrial equipment, etc., TIG pulse calculated in volume percentage from the ¯ow rate read out
welding is one of the generally applied methods. The from the manometers F1 and F2.
TIG pulse welding parameters for especially vertical and The chemical composition of the 304L stainless steel
overhead positions are not well known in Thailand. In this sheet of 3 mm in thickness used in these experiments is
work the parameters of TIG pulse welding such as speed, shown in Table 1. An all-round turnable welding table, self
base and pulse currents, pulse frequency, % on-time (the assembled, with a speed controller was used for adjusting
pulse current time in one cycle) and shielding gas composi- the welding positions and the welding speed. The welding
tion were investigated. Excessive penetration of the weld machine was of constant current AC/DC type. Samples of
bead pro®le is kept to follow DIN 8563 [3], as shown in sizes of 100 mm125 mm3 mm with square-edge but
Fig. 1. Other weld bead requirements are also kept to satisfy joints were prepared from stock plate, installed on the
DIN 8563. Nitrogen was added in the Ar shielding gas to welding table and welded with the planned parameters such
control the d-ferrite content in the weld metal to be in the as welding speed, base and pulse current, de®ned as in
recommended range of 3±12%, v/v [4,5] to avoid hot Fig. 2. Welding currents were measured by using a data
cracking and toughness reduction of the weld metal. logger hydra acquisition series. Preliminary welding tests
were done in the ¯at position to see the effects of welding
*Corresponding author. E-mail: lgobboon@chula.ac.th speed, pulse frequency, % on-time, and base current on the

0924-0136/99/$ ± see front matter # 1999 Elsevier Science S.A. All rights reserved.
PII: S 0 9 2 4 - 0 1 3 6 ( 9 9 ) 0 0 0 4 6 - 1
G. Lothongkum et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 89±90 (1999) 410±414 411

experiments to ®nd the parameters giving a weld bead


contour according to DIN 8563. Further experimental results
to investigate the effects of welding speed, pulse frequency,
% on-time, and base current shown in runs 11±30. The
results in Table 2 showed that only limited ranges of these
welding parameters are acceptable. The best parameters
observed in this section were in run 27. These parameters
Fig. 1. Excessive penetration according to DIN 8563 (3).
were nearly the same as those introduced in the work of
Kujanpaa [7], which suggested a welding speed of 3.3 mm/s
and a welding current of 185 A for ordinary TIG welding.
This result implied that to be successful in the TIG pulse
welding of the 304L stainless steel, the parameters, which
are not exclusively independent, should be in good combi-
nation.

3.2. Welding parameters in flat, vertical and overhead


positions

In this section, the welding speed, pulse frequency, nitro-


gen content in argon shielding gas, pulse current and base
current at each welding position were examined, whilst the
% on-time was kept constant at 55% in all test runs.
Three different welding speeds of 3.4, 5, 6.8 mm/s were
Fig. 2. Line diagram of the gas flow and the base and pulse currents tested. According to the result in Section 3.1, the pulse
generated by the welding machine in the present experiments.
frequency, pulse currents and base currents will be changed
in relation to the welding speed, the pulse frequency, pulse
weld bead contour according to DIN 8563. Then the opti- currents and base currents being increased with the welding
mum values of the welding parameters such as welding speed in order to secure similar weld bead pro®les and
speed, pulse frequency, % on-time, base and pulse current, surfaces to those in the case of lower welding speeds. Thus
and nitrogen content in the argon shielding gas in ¯at, the appropriate pulse frequencies at welding speeds of 3.4, 5
vertical and overhead positions were determined by starting and 6.8 mm/s are 1, 1.5±2, and 2 pulse/s, respectively.
from the successful parameters in the preliminary welding Summary results of welding with these parameters are
test in ¯at position. The accepted weld bead samples were shown in Figs. 3±5.
examined by radiographic tests for porosity and prepared for In Figs. 3±5, at welding speeds of 5 and 6.8 mm/s, all
metallographic observation and study. Only weld metal was weld runs were with a nitrogen content of 0±3%, v/v. in
machined to small pieces for the analysis of the nitrogen argon shielding gas. It can be clearly seen that pulse
contents by a nitrogen determinator. The weld metal d-ferrite frequencies of 1.5±2 pulse/s, base currents of 70±105 A,
contents were calculated using the quantitative metallogra- and pulse currents of 200±312 A, are not acceptable. Defects
phy method [6]. such as undercuts, not enough penetration, not a smooth
rippled surface, a concave surface appearance, too long a
distance between the peaks of the ripple, occurred. Fig. 6
3. Results and discussion shows an example of the weld bead pro®le and surface
appearance of metal welding in the ¯at position with a
3.1. Preliminary test results of welding in flat position nitrogen content of 1%, v/v. in argon shielding gas, a
welding speed of 3.4 mm/s, a base current of 48 A, a pulse
The effects of welding speed, pulse frequency, % on-time, current of 185 A, 55% on-time, and a pulse frequency of 1
and base current on the weld bead contour in the ¯at position pulse/s. A rippled surface of the weld bead is clearly seen,
using pure argon as shielding gas were examined. The test which is the effect of pulse frequency. An example of the
results are summarized in Table 2. Runs 1±10 were pre- weld defects found is shown in Fig. 7.

Table 1
Chemical composition (wt%) of 304L stainless steel analyzed by emission spectroscopy

C Si Mn P S Ni Cr Fe N Others

0.0305 0.461 1.270 0.047 0.013 9.42 18.71 69.24 0.01 0.810
412 G. Lothongkum et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 89±90 (1999) 410±414

Table 2
Preliminary test welding results in the flat position with pure argon shielding gas

Run Pulse frequency, Speed, Pulse current, Base current, Percent Uˆunaccepted,
f (pulse/s) Vw (mm/s) Ip (A) Ib (A) on-time Aˆaccepted
(DIN 8563)

1 0.75 4.0 144 91 55 U


2 0.75 4.0 156 91 55 U
3 0.75 4.0 160 100 55 U
4 0.75 4.0 160 100 55 U
5 1.0 4.0 185 77 55 U
6 1.0 3.4 190 35 55 U
7 1.0 3.4 190 42 55 U
8 1.0 3.4 190 38 55 U
9 1.0 3.4 190 42 55 U
10 1.0 3.4 190 42 55 A
11 1.0 3.0 200 42 55 U
12 1.0 3.4 200 42 55 A
13 1.0 3.8 200 42 55 U
14 1.0 5.0 200 42 55 U
15 1.0 6.8 200 42 55 U
16 0.4 3.4 200 42 55 U
17 0.5 3.4 200 42 55 U
18 1.0 3.4 200 42 55 A
19 1.5 3.4 200 42 55 U
20 2.0 3.4 200 42 55 U
21 1.0 3.4 200 42 35 U
22 1.0 3.4 200 42 45 U
23 1.0 3.4 200 42 55 A
24 1.0 3.4 200 42 65 U
25 1.0 3.4 200 26 55 U
26 1.0 3.4 200 35 55 U
27 1.0 3.4 200 42 55 A
28 1.0 3.4 200 52 55 U
29 1.0 3.4 200 61 55 U
30 1.0 3.4 200 70 55 U

Fig. 3. Base (&) and pulse (}) currents at welding speeds of 3.4, 5, and Fig. 4. Base (&) and pulse (}) currents at welding speeds of 3.4, 5 and
6.8 mm/s, and pulse frequencies of 1, 1.5±2, and 2 pulse/s, respectively, 6.8 mm/s, pulse frequencies of 1, 1.5±2, and 2 pulse/s, respectively, with
with the flat welding position, 55% on-time, and Ar‡N2 (0±3%). the vertical welding position, 55% on-time, and Ar‡N2 (0±3%).
G. Lothongkum et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 89±90 (1999) 410±414 413

Fig. 7. Example of weld defects after flat position welding with a welding
speed of 6.8 mm/s, a pulse frequency of 2 pulse/s, a pulse current of 312 A,
a base current of 105 A, and 55% on-time.

meter ranges. Similar welding parameters for duplex stain-


less steel pipes were obtained in the work of Huismann and
Hoffmeister [8] with welding speed of 4 mm/s and pulse
Fig. 5. Base (&) and pulse (}) currents at welding speeds of 3.4, 5 and currents of 250±350 A.
6.8 mm/s, pulse frequencies of 1, 1.5±2, and 2 pulse/s, respectively, with
the overhead welding position, 55% on-time, and Ar‡N2 (0±3%). 3.3. Microstructure

The acceptable parameters were obtained only at a weld- Metallographic examination and nitrogen content deter-
ing speed of 3.4 mm/s in all cases of nitrogen contents in mination were done with acceptable weld beads obtained
argon shielding gas with a pulse frequency of 1 pulse/s, base from welding with the parameters shown in Table 3.
currents of 42±48 A, and pulse currents of 185±200 A, for The amount of nitrogen in the weld metal at various
all welding positions. Fig. 8 shows acceptable base and nitrogen contents in the argon shielding gas is shown in
pulse currents in the ¯at, vertical and overhead positions Fig. 9. Pure argon shielding gas in this TIG pulse welding
with a nitrogen content of 0±3%, v/v., a welding speed of did not totally shield the weld pool from air. A higher
3.4 mm/s, pulse frequency of 1 pulse/s, and 55% on-time. nitrogen content in weld metal welding with pure argon
Table 3 summaries the appropriate TIG pulse welding shielding gas than the content in the base metal was
parameters for the 304L stainless steel with the ¯at, vertical observed. The weld metal nitrogen content increased from
and overhead positions, a welding speed of 3.4 mm/s, a pulse 0.06 to 0.15 wt% as the nitrogen content in the argon
frequency of 1 pulse/s, % on-time of 55%, a root shielding shielding gas was increased from 0 to 5% (v/v.). (Additional
gas ¯ow rate of 8 l/min, and a shielding gas ¯ow rate of 16 l/ data of welding with 4 and 5% (v/v.) nitrogen content in
min. This table shows very narrow possible welding para- argon shielding gas was obtained for con®rmation of the

Fig. 6. The weld bead profile and appearance in the TIG pulse welding of Fig. 8. Appropriate pulse and base currents for the flat (6 h), vertical (9 h),
304L stainless steel in the flat position, with pure Ar as the shielding gas, a and overhead (12 h) positions with various nitrogen content in argon
welding speed 3.4 mm/s, a base current 48 A, a pulse current 185 A, a 55% shielding, a welding speed of 3.4 mm/s, a pulse frequency of 1 pulse/s, and
on-time, and a pulse frequency of 1 pulse/s. 55% on-time.
414 G. Lothongkum et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 89±90 (1999) 410±414

Table 3
Appropriate accepted parameters at a welding speed of 3.4 mm/s in the flat, vertical and overhead positions

Position with %N2 in Ar (v/v)

Flat Vertical Overhead

0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3

Base current (A) 42 42 48 48 42 42 42 48 42 42 42 42


Pulse current (A) 200 190 185 190 197 195 195 190 197 190 190 190

results.) Similar results were obtained in the work of


Kuwana and his coworkers [9], which showed higher nitro-
gen contents in the weld metal than those in this work. This
is because of the use of lower welding currents in their work
than those in the present work, which caused a decrease in
the nitrogen content in the weld metal. The reason for the
decrease in the nitrogen content with increase in the welding
current is still not clear. [9] Fig. 10 shows the amount of d-
ferrite content with the nitrogen content in the weld metal.
As can be seen in this ®gure, the d-ferrite content in the weld
metal is in the acceptable range (3±12%), whilst the nitrogen
contents in the weld metal is 0.13±0.15 wt% corresponding
to a nitrogen content in the argon shielding gas of 3±5%, v/v.

4. Conclusion

Appropriate TIG pulse welding parameters for 304L Fig. 10. The d-ferrite content and nitrogen content in the weld metal.
stainless steel in the ¯at, vertical and overhead positions
with a nitrogen content of 0±3% (v/v.) in the argon shielding simultaneously with increasing pulse frequencies, pulse
gas were established. The welding speeds in those positions currents and base currents, was not successful. A nitrogen
were limited to 3.4 mm/s at 55% on-time with appropriately content of 3±5% (v/v.) in the argon shielding gas was enough
adjusted pulse and base currents. To gain a higher welding to control the d-ferrite contents in the generally accepted
rate by increasing the welding speeds to more than 3.4 mm/s range of 3±12% (v/v.).

References

[1] TGPRO, Thailand, unpublished.


[2] THAINOX, Thailand, unpublished.
[3] Quality Assurance of Welding Operation, DIN 8563 part 3 (Oct.
1985).
[4] R. Castro, J.J. de Cadenet, Welding Metallurgy of Stainless and Heat
resisting Steels, (Translated from the French by R.C. Jain),
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1974.
[5] D.L. Olson, Prediction of austenitic weld metal micro-structure and
properties, Welding J. (Oct. 1985) 281-s±295-s.
[6] Quantitative Metallography, ASM Metal Handbook, vol. 9, 9th ed.,
1985 p. 129.
[7] V.P. Kujanpaa, Weld defects in austenitic stainless steel sheet-effect
of welding parameters, Welding J. (1983) 45-s±52-s.
[8] G. Huismann, H. Hoffmeister, Investigation of the effects of TIG
pulse parameters and shielding gas compositions on weld bead
formation and microstructure of Duplex stainless steel orbital TIG
root welds, LWS, University of the federal armed force, Hamburg,
Germany, 1992.
Fig. 9. The nitrogen content in the weld metal and in the argon shielding
[9] J.F. Lancaster, Metallurgy of Welding, 5th ed., 1993, p. 260.
gas.