There has been growing interest in high strength steel with a tensile strength higher than 800 MPa, which would be ideal for weight reduction and better performance of steel structures. However, there are two major problems in the application of high strength steel to structures. One is that the fatigue strength of welded joints is far lower than that of the base metal, and the other is that the weld metal and the heat-affected zone (HAZ) are likely to have cold cracking. These problems must be solved before high strength steel can be widely used in steel structures. As a solution to the problem of cold cracking, a reduced preheating type of high strength steel has recently been developed in which cold cracking in the HAZ is reduced by reduction of alloy components (lower Ceq, Pcm) without loss of strength. However, since the resistance to cold cracking of the weld metal has not been improved, preheating of the weld metal is still necessary, and the problem remains toward its wider use.
Recently, Ohta et al. developed a low transformation-temperature welding consumable, in which compressive residual stress is induced by transformation expansion of martensitic transformation of weld metal at a low temperature near room temperature, and demonstrated that this consumable improves the fatigue strength of welded joints.
We considered that the reduction of tensile residual stress in the low transformation-temperature welding consumable might also be effective in decreasing the cold cracking and that this consumable would be useful in manufacturing high performance welded joints with improved fatigue strength and cold-cracking resistance.
In the present study, we examined the effects of low temperature-transformation weld materials on the prevention of cold cracking in high strength steel.
Firstly, the y-shaped weld cracking tests demonstrated that reduction of residual tensile stress induced by martensitic transformation expansion of weld metal was effective in reducing cold cracking.
Secondly, the effects of the degree of joint constraint on cold cracking in low transformation-temperature weld materials were examined by the y-shaped and H-shaped weld cracking tests. The cracking ratio was high at low degrees of joint constraint and low at high degrees of joint constraint. Two causes were considered: one was that the reduction of tensile residual stress by transformation expansion is higher at a higher degree of joint constraint, and the other was that the weld metal of martensitic structure alone is sensitive to cold cracking.
According to the above investigation, we attempted to develop a weld material with high resistance to cold cracking at different degrees of constraint. To maintain the effects of reduction of tensile residual stress by transformation expansion to reduce the amount of diffusible hydrogen and the sensitivity of cracking, which are other causes of cracking, we designed and developed a 2-microstructure phase weld metal (martensite + retained austenite) by modifying the low temperature-transformation weld material to obtain a lower Ms point. We examined the effects of the degree of joint constraint on cold cracking, and confirmed that the cracking rate of the modified rod was almost 0% at all degrees of constraint, and its resistance to cold cracking was high.