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PVP-Vol.

479, Residual Stress, Fracture, and Stress Corrosion Cracking


July 2 5 - 2 9 , 2004, San Diego, California USA

PVP2004-2653

WELD MODELING OF THIN STRUCTURES WITH VFT SOFTWARE


Y.P. Yang and F.W. Brust
Battelle, 505 King Avenue
Columbus, Ohio, 43201, USA
Email: yangy@battelle.org; brust@battelle.org
N. McPherson
BAE Systems, 1048 Govan Road
Glasgow Scotland, G51 4XP, UK
Emaih norrie.mcpherson @baesystems.com

A. Ezeilo
TWI, Granta Park
Cambridge CB 1 6AL, UK
Emaih Andy.Ezeilo @twi.co.uk

successfully for the control of residual stress and distortion in


actual structures [5]. Michaleris [6] developed a shrinkage force
method to predict the distortions of thin structures. He
estimated a shrinkage force for each weld by performing a twodimensional (2D) finite element analysis of a weld cross
section. Then, the estimated shrinkage forces are applied to a
three-dimensional (3D) model to predict buckling distortion.
Nonlinear interactions between welds are ignored and the
residual stress information in the structures cannot be obtained
by this method. Brust [7-8], Dong [9-10] and Yang [11-12]
performed residual stress analysis on an: actual structure :and
then used the predicted residual stress distribution to form the
stress-stiffening matrix in the instability analysis. More recently,
a major initiative was funded by the U. S. Navy to perform a
comprehensive assessment of lightweight panel fabrication
technology. A series of large test panels were used to quantify
dimensional variations through the fabrication processes in the
current production environment. The transient thermal
tensioning and reverse arching techniques have been developed
to control buckling distortion of large thin test ship panels.
Some modeling methodologies of buckling distortion were
developed in the project [1].
Since 1996, Battelle and Caterpillar have been working
together to develop an industrial-use methodology and userfriendly software for predicting weld residual stress and
distortion in large and complicated structures. A large amount of
manpower and equipment was invested for model development,
program coding, and validation. Finally, Virtual Fabrication
Technology (VFT) a weld modeling computer tool was
developed based on Battelle's weld modeling experience (which
spans more than 20 years), and deep understanding of welding
processes [7-15]. VFT is a state-of-the-art cutting and welding
simulation tool that allows rapid solutions for large, complex
metallic structures containing both single-pass and multi-pass
welds and allows the user to consider or input all critical
variables. It can be used in product design stages to help in
weld design and in the manufacturing stage to determine the
optimal weld processes to minimize welding-induced distortion.
But weld modeling procedures developed for thick structures
may not be directly used to predict buckling distortion in a thin

ABSTRACT
Virtual fabrication technology (VFT) weld modeling
software has been mainly used in thick-structure welding
simulation. Recently both U. S. and European shipyards have
shown strong interests in using the software to predict and
control welding distortion of thin-plate ship panels. It is more
complicated to simulate the welding of thin structures than thick
structures because buckling distortion often occurs during the
welding of thin structures. To evaluate the effectiveness of VFT
for predicting distortion in thin structures, a bead-on-plate
specimen, a butt joint of two large plates, and a long T stiffener
were analyzed with VFT welding modeling software. By
comparing the predicted distortions with those obtained by
measurement, it was found that VFT can accurately predict
welding-induced distortions of thin structures. Sensitivity
studies show that pre-deformation induced by upstream
fabrication processes and heat input are important factors
influencing predicted distortions. Both distortion trends and
magnitudes for thin structures are influenced by predeformation and heat input.

INTRODUCTION
Lightweight structures are being increasingly used in recent
years in both U. S. shipyards and European shipyards. From
1990 to 2000, the production ratio of thin steel (10ram or less)
to plate structures for certain specific vessels has risen to over
90% by weight [1]. Severe distortions have been observed in
the building of large thin ship panels. To understand the
distortion mechanism and propose suitable methods to control
distortion, shipbuilders urgently need a distortion prediction
tool which is able to be used to assist the building of the thin
ship panels.
Many researchers [2-6] have tried to develop modeling
methodologies to simulate the welding process, but the
modeling techniques that have been developed have often been
too complex, inaccurate, or too labor intensive to be applied
industrially. Although significant progress has been made in
finite-element modeling of welding processes in recent years,
many of the modeling techniques are still far short of being used
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Moving-Arc Analysis Procedure


This analysis procedure is mainly used in the distortion
analysis of large and complicated structures. A 3D shell model
was specially developed to accurately predict distortion for
single-pass welding [20, 21]. A 3D solid model was developed
to simulate pass by pass depositions for multiple pass welding.
The CTSP (Comprehensive Thermal Solution Procedure) is
commonly used for moving-arc thermal analysis for both 3D
shell and solid models. It is based on analytical solutions and is
therefore extremely fast when compared with finite element
based thermal solutions. CTSP also works with complex
structures not traditionally handled with analytical solutions.

structure. Further developments for weld modeling of thin


structures are presented in this paper so the distortion
mechanism and predictions may be accurately accounted for.
VFT

WELD

SOFTWARE

The procedure for simulating the arc welding processes


with VFT is illustrated in Fig. 1. Three kinds of modeling
procedures: a local weld residual stress analysis procedure,
moving-arc analysis procedure, and a lump-pass analysis
procedure are included in the software. The Local weld residual
stress analysis procedure has been widely used in predicting and
mitigating weld residual stresses in pressure vessels [10, 16]
and nuclear piping system [17]. The moving-arc analysis
procedure was developed for predicting distortion in large and
complicated welded structures. It has been widely used in many
applications such as earthmoving equipment design [8, 18],
thermal cutting induced distortion prediction [19], and weld hot
cracking mitigations [15]. The lump-pass modeling procedure
was recently developed for the maritime industry to predict
distortion on extremely large ship structures [20].
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Lump-pass Analysis Procedure


The lump-pass analysis procedure was recently developed
for shipbuilding and ship repair applications. Typically ship
structures are large with many weld passes and with extremely
long weld lengths. The computer time required for CTSP
thermal solution solver is time-wise acceptable. However, the
ABAQUS structural solution with UMAT requires considerable
time. Therefore, Lump-pass simulation technology for 3D solid
models was developed to aid in the prediction of weld-induced
distortion of ship structures.

' j
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Fig. 1 An Integrated Arc Welding Simulation Process

Stresses
Local Weld Residual Stress Analysis Procedure
This analysis procedure is mainly used to calculate weld
residual stress on the local level of a welded structure. As
shown in Fig. 1, 2D cross section models (generalized plane
strain or axis-symmetric models) are normally used for the local
weld residual stress analysis. VFT-DFLUX subroutine is
recommended for accurate modeling of heat input and
prediction of temperature field and history. To effectively use
this DFLUX subroutine, a FEA model should be generated
based upon the weld cross section profile or at least the closest
estimation of a weld cross section area. Tacks welds should be
included in FEA models. In some situations, surface contacts
and proper boundary conditions may be used to simulate
constraint from the welding fixture. The Global-to-local
modeling procedure could be used if a significant 3D effect
exists.

Copyright 2004 by ASME

Distortions

Structural Model

Fig. 2 VFT Welding Simulation Flow


The thermal analysis could be performed using CTSP
lump-pass code or an FE based thermal code. Until recently,
lump-pass analysis could only be applied to 3D solid models.
However, if all passes are lumped into one pass, it is possible to
use a shell model just like a single-pass welding simulation.
Currently the shell-model lump-pass analysis procedure is being
further developed.

VFT Simulation Process Flow

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Copyright 2004 by ASME

The overall VFT simulation process flow is shown in Fig.


2. The first step, which is not mandatory, is to develop a solid
model of the part or structure that is to be welded. This could,
for instance, be a Pro/E solid model that is passed on from the
design department. By importing this solid model into a
meshing generation tool, such as 1-DEAS, FEMAP, or CUBIT,
a finite element model can be developed. Note that CUBIT was
specially developed for weld simulation by Sandia National
Laboratory and Caterpillar. The next step is to transform the
finite element model into the VFT-GUI to define weld
parameters, weld passes, and welding sequences. The output
from the VFT-GUI is a thermal input file. Three alternative
methods of thermal analysis are shown in Fig. 1. Choosing the
most appropriate method is based on the user's analysis
intension and structure size or weld length.
After the thermal analysis is performed, the temperature
versus time histories are then written to a file in a format that
can be automatically read by UMAT-WELD and related weld
utility subroutines along with ABAQUS. It is important to note
that the temperature file size is automatically controlled by
CTSP since temperatures only need to be calculated near the
current and prior weld locations. These specially written utility
routines automate the weld modeling process and account for
many features of weld modeling such as melting/re-melting,
history annihilation, etc., which are not properly accounted for
in commercial FE packages. The simulation results are
outputted as residual stress and distortion.

~--I

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Fig. 4 Temperature Distribution on 3D Solid Model

Fig. 5 Shell Model Generation and Boundary Conditions

vojy7 2
2

Welding Test Specimen


Fig. 3 shows the experimental setup. A plate with
dimensions 10" long and 12" wide sits on three points (two rest
pins and one roller bearing). Robotic MIG welding was used to
create the bead-on-plate with the weld placed along the middle
of the plate as shown. The Plate was made of low carbon steel
with a thickness of 3turn. The welding parameters used were a
current of 261 amps, a voltage of 22.4 volts, and a travel speed
of 16.93 mm/s. Displacement monitoring sensors (10 LVDTs)
were set up on the plate to measure out-of-plate and in-plane
distortions. Ten sets of experiments were conducted under
similar conditions and welding-induced distortions measured in
each case

Thickness = 3ram

Fig. 3 Baseline Bead-On-Plate Coupon


THIN PLATE BEAD-ON-PLATE ANALYSIS
A bead-on-plate specimen was designed for developing
shell modeling procedures for thin structures.
In order to
validate these results, a 3D solid model analysis, which is
known to produce accurate results, was carried out.

101

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Thermal flow analysis


The thermal solutions were performed using the rapid
thermal solution code [22]. In order to validate the temperature
predictions, four thermocouples were mounted on the top of the
plate to record the temperature history. Fig. 6 shows the
temperature comparison between the experiment and the 3D
shell-model prediction, which shows that the thermal history
was accurately predicted.

Thermocouples on top surface


x
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10.0
13.5
23.5

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Fig. 6 Temperature Comparison


between Experiment and Prediction
Finite Element Model
Fig. 4b shows the weld cross section of the test specimen.
Fig. 4a and Fig. 4c show the predicted temperature distribution.
Due to the symmetry of structure, half of the plate was used to
generate the finite element model. The 6" long weld is located
in the middle of the plate with a very fine mesh.
A 3D shell model was generated to simulate the welding
distortion with the consideration of weld bead thickness as
shown in Fig. 5. In the shell model, the plate thickness is 3ram
and the thickness of bead position is 5.2 mm which is more than
70% larger than that of the plate thickness. The boundary
conditions were used to simulate the constrain conditions.

Copyright 2004 by ASME

Fig. 7 Overall Distortion Shape


of 3D Shell and Solid Model
Thermomechanical analysis
The mechanical analyses were conducted using ABAQUS
with a material subroutine [13]. The predicted temperature
history was read into ABAQUS with a specially developed datainterface subroutine. Fig. 7 shows the distortion comparison
between the 3D shell model and the 3D solid model. Similar
distortion shapes were predicted by the 3D solid mode and the
shell model. Fig. 8 shows the distortion-history comparison
between the prediction and experiment at LVDT 22-30. The
LVDT locations are shown in Fig. 3. Both out-of-plane
distortion (Figures 8a, 8b, and 8c) and in-plane distortion
(Figures 8d, 8e, and 8f) were reasonably predicted by both the
3D solid model and 3D shell model. Note that each figure in
Fig. 8 contains 10 sets of welding experiment. There are large
variations in the experimental results, especially in Fig. 8b and
Fig. 8c. This is because each plate is different and has an initial
imperfection. The initial imperfection has a significant impact

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1.50

0.10

1.00

0.08

0.50

Experiment 1-10
3D Shell Model
3D Solid Model

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, . has been,discussed in detail in Ref. 11.
Fig. 8 Distortion comparisons oetween preaicuon a n a experiment

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Note that the analysis of the 3D shell model took much less
CPU time than that of the 3D solid model and the 3D shell
model was much easier to create. For a large and complex
structure, this work suggests that it will be beneficial to choose
a 3D shell model for predicting welding-induced distortions.

Effect of Heat Input on Distortion


The amount of heat input can have a large effect on the
distortion for thin structures. Based on the American Welding
Society (AWS) welding handbook, arc efficiency is 66% to
85% for both shield metal arc welding (SMAW) and gas metal
arc welding (GMAW). FCAW is a process between SMAW and
GMAW. Therefore, the arc efficiency for FCAW should also be
between 66% and 85%. The arc efficiency is defined as the
ratio of the energy actually transferred into the workpiece to the
energy generated by the power source. Since we usually don't
include the slag formed from the flux in the weld model, we
need to subtract the energy to melt the flux from the energy
transferred into the workpiece. Assuming 10% of arc efficiency
is used to melt the flux, the FCAW arc efficiency used for weld
modeling input should be 56% to 75%.

1500C

32

(a) Heat input = 45% IU

by tack welding or upstream processes. The flux core arc


welding process (FCAW) was used to weld the butt joint.

(b) Heat input = 60% IU

Unit: mrn

(C) Heat input = 75% IU

II
(d) A Weld Cross Section

Fig. 9 Heat Input Effect on Temperature Distribution

"

Magnification = 10
UY=0

I (a) Heat input __450/0


" i~ " ~~' ~
Fig. 11 Tack weld Configuration

(b) Heat input = 60% IU

Fig. 9 and Fig. 10 show the effect of heat input on


temperature distribution locally and globally. Three kinds of
heat input were obtained by adjusting the arc efficiency of
FCAW. When the arc efficiency is 45%, the weld profile is
under predicted compared with the weld profiles as shown in
Fig. 9d. When the arc efficiency is 75%, the weld profile is over
predicted. The weld profile is most closely predicted using an
arc efficiency of 60%. Fig. 10 shows the effect of the amount of
heat input on the final distortion. As can be seen in the figure,
using arc efficiencies of 45% and 75% result in opposite
directions of the distortion. Therefore, the correct heat input is
very important for a thin structure. For a thick structure, the
heat input will affect the magnitude of the final distortion
without changing the distortion trend.

(c) Heat input = 75% IU

Fig. 10 Heat Input Effect on Welding-Induced Deformation


T H I N PLATE B U T T J O I N T A N A L Y S I S
The modeling procedures for thin plate butt joints are
similar to those for bead-on-plate except that VFT users may
need to map the initial plate displacements onto the weld model
before welding analysis. This pre-deformation can be induced

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A thermo-elastic-plastic-based buckling analysis procedure


has been well developed as described in Refs. 1, 11 and 23.
Three steps are included in this procedure: weld residual stress
analysis, buckling analysis including weld residual stress, and
buckling distortion prediction including identified buckling
mode or the pre-deformed shape on the structure. More details
of the buckling analysis procedures will appear soon.

Pre-Deformed Shape Mapping Procedures


Fig. 11 shows the tack weld locations in a test specimen.
Two plates with dimensions, 450 turn long, 900 mm wide, and 5
mm thick, were tacked together from the back side with FCAW.
After tack welding, the specimen was significantly distorted as
shown in Fig. 12a due to low rigidity of the structure. The tackweld induced distortions were measured with a special device,
and then mapped to the weld model with using a VFT mapping
code. Fig. 12b shows the mapped pre-deformed distortion
shape. (In Fig 12a - legend needs ram)

Fig. 13 Deformation after Welding

~hape
Fig. 12 Mapping Pre-deformation to the Weld Model
It should be pointed out that tack-weld induced distortions
can be predicted using VFT. This way, users don't need to map
the pre-deformed shape to the weld model. The disadvantage is
that the distortion before tack welding, i.e. the initial plate
shape, may also need to be included in the weld model.
A pre-deformed shape can have a great impact on the
resistance of the structure to buckling distortion. It reduces the
buckling strength of the structure. If buckling happens, the predeformed shape will determine the distortion direction.
Therefore, if the simulation does not include the predeformation, the predicted distortions could be in the opposite
direction to the actual distortions. As such the predicted
distortion magnitude could be smaller than the experimental
results.

Fig. 14 Predicted Deformation Induced by Welding Only


Fig. 13 shows a final-distortion comparison between
experiment and prediction. The distortion in the weld area
increases from 2.5 mm to 7ram. The overall distortion shape (W
shape) is similar to the pre-deformed shape as shown in Fig. 12.

105

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panels to investigate distortion mitigation methods. Therefore,


both U. S. shipyards and European shipyards are keen to
identify distortion-prediction software to assist in the building
of thin ship panels. Currently, VFT has been evaluated in both
U. S. shipyards and European shipyards for this purpose.
To demonstrate the effectiveness of VFT in predicting the
distortion of thin ship panels, a simple T-stiffener model was
designed as shown in Fig. 15. Note that the dimensions:
2286x127x6.35mm is arbitrary and not based on any ship
designs. The double-sided fillets shown in Fig. 15 were created
by considering the penetration of GMAW processes. The tack
welds, 1 inch long per 10 inch skip pattern, were simulated. The
material is DH36, which is a commonly used material in ship
construction.
By performing the thermal and structural analyses as
described in the above bead-on-plate example, the longitudinal
stress distribution and distortions were predicted as shown in
Fig. 16. The residual stress predictions are reasonable based on
past experience. Because the neutral axis of the structure is near
the horizontal plate, the structure bends up in the middle
section. It should be pointed out that the heat input and weld
size were estimated based on current welding experience.
Therefore, the predictions cannot be directly compared with any
measurements.
This example demonstrates that VFT can be used to predict
residual stress and distortion of a simple T stiffener. Since the
ship panels are built by many T stiffeners, VFT should be able
to simulate the welding process for entire panels. Computer
simulation run times are relatively low as VFF was designed for
high-speed welding simulations.

A good agreement was achieved between the prediction and the


experiment.
Fig. 14 shows the predicted deformation induced by
welding only. The predicted distortion shape looks like a V,
which is different with the experimental results as shown in Fig.
13a. The actual specimen became a W shape after welding.
Therefore, it is important to include the pre-deformation in the
weld model for predicting distortion accurately.

Boundary conditions:
Corner 1 & 2: x=y=z=O
Corner 3: x=y=O
rner 4: y=O

.,.~!;i
Corner 1

.
Corner 4
TY

z
x
Dimensions: 2286x127x6.35

Materials: DH-36
Welding process: MIG,
Weld: double-side 6.35 fillet
Fig. 15 A double T-fillet Model

.L

Fig. 16 Longitudinal Residual Stress and Deformation

SUMMARY
This paper has reviewed the overall modeling procedures
available in VFT weld simulation software. The moving arc
modeling procedure was used to analyze the welding of a beadon-plate specimen, a butt-joint, and a Tee stiffener. Predeformation before welding, heat input, and weld size greatly
contribute to buckling distortions. It is therefore suggested that,
they should be included in any simulation exercise to accurately
predict welding-induced distortions, particularly of thin
structures. The T-stiffener analysis shows that VFT software is
suitable for predicting distortion of large ship panels. More
results will be published in the near future.

THIN PLATE TEE JOINT ANALYSIS


Thin ship panels have been increasingly used in both U. S.
shipyards and European shipyards. T-stiffeners are a main
component in the ship panels to increase the panel stiffness.
Due to the low-rigidity nature of thin structures, large
distortions have been observed and viewed as a major obstacle
in the fabrication of thin ship panels. Many factors contribute to
the thin-panel distortions such as welding heat input, weld sizes,
and the pre-deformations due to material handling as well as
operations before welding. It is too costly to build many test

REFERENCES
1. Huang, T.D., Dong, P., DeCan, L., and Harwig, D.,
"Residual Stress and Distortions in Lightweight Ship Panel
Structures,"
TRW
Technical Review
Journal,
Spring/Summer, 2003.
. Masubuchi, K., "Prediction and control of residual stress
and distortion in welded structures," Welding Research
Abroad, 1997, 43, June-July, 1997, pp. 2-16.
3. Goldak, J., "Progress and Pacing Trends In Computational
Weld
Mechanics,"
Proceedings of International
Conference on Computer Engineering and Science, 1998.

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4.

Ueda, . and Yuan, M. Ct, "Prediction of residual stress in


butt welded plates using inherent strains", Journal of
Engineering Materials and Technology, 1993, 115, pp.
417-423.
5. Tsai, C. L., Cheng, W. T., and Lee, T., "Modeling Strategy
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The authors would like to acknowledge Tower Automotive
for supporting this study. Adam Fisher, Robert Broman and Raj
Thakkar participated in the experimental work of the bead-onplate welding test. BAE Systems Naval Ships and the
University of Newcastle provided the measurement results of
the butt joint welding test. TWI coordinated the study of the
butt joint.

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