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As a result of differential contractions that occur during cooling after welding, high tensile residual stresses are formed in welded joints. These residual stresses can constitute major problems both during fabrication and once a structure enters service. During fabrication they can cause large distortions that can be a major obstacle to assembly and, most significantly, to maintaining tolerances in components which must be finish machined. In addition, residual stresses can produce cracking in weldments often necessitating major networking. Once a structure enters service residual stresses increses the risk of fracture, can contribute to the propagation of fatigue cracks, and increase the risk of stress corrosion cracking in susceptible combinations of material and environment. Thus, the presence of residual stresses has been cited as a contributory in many major industrial failures.
Graham Wylde, J
Manager, Edison Welding Institute, Columbus, Ohio