High Temperature Cracking in the Weld Heat Affected Zone of High Strength Ferritic Steels

  • R.H. Phillips

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


A study has been made of the effects of steel composition and
welding parameters on hot cracking in the heat affected zone of high
strength ferritic steels. In addition, the hot ductility test has been
studied to determine whether it is capable of distinguishing unambiguously
between crack sensitive and crack resistant steels. This has
involved parallel weld cracking and hot ductility tests on low alloy
steels to specifications SAE 4130, EN 24 and ASTM A387B.

Both composition and welding parameters were shown to have a
marked influence on cracking severity. Consideration of composition
confirmed the detrimental effects of carbon, sulphur and phosphorus.
High levels (>0.030% wt) of either sulphur or phosphorus could cause
Significant. cracking; phosphorus being the more detrimental. For a constant steel composition, cracking was found to increase with i)
Increasing Heat Input/unit length; (ii) Increasing depth of finger
penetration; (iii) Application of external restraint; (iv) Increasing
distance along the weld bead.

Metallographic and fractographic examination of welded specimens
has shown that cracking occurs only within a discrete zone in the high
temperature region of the H.A.Z., and is associated with the modification
of MnS type inclusions. Furthermore, in the high sulphur steels, this
crack susceptible zone is brittle at ambient temperatures due to
extensive sulphide films at the grain boundaries.

It was found that the H.A.Z. hot cracking severity of a steel could
be related quantitatively to the zero ductility range, measured during
the cooling portion of a simulated weld thermal cycle, providing the
peak temperature was equivalent to the nil-strength temperature or above.
The greatest sensitivity was achieved with a peak temperature of 12°C
below the bulk melting temperature.
Date of Award1973
Original languageEnglish


  • high temperature cracking
  • weld heat affected zone
  • high strength
  • ferritic steels

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