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In places where manual welding is ex-

tensively used, such as boilermaking and


plateworking shops, and for piping and
structural steel prefabrication and job
sites, it is common to cut a finished weld,
then reweld it. Two reasons for doing this
are to correct the position of a piece and
to repair flaws detected during nonde-
structive tests. It is also not uncommon
for cutting and rewelding to be done two
or more times. The cutting operation can
be done in several ways, such as with an
oxyacetylene or plasma arc torch, or air
carbon arc gouging. For low-carbon steel,
oxyacetylene cutting is the process most
commonly used.
During welding, the metallographic
structure of the heat-affected zone (HAZ)
undergoes changes, due mainly to the
temperature increase in this region and
to the carbon content of the base metal.
Therefore, the common opinion is that
repeated cutting and rewelding of the
same weld increases the metallographic
changes in the HAZ up to a point where
further cutting and rewelding is no longer
possible.
This situation has been, and still is, rea-
son for endless discussions between sup-
pliers (plateworking shops and contrac-
tors) and clients, with the former attempt-
ing to justify successive cutting and
rewelding and the latter trying to forbid
them from doing so.
As far as we know, this problem has
not yet been studied in depth, and there
is no unanimous opinion among welding
engineers as to how many times it is pos-
sible to cut and remake a weld without ru-
ining the structure and properties of the
base metal. Welding standards from the
AWS, ASME, API, AISC, and others are
silent on this matter, and the solution to
the problem is left up to the technicians
involved in the work. Of course, there are
rules of thumb used by welding profes-
sionals or that have been stated by large
corporations and engineering and con-
struction companies, but they are based
on empirical experience rather than ac-
tual research This is how we did it
once, we had no problems, and so we will
keep on doing it in the same way.
Before writing this article, the authors
did some research on the AWS Forum
(Ref. 1) . The result of the research was
that none of the Forum participants knew
of any experimental basis for the rules of
thumb used in these cases.
Hence, the authors decided to conduct
tests to establish what would be the maxi-
mum number of times a low-carbon steel
weld could be cut and rewelded. The
methodology, the procedure followed, the
results obtained, and the conclusions that
were reached are described in this article.
Methodology
Two low-carbon steel flat plates, with
known, laboratory-checked chemical and
mechanical properties, were welded to-
gether with the gas metal arc welding
(GMAW) process, with a wire compatible
with their chemical composition. The
bevels were hand made with an oxyacety-
lene torch and then cleaned with a grind-
ing disk. The welder was qualified in the
flat (1G) position, in accordance with the
requirements of Section IX of the ASME
Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code.
Oxyacetylene cutting was chosen be-
cause it is the method most frequently
used at workshops and job sites to cut car-
bon steel. The intention was to reproduce
as closely as possible the real conditions
existing in practice.
Specimens were taken after welding in
order to carry out the following tests, ac-
cording to widely accepted standards:
bending, ultimate tensile, impact, elonga-
tion, average grain size, and metallo-
graphic structure of the HAZ.
The following conditions would have
deserved special attention if one of them
had occurred:
The specimen did not pass the bend test.
The ultimate tensile strength of the
specimen was lower than what the ap-
plicable standard required for the base
metal.
The impact strength and elongation
were significantly lower than that of a
specimen with a single cut and weld.
The average grain size was significantly
bigger than that of a specimen with a
single cut and weld.
The metallographic structure of the
HAZ was not compatible with that of
the base metal in good conditions.
Test Conditions
Tested Metal. The tested metal was
3
8-
in.-thick, low-carbon steel plate. Labora-
tory analyses performed before the tests
showed the following properties:
25 WELDING JOURNAL
ANTONIO GONALVES de MELLO, JR., GIOVANNI S. CRISI (gscrisi@ mackenzie.br), and EVERALDO VITOR are professors at
Mackenzie Engineering School, So Paulo, Brazil. ROGERIO A. LOPES DA SILVA is chief technician of the Metallurgical Laboratory of
Mackenzie Engineering School.
Tests were conducted to determine how often a weld could be cut and rewelded
without making deleterious changes to the metallurgical structure of the HAZ
How Often Can Joints Be
Cut and Rewelded in
Low-Carbon Steel?
BY ANTONIO GONALVES de MELLO, JR.,
GIOVANNI S. CRISI, EVERALDO VITOR,
AND ROGERIO A. LOPES DA SILVA
1. Chemical composition: 0.122% car-
bon, 0.35% manganese, 0.013% silicon,
0.04% phosphorus, and 0.014% sulfur.
2. Mechanical properties: 285.9 MPa
yield point, 398 MPa ultimate tensile
strength, 40.2% total elongation on a 200-
mm-long specimen, 52% elongation at
both sides of the rupture.
These results classify the metal as
being ASTM A 283 GrB. This standard
does not require a given impact strength,
grain size, and metallographic structure;
however, these parameters were also
measured to compare them to those of the
metal resulting from repeated cutting and
rewelding. Therefore, the following meas-
urements were obtained:
3. Impact test: performed on two spec-
imens with a 30-kg hammer: 205 kJ/cm
2
.
The specimen did not break in either case.
4. Average grain size: 7
5. Metallographic structure: ferrite,
with small pearlite grains.
The micrograph of the base metal is
shown in Fig. 1.
Wire and Gas Used for Welding. The
wire used was ER 70S-6 (from AWS
A5.18, Specification for Carbon Steel Elec-
trodes and Rods for Gas Shielded Arc Weld-
ing) for direct current, which is recom-
mended for the welding of low-carbon
steel. The diameter was 1.2 mm. The
chemical composition was 0.060.15%
carbon, 1.41.85% manganese, 0.81.15%
silicon, maximum 0.025% phosphorus,
and maximum 0.035% sulfur.
The brand was a high quality one, widely
known in Brazil. The gas composition was
75% argon and 25% carbon dioxide.
Bevel Preparation. The bevel angle
was 60 deg, which we considered accept-
able for a
3
8-in.-thick groove weld. As ex-
plained previously, the bevel was cut with
an oxyacetylene torch and cleaned with a
grinding disk. As the cut was hand made,
even though done carefully, the 60-deg
angle was approximate.
Position of the weld. The weld was per-
formed in the flat (1G) position.
Preheating and postweld heat treat-
ment. No preheating nor postweld heat
treatment was conducted because they are
not required by Section VIII of the ASME
Code for low-carbon steel 38 in. thick. No
special precautions were taken for slow
cooling of the metal after welding. Brazil
is a tropical country and welds were never
made at a room temperature of less than
25C.
Standards followed for the tests.
Bend testing: ASME Section IX, para-
graph QW160 and subsequent. Accord-
ing to this standard, the test is approved
when the overall length of all the cracks
that may have appeared after bending is
not higher than 3.2 mm (
1
8 in.).
Ultimate tensile: ASME IX, paragraph
QW462 and subsequent.
Impact, with triangular notch: ABNT
NBR 281-1.2003. (ABNT is the Brazil-
ian Association of Technical Stan-
dards.)
Average grain size: ASTM E 112/04,
Comparison Procedure, Plate I.
Procedure
Six sections 200 mm wide 440 mm
long were used for the tests. To identify
them, a number from one to six was
stamped on a corner of each one. A first
bevel was made on all sections, as de-
scribed in a previous paragraph.
Next, Section No. 1 was welded. Once
the weld was concluded, the root was
gouged by means of a triangular file and
the resulting groove was filled
1
. The re-
sult was a metal section with one torch cut
and one weld, from which we took off the
specimens to be used for root and face
bending, ultimate tensile, elongation, and
root and face impact tests. The remaining
section was used to verify the average
grain size and the metallographic struc-
ture of the HAZ. The results are shown
in Table 1 and Fig. 2.
Again, on Section No. 2 the first weld
was applied and the root was gouged and
filled. The weld was cut and the bevel was
redone, always as described above. A new
weld was applied for the second time.
Once again, the root was removed and re-
filled. The resulting section had two torch
cuts and two welds, from which we ex-
tracted the specimens for the tests and
checking described above.
Then, the first weld was applied to sec-
tion No. 3 and the root was removed and
filled. The weld was cut and the bevel was
redone. A second weld was applied and the
root removed and filled. After a new cut
and rebeveling, the third weld was applied,
with the root once again removed and
filled. This resulted in a section with three
torch cuts and three welds, from which the
specimens for the tests were extracted.
This procedure was followed up to the
sixth specimen, which resulted in six cuts
and six welds.
Test Results
For a quick comparison, the tests re-
sults, including those of the base metal,
are shown Table 1. The micrographs are
shown in Fig. 2.
The metallographic structure is the
same in all the cases. Observed are the ex-
istence of clear ferrite grains and darker
grains where, on a ferrite matrix, the ex-
FEBRUARY 2012 26
Fig. 1 Micrograph of the base metal.
Table 1 Results of Tests on Welded Metal
Section No. UTS (MPa) Elongation (%) Bend Face Bend Root Impact Face (kJ) Impact Root (kJ) Average grain size
Base Metal 398 40.2 Not executed Not executed 205
(a)
Not executed 7
1 419 17.6
(b)
OK OK 112 106 7
2 417 15.3 OK OK 150 120 7
3 414 16.6 OK OK 107 170 6
4 415 16.5 OK OK 187 137 7
5 417 17.0 OK OK 114 115 9
6 422 17.0 OK OK 114 111 8
(a) This was the only impact test that was executed, because the base metal has neither face nor root.
(b) The elongation was measured between the farthest points of the specimen narrowing, before and after the tensile test, equal to 68 mm in all cases before the test.
27 WELDING JOURNAL
istence of cementite is seen. The shape of
the cementite is sometimes spots, some-
times small flakes, and in a few cases the
shape of small stains. These are neither
ferrite nor martensite, because the equiv-
alent carbon content is too small to pro-
duce martensite. The structure is the typ-
ical one of a heat-affected zone.
Interpretation of Results
The ultimate tensile strength shows an
increase of approximately 5% in compar-
ison to the base metal, beginning in Sec-
tion No. 1, and remains approximately
constant up to the last section.
The elongation shows a decrease to
less than half in comparison to the base
metal, beginning in section No. 1, and re-
mains approximately constant up to the
last specimen.
The impact strength shows a decrease
in comparison to the base metal. Not con-
sidering the face test of Section No. 2, the
root test of Section No. 3 and face and
root tests of Section No. 4, the average de-
crease of the other tests in comparison to
the base metal is approximately 40%.
The changes in these three parameters
are due to the fact the welds were not sub-
mitted to any postweld heat treatment.
Also, no precautions were taken for slow
cooling after the conclusion of welding.
Consequently, there was a decrease in
ductility in both the weld bead and the
HAZ. As stated previously, our intention
was to reproduce as closely as possible the
procedures followed in workshops and job
sites, where those precautions are not usu-
ally taken when a
3
8-in.-thick, low-carbon
steel weld has to be cut and redone, espe-
cially when the ambient temperature is
never below 25C, which happens not only
in tropical countries but also in the sum-
mertime in cold ones.
The face and root bend tests were sat-
isfactory in all cases, i.e., in some speci-
mens there were no cracks, and in the oth-
ers the overall crack length was less than
1
8 in., as specified in the ASME Code, Sec-
tion IX, paragraph QW163. No bend
tests were carried out on the original base
metal because that was not considered
necessary.
The average grain size of the heat-
affected zones were not significantly dif-
ferent from that of the base metal. This is
due to the fact the sizes were not meas-
ured in the region immediately next to the
weld bead, but in the fine-grain region of
the HAZ, and in any case, always within
the HAZ.
Conclusions
Our conclusion is that the main char-
acteristics that ensure the mechanical
strength and ductility of the weld bead and
the heat-affected zone, reported by the
ultimate tensile strength and bend tests,
remained unchanged after six cuts and
rewelds in the same region of the original
base metal. The elongation also remained
constant after the first cut and reweld.
The research demonstrated that the
cutting and subsequent welding operation
in the same region can be performed
safely at least six times on low-carbon
steel.
Further research may confirm the con-
clusions of this one, and may also show
the possibility that cutting and welding can
be executed more times, or also on other
materials, such as alloy and stainless
steels.N
Acknowledgments
The authors wish to thank PROAQT
Empreendimentos Tecnolgicos Ltd. and
VOITH Hydro Ltd., both of So Paulo,
for performing the metallographic analy-
ses mentioned in this article.
References
1. Multiple welding repairs in the
same area. Discussion on the AWS
Forum available at www.aws.org/cgi-
bin/mwf/topic_show.pl?tid=7304. Last ac-
cess was January 2, 2012.
Fig. 2 Micrographs of the HAZs of the successive welds made on the base metal.
1. In workshops and at job sites, gouging of
low-carbon steel is usually done by means
of air carbon arc. However, because the uni-
versitys weld lab does not have this equip-
ment, we used the file.
Specimen 1
Specimen 4 Specimen 5 Specimen 6
Specimen 2 Specimen 3