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Journal of Materials Processing Technology 143144 (2003) 410415

Corrosion and biaxial fatigue of welded structures

M.A. Wahab a, , M. Sakano b

Mechanical Engineering, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 708803, USA

b Civil Engineering, Kansai University, Suita-shi, Osaka, Japan

The aim of this research is to develop an experimental approach for corrosion fatigue behaviour of welded structures subjected to
simultaneous biaxial, rotating-bending and torsional loading, results of which could be used in railway bridges, ship, offshore structures,
ground vehicles etc. The experimental program developed here considers stress field information due to the variations of applied stress
conditions, surface treatments and corrosive environment using simulated heat-affected-zone (HAZ) and base materials. This is aimed at
providing a procedure for improved design of new welded structures subjected to biaxial loading. The experimental data have been collected
and compared with standard theoretical stresslife curves generated by earlier researchers (Juvinall, Shigley and Collins method).
Experimental data in dry and corrosive environment (3.5% NaCl solutions) for rotating-bendingtorsional thrust have been collected.
This initial investigation suggests that the effects of secondary thrust is more severe than the effects due to corrosive environment, as it
accelerates the initiation of the cracks; and consequently, the fatigue life reduces significantly. Design-engineers must consider reducing
the effects of secondary thrust and minimising the environmental effect to improve on crack initiation properties of the structures.
2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Biaxial and corrosion fatigue; Rotating-bending and torsional fatigue; Fatigue strength reduction; Air and corrosive environment

1. Introduction
General fatigue assessment only considers axial fatigue
loading but real structures are always subjected to multiaxial
loads. The procedure developed in this study was aimed at
providing an increased understanding of the failure mechanisms in biaxial loading. The problem of multiaxial fatigue
loading becomes more complex for welded structures under dynamic cyclic load. It has been found by several researchers that generally fatigue cracks originate either in the
heat-affected-zone (HAZ) or in the weld materials due to
fatigue loading and could be the potential source of catastrophic failures in some unfortunate situations. Even though
the applied load could be completely rotating-bending or
purely cyclic axial, there is always induced shear and principal stresses present on the structures and therefore, biaxial
loading invariably is being present in most real life loading
situations. However, most reported experimental work only
considers uniaxial loading, even though the effect of secondary loading could reduce the fatigue life of any structure
In addition to biaxial fatigue loading, it is well documented that corrosion environment and welding of structural
Corresponding author.
E-mail address: wahab@me.lsu.edu (M.A. Wahab).

grade steels further reduces the fatigue life of the structures.

Only limited studies are available at present which account
for combined biaxial rotating-bendingtorsional and corrosion effects on the welded structures [13]. This study is
being attempted to find some basic explanation on the effect
of secondary thrust on several structures, such as, steel railway bridge structures, ship and offshore structures subjected
to environmental fatigue loading conditions.
In this study, a biaxial rotatingbending and corrosion
fatigue machine has been designed and built to study the
effects of corrosion and in addition, a secondary loading
has been introduced by torsional loading mechanism. As the
HAZ in a welded structure is small and therefore, to generate essential data on the HAZ, experimental weld thermal
simulation has been carried out. The fatigue machine thus
accommodates specimen heat-treated in weld thermal simulator so that the fatigue properties of the HAZ of a weld
can be evaluated under biaxial corrosion fatigue conditions.

2. Biaxial and corrosion fatigue

2.1. Biaxial fatigue and corrosion fatigue
All real structures experience some form of service loading. Axial loading coincides in the centre of the specimen,

0924-0136/$ see front matter 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

M.A. Wahab, M. Sakano / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 143144 (2003) 410415


bending loads are applied transversely to the centre line and

torsional loads involve the application of a couple in the
plane perpendicular to this line. Axial and bending loads
give direct stresses while torsional loads give rise to shear
stresses. The bending loading induce two significant stresses,
they are tensile stress at the surface and shear stress at the
point of greatest stress difference. In most case however, the
shear stress can be ignored. The torsional loading induce two
significant stresses, which are shear and normal stresses.
Corrosion fatigue may be defined as the combined action
of an aggressive environment and cyclic stresses leading to
premature failure of metals by cracking. When the stresses
induced in the specimen cause damage to surface film, fresh
metal is exposed, the element is thus capable of being corroded. Corrosion fatigue thus can only occur when a component is subjected to cyclic stressing in a medium, which
is able to attack the material continuously.

lags. McDiarmid [8] found that the behaviour of ductile materials under reversals of combined bending and twisting fatigue stress can be predicted by a non-linear equation which
takes into account of fatigue limits under reversal bending
and torsional and applied normal and shear stresses.

2.2. Fatigue strength of welded components

According to Collins, to estimate the completely reversed

SN curve the ultimate tensile strength ( u ) of the testing
material be used. To construct the curve, simply draw a
straight line on log-linear co-ordinates between the ultimate
tensile strength at one cycle and half of the ultimate tensile
strength values at one million cycles and which is shown in
Fig. 1.
Shigley and Mishke, and Juvinall and Marshek suggested
that for the estimating of SN curve, the ultimate tensile
strength of the material be used which establishes a point at
one cycle, and another point at 1000 cycles and then draw
a straight line to a fatigue limit at a specified number of the
cycles N. The number of cycles experienced, N varies with
material in Juvinalls method, and N = 1 106 is used
for the Shigleys methods. A new factor m (ranging from
0.75 to 0.9) is being used for estimating SN curve. Also,
a combined reduction factor m, is taken into account and
multiplied by the ultimate tensile strength of the material
for a point at one million cycles which is shown in Fig. 1.
The range of reduction factors account for the effect of type
of loading, size, surface finish and any other effect that may
be involved, such as elevated temperature, corrosion effect
etc. This may be expressed as m = mt md ms mo , where mt

All methods of joining steel components welding remains

the most important one. In arc welding, local heat input melts
the base and filler metals, which resulting the formation
of the weld pool shape, weld imperfections and defects,
the initiation of hot and cold cracks in the molten zone,
the microstructure changes in the HAZ of the base metal
and produces post-weld residual stresses and distortion in
the whole structure; and these are connected mainly with
negative effects on strength [4].
Previous researchers have found that the maximum stress
had a larger influence in bending than in torsion. It is reported that the fatigue strength of ductile metals in torsion
was almost independent of the mean stress, with the fatigue
strength in torsion decreased slightly with increasing mean
stress. Findley [5] found that the addition of mean stress
(the stresses have to be in the same state) caused less than
10% decrease in fatigue strength for bending and torsion at
5 105 cycles. Hashin [6] and Sines and Ohgi [7] found
that the failure surfaces are generally curved and such a failure surface depends in general, on the mean and alternating
parts of all cyclic stress components and their mutual phase

3. Estimation of stresslife (SN ) curves

Three widely used design methods of SN curves are
due to Collins [9], Juvinall and Marshek [10], and Shigley
and Mischke [11]. These methods are involved using an estimated fatigue limit and one or two additional points at
shorter lives are illustrated in Fig. 1.
3.1. Theoretical estimates of SN curves by Collins, and
Juvinall and Shigley

Fig. 1. Estimating completely reversed SN curves for a smooth and notched members suggested by (a) Collins and (b) Juvinall and Shigley.


M.A. Wahab, M. Sakano / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 143144 (2003) 410415

is the load type factor, md the size factor, ms the surface

finish factor, mo the any other factor. The parameters of the
reduction factors are summarised by Juvinall and Shigley

4. Experimental program
4.1. Rotating-bending fatigue testing machine
In rotating-bending machine the region of the rotating
beam between the inboard bearings is subjected to a constant bending moment all along its length. The segment of
the machine with a corrosion chamber is shown in Fig. 2.
While under the influence of constant moment, the specimen rotates with the drive spindles about its longitudinal
axis. Any point on the surface is subjected to a completely
reversed stress time pattern. The machine is designed to shut
down automatically when the specimen fractured and the
shaft connected to the drive motor drops and activate the
4.2. Experimental corrosion system
A 4 A, 12 V DC Shurflo Diaphragm Pump capable of
circulating 10.6 l of corrosive fluid per minute at 310 kPa is
attached on an accumulator and produces a mist through the
top of the chamber and onto the rotating specimen.
The corrosion chamber was designed as a removable attachment for the rotating-bending machine (Fig. 2). The
3.5% of sodium chloride (NaCl) solution are stored in a tank
for continuous supply during the experiment.
4.3. Weld thermal simulation

Fig. 3. Weld thermal simulator.

written program code operates the weld thermal simulator

corresponds to the HAZ profile that requires achieving.
A component of the weld thermal simulator machine is
shown in Fig. 3. The simulator uses resistance heating
to add heat to the test specimen. The temperature of the
specimen is controlled by a micro-controller, which acquires information from two infrared sensors. The welding transformer in the simulator is capable of delivering
up to 20,000 A at 3 V. The current input is controlled
by a controller, which receives information from the two
heat sensors and accordingly, controls the temperature to
the specimen. A compressed system that consists of jets
and flowing water are used to provide the cooling as required.
4.4. Design of secondary loading (brake) mechanism

The weld thermal simulator is used to generate a HAZ

over the entire test area of a specimen since actual HAZ
of welds are very small and would be difficult to produce
standard test specimens. In the weld thermal simulator the
test specimen undergoes similar welding conditions. The

The braking mechanism was designed to apply secondary

(torsional) loading (Fig. 4.) The brake was used as a removable attachment for the rotating-bending machine to
provide the torsional loading. Frictional force was created
when the shoes of the brake came in contact with the rotating shaft. The frictional force (braking force) thus provides
a small counter force for the motor, creating the torsional

Fig. 2. Corrosion chamber.

Fig. 4. The braking mechanism.

M.A. Wahab, M. Sakano / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 143144 (2003) 410415

Fig. 5. Weld thermal profile.

4.5. Test specimen and material properties

The general geometry of the test specimen was compliant
with the ASTM: E466-82, which describes the standardised
procedures in carrying out the fatigue tests. The material


used in this investigation is mild steel (C1020) and has the

following elemental composition (percentages by weight):
C (0.23%), Mn (0.6%), P (0.04%), S (0.05%) and others
(0.08%). The mechanical properties of the C1020 mild steel
are the ultimate tensile strength 520 MPa, yield strength
275 MPa, modulus of elasticity 198 GPa.
To get the required thermal profile, the original thermal
profile was plotted and tested on specimens. From Fig. 5, it
can be seen that the obtained thermal profile has the similar
outline as the required original profile. However, the profile obtained did not match the original profile. This may be
due to the relatively long time taken by the thermal simulator to heat up the specimens to the desired temperature.
The result is the lagging of the profile achieved, which is
3 s effectively. The maximum temperature achieved by the
thermal simulator is 984 C compared to the desired one of
1000 C. The difference is only 16 C. The temperature difference could be due to the cooler surface temperature of
the specimens. Microstructures of the tested specimens were
then obtained (Fig. 6a) and compared with the microstructure required (Fig. 6b) and the microstructures obtained are
found to be very similar to the required microstructures.

Fig. 6. (a) Obtained microstructures 200 and (b) required microstructures 500.

Fig. 7. SN curves for four experiments (semi-log scale).


M.A. Wahab, M. Sakano / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 143144 (2003) 410415

At a stress level of just 40 MPa lower, the biaxial fatigue life

drops 70.11% from bending fatigue life. An approximately
16.48% more drop can occur in fatigue life for biaxial fatigue
from rotating-bending fatigue.

5. Experimental results
5.1. Discussions of results
Four different types of experiments have been conducted
and these are summarised in the SN curves which is shown
in Figs. 79. Under medium stresses (360 MPa), the fatigue life for a specimen subjected to bending load alone is
marginally higher than the fatigue life for a specimen subjected to biaxial and corrosion fatigue. At a lower stress level
(320 MPa), the bending fatigue life is much higher than the
biaxial and biaxial corrosion fatigue lives. Specimens that
did not fail at 10 million revolutions were stopped and it
was assumed that the specimens were run-out.
It was noted that the biaxial fatigue life drops 53.63% from
the rotating-bending fatigue life at a stress level of 360 MPa.

5.2. Comparisons of experimental and theoretical results

To confirm the validity of experimental data, a comparison
between the theoretical (Collinss method, and Juvinall and
Shigleys method) and experimental results using simulated
and non-simulated specimens were analysed.
Fig. 8 shows the comparison of experimental results with
Juvinall and Shigleys curve for biaxial fatigue and biaxial
corrosion fatigue lines of best fit. Fig. 9 shows the comparison of results with Collins method for non-weld simulated
test specimen, which underwent the biaxial fatigue and weld

Fig. 8. Estimating SN curves for C1020 mild steel using procedure by Juvinall and Shigley.

Fig. 9. Stresslife (SN) curves for C1020 mild steel using procedure by Collins.

M.A. Wahab, M. Sakano / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 143144 (2003) 410415


Fig. 10. Estimating SN curves for heat-treated C1020 mild steel using procedure by Collins, and Juvinall and Shigley.

simulated-biaxial corrosion fatigue test. For each lines of

best fit, the linear equations are obtained.
It can be seen that the percentage error of the experimental
results with the Collins results is quite far off when compared with the Juvinall and Shigley results. The percentage
error for Junivall and Shigleys results is small and that is
because the combined reduction factors have been included
in Juvinall and Shigleys method. The percentage error for
the biaxial corrosion fatigue results is large for both theoretical results.
There is about 19% change from biaxial fatigue to biaxial
and corrosion fatigue which could be attributed to corrosion
factor which does not included for both theoretical methods.
For weld simulated specimen, which underwent the biaxial and corrosion fatigue test. Fig. 10 compares the Collins,
and Juvinall and Shigleys curves with the experimental best fit curve. Experimental results show that even a
small-applied secondary torsional loading with an effective
applied period of 1 s for every 4555 s reduces the life of
the structure quite drastically.

6. Conclusions
From experimental results, it can be concluded that a secondary thrust reduces the fatigue life of a structure drastically. From the results shown, the fatigue life for a specimen
under biaxial loading failed at much lower life compared
to a specimen that subjected to bending loading. Moreover,
corrosive environment further reduces the life but not as
drastically as compared to biaxial loading does to bending
fatigue. It is thus can be concluded that biaxial is an important and serious reduction factor for steel structures, more
severe than corrosion.

Authors acknowledge with great appreciation the contribution made in the experimental program by their research
students Ben Abraham, Marc Gardner, Lee K. Onn and Soo
Y. Haw. Contributions made by Mr. I. Brown during the
design stage of the experimental research program are acknowledged with gratitude.
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