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-Chapter 4-

Behaviour of butt-welded joints with embedded defect

under plastic cyclic loading

Welding may include any kinds of defects and it is very difficult and uneconomic to eliminate

or remove all sizes of welding defects. On the other hand, welded joints themselves have

mechanical and geometrical heterogeneity with discontinuities of material, mechanical

properties, shape and so on. In case of transverse butt-welded joints in ordinary

over-matching conditions, the presence of weldment will not influence to low cycle fatigue

strength, since plastic deformation mainly occurs in the base metals [1]. However, the

presence of welding defect is another factor for cyclic loading capacities. In this chapter, the

influence of welding defect in the ordinary over-matching joints were studied as the

fundamental study for the combined influences of presence of welding defects and strength

matching conditions.

When welding joints include significant defects, the defects become origins of fatigue

cracks under plastic cyclic strain, even in over-matching joints. A series of experimental

work was carried out on the same type of butt-welded joint specimens in this chapter to

clarify welding defect in weld metal on high cycle fatigue life [2]. It was reported that the

fatigue behaviour differs under elastic strain repetitions since geometrical heterogeneity is the

governing factor. Joints could work well even with certain size of welding defects in their

study, however, the permissible size was found for each type of defects in the view of fatigue

design curve by JSSC, in which C-class adopted with the safety margin for D-class joints. It

was found that there was less influence by volumetric defects than planner defects and further,

the larger stress range gave the more failure by welding toes.

On the other hand, there is one previous study available about acceptable size of welding

defects for low cycle fatigue of the ordinary over-matching joints. Butt-welded specimens

of JIS SM570Q steel containing one of four kinds of welding defects, which were incomplete

penetration, blowholes, lack of fusion and crack, were tested in conditions that strain

amplitude was 0.5-1.5 % and strain ratio was R=-1 [3], [4]. It was suggested that one third

of plate thickness for defect height and a plate thickness for defect length might be the

acceptable size of welding defects for the criterion that crack from defects did not penetrate

through the thickness after 50 cycles of a= 0.5 %. However, there are not enough studies

about fundamental behaviour of butt-welded joints with embedded defect under plastic cyclic

strain, with discussing the differences of behaviour under elastic cyclic strain.

In order to evaluate the behaviour of ordinary over-matching welded joints with

embedded defects under plastic cyclic strain, a series of cyclic loading tests were carried out

for the specimens with one of the five types of welding defects in this chapter.


4.2.1. Specimen

Specimens are made of JIS SM490A steel plate with thickness of 25 mm. Two plates were

butt-welded with single-V-groove by applying CO2 gas shield welding process. DW-Z100

electrode with diameter of 1.2 mm, which is common electrode for over-matching welding,

was used as weld metal. Mechanical properties and chemical compositions of base plate and

weld metal are given in Table 4.1.

A pair of wide plates was welded with containing intentionally one of the five types of

welding defects, which are slag-inclusion (naming SI), blowhole (BH), crack (CR),

incomplete-penetration (IP) and lack-of-fusion (LF). Table 4.2 summaries typical locations,

phenomenon and caused of these defects, and further, the ways to install defects in our

experiments. Size and locations of these effects were measured by two kinds of

non-destructive tests, X-ray scan (radiographic test, RT) and manual ultrasonic test (MUT).

Detected sizes by both methods are listed in Table 4.3 with the results of plastic cyclic

loading tests.

Specimens were cut out from wide welded plate to have defects in the centre of the

specimen with reference of X-ray scan. Rib plates were welded additionally to as-weld

specimens as shown in Fig. 4.1 only for weld length of 40 mm at the far end of the rib plates

with width of 135 mm to avoid plastic buckling during cyclic loading. Also, edges of

specimen were ground to remove scratches that can be the origins of fatigue cracks.

Stress-strain relations of materials were also tested by cut-out round bar specimens in Fig.

4.1 (b). The material specimens were cut-out from the same type joint specimens to have its

parallel parts in the tested position, at the centre of the weld metal or at base metal. Fig. 4.2

shows stress-strain curves of base metal and weld metal, indicating combination of materials

of over-matching joints clearly.

4.2.2. Loading conditions

Cyclic loading tests were carried out by controlling displacement on fatigue test machine

(load capacity: 1000 kN) with monitoring strain over gauge length of 100 mm at the centre of

the specimen as explained in Fig. 4.3.

For all specimens, strain was given with max=0.96 % and min=0.16 %, which led

maximum strain range of 0.8 % while avoiding in-plane and out-of-plane buckling during the

cyclic loading tests. Strain rate was controlled to be 0.1 %/sec. The loading was continued

until the response of the specimen became unstable with huge displacement and number of

cycles at this unstable stop was defined as Nf: number of cycles to failure, whereat more than

90 % of the cross section was failed.


4.3.1 Results of the cyclic loading tests

Test results are given in Table 4.3 by Nf: number of cycles to failure and location of crack

initiation. Among 17 specimens, seven specimens failed from weld toes and four specimens

failed from welding defect as listed in the table. Other specimens were failed in mixed

modes of weld toes, welding defects, and fretting of the rib plates. In case of high cycle

fatigue, the higher stress range led the more failures from weld toes [5].

For four specimens, which failed from embedded defects, defect sizes were measured

from their failure surfaces as shown in Fig. 4.4. From these failure surfaces, we can see

upper two had defects almost on the surfaces and lower two had inside of the welds. All

results which failed from weld toe or embedded defects were plotted in Fig. 4.5 by types of

embedded defects. In the figure, we can see large group of plots at over 1000 cycles and

only one plot in the lower Nf. Three of four specimens failed from embedded defects were

included in the large group and their cyclic loading capacities are not less than the specimens

failed from weld toes. One specimen which have very low cyclic loading capacities is CR-6,

however, it appeared to have surface defect from the failure surface in Fig. 4.4. Therefore,

this result could be eliminated for discussing the criticality of the embedded defect.

From these discussions, embedded defects in this series of the over-matching specimens

had very small influences on cyclic loading capacities of butt-welded joints.

4.3.2 Strain distributions of the joint

Since most of the specimens failed from weld toe, strain changes of SI-21 specimen prior to

and during cyclic loading test were measured in order to obtain how each position of the joint

behaved. Five strain gauges were mounted in a line on each position, right and left sides of

front surface and bottom surface sides as shown in Fig. 4.6, adding up to 20 strain gauges.

Nominal strain over the gauge length of 100 mm, same as above cyclic loading tests, were

controlled by small steps two cycles up to 1.0% and down to 0% prior to the cyclic loading

test. Also, at 49th, 160th and 350th cycles of 0.96 % in nominal strain were observed for each

strain gauge during the cyclic loading test.

Strain records at each position are shown in Fig. 4.7 by strain steps. Nominal strain,

which was measured by PI-gauge over gauge length of 100 mm, is also shown together by

thick blue lines. Strain change of all strain gauges could follow nominal strain only first

steps up to 0.1%, i.e. in elastic range. On the front surface side, see Fig.4.7 (a) and (b), both

records of right and left sides are very similar, which have high strain in the base metal (FX-1

or FX-5, where X stands for Right or Left) and low and negative strain in the weld metal and

the vicinity of it. On the bottom surface side (see Fig. 4.7 (c) and (d)), strain distribution is

more scattered, but generally same tendency as that on the front surface side is observed.

From these results, it could be said that welding deposit is not symmetric against the centre of

the joint specimen.

In addition, strain amplitude of base metal is more than twice of that of welding deposit

for all positions. This result also supports that embedded defects in the weld metal might not

have significant influences.

Strain changes during the cyclic loading tests are illustrated in Fig. 4.8. They are strain

records at 0.96 % of 49th, 160th and 350th. It is obvious from the figure that stains in weld

metal (XX-3) do not change much over cyclic loadings, while strain in base metal (XX-1 or

XX-5) are getting slightly larger, leading still higher strain distributions in the base metal.

From this measurement of strains, it is clear that higher strain in base metal due to

over-matching conditions had relaxed the influence of welding defect in the weld metal with

lower strain and the geometrical heterogeneity by weld toes became the governing origin of

the failures.


4.4.1 Procedure of the finite element method analysis

Elasto-plastic finite element method (FEM) analysis was carried out on the specimen model

in order to observe the strain distribution of the joint specimens.

Conditions for the FEM analysis are summarised in Table 4.4, and stress-strain relations

by the cut-out round bar specimens in Fig. 4.2 were used for material properties. Fig. 4. 9

shows the model for the FEM analysis, which is a half part of the parallel part of the specimen.

With fixing the right end of the model in symmetric conditions, deformation was given on the

left end in x-direction by small steps same as observation of strain change in the previous

section. Strain distribution of the model and strain in an element of each indicated point in

Fig. 4.9 is observed. They are corresponding to the locations of strain gauges in strain

change measurements and these analytical results were compared with the experimental


4.4.2 Analytical strain distributions of the specimen model and comparison with

experimental results

Strain distribution in x-direction at 1 mm displacement, nominal strain over parallel part is

1.18 %, is shown in Fig. 4.10 by focusing upper and lower weld toes. We can see higher

strain in base metal and that most parts of weld metal are still in elastic. The maximum

strain is observed at the lower weld toe as 2.21 %. The upper weld toe also has strain

concentration with 1.77 %. Moreover, lower strain for closer surface at the weld metal is

also indicating that embedded defects in the centre of thickness may have higher influences

than embedded defects close to the surface.

Further, strain of each position is compared by the function of nominal strain in Fig. 4.11,

in which experimental data shown together. They are the average of symmetric positions;

for instance, F-3 is the average of FL-3 and FR-3 and F-1 is the average of FL-1, FL-5, FR-1

and FR-5. Although, the strain change from FEM analysis is more linear than that from

experiment, they are in good agreement. Especially front surface side obtained good

relativity between both data. On bottom surface side, B-2 (FEM) differs from B-2 (Exp.)

completely. This is caused by that B-2 (FEM) is completely in the base metal, but B-2

(Exp.) may be in the weld metal.

By this FEM analysis, higher strain in base metal and strain concentrations at weld toes

were confirmed for the ordinary over-matching joint model. It can be said that

over-matching condition and other origins of strain concentrations in the weld toes weaken

the influence of embedded defects.


Plastic cyclic loading tests were carried out for butt-welded specimens with ordinary

over-matching conditions containing five types of welding defects. The results can be

summarised as follows:

1. Welding defects in the weld metal with length of 4 to 25 mm by RT in over-matching

condition do not have significant influences on cyclic loading capacities.

2. Plastic deformation mainly occurred in the base metal due to difference of strength of base

metal and weld metal

3. Strain distributions between the weld metal and the base metal did not change over the

cycles and strains in the base metal kept higher values.

4. Strain concentrations in the weld toes and higher strain distributions in the base metal

were reproduced by the elasto-plastic FEM analysis.

5. Influence of welding defects should be studied further with larger embedded defects.


1. Fatigue Handbook-offshore steel structures-: Tapir, pp. 214-215, 1985

2. C. Miki, F. Fahimuddinn and K. Anami; Fatigue Performance of Butt-welded Joint

Containing Various Embedded Defects, Structural Eng. / Earthquake Eng., JSCE, Vol. 18,

No. 1, pp. 13s-25s, Jan. 2001

3. A. Seto and S. Machida; Study of Acceptable Size of Defects in the Welds of Gas

Pipelines, Non-destructive Inspection, Vol. 47, No.1, pp. 8-12, Jan. 1998

4. Y. Kayamori et al.: Influence of Plate Thickness on Very Low Cycle Fatigue Properties of

Butt Welded Joints Containing Weld Defects Study on Acceptable Size of Defects in

Girth Weld of Gas Pipelines (2nd Report)-, Journal of Japan Welding Society, Vol. 19, No.

4, pp. 709-716, 2001

5. F. Fahimuddin: Fatigue Performance of Butt Welded Joints containing Various Types of

Defect, Doctoral thesis, Tokyo Institute of Technology, 2001

6. ABAQUS Users manual version 5.8

Table 4.1 Mechanical properties of materials.

Mechanical properties Chemical Composition [Wt%]

Material C Si Mn P S Cu
[MPa] [MPa] [%] [J]

343 532 33 191 0.17 0.44 1.44 0.013 0.006
(Base Metal)

497 567 28 153 0.03 0.52 1.50 0.013 0.008 0.01
(Weld Metal)

Y : Yield strength

U : Tensile strength

U : Elongation

VE0 : Charpy absorbed energy at 0

Table 4.2 Types of welding defects.
Welding defect
Location Phenomena/Cause
(Typical shape)
SI Btw layers The oxides and other non-metallic solids entrapped
Slag Inclusion in welds
(Volumetric) Caused by failure to remove the slag between layers
In our EXP Btw layers Intentionally leave some slag
BH In any layers The gas pocket or voids free of any solid material
Blowholes Caused by excessive welding temperature or
(Volumetric) incorrect manipulation
In our EXP Btw layers Drop paint (JIS 5516) and weld in low heat input
CR In the first few layers Rupture of metals under stress
In our EXP In the first layer Prepare special groove angle for higher constrain
LF Between layers or Failure to fuse together adjacent layers or adjacent
Lack of Fusion between weld and weld metal & base metal
(Planer) base metal Caused by failure to raise the temperature of the
base metal or previous layer, or failure to remove
foreign materials on the surfaces
Btw layer & Base Intentionally put a layer inadequate position
In our EXP
IP Btw weld metal and Joint penetration is less than that specified
Incomplete base metal, typically
Penetration in the first layer for
(Planner) butt-welds
In our EXP In the first layer Prepare higher groove face

Table 4.3 List of specimens.

Embedded defect

Specimen Location in Nf
Defect Type Length Length Crack Initiation
No. depth (Cycles)
(RT) (MUT)
[mm] [mm]

7 11 10 15 1915 Defect flaw

SI 21 8 7 13 1535 Defect flaw

Slag Inclusion 29 18 6 21 1147 Weld toe

30 13 - - 1216 Weld toe & Defect flaw

BH 20 11 10 15 1815 Weld toe

Blowholes 22 25 9 15 1507 Weld toe

6 13 19 23 494 Defect flaw

CR 13 4 7 24 2059 Weld toe & Weld of rib plate

Crack 28 7 3 23 1165 Base metal & Weld toe

29 12 5 23 1382 Weld toe

1 13 10 9 1088 Weld toe & Defect flaw

9 8.5 10 8 1588 Weld toe
Lack of
12 4 15 10 1040 Base metal, Fretting
31 5 11 9 2014 Weld toe

IP 10 20 22 23 1240 Base metal, Fretting

Incomplete 24 15 13 22 1100 Weld toe

Penetration 25 7 9 22 1806 Defect flaw

RT: Radiographic Test

MUT: Manual Ultrasonic Test

Table 4. 4 Condition of FEM analysis.

Element 2D Shell
No. of Elements Approx. 4500
Min. Mesh Size Approx. 0.3 mm
Hardening Rule Isotropic Hardening
Material E=206Gpa, =0.3
Properties : Fig. 4.2


100 300 100

Straight Part: 170

16 40 90


7 40


135 30 135



(a) Joint specimens

d0 l0 d l
BASE 8 30 12 40

l WELD 6 12 8 24.5

l0 d

150 [mm]

(b) Cut-out round bar specimens for material tests

Fig. 4.1 Specimens.


True Stress, MPa



200 Base Metal

Weld Metal
0 2 4 6 8 10
True Strain, %

Fig. 4.2 Stress-strain curves of the materials.

(a) Test scene

Centre of Specimen
Gauge length:
100 mm

Side view of specimen

(b) Details for gauge length

Fig. 4.3 Specimen setting for the cyclic lading tests.

CR-6 15 mm IP-25 8 mm

SI-17 12-(6)-5 mm SI-21 9 mm

# Number in bracket shows interval between two defects

Fig. 4.4 Measured defect size with failure surface.

SI-Toe SI-Defect
BH-Toe BH-Defect
CR-Toe CR-Defect
LF-Toe LF-Defect
Strain Range, %

IP-Toe IP-Defect

100 1000 10000
Number of Cycles to Failure

Fig. 4.5 Results of the cyclic loading tests.

Strain gauge

Front surface side

FL-1 FL-2 FL-3 FL-4 FL-5

BL-1 BL-2 BL-3 BL-4 BL-5 3

Bottom surface side
20 10 10 20

#L is replaced by R for right side.

Fig. 4.6 Strain gauge arrangement.

Nom inal Strain
1.2 FL-1
0.8 FL-4

Strain, %
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23
Strain Steps
(a) Front surface, Left

Nominal Strain
1.2 FR-1
1 FR-3
0.8 FR-5
Strain, %




1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Strain Steps

(b) Front surface, Right

Nominal Strain
1.2 BL-1
1 BL-3
Strain, %




1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Strain Steps

(c) Bottom surface, Left

Nominal Strain
1.2 BR-1
1 BR-3
Strain, %




1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Strain Steps

(d) Bottom surface, Right

Fig. 4.7 Strain changes in each step.

1.6 (a) Front surface, Left
49th cycles

Strain, %
1 160th cycles
0.6 350th cycles
BL-1 BL-2 BL-3 BL-4 BL-5

1.6 (b) Front surface, Right
Strain, mm/mm


FR-1 FR-2 FR-3 FR-4 FR-5

1.6 (c) Bottom surface, Left
Strain, %

BL-1 BL-2 BL-3 BL-4 BL-5

1.6 (d) Bottom surface, Right
Strain, %

BR-1 BR-2 BR-3 BR-4 BR-5

Fig. 4.8 Strain changes over cyclic loading.

F-3 F-2 F-1

B-3 B-2 B-1


Fig. 4.9 FEM model with focused points.


Fig. 4.10 Strain distribution.

1.8 1.8
1.6 B-3(EXP)
F-2(EXP) 1.6
1.4 F-1(EXP) 1.4 B-1(EXP)
Local Strain, %

1.2 F-3(FEM)
Local Strain, %

1.2 B-3(FEM)
1 F-2(FEM)
1 B-2(FEM)
0.8 0.8 B-1(FEM)

0.6 0.6
0.4 0.4
0.2 0.2
0 0
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2
Nominal Strain, % Nominal Strain, %
(a) Front surface side (b) Bottom surface side

Fig. 4.11 Comparison in strain changes.