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Manufacturing crack-resistant lightweight components
Date:9/6/2012

Cars, roof structures and bridges should become increasingly lighter, with the same stability, and thus save energy and materials. New high-strength steel is superbly suited for the needed lightweight design, because it can also withstand extremely heavy stresses. Yet these materials also betray a disadvantage: with increasing strength their susceptibility to cold cracking rises when welded. These miniscule fractures might form as the welded joints cool off typically at temperatures below 200C. In a worst case scenario, the welding seams would crack. For this reason, many industrial sectors are reluctant to employ these promising high-strength steel.

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg, in conjunction with the Chair of Joining and Welding Technology LFT at Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus (BTU) developed a new process for making cold cracking more predictable. "We are able to compute the probability of cold cracking as early as the design stage of a component, and immediately run through corrective measures as well," explains Frank Schweizer of the IWM. Because whether such cold cracking occurs, and how quickly, depends on how high the concentration of hydrogen in the steel is, how the residual stress turns out, and how its microstructure is configured. Predicting the probability of cracking has been difficult until now. Manufacturers used to conduct expensive testing, for example by applying an increasingly higher tensile stress to a sample component, and then analyse what stress level would cause cracking. Not only are these tests time-consuming and cost-intensive, the findings can- not be applied to subsequent components on a one-to-one basis because the geometry of the component has a decisive influence on crack formation. Even currently available computer simulations failed to deliver the desired predictive accuracy for real components.

Lowering production costs, shorteni
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Contact: Frank Schweizer
frank.schweizer@iwm.fraunhofer.de
49-761-514-2122
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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