Arc welding is a reliable joining method widely utilized in nuclear, pressure vessels, aerospace and aeronautical structures to ensure the intended in service behaviour during the thermal and/or pressure loadings. Weld induced deformations and high residual stresses often occur during the course of welding. These cause significant threats for the structural integrity of the nuclear power plant components, particularly in stress corrosion inhibited environments owing to the risk of stress corrosion cracking (SCC). In this research, the consequences of five different structural boundary conditions on the evolution of residual stress fields after the welding are investigated. Both experimental and numerical simulations based on finite element modeling are employed during the course of investigation. Full three-dimensional FE models for the circumferentially, arc welded thin-walled cylinders are developed in ANSYS®. The complex coupled, thermo-mechanical phenomenon during the welding is simulated by sequentially coupled approach enhanced by user written APDL subroutines. The role of welding restraints in minimizing / optimizing the residual stresses is presented and discussed in detail. The result reveals that residual stresses show weak dependence on the degree of the restraints. Although the stress levels slightly varies in magnitude, but similar trend is observed for all the structural clamping conditions under study. Simulation results validated through full-scale experiments with high-tech reliably instrumented welding and measuring equipments shows promising features of the developed modelling and simulation strategy for use in shop floor applications.

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