Welding of thin-plate ship structures often results in warping of finished fabricated panels. Some manufacturers use preheating and/or pre-stressing the plates during assembly or post heating after assembly as a mitigation method to reduce final product distortion with variably satisfactory results. The current paper aims to study the effect of tensile force application (on the plates undergoing welding) on the residual stresses and distortion behaviours of butt welded thin ship panels using the finite element method. The effects on the butt welded thin panel applying several components of different magnitudes of tensile forces before and during welding are shown. Those external forces are released after the welded joint has reached the room temperature. The stretching force leads to a reduction in the longitudinal residual stresses, and converts part of the tensile components to increase the compressive ones. All those diagnostics will demolish the welded plate distortion making it close to zero.

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