Piping branch junctions and nozzle attachments to main pressure vessels are common engineering components used in the power, oil and gas, and shipbuilding industries amongst others. These components are usually fabricated by multipass welding. The latter process is known to induce residual stresses at the fabrication stage which can have severe adverse effects on the in-service behavior of such critical components. It is thus desirable if the distributions of residual stresses can be predicted well in advance of welding execution. This paper presents a comprehensive study of three dimensional residual stress distributions in a stainless steel tee branch junction during a multipass welding process. A full 3D thermo-mechanical finite element model has been developed for this purpose. A newly developed meshing technique has been used to model the complex intersection areas of the welded junction with all hexahedral elements. Element removal/reactivate technique has been employed to simulate the deposition of filler material. Material, geometry and boundary nonlinearities associated with welding were all taken into account. The analysis results are presented in the form of stress distributions circumferentially along the weldline on both run and branch pipes as well as at the run and branch cross sections. In general, this computational model is capable of predicting 3D through thickness welding residual stress, which can be valuable for structural integrity assessments of complex welded geometries.

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