Distortion is a common problem in welded panel structures, historically techniques to mitigate this problem have been developed empirically. A usual approach involves defining an intermittent weld sequence, a process that is extremely difficult to optimize given the large number of possible combinations i.e. hundreds or even thousands for multi-pass welds. Typically, plans to control weld distortion are therefore largely intuitive with welding engineers relying on their experience combined with the results of a limited number of practical tests. However, with modern computing, welding engineers can now include all the physics of welding in a simulation allowing them to cheaply and efficiently optimize a welding sequence without the need for multiple physical samples. The final welding procedure is then physically qualified based on the simulation results. In this paper, the authors present their use of computer modeling to automate the implementation of welding patterns to minimize distortion in panel lines. We describe a signature technique based on the Joint Rigidity Method where a combinatorial algorithm optimizes the welding sequence based on the panel’s resistance to angular bending i.e. the welding sequence starts at the point in the panel with the highest rigidity and moves progressively toward the lowest rigidity thereby minimizing distortion. This enables the designer to carry out an optimization of this complex weld design without relying on empirical observations.

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