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Design of Steel Structures

Prof. S.R.Satish Kumar and Prof. A.R.Santha Kumar

3.3 Welding and welded connections
Welding is the process of joining two pieces of metal by creating a strong metallurgical bond between them by heating or pressure or both. It is distinguished from other forms of mechanical connections, such as riveting or bolting, which are formed by friction or mechanical interlocking. It is one of the oldest and reliable methods of joining.

Welding offers many advantages over bolting and riveting. Welding enables direct transfer of stress between members eliminating gusset and splice plates necessary for bolted structures. Hence, the weight of the joint is minimum. In the case of tension members, the absence of holes improves the efficiency of the section. It involves less fabrication cost compared to other methods due to handling of fewer parts and elimination of operations like drilling, punching etc. and consequently less labour leading to economy. Welding offers air tight and water tight joining and hence is ideal for oil storage tanks, ships etc. Welded structures also have a neat appearance and enable the connection of complicated shapes. Welded structures are more rigid compared to structures with riveted and bolted connections. A truly continuous structure is formed by the process of fusing the members together. Generally welded joints are as strong or stronger than the base metal, thereby placing no restriction on the joints. Stress concentration effect is also considerably less in a welded connection.

Some of the disadvantages of welding are that it requires skilled manpower for welding as well as inspection. Also, non-destructive evaluation may have to be carried out to detect defects in welds. Welding in the field may be difficult due to the location or environment. Welded joints are highly prone to cracking under fatigue loading. Large residual stresses and distortion are developed in welded connections.

3.3.1 Fundamentals of welding
A welded joint is obtained when two clean surfaces are brought into contact with each other and either pressure or heat, or both are applied to obtain a bond. The tendency of atoms to bond is the fundamental basis of welding. The inter-diffusion Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Design of Steel Structures

Prof. S.R.Satish Kumar and Prof. A.R.Santha Kumar

between the materials that are joined is the underlying principle in all welding processes. The diffusion may take place in the liquid, solid or mixed state. In welding the metallic materials are joined by the formation of metallic bonds and a perfect connection is formed. In practice however, it is very difficult to achieve a perfect joint; for, real surfaces are never smooth. When welding, contact is established only at a few points in the surface, joins irregular surfaces where atomic bonding occurs. Therefore the strength attained will be only a fraction of the full strength. Also, the irregular surface may not be very clean, being contaminated with adsorbed moisture, oxide film, grease layer etc. In the welding of such surfaces, the contaminants have to be removed for the bonding of the surface atoms to take place. This can be accomplished by applying either heat or pressure. In practical welding, both heat and pressure are applied to get a good joint.

As pointed out earlier, any welding process needs some form of energy, often heat, to connect the two materials. The relative amount of heat and pressure required to join two materials may vary considerably between two extreme cases in which either heat or pressure alone is applied. When heat alone is applied to make the joint, pressure is used merely to keep the joining members together. Examples of such a process are Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW), Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), Submerged Arc Welding (SAW) etc. On the other hand pressure alone is used to make the bonding by plastic deformation, examples being cold welding,...
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