Microstructure and mechanical characteristics of a laser welded joint in SA508 nuclear pressure vessel steel

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SA508 steels are typically used in civil nuclear reactors for critical components such as the reactor pressure vessel. Nuclear components are commonly joined using arc welding processes, but with design lives for prospective new build projects exceeding 60 years, new welding technologies are being sought. In this exploratory study, for the first time, autogenous laser welding was carried out on 6 mm thick SA508 Cl.3 steel sheets using a 16kW fiber laser system operating at a power of 4kW. The microstructure and mechanical properties (including microhardness, tensile strength, elongation, and Charpy impact toughness) were characterized and the microstructures were compared with those produced through arc welding. A three-dimensional transient model based on a moving volumetric heat source model was also developed to simulate the laser welding thermal cycles in order to estimate the cooling rates included by the process. Preliminary results suggest that the laser welding process can produce welds that are free of macroscopic defects, while the strength and toughness of the laser welded joint in this study matched the values that were obtained for the parent material in the as-welded condition.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-80
Number of pages15
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering A: Structural Materials: Properties, Microstructures and Processing
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2015

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