Our computational model runs on a standard desktop computer, and predicts weld depth and geometry, helping to bring down costs for arc welding.

The challenge

Designing welding schedules costs time and money

Arc welding uses an electric arc to melt metals and fuse them together. It is used extensively in industrial settings, including the automotive, shipbuilding, power generation, construction, chemical and food processing, and aerospace industries.

However, choosing the optimum parameters to weld components can be difficult, particularly for aluminium alloys and other light metals. Often, extensive experimental trials are required, which can be very time consuming and expensive.

Our response

A computer model to complement real world trials

Computational modelling of arc welding has now reached a level of sophistication and accuracy that allows it to play an important role in the design of welding processes. This modelling can complement experimental trials, improving reliability and consistency, and optmising welding parameters.

Building on decades of experience in arc modelling, we have worked with General Motors, General Motors Holden and the Auto Cooperative Research Centre (AutoCRC) to develop a computational model that predicts weld depths and shapes.

The model is three-dimensional, and includes the influence of droplets, metal vapour, weld pool flow and many other factors. Critically, the model takes into account the complex interactions between the electrode, arc and weld pool, allowing reliable predictions to be made over a wide range of welding parameters.

The model predicts weld geometries and thermal histories for butt and lap welded joints. We are currently developing the model to allow prediction of residual stresses and distortion, as well as weld microstructure.

A cross-section of the weld pool, showing mixing of the droplet alloy into the weld pool (colours) as it follows the liquid metal flow (arrows)

The results

A desktop computer program to improve welding efficiency

Our computational model runs under Windows on standard 64-bit desktop and laptop computers. It has a simple user interface – no knowledge of computer modelling is required.

The model produces graphs of weld cross-sections, heat-affected zones and (if required) quantities including temperature, gas and liquid flow velocities, current density, and gas and weld metal composition throughout the weld pool, arc and the workpiece.

Our current model is configured for metal–inert-gas welding of aluminium alloys, but can easily be extended to tungsten–inert-gas welding and to other metals.

It has the potential to allow businesses to significantly bring down costs related to welding schedules.

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