Stress relief cracking in copper-precipitation strengthened HSLA-100 steel
McNutt, Steven A.
Losz, J. Mauro B.
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The US Navy is currently developing a new family of high-strength , low-alloy steels which derive a significant portion of their strength from copper precipitation. These highly weldable steels require little or no preheat. resulting in substantial cost savings. The first of these steels. HSLA-80, has been certified for ship construction, but recent studies have indicated some susceptibility to stress relief cracking in weldments. HSLA-100, a modification of HSLA-80, is now being considered for several higher-strength naval structures. Stress-relief cracking has not been studied previously in this steel and is the subject of investigation in this work. The steel weldments were loaded below their yield strength, heated to temperatures of 550°-650° C, and permitted to stress relieve for one hour. At all temperatures, the steel exhibited susceptibility to stress relief cracking in certain stress ranges. Optical and scanning electron microscopy exhibited intergranular cracking which always traversed the coarse-grained region of the heat-affected zone. Auger and transmission electron microscopy indicated high concentrations of alloying elements at the grain boundaries. Stress-relief cracking was associated with the diffusion of alloying elements to the prior austenite grain boundaries.
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