Published on 02 March 2012
Software which enables non-expert users to predict distortion and achieve better fatigue performance in welded structures is being developed by a consortium led by TWI.
OPTWELD (Real-Time Virtual Prototyping Tools for OPTimising WELDed Products), as it is known, is a collaborative project, funded by the Technology Strategy Board and includes the University of Greenwich, Newcastle University, BVT Surface Fleet, BAE Systems, the ESI Group, ThyssenKrupp Tallent and TWI.
It is designed to appeal to fabricators who use arc processes to manufacture structures, particularly users who experience distortion problems when welding relatively thin sheet. Potential end users include shipbuilders, train makers and manufacturers of military or civilian land vehicles.
One of the objectives behind OPTWELD is to facilitate the use of thinner sheet and sections. It is also expected to reduce the cost of using computer modelling to predict and help reduce the extent of distortion.
A key benefit from using this software will be to reduce the cost of re-work during assembly processes. The need to accommodate distortion during assembly is avoided, or at least reduced.'
The target user will typically be a welding engineer. The software will predict distortion based on the order of assembly, the process conditions for welding, the weld geometry, the weld speed, the power input, and the thickness and grade of material.
The benefits of using the software will include improved quality and dimensional accuracy in the finished fabrication. Additionally, by allowing the use of thinner sheet and section, material costs will be reduced and weight savings may be achieved through use of improved designs.
The software will allow the user to try different options to find out which gives the least distortion and be able to input different geometries, different welding conditions, and different welding assembly procedures.
The costs for welded structures will be reduced in two areas. Fixed costs will be lower thanks to the reduction in re-work, fit-up time and scrap during manufacture. And recurring costs will be reduced through weight savings achieved, improved fatigue performance and reduced repair costs.
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