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Manufacturing Process Simulations at TWI

Manufacturing processes such as fusion and power beam welding, solid-state joining, and heat treatments are extensively used in industry to produce, assemble, or repair parts and components. Oftentimes, materials and large fabrications require careful control of the heat input and thermal profiles to avoid issues such related to distortion, excessive (or insufficient relaxation of) residual stresses, high hardness welds, and poor fit-up.

Numerical Modelling and Optimisation at TWI

The Numerical Modelling and Optimisation Section at TWI supports industry with a range of computational engineering capabilities from finite element analysis (FEA) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD), to Machine Learning and High Performance Computing. The modelling group supports projects ranging from long-term R&D to short-term consultancy activities with bespoke numerical and mathematical models but also with client-customised software development.

Manufacturing Process Simulations

Manufacturing process simulations translate joining technologies and manufacturing processes into mathematical models to understand the relationships between processing conditions, heat transfer, stress development, deformation, and phase transformation. Understanding the effect of and optimising processing conditions (current, voltage, heating rates, soak times, weld sequence, etc) can be costly and time-consuming during the design stage especially when only a trial-and-error experimental approach is available. Instead, validated models can be used to de-risk design activities to:

  • Optimising process parameters, weld sequences, and clamping positions
  • Relating heat input to microstructure and mechanical properties, for example to control hardness for welds in sour service
  • Determining optimal heating pad arrangements to achieve necessary soak band temperatures and thermal gradients during treatment

TWI has decades of experience and a proven track-record simulating:

  • Single- and multi- pass fusion welding processes for ferrous alloys, stainless steels, Al-, Ni- and Ti-base alloys
  • Power beam welding of thin and thick section plates using both conventional FEA as well as CFD to predict keyhole characteristics
  • Rapid distortion prediction techniques for multi-weld assemblies An example where a genetic algorithm optimisation procedure in conjunction with a welding simulation was used to optimise the welding sequence of a ship panel involving over 200 welds is shown to the right
  • Friction joining processes including friction stir welding and linear friction welding
  • Local and global post weld heat treatment of joining processes to predict residual stress relaxation, distortion, and phase transformations

In addition to being highly-cited authors of peer-reviewed publications, our team have been co-authors of ISO technical specification 18166 on numerical welding simulations; are committee members of the UK nuclear structural integrity code R6 on weld modelling guidelines; are committee members of British Standard 7910 sub-group on welding residual stress profiles, and are members of the NAFEMS Working Group on Manufacturing Process Simulations.