, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 1233-1241
Date: 08 Nov 2012

An Improved Plasticity-Based Distortion Analysis Method for Large Welded Structures

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The plasticity-based distortion prediction method was improved to address the computationally intensive nature of welding simulations. Plastic strains, which are typically first computed using either two-dimensional (2D) or three-dimensional (3D) thermo-elastic-plastic analysis (EPA) on finite element models of simple weld geometry, are mapped to the full structure finite element model to predict distortion by conducting a linear elastic analysis. To optimize welding sequence to control distortion, a new theory was developed to consider the effect of weld interactions on plastic strains. This improved method was validated with experimental work on a Tee joint and tested on two large-scale welded structures—a light fabrication and a heavy fabrication—by comparing against full-blown distortion predictions using thermo-EPA. 3D solid and shell models were used for the heavy and light fabrications, respectively, to compute plastic strains due to each weld. Quantitative comparisons between this method and thermo-EPA indicate that this method can predict distortions fairly accurately—even for different welding sequences—and is roughly 1-2 orders of magnitude faster. It was concluded from these findings that, with further technical development, this method can be an ideal solver for optimizing welding sequences.