Dynamics of Near-Alpha Titanium Welding

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Neuberger, Brett William
Ankem, Sreeramamurthy
Typically, when gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) is employed to join near-alpha titanium alloys, the resulting weld fusion zone (FZ) is much harder than that of the base metal (BM), thereby leading to lost ductility. The aim of this investigation was to improve FZ ductility of Ti-5Al-1Sn-1V-1Zr-0.8Mo by modifying filler metal chemistry. In this regard, metallic yttrium was added to the filler metal and aluminum concentration reduced. It was believed that additions of yttrium would lead to formation of yttria in the weld melt, thereby promoting heterogeneous nucleation. Since oxygen and aluminum both act as alpha-stabilizers, expected pickup of oxygen during the welding process will be offset by the aluminum reduction. Tensile testing indicated that modified filler metal welds showed a dramatic increase in ductility of the FZ. Fracture toughness testing showed that while JIC values decreased in all welds, the tearing modulus, T, in modified filler metal welds was significantly higher than that of matching filler metal welds. Microhardness mapping of the weld zones illustrated that modified filler metal welds were significantly softer than matching filler metal welds. Microstructural examinations were completed through the use of optical, SEM and TEM studies, indicating that there was a presence of nano-particles in the weld FZ. XPS analysis identified these particles as yttrium oxysulfate. WDS analysis across the welds' heat affected zones demonstrated that there is an internal diffusion of oxygen from the BM into the FZ. Research results indicate yttrium oxysulfide particles form in the weld pool, act as a drag force on the solidification front and limit growth of prior-beta grain boundaries. The reduced prior-beta grain size and removal of interstitial oxygen from the matrix in modified filler metal welds, further enhanced by oxidation of yttrium oxysulfide to yttrium oxysulfate, leads to increased ductility in the weld's FZ. Addition of yttrium to the weld also acts to modify the surface tension of the melt, leading to an increased weld depth penetration. Results of this work indicate that the goals of this project and a significant advancement in the understanding of yttrium effects on titanium grain refinement have been achieved.