Fatigue Fracture of Welded Type 321 Stainless Steel Liners for a Bellows-Type Expansion Joint
Stainless steel liners (AISI type 321) used in bellows-type expansion joints in a duct assembly installed in a low-pressure nitrogen gas system failed in service. The duct assembly consisted of two expansion joints connected by a 32 cm (12 in.) OD pipe of ASTM A106 grade B steel. Elbows made of ASTM A234 grade B steel were attached to each end of the assembly, 180 deg apart. A 1.3 mm (0.050 in.) thick liner with an OD of 29 cm (11 in.) was welded inside each joint. The upstream ends were stable, but the downstream ends of the liners remained free, allowing the components to move with the expansion and contraction of the bellows. Investigation (visual inspection, hardness testing, and 30x fractographs) supported the conclusion that the liners failed in fatigue initiated at the intersection of the longitudinal weld forming the liner and the circumferential weld by which it attached to the bellows assembly. Recommendations included increasing the thickness of the liners from 1.3 to 1.9 mm (0.050 to 0.075 in.) in order to damp some of the stress-producing vibrations.