Intergranular Fracture of Martensitic Welds
Several fractures occurred in flange studs used for remote handling of radioactive equipment. The studs, of quenched-and-tempered type 414 stainless steel, fractured in the HAZs produced in the studs during the circumferential welding that joined the studs to the flanges. The weld deposits were of type 347 stainless steel, and the flanges were type 304 stainless steel. Metallographic examination of the failed studs revealed that the HAZs contained regions of martensite and that intergranular cracks, which initiated at the stud surfaces during welding, propagated to complete separation under subsequent loading. The studs fractured under service loads as a result of intergranular crack propagation in the HAZ. Rapid heating and cooling during attachment welding produced a martensitic structure in the HAZ of the stud, which cracked circumferentially from the combination of thermal-gradient and phase-change stresses. Joining the studs to the flanges by welding should be discontinued. They should be attached by screw threads, using a key and keyway to prevent turning in service.