Failure of a Steam Accumulator Due to Lack of Complete Weld Penetration
A steam accumulator, constructed with 10.3 mm thick SA515-70 steel heads and an 8 mm thick SA455A steel shell, ruptured after about three years of service. The accumulator was used in plastic molding operations. An extensive lack of weld penetration in this the head-to-shell girth weld was revealed by laboratory examination. Some misalignment of the head to the shell because of radial displacement of the shell and head centerlines was observed which was found to result in excessive clearances between the two parts and a slight difference in the thicknesses of the parts. Transgranular fracture with occasional secondary branching was revealed. It was interpreted by stress analysis that a small amount of misalignment added to lack of penetration increased the stresses to near the tensile strength of the material. The failure was judged to be a short-cycle high-stress notch-fatigue failure.