The joint strength in the peeling direction begins to decrease when the Base Metal (BM) strength exceeds 780 MPa. It has been found that the Cross-Tension Strength (CTS) of HSS joints could be improved by using appropriate conditions for post-heat conduction. Unlike the conventional tempering process in which the weld is tempered after a sufficient cooling time (i.e., after completion of martensite transformation of the weld), the post-heat conduction process incorporates a short cooling time; hence, it will not cause significant decline in productivity. The post-heat conduction process is described in detail below.
Figure 1 illustrates the effect of cooling time on CTS. It is clear that CTS reaches a peak for a cooling time of 6 cycles and improves when the post-heat conduction time is increased, even when the cooling time is increased to 35 cycles. With the aim of investigating why CTS improved, as described above, the conditions of solidification segregation were analyzed, for example, Mn, Si, and P. An example of P segregation is shown in Figure 2. When post-heat conduction was not performed at all or was performed using the conditions under which CTS did not improve [as shown in Figure 2 (b)], the segregation of P in the same part decreased markedly. One reason for this is thought to be as follows. The element that was solidification- segregated during regular conduction was diffused during the post-heat conduction. As described in the preceding section, it is believed that the toughness of the nugget edge increased, thereby helping to enhance CTS.
The effect of post-heat conduction in easing such solidification segregation is supported by other researchers. It should be noted that the hardness of the nugget interior remains the same, regardless of whether the post-heat conduction is implemented. Therefore, the above improvement in CTS cannot be attributed to the effect of tempering. Conversely, the application of post-heat conduction increased the degree and width of softening of the HAZ. From the standpoint of fracture mechanics, the degree of influence of the widening of soft HAZ on the improvement in CTS was estimated to be about 4%. Therefore, the improvement in CTS by post-heat conduction can be attributed mainly to the enhancement of fracture toughness by the easing of solidification segregation.
Figure 3 shows comparison of CTS between with and without pulse pattern at the nugget diameter. The strength became higher when welded with pulse pattern, especially when the pulse current was between 8 and 9 kA. These results suggest that the pulsation pattern achieved adequate reduction in solidification segregation and soften the HAZ.