The current trend in ship construction is to reduce the thickness of the ship panels, in order to minimize weight and maximize vessel speed. The ship panels of interest consist of 4 mm thick butt welded plates. This reduction in panel thickness may lead to excessive plate distortion during welding, resulting in significant additional costs during assembly. A ferritic-pearlitic DH-36 steel is used, in which phase transformations during welding may affect the distortion and stress states observed. Two large plates, representative of ship panels, have been butt welded using a metal inert gas (MIG) process. The temperature histories have been recorded during welding and the resulting distortion profile has been obtained using digital photography. Neutron diffraction measurements have been performed to determine the residual stress state in the plates before welding, due to e.g. processing and laser cutting, and after butt welding of the plates. Reference matchsticks from the weld, heat affected zone (HAZ) and parent plate have been taken from similar locations in nominally identical plates and measured to obtain the strain/stress free lattice parameter, α0. A Rietveld analysis has been performed on the diffraction data. Post welding, hardness surveys have indicated the microstructural variation in the weld, parent plate and HAZ. Results from these on-going studies are presented which identify the key factors responsible for thin plate distortion.

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