Journal of Minerals and Materials Characterization and Engineering, 2012, 11, 1000-1004
Published Online October 2012 (
Weldability Assessment of Preheated Ductile Iron
Dakwa Yusufu Kwa1, Joseph Olatunde Borode2*, Itopa Monday Momoh1
1Department of Research and Development, Engineering Materials Development Institute, Akure, Nigeria
2Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, Federal University of Technology-Akure, Akure, Nigeria
Received August 23, 2012; revised September 27, 2012; accepted October 10, 2012
When joining ductile iron by submerged arc welding technique, a suitable welding speed and current, among other fac-
tors, need to be skillfully put in place so as to enhance good welding. This work is based on microstructural examina-
tion of pr eheated ductile iron at v arious temperatures ran ging between 100˚C - 400 ˚C. Optical microscope was used for
the microstructure analysis. The result shows varied complex microstructures at the fusion zone, un-mixed zone, par-
tially melted zone and at the heat affected zone.
Keywords: Submerged Arc Welding; Fusion Zone; Un-Mixed Zone; Heat Affected Zone
1. Introduction
The transformation of materials to goods for the satisfac-
tion of human needs is brought into a reality through
manufacturing/fabrication processes. Thus, Manufactur-
ing as an indisp ensable part of production can be consid -
ered as a system in which product design at the initial
stage is processed and delivered as finished products to
the market as the final output fo r u se .
Welding has become a dominant process in manufac-
turing, without which a large number of products would
have to be considerably modified, would be more costly,
or could not perform as efficiently if it were not available.
It is a process by which two materials are permanently
joined together by coalescence, which is induced by a
combination of temperature pressure and some other
metallurgical conditions. An atomic bonding configura-
tion is formed having a natural election configuration be-
tween the two materials by bringing their surfaces to-
gether [1]. The ideal weld bond requires a perfectly
smooth, flat or matching surface, clean surfaces free
from contaminants, materials with no internal impurities,
materials that are both single crystals with identical crys-
tallographic structure and orientation. These conditions
are impossible to achieve in practice, thus, various weld-
ing processes have been developed and preparation de-
signs have been developed to compensate for the imper-
In solid state welding processes, contaminated layers
are removed by mechanical or chemical action prior to
welding, or by forcing the metal to flow along the inter-
face so that impurities are squeezed out. In fusion weld-
ing, fluxing agents are used to remove contaminants from
the pool of molten metal formed during the welding op-
eration. Welding in a vacuum also prevents contamina-
tion and promotes the removal of contaminants. Coales-
cence, therefore, occurs with considerable ease.
A high quality weld therefore requires a source of sat-
isfactory heat and pressure, a means of cleaning and
keeping the material free from contamination, and pre-
cautions to compensate for, or avoid harmful metallurgi-
cal effects.
The development of commercial industries in the late
19th and 20th century, in addition to lessons learnt by ca-
tastrophic engineering failures that occurred in that pe-
riod, brought abou t a great understanding of the im- por-
tance of welding and weld quality. Fusion welding proc-
esses were rapidly developed and improved upon [2].
High amount of carbon, silicon [3] with combination of
other elements increases the carbon equivalent of cast
iron. High carbon equivalent decreases cast iron’s weld-
ability. The objective of improving weldability may be
achieved by either preheating, or heat treatment, or both.
Ductile iron is one of the numerous ferrous materials
that has its applications both at room temperature and at
elevated temperatures. The majority of the reported dete-
rioration in high temperature operating components are
microstructural degradation [4,5], hydrogen damage, gra-
phitization, thermal shock, erosion, liquid metal embrit-
tlement, and high temperature corrosion of various types
*Corresponding author.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. JMMCE
D. Y. KWA ET AL. 1001
Thus, when joining ductile iron by welding, a suitable
welding speed and current [6-8] must be predetermined
in order to enhance good welding needed to achieve a set
objective(s). This study is, therefore, based on micro-
examination of structure of fusion and heat affected
zones across the weld sections.
2. Experimental Techniques
2.1. Sample Preparation
A ductile iron of chemical composition 93.52% Fe, 3.6%
C, 2.5% Si, 0.007% P, 0.3% Mn, 0.01% S, 0.014% Mo,
0.05% Mg was used in this experiment. After machining
to a rectangular bar shape of cross section 10 mm × 23
mm and a length of 40mm and cut to a V-shape at equi-
distance point from either edge of the samples following
an international standard, the specimen was heat treated
to varying temperature ranging between 100˚C - 400˚C,
held for 30 minute in a muffle furnace of accuracy as
high as ±2˚C in order to attain temperature homogeneity
in the samples. A minimum of two (2) samples each were
treated per treatment for certainty. The samples were
subjected to welding at the respective elevated tempera-
tures so as to avoid weld crack that could ensue had it be
welded at room temperature. A Submerged Arc Welding
(SAW) method was adopted in the joining mechanism
using an electrode coded ECI z308. Earlier, the chemical
composition of the electrode used has been analyzed as
shown in Table 1.
2.2. Microstructural Investigation
Microstructural examination was done across the section
of the specimen from the fusion zone through the par-
tially melted zone, heat affected zone to the base (heat
unaffected zone). Prior to this operation, the welded
sample was grinded using a buehler grinder sequentially
varying the grinding paper from the coarse (60 micron)
to the finest (2400 micron). It was later polished with the
aid of a superfine polishing cloth, a diamond polishing
Table 1. Chemical composition of welding electrode.
Material Composition (%)
Carbon 1.50
Manganese 2.00
Sulphur 0.80
Nickel 0.015
Silicon 94
Iron 2
suspension of 3 micron was also used to enhance the
mirror-like surface of the material before it was etched
with a corresponding etchant—Nital (2% HNO3 + 98%
Ethanol), captured with an optical microscope of model
number 702907 at different magnifications. ×100 magni-
fication was used so as show all necessary sections.
3. Results and Discussion
The base metal and the weld regions were microscopi-
cally viewed and examined in order to see the micro-
structural evaluation along the welded trend of pre-
heated ductile iron. Plate 1 shows the microstructure of
the base metal. It shows the presence of graphite nodules
distributed in a pearlitic matrix and surrounded by fer-
rites forming boundaries. This corresponds to the find-
ings from literature review [9,10]. Plates 2(a)-(g) also
shows the micrographs of the preheated weld joints and its
environs. The micrographs shows that there are two (2)
major weld sections that includes the fusion zones (FZ),
and the heat affected zones (HAZ). Between these two
zones is an interface that separates the zones thereby ex-
plain distinctly the completely melted region and the
unmelted or seemingly melted region. In the FZ, it was
observed that the flux in the electrode only act as a catalyst
to enhance thorough welding while in itself flows to an-
other region that will be explain in due course.
All microstructures of the HAZ, however, show very
different characteristics when compared with the base
(a) (b)
Plate 1. (a) Microstructure of ductile iron showing graphite nodules in a pearlitic matrix. ×200; (b) fusion line view of speci-
men welded without preheating. 2% nital etch, ×100.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. JMMCE
Plate 2. (a) fusion line view of specimen welded after preheating at 100C. ×100; (b) fusion line view of specimen welded after
preheating at 150C. ×100; (c) fusion line view of specimen welded after preheating at 200C. ×100; (d) fusion line view of spe-
cimen welded after preheating at 250C. ×100; (e) fusion line view of specimen welded after preheating at 300C. ×100; (f)
fusion line view of specimen welded after preheating at 350C. ×100; (g) fusion line view of specimen welded after preheating
at 400C. 2% nital etch, ×100.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. JMMCE
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. JMMCE
metal. Moving away from the fusion line, the peak tem-
peratures and temperature gradients get lower. Cooling
rates are also lower because of the lower temperature
gradients. Varied Structures were, thus, formed.
3.1. Un-Mixed Zone (UMZ)
The distinct regions in the HAZ can be determined as
unmixed zone (UMZ), partially melted zone (PMZ), and
true heat affected zone (HAZ). In the HAZ only phase
transformations take place. No melting takes place as it is
experienced at the UMZ and PMZ. The UMZ region is a
completely melted region, but mixing of filler and base
metal is not achieved as the filler act as a catalyst—en-
hancing welding and diffuse out to PMZ. The increased
cooling rates enhance the transformation o f austenite thus
preventing the precipitation of carbon in the liquid to
graphite but get trappe d in iron carbide which is hard.
3.2. Partially Melted Zone (PMZ)
The PMZ forms next to UMZ as a boundary to HAZ.
Melting is not total in this zone. The temperature has
values between the eutectic and liquids temperature of
cast iron. Structures formed in this zone are mainly by
carbon diffusion out of graphite nodules. At high tem-
perature, the carbon is susceptible to diffusion out of the
nodules increasing to concentration of carbon in the sur-
rounding matrix. This continues until melting takes place.
High carbon concentration in the surrounding supports
eutectic melting, but the high cooling rates cause the
melted matrix to transform. Further away from the gra-
phite nodule, melting does not occur and martensite is
formed by means of phase transformation.
3.3. Heat Affected Zone (HAZ)
No melting takes place at the HAZ. As the distance away
from the PMZ is increased, the temperature gradient also
gets reduced. The amount of martensite, thus, gets re-
duced also. The regions close to the PMZ have a marten-
sitic matrix as shown in Plates 3(a)-(d).
4. Conclusions
Preheating of ductile iron before welding using a SAW
method results in a complex and varied multi-microstru-
ctures depending on the preheating temperature and the
(a) (b)
(c) (d)
Plate 3. (a) HAZ of section closest to the base metal in the specimen preheated to 400˚C showing increased pearlite in the ma-
trix. ×400; (b) HAZ of section closest to the base metal in the specimen preheated that would otherwise have been martensite.
×200; (c) HAZ of section closest to the base metal in the specimen preheated to 250˚C. ×200; (d) HAZ closer to the PMZ of the
specimen welded after preheating at 350˚C. ×200.
temperature gradient.
- At 400˚C before welding, transformation of austenite
resulting in the formation of fewer hard structures in
the FZ, UMZ, and PMZ, but having a high area frac-
tion of the hard structures (martensite and carbides) at
the HAZ was observed.
- At 300˚C and 350˚C before weld ing produced a h igh-
er area fraction of hard structures in the PMZ and
fewer hard structures in the FZ and HAZ.
- At 100˚C, 150˚C, 200˚C, and 250˚C, the microstruc-
tures at the FZ formed were visually estimated to be
lower and equal relative to other zones.
- Preheating of ductile iron, when carried out using
SAW method using ECI Z308 electrodes enhances
better microstructure that could in turn enhances the
mechanical properties.
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