Making High-Strength Steel More Feasible
For many reasons, stronger materials are better to use in many circumstances, including the fact that less material is needed, which allows weight and potentially cost to drop for a product. However, some materials, like high-strength steel, have certain flaws that make many manufacturers reluctant to use them. In the case of the steel, there are cold cracking issues, where welds will develop fractures that can comprise whatever is being built. Traditional tests to design around cold cracks can be very expensive too, so researchers at Fraunhofer-Gesellshaft have developed a new model that can actually predict the cracks, and even allow one to virtually test solutions to the problem.
Previously if a manufacturer wanted to test their high-strength steel designs for cold cracking issues, they would have to manufacture it and subject the weld joints to stresses, until they fail. This can take a great deal of time and money to do though, and the results are not always something that can be applied to other projects. What the researcher's model does though is take into account many variables that influence cold cracking, including hydrogen content, residual stresses, material structures, and the temperature gradients of welding. This simulation takes that information and allows the user to examine every point at any time and determine the risk of cold cracking.
The great hope for this model is that it will allow manufacturers of machines and vehicles to use high-strength steel in their products, which can have many positive effects for them and the consumer.