PITA Fiscal Year 2015 Projects

Fabrication Efficiency of Large Built-up Sections Using Electroslag Welding

Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Sougata Roy, ATLSS Engineering Research Center
PA Industry: High Steel Structures

This collaborative research project between Lehigh University and High Steel Structures will demonstrate the effectiveness of using improved narrow gap Electroslag welding (ESW-NG) process for fabricating built-up sections, such as large connection angles, for steel bridges with limited distortion. Traditionally, these built-up sections are fabricated using multi-pass Flux-Core Arc Welding (FCAW) or Submerged Arc Welding (SAW) processes, which introduce significant distortion in the built-up member. As a result, additional post-weld heat straightening is necessary to correct the distortion. Using the fully automated ESW-NG process, however, the built-up members can be fabricated in a single weld pass along the length of the member which practically eliminates distortion of the built-up member and increases fabrication efficiency by 5 to 10 folds. However, due to less than desirable performance of traditional ESW in the 1960’s and 70’s, some skepticism exists among bridge owners such as PennDOT, regarding the performance of the welded connections made by the ESW process, although the improved ESW-NG process developed based on research sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in the 1980’s and 90’s adequately addressed the concerns. Moreover, recent testing performed by leading steel bridge fabricators have indicated that the resulting limitations on use of this highly efficient process may be unnecessary. These restrictions, stifle the competitive advantage of High Steel, a Pennsylvania based nationally renowned steel bridge fabricator, who has invested to make ESW-NG as the mainstream process for increased productivity and efficiency. The results of the proposed research will benefit Pennsylvania economy by: enabling a state business to be efficient, productive and competitive, have improved sales and growth potential; reduced cost of building bridge infrastructure in the state; and the state’s economic growth in terms of creating new jobs, increased revenue, investment for further technology development, and retention of quality educated labor in the state.