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Characterization of Duplex Stainless Steel Weld Metals Obtained by Hybrid Plasma-Gas Metal Arc Welding

Despite its high efficiency, autogenous keyhole welding is not well-accepted for duplex stainless steels because it causes excessive ferrite in as-welded duplex microstructure, which leads to a degradation in toughness and corrosion properties of the material. Combining the deep penetration characteristics of plasma arc welding in keyhole mode and metal deposition capability of gas metal arc welding, hybrid plasma - gas metal arc welding process has considered for providing a proper duplex microstructure without compromising the welding efficiency. 11.1 mm-thick standard duplex stainless steel plates were joined in a single-pass using this novel technique. Same plates were also subjected to conventional gas metal arc and plasma arc welding processes, providing benchmarks for the investigation of the weldability of the material. In the first place, the hybrid welding process enabled us to achieve less heat input compared to gas metal arc welding. Consequently, the precipitation of secondary phases, which are known to be detrimental to the toughness and corrosion resistance of duplex stainless steels, was significantly suppressed in both fusion and heat affected zones. Secondly, contrary to other keyhole techniques, proper cooling time and weld metal chemistry were achieved during the process, facilitating sufficient reconstructive transformation of austenite in the ferrite phase.