Welds in the lean duplex stainless steel LDX 2101 : effect of microstructure and weld oxides on corrosion properties

Abstract: Duplex stainless steels are a very attractive alternative to austenitic grades due to their higher strength and good corrosion performance. The austenitic grades can often be welded autogenously, while the duplex grades normally require addition of filler metal. This is to counteract segregation of important alloying elements and to give sufficient austenite formation to prevent precipitation of chromium nitrides that could have a negative effect on impact toughness and pitting resistance. The corrosion performance of the recently-developed lean duplex stainless steel LDX 2101 is higher than that of 304 and can reach the level of 316. This thesis summarises pitting resistance tests performed on laser and gas tungsten arc (GTA) welded LDX 2101. It is shown here that this material can be autogenously welded, but additions of filler metal, nitrogen in the shielding gas and use of hybrid methods increases the austenite formation and the pitting resistance by further suppressing formation of chromium nitride precipitates in the weld metal. If the weld metal austenite formation is sufficient, the chromium nitride precipitates in the heat-affected zone (HAZ) could cause local pitting, however, this was not seen in this work. Instead, pitting occurred 1–3 mm from the fusion line, in the parent metal rather than in the high temperature HAZ (HTHAZ). This is suggested here to be controlled by the heat tint, and the effect of residual weld oxides on the pitting resistance is studied. The composition and the thickness of weld oxide formed on LDX 2101 and 2304 were determined using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). The heat tint on these lean duplex grades proved to contain significantly more manganese than what has been reported for standard austenitic stainless steels in the 300 series. A new approach on heat tint formation is consequently presented. Evaporation of material from the weld metal and subsequent deposition on the weld oxide are suggested to contribute to weld oxide formation. This is supported by element loss in LDX 2101 weld metal, and nitrogen additions to the GTA shielding gas further increase the evaporation.