Document Type



Master of Science


Materials Science and Engineering

First Adviser

DuPont, John


NUCu-140 is a ferritic copper-precipitation strengthened steel that is a candidate material for use in many naval and structural applications. Previous work has shown that the heat-affected zone (HAZ) and fusion zone (FZ) of NUCu-140 exhibit softening that is due to dissolution of the copper-rich precipitates. This study aims to recover the FZ and HAZ strength by re-precipitation of the copper-rich precipitates through either multiple weld passes or an isothermal post-weld heat treatment (PWHT). The potential use of multiple thermal cycles was investigated with HAZ simulations using a Gleeble thermomechanical simulator. The HAZ simulations represented two weld thermal cycles with different combinations of peak temperatures during the initial and secondary weld passes. To investigate the potential for a PWHT for strength recovery, gas tungsten arc weld (GTAW) samples were isothermally heated for various times and temperatures. Microhardness measurements revealed no strength recovery in the multipass HAZ samples. The time dependent precipitate characteristics were modeled under the HAZ thermal cycle conditions, and the results showed that the lack of strength recovery could be attributed to insufficient time for re-precipitation during the secondary weld pass. Conversely, full strength recovery in the HAZ was observed in the isothermally heat treated samples. Atom-probe tomography (APT) analysis correlated this strength recovery to re-precipitation of the copper-rich precipitates during the isothermal PWHT. The experimental naval steel known as NUCu-140 and an established naval steel HSLA-100 were subjected to stress-relief cracking (SRC) and hot-ductility testing to assess their relative cracking susceptibilities during the welding process and post weld heat treatment. NUCu-140 exhibited a longer time-to-failure (TTF) and a lower temperature of minimum TTF during SRC testing when compared to HSLA-100, indicating better resistance to SRC for the NUCu-140 steel. The lowest TTF for NUCu-140 occurred in the temperature range of 500-550°C (932-1022°F), and was contributed to the achievement of maximum hardness as a result of ageing of Cu-rich precipitates at this temperature. HSLA-100 exhibited a minimum TTF at 650°C (1202°F), and this was attributed to the formation of austenite at this temperature. HSLA-100 and NUCu-140 exhibited a relatively narrow liquation cracking temperature ranges (LCTR) of 32°C (90°F) and 36°C (97°), respectively. The low susceptibility of both alloys was attributed to the formation of δ-ferrite within the same temperature range as incipient melting. Ineffective wetting and liquid film discontinuity in both alloys was established through metallographic and fractographic analysis.