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Proceedings of the 13th Offshore Symposium, February 24, 2004, Houston, Texas

Texas Section of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers

Explosion Welded, Bi-Metallic Solutions to Dissimilar Metal


Joining
George A. Young, John G. Banker
DMC Clad Metal Division, Dynamic Materials Corporation, Boulder, Colorado
ABSTRACT
This paper will cover the following topics:
1. History of the development and commercial use of the EXW process
2. Explanation of the explosion cladding technology and manufacturing
3. Description of various bi-metallic parts used by the US military and commercial
shipbuilding industry
4. Specifications, testing and product forms of explosion welded clad
5. Conclusion

titanium, zirconium and tantalum are expensive but


resistant to severe process conditions. These metals
form brittle, intermetallic compounds with iron-based
metals, such as steel, in the molten phase and in the
presence of oxygen. Therefore, conventional, fusion
weld overlay is not an option. DuPont had a solution for
the industrys need for corrosion resistant bi-metallic
clad equipment: explosion weld clad plate. Working
with the US Navy, DuPont developed the Detacouple
Transition joint concept for making aluminium-steel
welds in shipyard environments. This was the first of
many applications of explosion welding in ship
construction.
In the 1960s the explosion welding process was
licensed to several companies over the world. Over the
subsequent forty years the technology has been
qualified, mastered and is, today, a robust industrial
technology. In recent years the original Dupont
Detaclad division and several of the licensor
companies have been consolidated into a single
company with manufacturing plants around the world.
Although the technology was originally implemented
for highly dissimilar metals, it is equally good for
welding metallurgically similar metals that can be
joined by more traditional welding technologies. In
much of todays explosion weld production, common
metal combinations are combined, such as 300 series
stainless steel applied to carbon steel. EXW is utilised

INTRODUCTION
Todays vessel or offshore structure designer faces
complex materials selection problems; he or she must
simultaneously provide a sound structure, minimize
topside weight and protect against marine corrosion
all within a reasonable budget. Unfortunately, no single
structural material can satisfy all of these requirements.
Materials that satisfy corrosion requirements rarely
meet strength, weight or cost criteria.
The usual solution to this problem is to employ a
variety of metals throughout the structure, each selected
for appropriate properties for the specific component.
Many dissimilar metal combinations cannot be welded
by traditional methods and are commonly joined
mechanically by bolting or riveting. The combination of
a crevice at the mechanical joint and galvanic potential
differences between metals, frequently results in
accelerated corrosion in topside or splash zone
environments.
Explosion welded bi-metal transitions components
provide the corrosion control solution.
In 1962 DuPont patented the explosion welding
process (EXW) after developing it in the 1950s. One of
several unique attributes of explosive welding is the
ability to make a metallurgical joint between highly
dissimilar metals. Many of the reactions used in the
chemicals industry are highly corrosive. Metals such as

Proceedings of the 13th Offshore Symposium, February 24, 2004, Houston, Texas
Texas Section of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers
materials ejects metal oxides and surface debris as the
detonation front progresses. The mating surfaces collide
under a pressure of several million pounds per square
inch. The combination of
surface cleaning and extreme pressure produces a
continuous metallurgical weld. Electron microscopy
shows a very thin layer (0.05 - 0.2 m) of micro-fusion
formed at the weld line. The EXW process creates a
high-strength, ductile, metallurgical weld over the
entire surface. Although, the explosion generates
intense heat there is insufficient time for the heat to
conduct into the metals and no bulk heating occurs.
Furthermore, there are no changes in the metallurgical
characteristics or specification compliance of the
component metals.

in many process industry applications, including


refineries and chemical processing equipment as well as
the ship building industry. The technology uses the
same concept for all metal combinations, Figure 1.
TECHNOLOGY
The explosion cladding process uses the energy of
an explosive detonation to create a metallurgical weld
between metals. In preparation, the cladding and base
metal mating surfaces are ground and then fixtured
parallel at a precise spacing. A measured quantity of a
specifically formulated explosive is placed on the
cladding metal surface. The detonation front travels
uniformly across the surface from initiation. The
cladding metal beneath the detonating explosive is
propelled at a specific angle and impact velocity to
collide with the base metal. The resulting momentum
exchange causes a thin layer of material to be spalled
from the mating surfaces preceding the collision point.
An energetic jet comprised of the spalled

PROCESS DESCRIPTION
The EXW cladding process uses the energy of an
explosive detonation to create a metallurgical weld
between metals. In preparation, the cladding and base

Figure 1: Explosion welding process schematic.

Proceedings of the 13th Offshore Symposium, February 24, 2004, Houston, Texas
Texas Section of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers

metal mating surfaces are ground and then fixture


parallel at a precise spacing. A measured quantity of a
specifically formulated explosive is placed on the
cladding metal surface. The detonation front travels
uniformly across the surface from initiation. The
cladding metal beneath the detonating explosive is
propelled to collide with the base metal at a specific
impact velocity and angle. The resulting momentum
exchange causes a thin layer of material to be spalled
from the mating surfaces preceding the collision point.
An energetic jet comprised of the spalled materials
ejects metal oxides and surface debris as the detonation
front progresses. The mating surfaces collide under
pressure of several million pounds per square inch. The
combination of surface cleaning and extreme pressure
produces a continuous metallurgical weld. Electron
microscopy shows a very thin layer (10-5 inch thick) of
micro-fusion formed at the weld line. The explosion
cladding process creates a high-strength, ductile,
metallurgical weld completely over the entire surface.
Although, the explosion generates intense heat there is
insufficient time for the heat to conduct into the metals
and no bulk heating occurs. Further, there are no
changes in the metallurgical characteristics or
specification compliance of the component metals.

MARINE APPLICATIONS
Explosion welded products are used extensively in
the marine and shipbuilding industry to mitigate
corrosion problems. As previously said, galvanic
corrosion is a primary concern where dissimilar metal
connections are required. Galvanic corrosion problems
are significantly increased when the components are
mechanically joined and a crevice is present. Explosion
welded couplings cannot eliminate the conditions, but
they do eliminate the crevice. Absent the crevice, paint
and other common coatings are effective in controlling
galvanic corrosion. The explosion-welded products
increase the design options and improve service life and
save money. Figure 2 presents several examples of
products used in naval ship construction.
Bi-metal joints: Explosion welding solves the
problem of crevice corrosion by eliminating the
mechanical joints.
It produces a crevice-free
metallurgical weld between metals that are not
otherwise weldable. The most common application
employs the transition joint concept. The explosion
welded Transition Joint is produced in an environment
that is appropriate for application of the high energy
technology.
Similar metal welds, for example
aluminum-to-aluminum and steel- to-steel, Figure 3,
can be permantly welded to other components using
traditional welding methods. Examples in the Figure 2

APPLICATIONS

Air conditioning
Shipbuilding and marine bi-metallic transition
joints are one of the oldest applications for
explosion welding [1]. The major product is
welding, structural transition joint connections.
Others are shown in the figure below.

Explosion clad plate is used in many industries:


Chemical process equipment such as pressure
vessels, reactors, heat exchangers
Primary metal production: Melting crucibles,
hydrometallurgy autoclaves, electrical/mechanical
transition joints, and electrochemical cell plates.
Cryogenic pipe transition joints

Figure 2: Examples of explosion welded products used on naval ships.

Proceedings of the 13th Offshore Symposium, February 24, 2004, Houston, Texas
Texas Section of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers
typical examples. Examples in Figure 2 are:
Inconel-steel wear surfaces
Titanium-aluminum RAST posts for bolting alloy
steel plates onto aluminum decks
Bi-metallic studs for corrosion resistant bonding
straps
Other examples include:
Titanium studs with aluminum bases for bolting
Rub Rails to aluminum hulls, Figure 5
Titanium faced Bi-metallic flanges for welding
titanium electrical boxes into steel bulkheads. The
titanium electrical symbols, including lights,
outlets, and switches for example, can then be
bolted into place with a corrosion resistant
titanium-titanium joint., Figure 6.

are:
Aluminum-Steel Bimetallic Transition Joints for
welding aluminum superstructes to steel decks,
Bimetallic rings for welding alloy steel tie-down
assemblies into aluminum decks
Bimetallic rings for welding copper alloy drain
assemblies into aluminum decks
Aluminium is explosion welded to not only steel
but to titanium, bronze and many other metals. The
Figure 4 shows structural transition joint (STJ) bars.
They are sawed from large plates so therefore can be
cut to custom sizes and lengths. Large inventories of
DETACOUPLE STJ are available worldwide. STJ is
stocked by the manufacturer and service centers.

Corrosion Resistant Clad Metals: Explosion


cladding provides the capability to apply large areas of
a corrosion resistant material onto a low cost steel base
structure. Examples include
Externally clad ship hulls (Copper Nickel/Steel)

Corrosion Resistant Make-Break Joints: For


joints that must be disconnected frequently, the
selective use of a galvanically higher metal at the
contact surfaces can provide significantly superior
corrosion control. Inconel , Copper-Nickel, or titanium
contact surfaces on steel or aluminum base metals are

Figure 3 Aluminum-Steel explosion welded bars, DETACOUPLE welding transition joints, provide a
means for welding aluminum to steel in traditional fabrication shops.

Proceedings of the 13th Offshore Symposium, February 24, 2004, Houston, Texas
Texas Section of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers

Figure 4: Structural transition joint (STJ) bars are sawed from large plates so therefore can be cut to custom
sizes and lengths. Large inventories of DETACOUPLE STJ are available worldwide. STJ is stocked by the
manufacturer and service centers.

Figure 5: Aluminium Base Stud with Titanium Threads Often Used to Attach Rub rail to Aluminium Hull

Figure 6: Titanium-Steel electric box mounting flange and attached titanium light fixture.

Proceedings of the 13th Offshore Symposium, February 24, 2004, Houston, Texas
Texas Section of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers
SPECIFICATIONS, TESTS AND INSPECTION:
Detaclad and Detacouple
explosion welded
products are manufacture and tested to stringent
specifications to assure consistent and reliable product
quality.
Aluminum-Steel
Detacouple
STJ
is
manufactured to the requirements of MIL-J-24445A.
All products are 100% ultrasonically inspected to
assure complete welding over the full aluminum-steel
interface. Shear strength tests and tensile tests are
performed to confirm reliable performance under both
shear and tensile stresses. MIL-J-24445A requires a
minimum tensile strength of 11,000 lb/sq-in and shear
strength of 8,000 lb/sq-in. The specification also
invokes First Article Testing of any new product. In
addition to the standard production testing, First
Article Testing includes a battery of fatigue tests and
chisel-type impact tests.
Other marine products are typically manufactured
to proprietary DMC Detaclad and Detacouple
specifications. Testing is similar to that invoked in
MIL-J-24445A but with mechanical testing acceptance
criteria modified to levels appropriate for the metals
combination being produced.
Figure 7 shows the ram tensile tensile test design
commonly used for clad metals. Since Detacouple
STJ products are thin, typically 0.75 or 1.375 thick,
standard tensile testing specimens are not appropriate.
The ram tensile specimen, shown here, is commonly
used.

Figure 7: Ram tensile specimen design.


save money.
REFERENCES
[1] McKenney,C.R.,Banker,J.G.,Explosion-Bonded
Metals for Marine Structural Applications,Marine
Technology,July 1971,p.285-292.

CONCLUSIONS
Explosion welded parts and components offer the
marine designer and constructor options to improve
corrosion resistance. The explosion-welded products
increase the design options, improve service life and