Whether you’re faced with simple or complex welding issues, you can eliminate the need for extensive and costly physical testing and prototyping by use of virtual welding (modeling and simulation) technology to solve your fabrication problems.
What the Product does for the User
VFT®, Virtual Fabrication Technology, is a computer based software suite that allows designers to know potential weld induced distortion and residual stress states so that weld design strategies can be implemented to significantly reduce or eliminate these undesirable states prior to fabrication.
VFT® is applied, maintained, and distributed by Engineering Mechanics of Columbus (EMCC).
The user needs to provide information that describes the structure to be welded (e.g. geometry, weld material properties, structure material properties, weld type, torch speed, number of weld passes, etc), which is input to the solution process via a graphical user interface (GUI).
The user receives the results of the VFT® analysis, which includes distortion values (deformations) of the structure and residual stresses due to welding. These results are provided in graphical format (contour and fringe plots) and tabular values at selected locations on the structure. This type of information permits the designer to employ control strategies (e.g. weld sequencing and clamping) to reduce or eliminate distortions and residual stress states induced by welding.
VFT® welding design software is not only useful in reducing/eliminating distortion and residual stress states due to welding processes but is used to establish the strategy for weld repairs. For example, in pipe type structures a defect may only be part way around the circumference so only a partial repair would be necessary.
VFT® software has been used very effectively to evaluate and design partial repairs.
Welding Different Materials
Also, VFT® is used to analyze and design welding parts together that are of different materials.
Development of VFT®
VFT® software was created and developed through a program sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the mid- to late-90’s to enhance global competitiveness of U.S, based heavy material products’ manufacturers.
Development of Virtual Fabrication Technology® (VFT®)
The NIST sponsored program was lead by a team of U.S. organizations headed by Caterpillar Inc. Peoria, Ill., with team members Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, Ohio, Lincoln Electric, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. Steel, Gary, IN, and Tower Automotive, Milwaukee, WI. VFT® was developed to simulate welding induced distortions and to deal with advanced structures using intelligent and synergistic materials processing. This team comprised companies that each had specific capabilities for the manufacture of metallic products:
- Caterpillar - Manufacture of large on- and off-road vehicles
- Battelle - Technology leader
- Lincoln Electric - Welding knowhow/technology, consumables & welding equipment
- U.S. Steel - Materials producer, plate/stock provider
- Tower Automotive – Tier One parts supplier to automotive industry (frames, bumpers, etc.)
As such, this team possesses the range of technologies and experiences needed to address the main focus/goal of the program, i.e., enhance fabrication processes that result in improved product performance, better product quality, less maintenance, improved warrantability and cost less.
EMCC’s VFT® Responsibilities
EMCC is the current gatekeeper for VFT® and is responsible for all sales, licensing and fee-for-service activities involving VFT®. Additionally, EMCC works cooperatively with CAT on a continuing basis to improve the software code. Feedback from code users provides insight for potential code improvements. These suggested improvements are reviewed by CAT and EMCC on a regular basis and common improvements are prioritized and implemented based on time and funding availability. For example, originally the structural part of the weld problem solution was performed solely via the commercial code ABAQUS (Simulia) and there is fee (license) for ABAQUS use. For non-small weld problems, the solution procedure is typically performed using parallel processing which requires multiple licenses per the parallel solution process. This can cause a prohibitive cost burden for some organizations. To remedy this situation, CAT and EMCC have implemented a public domain (open source and no fee) solver as an option for problem solution. Use of the open source solver (WARP3D) has been validated by comparison of results with those obtained using the ABAQUS solver. Other enhancements to the code are currently being reviewed and plans for potential implementation are underway.
Contact 614-776-5720 and ask for Rich Markham.