Notes On Major Changes In ASME Section IX: 2023 Edition

A new edition of ASME Section IX is published every two years. The most recent one was published in July 2023, and becomes effective from January 1, 2024. This article discusses the main changes that have been introduced in the 2023 edition of ASME Section IX.

Changes in Article I: General Requirements

The following are the major changes that have been introduced in the 2023 edition, regarding general requirements contained in Article I.

Person Making Procedure Qualification Test Coupon Need Not Be an Employee

In 2021 edition, QG-106.1 specified that the persons producing procedure qualification test joints shall be either direct employees, or shall be personally hired by contract for welding by the qualifying organization.

Section IX, since the 2019 edition, has laid great emphasis on ‘supervision and control’. The persons making the procedure and performance qualifications must be under full supervision and control of the qualifying organization. The persons performing this role of supervision and control must be designated, and must be competent enough (documented proof must be available) to do this task.

Now, it is understood that for exercising supervision and control, it is not necessary that the person being supervised be an employee. Adequate supervision and control can be exercised over contract personnel too. Hence, this requirement that the person(s) producing procedure qualification test coupon be a direct employee – has been deleted.

Interestingly, this requirement of ‘direct employee’ was applicable to persons making procedure qualification test coupons, not those making performance qualification coupons. This was odd too. What is good for performance qualification must be good enough for procedure qualification too. So, this change makes sense.

Use of Qualifications to Earlier Editions of Code

Section IX has always allowed that WPSs, PQRs, and WPQRs qualified to earlier editions till as far back as 1962 edition can be used for any construction for which the current edition has been specified. Qualifications to editions prior to 1962 also can be used provided requirements of 1962 or any later edition have been met. However, new qualifications shall be done respecting the latest editions only.

The Section IX committee probably felt that involvement of 1962 edition made the matter unnecessarily complex, and didn’t add any significant value. Reference to 1962 edition therefore has been deleted. Qualifications to earlier editions can be used for construction to present edition. Period.

The idea is to prevent extensive redoing of welding qualifications.

Another thing – when a fresh WPS (for construction to the present edition) is written with the help of a PQR qualified to an earlier edition, it must be ensured that the essential (and when required supplementary) variables of the latest edition are satisfied in the PQR.

This was the intent of Section IX. However, this was not directly addressed in Section IX, and this intent was only visible through the interpretation IX-78-32.

The 2023 edition has corrected this anomaly. Second paragraph under QG-108 now states this matter unambiguously.

Changes in Article II: Welding Procedure Qualification

The following are the major changes that have been introduced in the 2023 edition, regarding
procedure qualifications contained in Article II.

Change of Transfer Mode Is Not An Essential Variable

Prior to 2021 edition, if a WPS was qualified with GMAW(S) mode and T < ½’’ (13 mm), the qualified T was limited to 1.1 times the coupon thickness. The lack of fusion problems faced when using GMAW(S) mode for low base metal thicknesses is a function of welder’s skill, and is not dependent on the welding procedure. This was realized, and the restriction of 1.1 times the coupon thickness was lifted, for procedure qualifications, while the same restriction continued to exist for WPQs.

In this edition, it was perhaps thought that change in transfer mode does not affect mechanical properties; GMAW(S) only requires a different skill than others. Hence, transfer mode has been made a non-essential variable now. In table QW-255, QW-409.1 (an essential variable earlier, for transfer mode) has been deleted, and QW-409.32 (a non-essential variable) has been introduced.

The WPS must specify the transfer mode that the welder must adopt.

Consequently, if a coupon is made partly with GMAW(S) and partly with GMAW(pulse) – the two depositions need not be considered separately as two different qualifications. They can be considered one.

This simplifies things, for those who use GMAW(S) in their WPSs.

Transfer mode continues to be an essential variable for performance qualification though.

Introduction of Optional Designator For Shielding Gas

This is a big ticket introduction of this edition. For bare solid CS & LAS fillers used with gas shielded processes (i.e. fillers of SFA-5.18 & SFA-5.28), Section II C – 2023 edition has introduced an optional designator for shielding gas.

This designator, which basically denotes oxygen equivalent of a shielding gas, appears at the end of the filler grade, for example – ER70S-6 OE H/L. ‘OE’ stands for oxygen equivalent, ‘H/L’ stand for the highest and lowest value of oxygen equivalent, and are indicated as numbers.

This means that the said filler will produce the same properties (as laid out in the classification tests of Section II C) when welded with any shielding gas having an oxygen equivalent within this range of ‘H’ and ‘L’. The oxygen equivalent is calculated by the following formula:

%OE = % of O 2 in shielding gas + (0.5 x %CO 2 in shielding gas)

To establish ‘H’ and ‘L’, the filler supplier must make multiple test assemblies, with a minimum of two – one with a shielding gas with OE of ‘H’, another with a shielding gas with OE of ‘L’. All test results must pass the acceptance norms for all classification tests specified in SFA specification.

The need for this designator arose because a filler gives different mechanical properties when used with different shielding gases. For example, the percentage of Mn & Si in weld metal, when the filler is used with a shielding gas of high OE, is lesser than those when the filler is used with a shielding gas of low OE.

Now, use of a OE 50/4 for example, indicates that the filler will meet all properties given under SFA when used with a shielding gas of OE 50, as well as when used with a shielding gas of OE 4, and also when used with a shielding gas of any OE between 50 and 4.

The OE of a shielding gas comprising of 100% CO2 would be 50 (as per above mentioned formula), while OE of a shielding gas comprising of 8% CO2 would be 4. The filler having a designator OE 50/4 will show all properties guaranteed under SFA for all shielding gas combinations having their OE in the range 4 and 50.

Section IX, recognizing this development in Section II C, has included oxygen equivalent as an essential variable under tables for GMAW and GTAW. No new qualification is required if the shielding gas used in production is within the range provided in the designation of electrode.

WPS Preparation Can Be Subcontracted

Section IX has always made it clear that the qualifying organization shall accept full responsibility of PQRs and WPQRs, and shall certify these records. Interpretation IX-18-47 made it clear that although the work of preparing PQR and WPQR can be subcontracted, the function of certifying these records cannot be subcontracted, and must be done by the qualifying organization themselves.

Read: Is it required to approve a WPS?

However, what about the WPSs? Can the work of preparing the WPS be done by a subcontractor, as long as the contractor assumes full responsibility for the production welding?

QW-200.1, till the 2021 edition said that: ‘Each organization shall prepare written WPSs that are…’. Likewise, QW-200.2 began by saying that: ‘Each organization shall be required to prepare a PQR which is…’. This made people think that the Section IX mandates the qualifying organization to perform the clerical work of preparing the WPS, in addition to qualifying it.

However, that is not the intent of Section IX. The above mentioned lines from QW-200.1 and QW-200.2, which gave off the meaning that the organization must prepare the WPS, have been deleted.

In effect, you can have your WPS prepared by an outside agency, as long as the PQR referred on it was qualified by you, and you assume full responsibility for the production welding.

Change Under QW-202.4

When dissimilar thickness joints are welded, QW-202.4(b)(1) allows the thicker member to be of unlimited thickness if the PQR is done on a coupon of ¼ inch (6 mm) or more, for fancy metals such as nickel alloys, titanium alloys, and zirconium alloys, and if the joint is made between similar metals.

For all other metals, this threshold is 1 ½ inch (38 mm); meaning that if the PQR was done on a coupon of thickness 1 ½ inch (38 mm) or more, the thicker side of the production weld can be of unlimited thickness.

Between QW-202.4(b)(1) and QW-202.4(b)(2), another difference besides the thickness threshold is the use of the term ‘similar’. This use of this term under QW-202.4(b)(1) earlier, indicated that the liberty granted by this clause was good only if the joint was made between ‘similar’ metals. This loosely meant that the metals need to be of same P-number, to avail the liberty given in this para. The reply given by Section IX to interpretation IX-17-67 affirmed this thinking.

The committee probably did a rethink on the matter. The word ‘similar’ has been removed.

This means that the liberty granted by QW-202.4(b)(1) is good not just when a joint is made with different P-numbers within the bunch indicated in this clause (for e.g a P-No. 45 + P-No. 43 joint), but also when only one of the sides of the joint consists of a metal having one of those P-numbers (for e.g a P-No. 1 + P-No. 43 joint).

Weave Width To Be Considered In Calculating Heat Input

QW-409.1 tells how to calculate heat input per unit length during welding process. This (V x I x 60 /speed) formula does not take into account the weaving action that many welders deploy during welding. The thinking goes that if a welder does weaving, the resultant speed would be slow, which would reflect in a higher heat input.

Slow travel speed can be in the form of sheer slow speed, or may result from weaving action. In weaving action, the heat is distributed across an area, and is not concentrated over per unit length, and therefore may not result in harming the weld due to high heat input. In other words, the weaving action should be taken into account when calculating heat input.

The 2023 edition takes care of this, albeit only for cladding, at QW-409.26. The strip width in the erstwhile formula has been replaced by bead width. So, the weave width is accounted for. Though, it must be said that the formula should not be called as heat input per unit length; in fact, it is better to call it as heat input per unit area.

The argument remains same for non-cladding welds too. The weave width ought to be part of the heat input calculation formula at QW-409.1. This will probably appear in the 2025 edition of Section IX.

Changes in Article III: Welding Performance Qualification

The following are the major changes that have been introduced in the 2023 edition, regarding performance qualifications contained in Article III.

Welder May Weld With Any Other WPS

Section IX has always intended that a welder (/welding operator) is not limited to the WPS that he used while doing his performance qualification test coupon welding. In fact, he can use any other WPS for production welding, provided he stays within the qualified limits of the essential variables for that process.

This has been clearly spelt at the last paragraph of QW-304 and QW-305 for welders and welding operators, respectively, and also reiterated in interpretation IX-17-44. It was probably felt that this should be said upfront and loudly.

Hence, this matter has been included at the outset, under QW-300.1, and deleted from QW-304 and QW-305.

Engagement In Machine Welding/Automatic Welding Extends Validity For Both

The 2021 edition indicated that the continuity of welding operators doing machine welding and automatic welding be tracked separately, for the purpose of extending the validity of their performance qualifications. That is, engagement in machine welding will not extend validity for automatic welding, and vice versa.

The 2023 edition says that while engagement in machine welding extends validity of both machine and automatic welding, engagement in automatic welding extends validity for automatic welding only.

Multiple Performance Qualifications Are Not Allowed In A Fillet Weld Coupon

Section IX allows us to carry out multiple performance qualifications in a single coupon – be it several welders using the same or a different process, or an individual welder using different processes. This has been laid out under QW-306.

The 2023 edition makes it clear that such multiple qualifications are permitted only for groove weld coupons, and not on fillet weld coupons. This makes sense, because one of the tests for a fillet weld coupon is macro examination, in which complete root fusion is checked. If multiple welders are making a fillet weld, the root fusion skill can be checked only for the first welder.

Use of Optional Designator ‘A’ in ER70S-6 Filler

The 2023 edition of Section II Part C, at SFA 5.18, has introduced use of the optional designator ‘A’ at the end of ER70S-6 fillers. The use of this designator indicates that the filler has restricted manganese and silicon content (Mn < 1.6% and Si < 1%). This allows the weld metal deposited with this filler to be designated as A-number 1 of Section IX (which would otherwise not be possible).

Ordinarily, the specified upper limits of Mn & Si for ER70S-6 filler are 1.85% and 1.15% respectively. This means that the composition cannot be classified under any of the A-numbers under QW-442. Now ER70S-6 is a very commonly used filler, and not being able to assign an A-number to it is not cool, or so the committee felt. Hence, the optional designator has been introduced, which will limit Mn & Si to the limits permitted for A-number 1.

Thus, ER70S-6A filler would meet all requirements of ER70S-6, but vice-versa may not be true.

The practical outcome of this is that ER70S-6A can be specified in a WPS using the support of a PQR qualified with ER70S-2 or ER70S-3, or any other filler which produces weld metal having A-number 1.

It should be noted that this change (use of optional designator ‘A’) has not occurred in Section IX, but has in fact appeared in Section II C. It is included in this article here because it affects directly the code users using Section IX.

Other Changes

Following are other miscellaneous changes that have occurred in 2023 edition, besides the above described changes.

Additive Manufacturing

The exercise of building components through sheer weld metal build up, without use of base metals, in simple terms – is what is called additive manufacturing. A whole new article, Article VI, titled ‘Material Manufacturing Using Wire Additive Welding’ has appeared in Section IX.

It contains rules for qualifying WPSs for additive manufacturing. The table QW-651 contains essential and non-essential variables when additive manufacturing is accomplished with GMAW process. These variables are similar to the variables for ordinary GMAW process, except that multiple coupons are needed – one welded with highest heat i/p & highest inter pass temperature and another welded with lowest heat i/p and lowest inter pass temperature.

The production welding can then be done within this range of qualified heat i/p and inter pass temperature.

What is not very clear is – why could these rules not have been added as a conjunct to QW-255 – the table for ordinary GMAW. Similar to how subsidiary tables are added for corrosion resistant and hard facing overlays along with tables for main welding processes, a table could have been added as QW-255.2 to describe additive manufacturing with GMAW.

Since, parts are mostly made up of weld metal only, it is therefore also necessary to have P-numbers for weld metal, as opposed to having them for base metals. Consequently, under QW-422 (the big table containing P-numbers), a couple of pages have been introduced detailing P-numbers for weld metal produced using commonly used fillers with GMAW, such as ER70S-2 etc. Basically, all fillers under SFA-5.9, SFA-5.18, and SFA5.28 have been assigned a P-number.

What I would like to see in the next edition is P-numbers for fillers classified under other SFA specifications too.

This is needed because – when you do repair in an already welded joint welded with a different process (for e.g. you want to repair with SMAW in a SAW welded joint), it is difficult to judge the applicability of a PQR for that repair. Because, essentially you are welding within a weld metal, not on the base metal.

Unless you can assign a P-number to the weld metal, how then can you judge whether the PQR in your hand is good enough or not.

Impact Testing of Heat Affected Zone

Earlier editions of Section IX allowed that when a PQR has been previously qualified to satisfy all requirements including impact tests, but one or more supplementary essential variables has changed, then it is only necessary to make a new coupon using same procedure but with the changed supplementary essential variables, with the coupon long enough to take out the necessary impact specimens. This remains unchanged in 2023 edition too.

The earlier editions also allowed that when the previously qualified procedure has satisfactory weld metal impact tests, then it is only necessary to do HAZ impact tests, when such are required by the construction code. This provision has been discontinued in the 2023 edition.

The committee probably felt that the when/how many/what temperature/orientation of
specimen/acceptance criteria regarding impact testing is best left to the construction code.

This was all. Thanks for reading. There is a comments section below if you would like to say something.

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