Invitation to take interest in high-performance steel structures for cyclic-loading ("fatiguing") applications

Why this introduction?

So you can see that my background makes it the case that I am the one telling you this possibility. Not anyone else...
So you can see the inevitability that it would be someone with my background who has seen the possibility.
So you can brace yourself for the challenge. So you can be ready to work with someone who has the spectrum of abilities to see this through.
That might be quite a thought, in itself.
To which you should think : your group could be at the origin of a change where, on best preview estimate, the design service stress-range at-least doubles.

Technical case right-away

Right now, you can see the technical case; this article
Proposal : research path to high-strength steel fatigue-resistant welded structures
where fairly-much all is there.

The goal at a glance...
These are "S-N curve" fatigue-endurance results and trends.
Lines on the graph ("trends"):
"Class F" is the historic performance of fillet welds.
"Class B" is the fatigue performance of steel-mill sections and plates.
Test FCAW fillet weld results are arrowed.

The FCAW result at the "Class B" line has done 5.9X the expected endurance to break, unbroken and with no detectable cracks.
So is showing the fatigue performance of the steel it is joining.
I know what I did to the welding conditions to cause that - easy and repeatable.
That is what we want, is reasonable, and is the minimum goal I am setting-out.
Confirmed, that would mean 2.2X the acceptable cyclic stress-range. The basis of the "at-least double" suggestion.
There are reasons the final outcome could be better than that.

It is well worth reading and considering the case presented as
Proposal : research path to high-strength steel fatigue-resistant welded structures

My background


You need to consider what it is that makes me the one to present this case and the means to fulfill the promise it offers.

I started my working life in manufacturing, in the Sheffield steel industry

As it just so happens...
I've put together a "CV" in the form of my career in pictures , which takes you though to to 2016.
Since then I have worked as a welder, and have usually not been able to take pictures of what I have been working on.
I am now a "Coded" welder, working on structures with significant specifications.

Other technical skills inputs

The picture would not be complete and wouldn't make sense without these.

In younger teenage years I had interest in "workshop" skills. That passed into motorcycles as a late teenager, where I resurrected machines in poor condition, fine-tuned all machines I had, and did all my own mechanics. In perspective - I did major rebuilds on 4-cylinder double-overhead-cam engines (high-end for performance and complexity), for the likes of "blown" gearbox, etc.
I got mentoring from a neighbour who was also an enthusiast.

By the way - I got my first welding machine when I was about 14 years of age. I didn't have a mentor to develop that skill at the time - but the "seed" of interest had been planted.

Those finely-detailed practical skills fed into my research. Harnessed in relation to the structure and discipline of my University education in Metallurgy, and made me the person who saw the way to "open a window into the physical world" and progress the topic I was engaged to investigate.


Interested in my work, my education developed - which lead to me doing research.

All my research has combined my practical backgrounds of work and technical interests with developing intellectual skills and the structures of theoretical knowledge.

My Doctoral research was less-typical.
I think it is true to say that most Ph.D.'s come from those achieving highly at first Degree level joining prestigious research groups. Where there is mentoring, established equipment and techniques, a body of knowledge within the group, etc.
My Doctoral research was a one-off Industrial CASE - EPSRC [external link] between science and industry, for a specific project.
Which also means that initial objective is immutable, as the industrial side is struggling with a technical issue and you must "stay the course" and get to the bottom of that issue.
Where in a "research group" project you can retrofit the objective to fit where the research took you.
So for this and other reasons, you produce a very different person and scientist with a science-industry cooperative project.

I describe my Doctorate , and delegate to that article. Apart from making two points

The methods which worked were alignments sighted by simultaneous consideration of enabling me to be granted a "window" into the physical mechanisms governing what I set out to study.

For a Doctoral / Ph.D. research project to go through two universities and three supervisors might be a record, albeit regrettable.
Available on-line - my thesis in the Brunel University archive [27MB PDF]. Using "unix" computers to "number-crunch" out the answers for welds also enabled me to be one of the earliest ones to offer a digital version of my Thesis.

Moving onwards; I worked in the USA for a year, developing metal casting methods , more - that being in 2001.

As "the white-collar world" wasn't getting me towards any goals, I crossed into the world of construction sites and steel fabrication shops as a Tradesperson welder and steel-erector (N.Am. "ironworker") - see again my career in pictures .
Importantly to this portfolio;
my engineering knowledge increased in that time something like a thousand-fold, puzzling what I saw on construction sites with mentoring from those I met attending UK Welding Institute meetings.

With the "credit crunch" and work not coming though, I went for my weld engineering qualification.
Next important step to this portfolio;
part of the course content being the project on fatigue resistant welds , report , - the success and findings of which are why you are reading this introduction now.

The "punchline"

I combine practical skills and theoretical skills.
Repeatedly I attain remarkable goals via paths only accessible to someone who has the combined ability.
I am offering another utilisation of that ability.

Work - last decade - technical

From the welding engineering Masters Degree I went into oil and gas industry engineering offices in London and surrounding region for the two years the oil price remained high.

I got training to the PCN [external link] syllabus Level2 in Radiography and Ultrasonic Testing (own examples).
Both useful if you host this work.

Then we connect to the fatigue-resistant welds story again, when I worked on the 3rd Bosphorus Bridge project ( article ) in Turkey for Hyundai, the lead contractor. Coming to the steel-structure phase of the bridge - the 1.4km span 60m width bridge deck and other steel features.
Pictures - the nature of the task and the work deck , shipyard subcontractors , bridge , bridge .

I represented Hyundai on fatigue-resistant steel structure in project meetings. With issues as detailed in my article , section "The story of fatigue-resistant weld design".
In that story - using my ability to design ad hoc fatigue testing programmes I suppressed an engineering oversight Consultancy engaged by the Client who were making bogus fatigue-design contentions costing in the US$hundreds-of-millions in disruption.
I also had to lead on weld specification issues, and significantly drove correct use of Non-Destructive Testing.
Obviously - I got detailed experience of a large bridge project. Reasons to consult with the designers increased the benefitted to my knowledge.

Returning to Britain the realities here have had me working as a welder.
I am now a Coded welder on steel structure with significant specifications.
This has had me as a "key worker" during the "Covid19" pandemic, and I have been working non-stop until two weeks ago.
In the time of the Autumn/Winter "lockdown" with the pandemic, I have put-through the portfolio of tests which has caused the re-activation of interest in the fatigue-resistant welds opportunity.
It is in the nature of the work that photography is not permitted and I cannot present a portfolio on this.

Research interest re-launched

See Steel Structural Performance index-page . I have re-engaged with investigative endeavour.
The restarting "U-RHS project" began as practicing welding skills to pre-empt "the learning curve" for butt-welding Rectangular Hollow Sections landing on "client" fabrications.
But where I put a hydraulic jack between the ends of the "U", per tentative "sneaky" ulterior motive :-)

The result - the entire progression presented in the index-page .

So, here I am 3 months later, where I "accidentally" found a way to restart a line of research ( web , report ) suggesting that all new bridges in the World could bear at least double the currently mandated stress-range.

Something detailed I will explain...
There are two massive applications of steel crucial to the global economy which are cyclically-loaded, so fatigue performance is critical and always being re-examined. Regarding application of my findings to these two

So it's bridges, with note of other like applications with similar stress service such as cranes and machinery.

I have

how it comes about that you are reading this from me, at this moment.

Hosting this endeavour would be as tough as it is rewarding.
If you believe that you and your organisation have

to host this work, I would be interested to hear from you.

Facilities needed and type of organisation

What facilities will be needed to host this project?
Fairly basic...

The main tests use a custom test rig which is easily built. The supporting facilities needed are common basic facilities.

A local centre of excellence in vocational education could host this work if it has an enthusiastic Engineering department and the backing of a benevolent national body, eg a welding institute, providing occasional high-level mentoring.

A University or Polytechnic with an engineering department could certainly host this work.

Last but not least...

I have had to "plough a lone furrow" for so long.
So becoming a team with shared interests but different backgrounds feeding the endeavour would be fantastic, "at long last!". All folk "on the tools" network, so that's not a critical judgement. An in-house team of engineering academics who have "bust their brains" around equations all their careers and totally love being a part of a practical endeavour on world-changing engineering performance would be great.

Local links which might be useful

Contact me

If you want to discuss these concepts and/or opportunities, use my Contact Form to privately send me your contact details.

(R. Smith, 09Feb2021 (prior version), 20Dec2022 (adapted here), 20Dec2022 (edits inc. links), 27Jan2023 (shipyd pic link), 03Jul2023 (contact link), 10Jul2023 (fatg links))