The Effectiveness of Ultrasonic Peening Improvement Treatment in Maintenance and Repair of Bridges

The ultrasonic impact treatment (UIT) is one of the new and promising processes for residual stress relief and fatigue life improvement of welded elements and structures. In most industrial applications this process is also known as ultrasonic peening (UP). The beneficial effect of UP is achieved mainly by relieving of harmful tensile residual stresses and introducing of compressive residual stresses into surface layers of materials, decreasing of stress concentration in weld toe zones and enhancement of mechanical properties of the surface layers of the material. The fatigue testing of welded specimens convincingly confirmed that UP is the most efficient improvement treatment when compared with such traditional techniques as grinding, TIG-dressing, heat treatment, hammer peening, shot peening and application of LTT electrodes. This paper presents an overview of results of a few studies conducted to evaluate the efficiency of Ultrasonic Peening in maintenance and repair of samples comprising bridge welded structural details as well as discussing examples of use of the UP technology on actual bridges. The results of the fatigue testing showed that UP provides significant fatigue improvement of welded elements, with the fatigue life of welded samples increasing after application of UP 4-5 times depending on the level of applied stresses.

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