University of Leicester, www2.le.ac.uk

A tiny, 6-mm fault in a weld led to the 1980 wreck of the Norwegian ship Alexander Kielland and the loss of 123 lives. To better understand weld failures that start as such minute imperfections, the Univ. of Leicester in England is heading a $7.1 million project called MintWeld which includes 11 partners from seven countries.

The goal of MintWeld is to develop an accurate and predictive software-modeling package that incorporates welding knowledge from industrial experiments and state-of-the-art laboratories. Besides saving lives, the software should also help cut costs from lost production due to weld failure. These potential costs could be in the rang of several billion dollars.

“Welding is a vital process in our manufacturing economy,” says project leader Hong Dong from the university’s engineering department. “In fact, it is estimated that over 50% of global domestic and engineering products contain welded joints.”