What is PWHT?
Postweld heat treatment (PWHT), defined as any heat treatment after welding, is often used to improve the properties of a weldment.
The need for PWHT is driven by code and application requirements, as well as the service environment. In general, when PWHT is required, the goal is to increase the resistance to brittle fracture and relaxing residual stresses.
Other desired results from PWHT may include hardness reduction, and material strength enhancements.
Stress relief heat treatment is used to reduce the stresses that remain locked in a structure as a consequence of manufacturing processes. There are many sources of residual stresses, and those due to welding are of a magnitude roughly equal to the yield strength of the base material. Uniformly heating a structure to a sufficiently high temperature, but below the lower transformation temperature range, and then
uniformly cooling it, can relax these residual stresses. Carbon steels are typically held at 1,100 to 1,250°F (600 to 675°C) for 1 hour per inch (25 mm) of thickness.