High-strength steel suffers from an increasing susceptibility to solidification cracking in welding due to increasing carbon equivalents. However, the cracking mechanism is not fully clear for a confidently completely crack-free welding process. To present a full, direct knowledge of fracture behavior in high-strength steel welding, a three-dimensional (3-D) modeling method is developed using the extended finite element method (XFEM). The XFEM model and fracture loads are linked with the full model and the output of the thermo-mechanical finite element method (TM-FEM), respectively. Solidification cracks in welds are predicted to initiate at the upper tip at the current cross-section, propagate upward to and then through the upper weld surface, thereby propagating the lower crack tip down to the bottom until the final failure. This behavior indicates that solidification cracking is preferred on the upper weld surface, which has higher weld stress introduced by thermal contraction and solidification shrinkage. The modeling results show good agreement with the solidification crack fractography and in situ observations. Further XFEM results show that the initial defects that exhibit higher susceptibility to solidification cracking are those that are vertical to the weld plate plane, open to the current cross-section and concentratedly distributed compared to tilted, closed and dispersedly distributed ones, respectively.
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