What Are Welding Electrodes?

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Last Updated on August 4, 2021 by weldinghubs

Are you new to welding or have some previous experience in a relevant field? If you ever spend some time in the welding field, you know about the role and importance of welding electrodes. Every welding technique requires a different type of electrode according to their amperage and current style. Therefore, it is essential to choose the welding electrode carefully.

If you are a beginner, then you may not have an idea about welding electrodes. Don’t worry. I am here to hold your back. It is not difficult to understand the welding electrodes as it is the key to the welding industry. So let’s first talk about “What Are Welding Electrodes?”

Welding electrodes consist of metal wires to sustain the welding arc and work as filler between metal joints. These metal wires have a chemical coating with baking to make them sustainable. This chemical coating protects the welding arc from damage and helps to improve the welding results. It has consumable, non-consumable types, and every variety has a specific chemical coating.

So welding electrodes are the backbone of welding techniques. Let’s discuss all the relevant facts and figures to make it more straightforward for you.

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What Are The Different Types Of Welding Electrodes?

As I already said that every welding technique different type of welding electrode, so it means it has various types. Welding electrode types include consumable and non-consumable welding electrodes according to their functionality and strength.

Welding techniques including MIG and stick welding require consumable welding electrodes as they require material to join the metal pieces referred to as filler.

TIG requires non-consumable welding electrodes like tungsten that don’t melt the metal. Instead, it supplies the filler material through a separate manual wire.

So the main difference between them is their melting capacity as consumable electrodes melt the metal, and non-consumable electrodes don’t melt to get the filer material.

Let’s first discuss its type in detail so you can effectively choose them based on their strength and weakness.

01) Consumable

Stick, MIG, and flux welding techniques consider consumable electrodes as the primary tool. If we talk about stick welding, then you may know it as stick electrodes. However, it also includes other types that are suitable for different welding techniques.

Consumable electrodes are further categorized as light-coated electrodes, bare electrodes, and shield arc electrodes.

a) Light-coated electrodes

You may get from its name that it has a thin coating of chemicals applied through spray or brushing methods. Every electrode has a different composition of coating material. Nevertheless, it is somehow similar to the metal for which you use it to weld.

Now you may think that its light coating reduces its stability. But it is not valid. This light coating also has several purposes, as it reduces the impurities to provide better quality weld. Keep in mind that sulfur and oxide impurities make the weld rough, so they need to be removed during the welding process. Moreover, the light-coated electrodes consistently melt the filler material to create a reliable and smooth beads weld.

Its coating is thin, but the resulted slag is not thick to provide it stability and durability. Shielded arc electrodes require light-coated electrodes to bear their temperatures and arc intensity.

b) Bare electrodes

Bare electrodes are free from chemical coating to so it isn’t easy to use them. The welding electrode is the best option to control the arc, but bare electrodes are challenging and unstable. Keep in mind that light coating electrodes increase the electric arc stability and make it easy to use and manage. Bare electrodes are not suitable for every material. It is best to weld the manganese steel.

c) Shielded arc electrodes

Shielded arc electrode has various coating layers for multiple purposes. It has three layers consist of cellulose, minerals, and a combination of both.

The cellulose layer serves as a gas layer for protecting the weld and refers to a protective coating. Minerals produce the slag and third layer, combining cellulose and minerals to enhance its results. However, the gas layer makes an effective barrier between the welding zone and environmental air. It also protects the welding zone from gases like oxygen and nitrogen. These gases can react with welding temperature and result in porous and brittle welding beads.

Moreover, shielded arc electrode plays a significant role in minimizing the impurities like sulfur and oxide. These impurities can quickly penetrate base metal and destroy the weld. However, these coated electrode materials stable the electric arc and make it more reliable and easy to control.

The mineral coating produces a slag that may create trouble while removing it, but it also has some benefits. With all these benefits, you will get a clean, durable, and robust weld that is clearer.

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02) Non-consumable

The non-consumable welding electrode is another type of rodes that is easy to handle and understand. It doesn’t melt the metal to get filler material. Still, it has two basic types, including carbon and tungsten electrodes.

a) Carbon electrodes

Carbon electrodes are not specific for welding purpose, but it is also essential for cutting the metal pieces. It contains carbon graphite and is coated with a thin layer consist of copper. However, the American welding society didn’t issue any rules regarding it, so there are no specific features to explain.

Every manufacturer builds carbon electrodes with different specifications and strives to make them more reliable.

b) Tungsten electrodes and their different kinds

Tungsten electrode is a type of non-consumable electrode. TIG welding technique specifically uses the Tungsten electrode.

There are different types of Tungston electrodes and come with carious markings. Pure tungsten electron has green markings that contain the 0.3 and 0.5% zirconium, tungsten with 2% thorium include red, whereas the tungsten with 1% thorium has the yellow mark.

However, it has limited uses as pure tungsten is only reliable for light wedding jobs. It has two primary reasons that restrict its usage.

  • Pure tungsten don’t have strength and durability
  • Pure tungsten cant withstand the high current

0.3 to 0.5% zirconium containing tungsten provides alternating current, but it is still not good enough as the tungsten electrode with thorium content. Thorium-containing tungsten electrode is comprehensive and long-lasting than any other electrode. However, these electrodes provide a great arc that is easy to handle and start the welding procedure.

Tungsten electrode is suitable for the higher current that requires for welding the plain and cylindrical metals.

Keep in mind that more excellent arc value is challenging to control. So you should check the tips to use this electrode and select the starting DC welding machine. It helps to improve the durability of tungsten electrodes and provides better results.

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What Is The Most Commonly Used Welding Rod?

Several times, I already clear that every welding technique and metal demand different types of welding electrodes. So it would help if you chose the welding rod according to the metal to be weld and your welding technique.

However, here are some commonly used welding rods along with their suitable materials.

  • 6010 and 6011 rods: It is best for welding dirty metals and deep penetration. You can use this welding rod in any position and direction.
  • 6013: It works best for mild penetration and is suitable for every position on dirty metals.
  • 7018: It is best to weld the clean metals with mild penetration.
  • 7024: It is suitable for a flat position that requires mild penetration on clean metals.

Moreover, keep in mind that metal and electrode composition must look at that generally affect welding properties.

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How To Choose Welding Electrodes?

Choosing a welding electrode is not a difficult task. It would help if you considered few things according to your welding job requirements.

Here are few things that you need to consider before choosing a welding electrode.

  • The polarity of the welding electrode
  • The current welding technique
  • Base metal
  • Tensile strength
  • Ductility
  • Weld position

I mention different electrode types above light-coated electrodes with light coating with a spray of brushing. In contrast, the heavily coated electrodes have a heavy layer created by the extrusion or dripping. Both heavy and light coated electrodes are specific for different metal types, so choose them accordingly.

How To Read The Code On Stick Electrodes?

Now I hope you will have all the information related to welding electrodes. So it’s time to dive deep down regarding welding electrodes and their classifications.

Stick electrodes have different classifications that depend on other factors, including welding position, diameter, tensile strength, and coating material. However, every stick electrode has some coating material that represents its properties and assists you in understanding it.

For example, if you have the E6010, which represents its properties. The E refers to the electrode, and the first two digits following the E represent its tensile strength. So 60 is the tensile strength that means it has 60,000 pounds strength per inch. If you have 70 instead of 60 at as first two digits, it has 70,000 pounds per inch tensile strength. Moreover, if it has five digits, estimate the tensile strength with the first three digits after E.

Moreover, the 2nd last digits indicate the position of the welding electrode. One at the third position of 6010 shows applicable for all positions, including overhead, flat, vertical, and horizontal. The last digit indicates the coating.

What Is The Proper Way To Store And Re-Dry Stick Electrodes?

Stick electrodes need to be stored accurately to maintain their quality and enhance longevity. Stick welding electrodes absorb moisture from the atmosphere and lead to cracking due to rusting. Its operational attributes may also be reduced.

So if you also have stick electrodes, then ensure that it’s adequate storage and re-drying procedure. It provides a better quality weld and helps to maintain its operational control.

Stick electrodes also have different variations that demand additional requirements for storage and re-drying. So here are some tips for storing come common stick electrodes.

  • Low hydrogen stick electrodes need to be perfectly dry before and after use. Store it in ambient temperature ranging between 120 to 150 Celcius
  • E8018 need to be fry and store at 370 to 430-degree Celcius
  • If your stick electrode remains at open temperature, ensure that it doesn’t contain enough moisture and heat over 40 to 50 degrees Celcius to lower the moisture level.

Keep in mind that high temperature is not suitable for the stick electrodes.

What Is The Price Of The Electrode?

The price of electrodes varies according to their type, material, and quality. So every welding electrode demands a different price that also depends on its maintenance cost. However, the average cost of welding electrodes is $3000. So choose it carefully according to your requirement.

Conclusion

If you are a beginner, then after reading this article, you will have a complete understanding of welding electrodes. Ensure that you follow every tip to select the welding electrode as every welding technique demands different electrodes for providing the desire results.

I hope this article will help you in your welding carrier and choosing the welding electrode.

FAQ

What are welding electrodes made of?

Every welding electrode manufacturer uses two components in its making. One is the actual metal, and the other is flux coating. Base metal varies in every electrode manufacturing. The commonly used base metals include mild steel, high tensile steel, bronze, aluminum, cast iron, stainless steel, and many more.

What is the strongest welding rod?

The strength of the welding electrodes is based on tensile strength. However, the E6011 welding rod considers as the strongest electrode due to its 60,000 psi tensile strength. The rods with above tensile strength are strong enough to provide maximum tensile strength.

What is the easiest welding rod to use?

Welding rod having thick flux, high iron content, and suitable for every position is easy to use. Electrode with these qualities provides smooth weld with minimum spatter and quiet arc.

What is the function of welding electrodes?

Welding electrodes are wires consist of metal along with chemical baking. These welding electrodes provide sustainable welding arc and required filler material. However, the chemical coating prevents damages and provides a stable weld.

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