Welding Electrodes – The Fundamentals

By ced •  Updated: 07/07/21 •  5 min read

The welding electrodes are used to conduct electrical current from the power source to the work piece. The welding electrodes can be of either carbon or non-carbon types. The most common form of welding electrode is the straight rod, although there are also multi-strand electrodes that are made up of several wires woven together.

Why are welding electrodes used?

The electrodes are used to create a weld and to maintain a molten state. They are used because they are available, easy to use, and less expensive than arc welding. The electrodes also produce a small amount of heat that is sufficient to melt the metals in the workpiece. This heat, however, is insufficient for an arc welding process to occur.

How are welding electrodes made?

The electrodes used in arc welding are typically made from graphite powder. They are formed into wire shaped pieces and then covered by a protective coating such as plastic or rubber. The electrode is placed on the filler metal and the power source is connected via cable to the cable clamp. When current flows through the electrode, it produces heat that melts the filler metal. The molten filler metal flows down the electrode and forms a weld.

How does it work?

A weld joint is created when a metal surface is joined by melting and solidification. This melting and solidification process is referred to as a weld because it produces a strong bond between two or more pieces of metal at room temperature. The name “welding electrode” refers to the device that is used in this process as well as the instrument, which uses electricity to create this bond between metal surfaces.

Types of Welding Electrodes

There are three basic types of welding electrodes. These are carbon, non-carbon, and gas-shielded electrodes. The difference between each type is in the metal used for the electrode and the type of current that is passed across it during welding.

Carbon electrodes are made from a heavy metal such as tungsten or molybdenum, which has a high melting point. These electrodes are ideal for making welds with steel as well as some other metals that can withstand high temperatures such as aluminum, titanium and many others. Carbon electrodes are also used to make self-shielded electrodes. These types of welders require a high voltage and therefore must be used with an electrical supply. The maximum voltage that can be applied to a carbon electrode is around 2,500 volts.

Non-carbon electrodes are also made from tungsten or molybdenum, but they have different properties than carbon electrodes. Non-carbon electrodes melt at much lower temperatures than carbon electrodes (around 850 degrees Fahrenheit compared to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit). This makes non-carbon welds much more forgiving and easier to make. They are the best choice for welding aluminum, titanium, magnesium and many other metals that require very high temperatures but not necessarily high voltage. Non-carbon welders are also called flux cored or flux-cored welders because they use a special type of flux to initiate the weld.

Gas-shielded electrodes are created with specialized equipment that uses a gas such as argon or krypton to shield the metal being welded from the outside atmosphere. These types of welders are used for many materials including magnesium, aluminum and stainless steel. The gas shield protects the weld from atmospheric corrosion and also prevents oxygen from coming into contact with the welding electrode which can result in bad welds. The gas shield also prevents gases such as nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and argon from causing corrosion to the metal being welded. Gas-shielded electrodes are used when welding aluminum, magnesium and some other metals that require high temperatures but not much voltage. They are also called flux cored or flux-cored welders because they use a special type of flux to initiate the weld.

1. Carbon Electrodes

Carbon electrodes are used in most standard, manual and semi-automatic arc welding systems. Carbon electrodes are used to make both self-shielded and submerged arc welds. Self-shielded electrodes are used for making electrical contact with the workpiece and submerged arc electrodes are used for making contact with the workpiece while it is submerged in water. When working with stainless steel, carbon electrodes must be made from tungsten or molybdenum to be able to withstand high temperatures. Carbon electrodes can also be made from tungsten or molybdenum if they have been coated with a special type of flux.

2. Gas-shielded Electrodes

Gas-shielded electrodes are used to weld with metals that require high temperatures, such as aluminum, magnesium and stainless steel. The gas shield prevents oxygen from entering the welding area and can protect the weld from atmospheric corrosion. Gas-shielded electrodes are also used to make welds in water when submerged arc welding is not possible because the metal being welded would corrode. Flux-cored electrodes use a special type of flux to initiate the weld. Gas-shielded electrodes are most often used by hand welder’s who do not have access to a power source or large industrial welder. Gas-shielded welding machines are also used in production facilities, hospitals and schools.

3. Non-Carbon Electrodes

Non-carbon electrodes are used to weld aluminum, titanium and magnesium because they melt at much lower temperatures than carbon electrodes. These types of welders are also called flux-cored or flux-cored welders because they use a special type of flux to initiate the weld. They are sometimes referred to as gas-cored welding electrodes because they use a gas such as argon or krypton to shield the metal being welded from the outside atmosphere. When working with stainless steel, non-carbon electrodes must be made from tungsten or molybdenum to be able to withstand high temperatures. Non-carbon electrodes can also be made from tungsten or molybdenum if they have been coated with a special type of flux.

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