Electrode types

Table of Contents

The manufacture of metal structures must be carried out by professionals and with the appropriate materials, the electrodes are responsible for joining the metal parts used.
Not all are the same, each type of metal and the place where it is used deserves to work with an electrode capable of meeting specific requirements.

What is the electrode?

A welding electrode is a metal rod coated with different materials, the type of material of both the rod and the coating helps us to classify the types of electrodes that exist and their different uses.

The electrodes are mostly classified according to the characteristics and properties of the filler material and the use they will have, now, what is the filler material? It is the central part of the electrode, the exposed rod that is used for fixing it to the electrode holder.

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The categories of the types of electrodes are defined by two organizations mainly, the AWS (American Welding Society) and the ASME (American Society Mechanical Engineers), these are the most important authorities in the field of welding. welding.

The type of electrode that will be used in each job must be clear, since its final results depend on this.

Electrode types

There are many different types of welding electrodes, and there are many ways to classify them, according to their composition, their use, the way they are presented, among others, here we will classify them into three main categories:

  • coated electrodes.
  • Uncoated electrodes.
  • Continuous or wire electrodes.

coated electrodes

This type of electrode has a metal core formed by the filler material, which is covered by a chemical-based compound.

The function is to create gases to protect the molten metal from the penetration of oxygen and nitrogen from the atmosphere, as well as to prevent sudden cooling in the metal.

 The most used electrodes within this category are:

  • The electrode E6011, is the most used common electrode since it allows working in a greater number of applications, it adapts to many ferrous materials, but we must bear in mind that it is not suitable for all types of work.
  • The E6010 electrode, is a type of electrode quite similar to the E6011 electrode, its use is limited since it can only be used with direct current, while the E6011 with similar characteristics can be applied with direct current and alternating current.
  • The electrode E6013, allows cleaner and better finishes than E6011, it is not recommended to use on strong structures, it has the advantage that it can be used with both alternating current and direct current.
  • The electrode E7018, are electrodes that leave a less porous and brittle final surface, it is recommended for works where the final result will be in contact with water or humid environments, such as pipes or shipyards.
  • The electrode E308, it is used when working on stainless steel, it can be worked with alternating or direct current, its cost is higher than that of common electrodes, such as E6011 and E6013, but if the time and resources saved in other materials are taken into account , by not having to retouch or polish with discs, it is certainly worth opting for this type of electrode.
  • The AW127 electrode, it is blue in some manufacturers' brands, it is used for working with cast and cast iron, it allows working on surfaces that are dirty, with paint, oils or even grease, so its functionality is wide.

uncoated electrodes

They are the type of welding electrode that does not have a coating, they are just a laminated wire, these are used in gas welding processes, called inert atmosphere, to prevent the entry of oxygen and nitrogen.

This type of welding is known as TIG welding, these electrodes are made of tungsten or its alloys, the results obtained with this type of welding are of higher quality and more resistant. It is applicable to most metals, steel, aluminum.

Continuous or wire electrodes

It is a type of continuous electrode, similar to the shape of a thread, hence its name, it allows continuous work. This electrode is supplied automatically and continuously through a feed reel, an example of this type of electrode would be the AW ER 70S6.

The different types of electrodes or in this case welding wires are classified according to their morphology and chemical composition, they are classified into two large groups, solid wires and core wires.

Solid wires are made of a single metal, they usually have the same chemical composition as the material, there are various diameters of this type of electrode, but the most common are 0.6; 0.8; 1.2 and 1.6 millimeters.

In the case of wires with a core and gas protection, their structure is different, they are not made up of a single solid metal, they are made up of granulated powder inside.

This type of continuous electrode has greater stability and more precise penetration than that of solid wire; so a more aesthetic union is achieved.

Nomenclature used to classify electrode types

In the different types of electrodes we can read letters and numbers such as E6013, each element of that definition represents a characteristic of that category of electrodes, let's see what each one means:

  • In the particular example of the E6013, the letter E means the word electrode, so it is sometimes ignored by some manufacturers' brands.
  • The first two numbers, in this case 60, represent the minimum tensile strength, this value must be interpreted in thousands of pounds per square inch, that is, the E6013 supports around 60 thousand pounds per square inch, 60,000 lbs/ (in)2.
  • The third number indicates the position in which the welding must be carried out according to the type of electrode, with the E6013, the number 1 indicates that it can be welded in all positions.
  •  The fourth and last number indicates the type of coating of which the electrode is made, which allows us to define the type of current that we must use, in this example the number 3 indicates that both types of current can be used, alternating or keep going.

How to know what type of electrode to use

We must take into account several key aspects to know what type of electrode we should use,

  • We must identify the type of material where the welding will be done, the thickness, the shape and the condition it is in, if it has rust or paint.
  • The type of union that we must obtain in the final work, since in this way we can define the penetration that we need from the electrode.
  • The specific requirements of the work we are doing, the minimum resistance it must have, the heat transfer capacity, among others.
  • The position and orientation in which the weld will be made.
  • The type of current that will be used to perform the welding is one of the most important elements that you must take into account, there are machines that only deliver direct current and others that only work with alternating current.

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