Choosing the proper welding electrode for a specific project ensures the proper arc start and a strong weld. Welders often identify electrodes using the American Welding Society numbering system. However, a number of proprietary electrodes are available that do not use the AWS Classification system. Electrodes, also referred to as welding rods, can be purchased in sizes ranging from 1/16 to 5/16 inch.
Common Mild Steel Electrodes
E6010 welds in all positions using DCRP. Producing a deep weld, E6010 is one of the most commonly used rods for farm usage, wrought iron, structural welding, jigs and general maintenance.
E6011 and E6013 produce welds similar to E6010, but both can be used with AC and DC currents. Popular with home welders, E6011 works well on hobby-type machines and sheet metal applications.
The coating on E7018 maintains a low moisture content, reducing hydrogen introduction to the weld. Medium penetration occurs with both AC and DC. The rods must be dried in a rod over prior to usage.
E80 LV Red works well on both AC/DC straight or reverse polarity in all positions for tacking on thin, medium and heavy mild steel sections.
Hard Surface Electrodes
Electrodes beginning with HS indicate usage on hard surfaces. Often used on heavy equipment, such as bulldozer tracks, HS-2C and HS-65W provide superior wear resistance and abrasion tolerance. Electrodes with proprietary names, such as Super Join-M, may also be used on hard-surface applications. Super Join-M provides a corrosion-resistant weld with severe impact protection on a variety of iron-based metals.
Stainless Steel Electrodes
308L, 309L and 316L utilise both AC and DC currents when welding stainless steel. In general 308 indicates stainless to stainless welding, while 309 indicates stainless to carbon welding. When followed by a "-17", as in 308L-17, the current used is AC/DC reverse.
Stainless steels are identified by their own specific numbering system. For example, 308L electrodes are typically used with 304 and 302 stainless steel. The numbers sometimes correspond, as in 316L electrodes with 316L-type steels. However, the electrodes often overlap their usage on several different types of stainless steels.
Alloys and Specialty Metal Electrodes
Endless electrode choices are available to the welder, with new types of rods introduced every year for alloys, speciality metals and unique welding applications. When choosing an electrode for high alloy metals, the electrode is usually identified using abbreviations that correspond with the periodic table or by proprietary name. For example, in Ni-Matrix, the "Ni" refers to nickel. Resistant welding alloys containing chrome copper may begin with the letter C, as in C18200.