One important piece when searching for a new weld head is the electrode. Yes, the weld head is very important but the electrode has numerous properties that could spell success or doom for your welds. It is important to locate the right electrode for each of your welding jobs. Almost all of the electrodes on the market today are made of tungsten. There are pure, ceriated, and thoriated versions available for usage. Each variety offers different properties, so it is important to check with the manufacturer, your supplier, or online to find out which electrode is right for you.
Pure tungsten melts at a lower temperature during welds, so this causes it to easily form a rounded ball at the tip. When the ball grows too large, it will interfere with your ability to see the weld puddle. Because you cannot see the weld puddle, the arc will become unstable. Ceriated tungsten can withstand higher temperatures and it works very well with the new square wave and inverter machines. So why is this? The ceriated tungsten holds a point longer than a pure tungsten electrode and it starts well at low amperages. Ceriated tungsten can be used on both DC and AC polarities. When you are welding aluminum, it has become acceptable in the industry to grind a point of it on ceriated tungsten. This electrode also allows welding amperages to be increased by twenty five percent compared to pure tungsten of the same diameter.
Pure tungsten electrodes provide good arc stability for AC welding. They are reasonably good at resistance to contamination, but they have the lowest current carrying capacity. They are the least expensive and it maintains a balled end.
Ceriated tungsten electrodes include CeO2 ranging in concentrations of 1.8% to 2.2%. These offer similar performances to thoriated tungsten, has easier arc starting, good arc stability, long life, and it is a possible replacement for thoriated.
Thoriated tungsten electrodes include ThO2 ranging in concentrations of 1.8% to 2.2%. These offer easier arc starting, higher current capacity, greater arc stability, high resistance to weld pool contamination, and it is difficult to maintain balled end on AC.
As you can see there are many different types of electrodes for you to look into. These are incredibly important tools for your welding needs. Be sure not to neglect the purchase of a weld head either because it is also crucial to the welding process.