Tungsten Electrode Applications
Tungsten is an uncommon metallic element that is used in the manufacturing of TIG (or GTAW) electrode. The TIG electrode demand the type of hardness and high temperature resistance that tungsten alone can provide. This is because tungsten electrode are meant to carry the welding current to the arc. It is to be noted that tungsten has an inconceivably high melting point when compared with other metals.
These electrode come in different sizes and lengths and are available either as pure tungsten or a hybrid of tungsten mixed with other rare earth elements and oxides. Choosing the right electrode depends on the type and thickness of the base material and whether you are going to weld with alternating or direct current.
Pure tungsten electrode are expected to contain nearly 100% tungsten and have the maximum consumption rate of all electrode. Tungsten electrode are strangely less costly than its alloyed counterparts. These electrode form a balled tip when heated and provide great arc stability for AC welding with balanced wave. Pure tungsten also provides good arc stability for AC sine wave welding - for aluminum and magnesium welding.
Thoriated tungsten electrode with red end color contain a minimum of 97.30% tungsten and balance thorium. These electrode are the most widely used electrode and are known for longevity and easy use. Thorium is highly useful in increasing the electron emission qualities of the electrode. Thus, it improves arc starts and enables a higher current carrying capacity. It also results in a lower level of weld contamination than other electrode.
Ceriated tungsten electrode with orange end color contain a minimum of 97.30% tungsten and balance cerium. These electrode are known to perform remarkably well in DC welding at low current settings. With its excellent arc starts at low amperages, ceriated tungsten are widely used as orbital tube and pipe manufacturing, thin sheet metal work or jobs where small and delicate parts are welded.
Lanthanated tungsten electrode, whose end color is blue, contain a minimum of 97.80% tungsten and balance lanthanum. These electrode are known for their excellent arc starting as well as arc stability, low-burn-off rate and quick re-ignition capabilities. The fact is, in select cases, lanthanated tungsten electrode can replace 2% thoriated without having to make significant welding program changes.
Zirconiated tungsten electrode, whose end color is white, contain a minimum of 99.10% tungsten and balance zirconium.Zirconiated tungsten electrode is capable of stable arc and it resists tungsten spitting. The added feature is its current carrying capability which is equal if not more than thoriated tungsten. Zirconiated electrode are unsuited for DC welding.
Rare earth tungsten electrode with gray end color contain unspecified additions of rare earth oxides or a mixture of different oxides. However, manufacturers will indicate each additive and its percentage on the outer label. Depending on the additives, you can obtain a stable arc in both AC and DC processes as also more longevity.
Finally, it may be said that the arc quality and welding performance you achieve will largely depend on the type and shape of tungsten electrode you use. Each of these six types of tungsten has its own merits and shortcomings. It is therefore critically important you choose the right tungsten appropriate for each application.
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Specification for Tungsten and Oxide Dispersed Tungsten electrode for Arc Welding and Cutting