** Arc Welding Electrode Classification System. **

The SMAW electrode classification code contains an E and three numbers, followed by a dash and either “15” or “16” (EXXX15). The E designates that the material is an electrode and the three digits indicate composition. Sometimes there are letters following the three digits; these letters indicate a modification of the standard composition. The “15” or “16” specifies the type of current with which these electrodes may be used. Both designations indicate that the electrode is usable in all positions: flat, horizontal, vertical and overhead.

The “15” indicates that the covering of this electrode is a lime type, which contains a large proportion of calcium or alkaline earth materials. These electrodes are usable with dc reverse-polarity only.

The designation “16” indicates electrodes that have a lime-or titania-type covering with a large proportion of titanium-bearing minerals. The coverings of these electrodes also contain readily ionizing elements, such as potassium, to stabilize the arc for ac welding.

Electrode Chemical Requirements.

The AWS (American Welding Society) divides SMAW?(Shielded Metal Arc Welding)?electrodes into two groups: mild steel and low-alloy steel. The E60XX and E70XX electrodes are in the mild steel specification. The chemical requirements for E70XX electrodes are listed in AWS A5.1 and allow for wide variations of composition of the deposited weld metal. There are no specified chemical requirements for the E60XX electrodes. The low-alloy specification contains electrode classifications E70XX through E120XX. These codes have a suffix indicating the chemical requirements of the class of electrodes (e. g., E7010-A1 or E8018-C1). The composition of low-alloy E70XX electrodes is controlled much more closely than that of mild steel E70XX electrodes. Low-alloy electrodes of the low-hydrogen classification (EXX15, EXX16, EXX18) require special handling to keep the coatings from picking up water. Manufacturers’ recommendations about storage and rebaking must be followed for these electrodes. AWS A5.5 provides a specific listing of chemical requirements.

Weld Metal Mechanical Properties. The AWS requires the deposited weld metal to have a minimum tensile strength of 60,000 to 100,000 psi (413,700 to 689,500 kPa), with minimum elongations of 20 to 35 percent.

Arc Shielding.

The arc shielding action, illustrated in figure 10-31, is essentially the same for the different types of electrodes, but the specific method of shielding and the volume of slag produced vary from type to type. The bulk of the covering materials in some electrodes is converted to gas by the heat of the arc, and only a small amount of slag is produced. This type of electrode depends largely upon a gaseous shield to prevent atmospheric contamination. Weld metal from such electrodes can be identified by the incomplete or light layer of slag which covers the bead.

Arc Welding Electrode

For electrodes at the other extreme, the bulk of the covering is converted to slag by the arc heat, and only a small volume of shielding gas is produced. The tiny globules of metal transferred across the arc are entirely coated with a thin film of molten slag. This slag floats to the weld puddle surface because it is lighter than the metal. It solidifies after the weld metal has solidified. Welds made with these electrodes are identified by the heavy slag deposits that completely cover the weld beads. Between these extremes is a wide variety of electrode types, each with a different combination of gas and slag shielding.

The variations in the amount of slag and gas shielding also influence the welding characteristics of the different types of covered electrodes. Electrodes that have a heavy slag carry high amperage and have high deposition rates. These electrodes are ideal for making large beads in the flat position. Electrodes that develop a gaseous arc shield and have a light layer of slag carry lower amperage and have lower deposition rates. These electrodes produce a smaller weld pool and are better suited for making welds in the vertical and overhead positions. Because of the differences in their welding characteristics, one type of covered electrode will usually be best suited for a given application.