Non-Consumable Electrodes

There are other filler metals and special items normally used in making welds. These include the non-consumable electrodes (tungsten and carbon), and other materials, including backing tapes, backing devices, flux additives, solders, and brazing alloys. Another type of material consumed in making a weld are the consumable rings used for root pass welding of pipe. There are also ferrules used for stud welding and the guide tubes in the consumable guide electroslag welding method. Other filler materials are solders and brazing alloys.

Types of Non-consumable Electrodes. There are two types of non-consumable electrodes. The carbon electrode is a non-filler metal electrode used in arc welding or cutting, consisting of a carbon graphite rod which may or may not be coated with copper or other coatings. The second non-consumable electrode is the tungsten electrode, defined as a non-filler metal electrode used in arc welding or cutting, made principally of tungsten.

Carbon Electrodes. The American Welding Society does not provide specification for carbon electrodes but there is a military specification, no. MIL-E-17777C, entitled, “Electrodes Cutting and Welding Carbon-Graphite Uncoated and Copper Coated”. This specification provides a classification system based on three grades: plain, uncoated, and copper coated. It provides diameter information, length information, and requirements for size tolerances, quality assurance, sampling, and various tests. Applications include carbon arc welding, twin carbon arc welding, carbon cutting, and air carbon arc cutting and gouging.

Tungsten Electrodes.

Non-consumable electrodes for gas types: pure tungsten, tungsten containing tungsten arc (TIG) welding are of four 1.0 percent thorium, tungsten containing 2.0 percent thorium, and tungsten containing 0.3 to 0.5 percent zirconium. They are also used for plasma-arc and atomic hydrogen arc welding. Tungsten electrodes can be identified by painted end marks: (a) Green – pure tungsten. (b) Yellow – 1.0 percent thorium. (c) Red – 2.0 percent thorium. (d) Brown – 0.3 to 0.5 percent zirconium. ?Pure tungsten (99. 5 percent tungsten) electrodes are generally used on less critical welding operations than the tungstens which are alloyed. This type of electrode has a relatively low current carrying capacity and a low resistance to contamination. Thoriated tungsten electrodes (1.0 or 2.0 percent thorium) are superior to pure tungsten electrodes because of their higher electron output, better arc starting and arc stability, high current-carrying capacity, longer life, and greater resistance to contamination. Tungsten electrodes containing 0.3 to 0.5 percent zirconium generally fall between pure tungsten electrodes and thoriated tungsten electrodes in terms of performance. There is, however, some indication of better performance in certain types of welding using ac power. Finer arc control can be obtained if the tungsten alloyed electrode is ground to a point (fig. 8-3). When electrodes are not grounded, they must be operated at maximum current density to obtain reasonable arc stability. Tungsten electrode points are difficult to maintain if standard direct current equipment is used as a power source and touch–starting arc is standard practice. Maintenance of electrode shape and the reduction of tungsten inclusions in the weld can best be ground by superimposing a high-frequency current on the regular welding current. Tungsten electrodes alloyed with thorium retain their shape longer when touch-starting is used. Unless high frequency alternating current is available, touch-starting must be used with thorium electrodes.

Correct tungsten electrode taper.

The electrode extension beyond the gas cup is determined by the type of joint being welded. For example, an extension beyond the gas cup of 1/8 in. (0.32 cm) might be used for butt joints in light gauge material, while an extension of approximately 1/4 to 1/2 in. (0.64 to 1.27 cm) might be necessary on some fillet welds. The tungsten electrode or torch should be inclined slightly and the filler metal added carefully to avoid contact with the tungsten to prevent contamination of the electrode. If contamination does occur, the electrode must be removed, reground, and replaced in the torch.


Backing Materials. Backing materials are being used more frequently for welding. Special tapes exist, some of which include small amounts of flux, which can be used for backing the roots of joints. There are also different composite backing materials, for one-side welding. Consumable rings are used for making butt welds in pipe and tubing. These are rings made of metal that are tack welded in the root of the weld joint and are fused into the joint by the gas tungsten arc. There are three basic types of rings called consumable inert rings which are available in different analysis of metal based on normal specifications.