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MMA electrode

Welding electrodes: Buy Welding Electrodes Online at Best Price

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The best electrodes for perfect welding

How does electric welding work?

Coated electrode welding is a technique that has been perfected over the centuries, starting with the experiments of American engineer Elihu Thomson, who in 1877 first used two copper electrodes to create an electric arc that fused the edges of the two iron parts to be welded. Subsequently the electric current was conveyed through a fusible metal electrode, which created the arc directly in contact with the base materials, but it soon became apparent that the electrode easily oxidized when in contact with air, making the welds fragile and full of impurities, and the metals joined in this way risked breaking easily. From these observations followed the creation of the first electrodes with deoxidizing materials, which were improved over time and are still in use today[1].

The welding process is an extremely versatile technique, used in carpentry, boilermaking (construction of pressure tanks), for the construction of vehicles, roads and bridges, and even the microscopic components of electronic devices; since it can be used in so many applications, it obviously requires different types of welders and electrodes depending on the intended use. But let's see how the electrodes we use most frequently in the hobby and for small carpentry jobs are made.

Welding electrodes are metal rods coated with a deoxidizing material, 30-45 centimeters long and with a section varying from 1 to 9 millimeters, that create an arc and melt when connected to the welder and placed near the metal to be welded, joining the parts together. There are also types of non-fusible electrodes, i.e. electrodes that create an electric arc when in contact with the base material but require filler material as a “glue” for the two sides of the metal; however, they are used less frequently, and are preferred for small welds on electronic boards, chips of small appliances or for small home repairs.

The electrode coating has a fundamental function for the success of a weld: it prevents reaction between the molten metals and the gases in the air (especially oxygen and nitrogen), thus preventing them from oxidizing during the process; it also contains materials that favor the accumulation of metallic impurities of the workpieces in the protective crust that deposits on the surface of the melting pool, which then cools more gradually, limiting the risk of fractures, and is eliminated when cooling is complete. Another function of the coating material is to keep the melt pool viscous enough to be worked on even in non-horizontal positions.

Which electrode should I choose based on my needs?

There are five types of electrodes

- Acid electrode

- Cellulosic electrode

- Rutile electrode

- Oxidizing electrode

- Basic electrode

The choice of using one or the other depends on the appearance we want to achieve, on the welding machines we use, on the characteristics of the metal we are working on and on our technical expertise.

Acid welding electrodes have a coating that generates an acid ph slag with a high percentage of deoxidants, usually consisting of silica and iron silicate. The slag produced is porous and comes off easily, but these electrodes aren’t recommended for use in non-horizontal positions because the weld pool produced usually has high temperatures and very low viscosity. The coating of these electrodes does not include purifying materials, so it can only be used on metals with few impurities, otherwise there is a risk of hot cracking (fractures).

Cellulosic welding electrodes are coated with cellulose mixed with manganese and silicon, which have deoxidizing power. The high presence of hydrogen requires a very high electrical voltage, so they can usually only be used with professional welding machines. These electrodes offer a viscous weld pool suitable for vertical welding and give an excellent penetration, more than twice the diameter of the electrode.

Rutile welding electrodes are characterized by a titanium oxide coating, which, by giving a low viscosity to the weld pool, makes it possible to obtain smoother and more uniform welds without the need for subsequent polishing. The strength of this type of welding makes it suitable for thin or lightly stressed metals; in order to combine the aesthetically pleasing finish of rutile with mechanical strength, these electrodes are combined with basic or cellulosic ones.

Oxidizing or contact welding electrodes make it possible to work with the workpiece in direct contact with the electrode. The coating contains iron oxide.

Basic welding electrodes contain high amounts of magnesium and calcium carbonates, which make the weld pool highly purifying. The pool is also quite cold and has a viscosity that makes these electrodes perfect for welding in any position. They require a little more skill, since they melt with a short tension arc and must always be perfectly dry, otherwise they create slag that is difficult to remove and present the risk of forming annoying cold cracks.

Generally speaking, for small welds or for non-professional welding machines, you should prefer rutile electrodes; if you have a little more patience and practice, give yourself the satisfaction of a good, resistant weld with a basic electrode, as long as you choose reliable electrode brands in both cases, otherwise the result will certainly be disappointing.

Electrodes for Esab welding machines

Among all the products in the market, Esab electrodes are some of the most reliable in terms of quality and performance. This Swedish company has been producing welding electrodes since 1904, after having patented several types of coating, tested by its founder, Oscar Kjellberg.

The Esab catalog includes nine types of coated electrodes to cover a variety of uses, from welding metals exposed to high mechanical stresses to the simpler welds required by small repair jobs or hobbies.

Among the Esab electrodes you will find:

- Filler electrodes: designed for gouging, cutting and drilling steel, cast iron and non-ferrous metals, except pure copper. Can be used with standard welding machines.

- Electrodes for nickel alloys: suitable for working on steel, they provide high resilience values at low working temperatures.

- Electrodes for stainless steel: these are basic electrodes that can be worked on vertically and that require high temperatures.

- Low hydrogen/low alloy electrodes: these are basic electrodes specifically for steel grades that require high processing temperatures. Enhanced with materials that guarantee a low chance of solidification cracking.

- Low hydrogen electrodes: suitable for welding carbon or low-alloy steel. They allow welding in almost any position.

- Mild steel electrodes: these are rutile and allow different welding positions, guaranteeing minimum production of slag, which is very easily eliminated.

- Low alloy electrodes: these are basic, specifically for welding on steel with tensile strengths greater than 900 megapascals.

- Electrodes for aluminum alloys: suitable for welding various types of aluminum, some models can also be used as filler for gas welding.

In particular, for non-professional welds that don’t require a high level of technical expertise, we recommend their rutile electrodes for mild steel and iron. They melt easily even with non-professional welding machines, because they do not require high temperatures. The viscosity of the melting pool is sufficiently high to allow good versatility of use and the production of slag is minimal. Furthermore, the slag produced has a consistency that makes it very easy to eliminate. The aesthetics of the welds obtained with this type of electrodes is exceptional, and almost never requires subsequent polishing. In addition, Esab electrodes boast an exceptional quality/price ratio: you will easily find advantageous offers for this type of electrodes online and in authorized stores.

Electrodes for Telwin welding machines

Another excellent brand of made in Italy welding electrodes is Telwin, world leader for over fifty years in the production of welding machines and accessories for all uses. The Telwin catalog groups its electrodes into three main types:

- Stainless steel electrodes

- Basic electrodes

- Rutile electrodes

Telwin electrodes guarantee excellent efficiency for all types of welding. Easy to choose and use, they have been developed in parallel with the welding machines of the same manufacturer, which has allowed researchers to field test their strengths and weaknesses, optimizing their performance.

In our opinion, the basic electrodes of this brand are particularly valid, as they offer excellent mechanical resistance even for metal joints subjected to strong traction or stress, despite having a low melting point, which allows them to be used even with non-professional welding machines.

The viscosity of the weld pool is high enough to make these electrodes suitable for non-horizontal welding, although they require greater skill. We remind less experienced users that basic electrodes do not form the arc necessary for fusion when in contact with the metals to be welded; instead, they must be lightly rubbed and held a few millimeters away from the metal in order to start the arc and fusion. The coatings on Telwin basic electrodes will help you obtain precise, clean results without excessive effort to get rid of the slag produced.

[1], cons. il 24/06/2020; AA.VV., ARGOMENTI SPECIFICI RELATIVI ALLA SALDATURA CON ELETTRODO RIVESTITO - PARTE II, Genova, Istituto Italiano della Saldatura (IIS), 2004.

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