Welding rods are necessary in the welding process to add filler metal to the area being welding. In some arc welding methods the welding rod is also used as the electrode. The welding rod is typically made of the same material that the base metals are made of and a flux is often used to help with the welding process being used. Welding rods are typically held by an electrode holder that is used to insulate the welder from the electric current created from the welding process. In the area of automated welding, a thin continuous wire is used as a welding rod.
In many arc welding processes the welding rod used also acts as the electrode used to guide the arc to the weld area. The American Welding Society uses an E prefix to label welding rods that can also be used as an electrode in arc welding. If you are using an arc welding technique that does not require the use of a shielding gas, it is suggested that welding rods featuring a flux coating be used. The flux coating will vaporize when exposed to high heat and create a gas that acts as a shield and keeps the air and other contaminants away from the weld area which helps the welder create a clean weld.
- Steel welding rods are the most common welding rod used by welders today due to the fact that most material that is welded is steel. Because of this welding rods come in a variety of different steel alloys to meet the needs of any welding process being performed. The most common types of steel welding rods are mild steel, low alloy steel and stainless steel. Depending on the type of work being performed steel welding rods are available with or without a flux coating.
- Aluminum welding rods are used for welds that are performed to join pieces of aluminum and can also be used to join aluminum alloys that are dissimilar in nature. Aluminum welding rods can be used with standard arc welding equipment, MIG welding equipment and also in TIG welding techniques.
- Bronze welding rods are most commonly used when brazing needs to be performed in order to join pieces of copper to other metals and in the repair of bronze pieces that may have been damaged. The technique of brazing uses bronze welding rods because of their high resistance to salt water corrosion.
- Composite welding rods have become more popular due to the advances in welding technology. Composite welding rods consist of two or more layers of material that when combined results in a stronger and higher quality weld. Flux core welding rods have the flux placed in the center of the welding rod which allows the flux material to be used in a manner that wasn’t possible when the flux was on the outer layer of the welding rod. This process also prevents the flux from wearing off by handling or storage as is common in welding rods where the flux is located on the outside. Metal cored welding rods have a mild steel outer layer and are filled with a customized mix of metal powders that can exactly match the alloy needed to perform a high quality weld.
When welding it is important to properly match your welding rod with the type of welding being performed. This will help ensure that your welds are strong and clean. If at any time you are not sure which type of rod to use in a certain technique, you should consult a colleague or read your manual which usually contains a list of acceptable welding rods that should be used and with which type of metal they are most compatible with.