Choosing the right TIG welding electrode can be overwhelming when you learn that there are six different types of tungsten electrodes to choose from. There are even rare earth electrodes that you can toss into the mix at the Baker’s online store. Even if you know which electrode to pick up, you may want to stock up on a few other varieties just in case—and that’s where price becomes a factor.
Baker’s Gas and Welding is currently offering Weldcraft’s line of tungsten electrodes on sale with an additional special offer. You can save an extra 10% during the month of November on Weldcraft consummables with the promotion code: weldcraft10. Not sure where to start with your TIG welding tungsten electrode purchase? Here are some tips about choosing the best tungsten for your next welding project.
How to Select the Right Tungsten
Selecting the right Tungsten is essential for getting the highest quality weld possible. Some things to consider before selecting your Tungsten are the following:
- How thick is the material you are welding?
- What kind of metal (Stainless Steel, Aluminum, or Steel) are you welding?
- What kind of power source (Transformer or Inverter) are you using?
Pure Tungsten (EWP / Color Code: Green )
Pure Tungsten electrodes are 99.5% tungsten and have the highest consumption rate of the 5 kinds of tungsten. Pure tungsten is also the least expensive of the 5 kinds of electrodes. Because of its weaker arc starts, pure tungsten is mainly used for AC welding.
2% Thoriated (EWTh-2 / Color Code: Red )
2% Thoriated tungsten is the most commonly used tungsten today. It contains 97.3% Tungsten and 1.7 - 2.2% Thorium. Thorium is radioactive, so always use with caution and follow all manufacturing warnings and instructions, such as working in a ventilated location with a respirator. Most people use 2% Thoriated tungsten because of its ease of use and low consumption rate. 2% Thoriated tungsten is only used on specific AC welding such as thin gauge aluminum and other materials .060" or less, but is great for DC welding on stainless steel, titanium, and nickel.
2% Ceriated (EWCe-2 / Color Code: Orange )
2% Ceriated tungsten is made up of 97.3% Tungsten and 1.8 - 2.2% Cerium. It is most commonly used with DC welding, because 2% Ceriated tungsten performs best at low current settings. Some common applications are pipe manufacturing, thin sheet metal, orbital tube or any other projects where tiny parts need to be welded. Like the 2% Thoriated tungsten, it is best used on stainless steels, titanium, nickel, and carbon which makes it a nice alternative to the radioactive Thoriated tungsten.
1.5% Lanthanated (EWLa-1.5 / Color Code: Gold )
1.5% Lanthanated tungsten contains at least 97.80% Tungsten and 1.3 - 1.7% Lanthanum, or Lanthana. In many cases it can take the place on 2% Thoriated because they have almost the same conductivity characteristics, like good arc stability, good re-ignition, slow burn-off rate, and great arc starting capabilities. Another plus of using 1.5% Lanthanated tungsten is that it works well with both AC and DC welding along with both sharpened or balled points. If you’re just starting out with TIG welding, this may be a good, versatile choice.
2% Lanthanated (EWLa-2 / Color Code: Blue )
2% Lanthanated contains 97.3% Tungsten, 1.8 –2.2% Lanthanum and 0.5% Other. 2% Lanthanated is a substitute for 2% Thoriated. Similar characteristics to 1.5% Lanthanated with better arc starting, arc stability and less tip erosion.
Rare Earth (EWG / Color Code: Gray )
Rare Earth tungsten contains an unspecified amount of rare earth oxides, or different combinations of oxides. Manufacturers are required to identify these oxides and their percentages on each package. Depending on the oxides added, Rare Earth tungsten can give you a variety of characteristics such as longer life than Thoriated, higher current with same sized tungsten and stable arc in both AC and DC welding.
Zirconiated (EWZr-1 / Color Code: Brown )
Zirconiated tungsten contains 98.6% Tungsten, 0.7 – 0.9% Zirconium and 0.5% Other. It balls up easily in AC applications. Handles higher current with less splitting. Improved arc starts and arc stability. Offers minimal tungsten contamination.
Preparing Your Electrode for Welding
When it’s time to grind your tungsten electrode for your next TIG welding project, you have two options. The first is you can purchase a traditional grinding wheel where you’ll hold the electrode so that it’s facing the wheel when you grind it down.
The other option is to pick up a Weldcraft Tungsten Grinder that is light, portable, and precise, taking the hassle out of electrode preparation. Whichever you end up purchasing, if you stock up on Weldcraft supplies, don’t forget to take advantage of Baker’s promotion in November, offering free shipping on Weldcraft orders of $175 or more.
Find out What TIG Welders Need in the Baker’s Buying Guide.