Stick Electrode Definition (2023)

(also known as welding electrodes, welding rods, weld rods)

Welding electrodes are metal wires with baked on chemical coatings. The rod is used to sustain the welding arc and to provide the filler metal required for the joint to be welded. The coating protects the metal from damage, stabilizes the arc, and improves the weld. The diameter of the wire, less the coating, determines the size of the welding rod. This is expressed in fractions of an inch such as 3/32", 1/8", or 5/32." The smaller the diameter means it requires less current and it deposits a smaller amount of filler metal.

The type of base metal being welded, the welding process and machine, and other conditions determines the type of welding electrode used. For example, low carbon or "mild steel" requires a mild steel welding rod. Welding cast iron, aluminum or brass requires different welding rods and equipment.

The flux coating on the electrodes determines how it will act during the actual welding process. Some of the coating burns and the burnt flux forms smoke and acts as a shield around the welding "pool," to protect it from that air around it. Part of the flux melts and mixes with the wire and then floats the impurities to the surface. These impurities are known as "slag." A finished weld would be brittle and weak if not for the flux. When the welded joint is cooled, the slag can be removed. A chipping hammer and wire brush are used to clean and examine the weld.

The metal-arc welding electrodes may be grouped as bare electrodes, light coated electrodes, and shielded arc or heavy coated electrodes. The type used depends on the specific properties required that include: corrosion resistance, ductility, high tensile strength, the type of base metal to be welded; and the position of the weld that is flat, horizontal, vertical, or overhead.

The American Welding Society's (AWS) classification number series has been adopted by the welding industry. The electrode identification example below is for a steel arc-welding rod labeled E6010:

  • "E" indicates "electrode" for electric arc welding
  • The first two (or three in some cases) digits (60) indicate tensile strength in thousands of pounds per square inch
  • The third (or fourth in some cases) digit (1) indicates the position of the weld. An "O" indicates that this classification is not used; "1" is for all positions; "2" is for flat and horizontal positions only; 3 is for flat position only
  • The last two digits together (10) indicate the type of coating and the type of power supply required, 10 organic coating and DC current with reverse polarity.
  • Therefore, a welding rod numbered E6010 indicates "E" an manual arc-welding electrode with (60) a minimum strength of 60,000 psi., that can be used (1) in all positions and (10) DC reverse polarity is required.

Welding Rods and the Damaging Effects of Moisture

Welding electrodes must be kept dry. Moisture destroys the desirable characteristics of the coating and may cause excessive spattering and lead to the formation of cracks and weakness in the welded area. Electrodes exposed to humid air for more than a few hours should be preheated before use and when in doubt as to how long they were exposed they should be re-dried by heating in a suitable oven. After they have dried, they should be stored in a holding oven or moisture proof container.

Low-hydrogen welding rods are the backbone of structural welding. Known as "low-hy" to welders in the field, this versatile electrode is manufactured to contain less than 0.6% of moisture in the covering and is required by currently acceptable welding standards and procedures to be stored in an environment that maintains factory quality dryness. Its low hydrogen content ensures a smooth, strong weld that is very ductile, making it the welding rod of choice for structural welding jobs.

Low hydrogen 7018 particularly does not tolerate moisture and must be kept dry before use. If not, when welding it will allow for pitting and porosity (worm holes) which are weld defects. This happens when moisture gets in the flux coating and allows hydrogen to adversely affect the weld pool. 7018 rods that haven't been dried properly may make a good looking weld at first but they will be subject to longitudinal cracking either right after welding, or later on. Longitudinal cracking is where a crack starts and follows the length of the weld.

It is well known that prior to beginning a structural welding job that low-hydrogen electrodes must be conditioned properly to avoid damaging defects in the welds. One of the ways utilized to protect the low-hydrogen coating is to double coat using a titania layer to help avoid defects when low hydrogen deposits are required. But problems such as porosity, hydrogen embrittlement, lack of fusion and cracking can result if standard low hydrogen rods are not stored according to the manufacturer's specifications.

Specifically, hydrogen can adversely affect a weld and some steels under a variety of conditions. The primary source for the presence of hydrogen is moisture in the electrode coating picked up through exposure to the atmosphere. For this reason with any welding job proper storage, handling and treatment of low hydrogen electrodes is critical to prevent a defective weld. This is especially important in the construction and erection of multiple story buildings which rely for their support and inner structure on welded steel beams.

A defective weld can result in the collapse of a building or during subsequent inspection rejection of the weld. This requires rebuilding a portion of the metal inner structure of a skyscraper or other building sometimes at a cost of many millions of dollars.

Welding electrodes are manufactured to be within acceptable moisture limits consistent with the type of covering and strength of the weld metal to be used with the electrode. They are then packaged in a container which has been designed to provide the degree of moisture protection considered necessary by the industry for the type of covering involved. A common mistake is opening the container from the wrong end, or tossing them around which can crack the low hydrogen coating on the welding rods rendering them useless.

With any welding job It is very important to maintain your rods or electrodes within a temperature range of 100°F and 300°F. This temperature range has been determined by the welding industry to be adequate to prevent atmospheric moisture from entering the welding rod coating and subsequently entering the weld during the welding process.

In particular, maintaining low-hydrogen electrodes in a dry, consistently heated environment is a must. Ask any welding professional and they will recommend that low-hydrogen electrodes be stored in a rod oven. Any other rudimentary method such as utilizing an old refrigerator or microwave with a 100 watt light bulb is laughable and is in no way acceptable for today's welding professional.

Stick Welding Process Intro

SMAW (Shielded Metal Arc Welding) is often called stick welding. It is one of the most popular welding processes used today. Its popularity is due to the versatility of the process and the simplicity and low cost of the equipment and operation. SMAW is commonly used with such materials as mild steel, cast iron, and stainless steel.

How Stick Welding Works

Stick welding is a manual arc welding process. It requires a consumable electrode that is coated in flux to lay the weld, and an electric current is used to create an electric arc between the electrode and the metals that are being welded together. The electric current may be either an alternating current or a direct current from a welding power supply.

While the weld is being laid, the electrode’s flux coating disintegrates. This produces vapors that provide a shielding gas and a layer of slag. Both the gas and slag protect the weld pool from atmospheric contamination. The flux also serves to add scavengers, deoxidizers, and alloying elements to the weld metal.

Flux-Coated Electrodes

You can find flux-coated electrodes in a variety of diameters and lengths. Typically, when choosing an electrode, you want to match the electrode properties to the base materials. Flux-coated electrode types include bronze, aluminum bronze, mild steel, stainless steel, and nickel.

Common Uses of Stick Welding

SMAW is so popular throughout the world that it dominates other welding processes in the repair and maintenance industry. It also continues to be widely used in industrial fabrication and the construction of steel structures, although flux-cored arc welding is gaining in popularity in these areas.

Other Traits of Stick Welding

Other characteristics of Shielded Metal Arc Welding include:

  • It provides all position flexibility
  • It is not very sensitive to wind and drafts
  • The quality and appearance of the weld vary according to the skill of the operator
  • It is usually capable of producing four types of welded joints: the butt joint, lap joint, T-joint, and fillet weld

Selecting the Right Electrode for Basic Stick Welding

It really isn’t difficult to select the right electrode for basic stick welding. In fact, electrode selection is pretty straight forward, if you just remember a few facts about the rods.

Facts to remember include:

  • When choosing an electrode for use with basic stick welding equipment, take into consideration the type of welding job to be done and the material to be welded. Typically, but not always, you’ll want to use an electrode that has a core composition similar to or identical to the base material.*
  • There are three different groups of electrodes used in stick welding – “fast-fill” electrodes are designed to melt quickly so the welding speed can be maximized; “fast-freeze” electrodes are made to solidify quickly for welding in all positions without the weld pool shifting significantly before it solidifies; “fill-freeze” or “fast-follow” electrodes are intermediate rods.
  • Know what the electrode numbers represent. The first two or three numbers indicate what the tensile strength of a weld will be. For instance, if the rod number is 6011, there will be a minimum of 60,000 pounds of tensile strength per square inch of weld. If the number begins with 70 (i.e. 7018), the tensile strength per square inch of weld will be a minimum of 70,000 pounds.
  • The last two digits of the rod number refer to the flux on the rod. The higher the number, the higher the shielding and the more flux or metal is deposited.
  • A 6011 electrode is good for general maintenance. When repairing steel machinery, this particular rod will be sufficient. The 6011 electrode can be used in all welding positions, works well on dirtier metals, and can tolerate a joint that is less than perfect.

Commonly used rods for welding steel include:

  • 6010 and 6011 rods – work great on dirtier metals, penetrate deeply , and work well in all positions
  • 6013 – works well in all positions; doesn’t work as well on dirtier metals; penetrates only mildly
  • 7018 – mild penetration; will work in any position; best used on clean metals
  • 7024 – mild penetration; works best in a flat position and on clean metals

*Note: Although generally the composition of the electrode core is similar to or identical to the base material, this is not always the case. Keep in mind that even a slight difference in alloy composition can greatly affect the properties of the weld. Nevertheless, sometimes, using an electrode with a core composition that is significantly different from the base metal is desirable.

Stick Welding Techniques

Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) is a versatile welding process that can be performed in any position. Welding in the flat position is always preferable. However, some projects, such as machine repair, require welding in a vertical, horizontal, or overhead position.

There are a couple of techniques that may be used for striking the arc, and there are several techniques that may be used for depositing the weld metal. Although a welder may develop a preference for a certain technique, the technique used may depend upon the particular job to be done.

Striking the Arc

There are two basic methods for striking the arc in stick welding. The first method is called the “scratching technique.” This method is similar to striking a match. The striking end of the electrode is dragged across the worksite to get the arc going. Once contact is made, the electrode is withdrawn to prevent it from being welded to the work piece. If, by chance, the electrode does weld itself to the work, a quick twist of the wrist can free the rod.

A second method for striking the arc is called the “tapping method.” When using this technique, the electrode is brought straight down to make contact with the work piece. Then the electrode is immediately pulled away from the work to a point where the arc has reached the desired length.

It takes practice to accurately determine the proper arc length. The proper arc length depends upon the electrode used. The arc should be kept as short as possible while the edge of the electrode scrapes the work piece with each movement. An easy guide for determining proper arc length is to listen to the sound of the arc. When it is at the proper length, there will be a sharp, crackling sound. The appearance of the deposited weld bead is another indication of whether the arc length is accurate.

Welding Techniques

Welding techniques may vary with the particular electrode used as well as the welding job to be done. The type of metal to be welded and the welding position may help determine which welding technique will be used.

Common welding methods used with an E6011 electrode include:

  • Circular pattern created by moving the electrode in a circular motion.
  • Whipping pattern achieved by moving the rod in a back and forth motion.
  • Weaving pattern for wider welds created by using a side to side motion.

When using low-hydrogen electrodes, circular motions work well. You can also just hold the rod steady and let it fill the gap. Because low-hydrogen electrodes are high in flux, a whipping motion could cause the flux to get trapped in the weld, creating a problem called slag inclusion. So, avoid using the whipping motion with this type of rod.

When welding thinner metals, a whipping motion is desirable, because this motion prevents the electrode from burning a hole in the metal. A circular or whipping motion works well when working with slightly thick metals. The weaving pattern is preferable for working with thick metals.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Developing welding skills takes practice. It is important to practice striking the arc, holding the arc, and depositing the weld metal. Most likely, the first few tries will fall quite short of the desired results. However, the more you practice your techniques, the easier they will become, and the better your results should be.

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Stick Electrode Definition? ›

(also known as welding electrodes, welding rods, weld rods)

The rod is used to sustain the welding arc and to provide the filler metal required for the joint to be welded. The coating protects the metal from damage, stabilizes the arc, and improves the weld.

What is a stick electrode? ›

(also known as welding electrodes, welding rods, weld rods)

The rod is used to sustain the welding arc and to provide the filler metal required for the joint to be welded. The coating protects the metal from damage, stabilizes the arc, and improves the weld.

Is a stick electrode the same as a welding rod? ›

There is a wide variety of rods available to a welder, but in general, a stick electrode has a coated metal core. However, they differ in the type of core metal and coating/flux types and are designed to provide different strengths and performance in various welding positions.

What is another name for stick electrodes? ›

In the field, welding electrodes are usually referred to as "welding rods" so I will use that term here. "Stick Welding" is also the term of choice in the field for SMAW, the acronym for Shielded Metal Arc Welding.

How do you identify stick electrodes? ›

The number “1” indicates an “All-position” electrode. A number “2” would indicate a flat and horizontal electrode only, we skip the number 3 and a number “4” would identify your electrode as being able to weld only flat, horizontal, vertical down, and overhead.

What are common stick electrodes? ›

Common electrodes used in Stick welding are 6010, 6011, 6013, 7018 and 7024 with the most common diameters ranging from 1/8- to 5/32-in. Each of these electrodes offers all-position welding capabilities (except 7024).

What does 7018 mean on a welding rod? ›

The letter "E" indicates an electrode. The first two digits represent the resulting weld's minimum tensile strength, measured in pounds per square inch (psi). For example, the number 70 in a E7018 electrode indicates that the electrode will produce a weld bead with a minimum tensile strength of 70,000 psi.

What does 7018 welding rod mean? ›

In their nomenclature, the “E” indicates that the product is a stick electrode; the “70” indicates that the filler metal provides 70,000 psi of tensile strength; the “1” indicates that it can be used in all welding positions; and the “8” refers to the low-hydrogen coating on the electrode, as well as the medium ...

What are the 3 types of electrodes? ›

Cathode and anode, reactive, inert electrodes, electrodes in quantitative analysis, electrodes in batteries.

What is the most common stick electrode? ›

E7018 Electrodes.

Arguably the most popular stick electrode today is the low-hydrogen E7018, which produces quality welds with excellent toughness and high ductility. It's used for welding metals with an increased risk of weld bead cracking under certain conditions, like vibratory stress.

What is the strongest welding rod? ›

TIG welding is often considered the strongest weld since it produces extreme heat, and the slow cooling rate results in high tensile strength and ductility. MIG is also an excellent candidate for the strongest type of weld because it can create a strong joint.

What voltage is a stick electrode? ›

The MMA (Stick) welding process typically requires high current (50-350 Amps) at relatively low voltage (10-50 Volts).

What is the easiest welding rod to use? ›

The E6012 and the E6013 are the most commonly used electrodes for hobby welding. Their arc is relatively stable, they produce less smoke, and the slag is easy to remove. Plus, since their arc is not as powerful as the E6010, they are easier to handle and less likely to burn through thin metal.

Is stick the strongest weld? ›

Some argue that stick welding is stronger than MIG welding, since it offers better penetration for thicker materials. However, MIG welding can provide good welds despite not being as effective on thicker metals, and is better for joining thinner metals with a good finish and less risk of burn-through.

What is the technically correct name for stick welding? ›

Manual metal arc welding (MMA or MMAW), also known as shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), flux shielded arc welding or stick welding, is a process where the arc is struck between an electrode flux coated metal rod and the work piece. Both the rod and the surface of the work piece melt to create a weld.

What are the 3 different types of stick welders? ›

Stick welders can be AC, DC, or AC/DC and which one you need depends on what you plan to weld and how much power you will need. AC may be enough for some DIY welders, but if you need something with a little more power, a DC stick welder might be more along the lines of what you're looking for.

Why do electrodes stick? ›

If your amperage is too low, your electrode will be especially sticky when striking an arc, your arc will keep going out while maintaining the correct arc length or the arc will stutter. This weld is a result of too little current.

What does the number 6013 mean on a welding rod? ›

Thus the number E6013 written on an electrode indicates that it is a rutile potassium based flux coated mild steel electrode with 62,000 psi minimum tensile strength having light penetration which can be used in all positions of welding except vertically down.

What is the easiest stick electrode to use? ›

While many welding instructors encourage their students to practice with an E6010 electrode, the E6013 electrode is rarely mentioned but very easy to use. Relatively inexperienced welders can create excellent welds with the E6013 electrode.

Which is better for welding 7018 or 6011? ›

The 7018 is the backbone of structural welding. This rod runs completely different from the 6010 and 6011 rods—it is much smoother and easier. More of a "drag" rod, the 7018 is also referred to as a low-hydrogen, or "low-high," rod in the field.

Which is better 6013 or 7018? ›

Higher numbers mean the rod has more coating. A 7018 rod will have more coating, while a 6013 rod will have less.

What is a stronger weld 6011 or 7018? ›

Metal Web News claims that 6011 welding rods are capable of producing welds that feature a 60,000 psi minimal tensile strength. The 7018 welding rods produce stronger welds that feature minimal tensile strengths of 70,000 psi.

Do you drag or push a stick weld? ›

Push or pull: Here the rule is simple. “If it produces slag, you drag,” says Leisner. In other words, you drag the rod or wire when welding with a stick or flux-core wire welder. Otherwise, you push the wire with metal inert gas (MIG) welding.

Do you push or pull stick welding? ›

You Should Pull When Stick Welding

Put in simpler terms, you should be pulling the rod towards you when using any welding process that produces slag. This includes submerged arc welding, electroslag welding, flux-cored arc welding and shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), more commonly known as stick welding.

Is stick welding hard? ›

While it may not be as easy as MIG welding for a beginner, it's definitely not as hard as TIG welding. Stick welding is a good middle ground and is perfect for those who don't want the hassle of a gas tank or want to weld thicker pieces of metal.

What is the difference between 7018 and 7018 1 welding rod? ›

E7018-1 have same usability and weld metal composition as E7018, except the manganese content set high range and these electrodes are intended for welds requiring a lower transition temperature than is normally available from E7018 electrodes.

What are the two names of electrodes? ›

The two common terms we hear is cathode and anode.

What type of electrodes are best? ›

Silver has the highest conductivity of all metals. The high conductivity, softness (low hardness), and high resistance to oxidation make silver an excellent choice for contact materials.

Which electrode for arc welding? ›

The carbon electrode is a non-filler metal electrode used in arc welding or cutting, consisting of a carbon graphite rod that may or may not be coated with copper or other coatings. The tungsten electrode is defined as a non-filler metal electrode used in arc welding or cutting, made principally of tungsten.

What are the two 2 types of welding electrodes? ›

The welding electrodes are divided into two types, consumable electrodes, and non-consumable electrodes.

What are electrodes commonly called? ›

In an electrochemical cell, an electrode is referred to as an anode or a cathode, depending on the electron flow direction. An anode is the terminal or conductor where electrons leave the electrochemical cell, causing oxidation to occur in the region.

Why are three electrodes used? ›

Three-electrode setups have a distinct experimental advantage over two-electrode setups: they measure only one half of the cell. That is, the potential changes of the working electrode are measured independent of changes that may occur at the counter electrode.

What is the hardest weld? ›

TIG welding is the hardest form of welding to learn for a variety of reasons. The process of TIG welding is slow and takes time to get used to as a beginner. A TIG welder requires a foot pedal to feed the electrode and control the variable amperage while maintaining a steady hand at the welding torch.

What is the difference between 6010 and 6011 electrodes? ›

In E6010, the arc stabilizer is sodium, and in E6011 it is potassium (both in the first column, check them out!). That's pretty much the biggest difference in the formulation between these electrodes, but the consequences are huge.

What is the hardest metal to weld? ›

Metals That Are Hardest to Weld and What Makes Them So Difficult? WeldersLab has compiled “A Complete Guide” to the easiest and hardest metals to weld. The author notes that four of the most difficult metals to weld are aluminum, cast iron, brass, and stainless steel.

What does the 0 mean in 6010? ›

The “0” in 6010, 7010, and 8010, are a class of “fast freeze” with cellulosic flux covering (meaning the molten weld puddle solidifies very quickly), making it well suited to out-of-position welding jobs. The “1” in the last number of 6011 is very similar in characteristics to 6010 but is used on AC power sources.

Is weld stronger than bolt? ›

There's a common misconception that welding is stronger than bolting, but that simply isn't true. Bolting is just as strong as welding—and can be stronger in some situations. The strength of a weld is largely determined by the expertise of the welder.

Is stick welding AC or DC current? ›

Stick welding is polarity driven. Direct current (DC) is used on most stick welding applications. Alternating current (AC) is typically only used as a second option.

How many amps for stick welding? ›

Q: How big of machine do I need? A: A 225- to 300-amp stick machine handles almost anything the average person will encounter, as most stick welding procedures require 200 amps or less.

Can you stick weld aluminum? ›

Can You Stick Weld Aluminum? It's possible to weld aluminum using stick welding methods, but it can be messy. Some of the best methods to use during the process include alternating or direct current TIG welding or MIG welding.

Which welding is weakest? ›

Thus the weakest area of the weld is the throat. One other approach is that the other parts of the weld are subjected to normal stress and shear stress. But in the throat in addition to both bending is also there which makes it weakest.

What is the safest welding for beginners? ›

MIG Welding (Beginner)

MIG welders are among the best type for beginners, as they're designed with a wire welding electrode on a spool that is fed at a pre-selected speed through a welding gun. As a semi-automatic or automatic process, gas metal arc welding (GMAW or MIG), is the easiest to learn.

What is the best welding rod for rusty metal? ›

If you're dealing with rusty metal, it's recommended that you use a welding rod that's rich in silicon or manganese, as they create thicker slag that takes the contaminants to the surface. A commonly used electrode with these properties is the 7018.

How long do stick electrodes last? ›

Depending on the type of welding rod and the storing conditions, some electrodes can go bad in a matter of six months, while others may last for several years. While stick electrodes do not carry an expiration date, as a rule, you shouldn't keep them for more than a year.

What is electrode used for? ›

An electrode is a conductor that is used to make contact with a nonmetallic part of a circuit. Electrodes are commonly used in electrochemical cells (see Figure 1), semiconductors like diodes, and in medical devices. The electrode is the place where electron transfer occurs.

What is the most common type of electrode used? ›

Stick electrodes are the most common type of electrode used in arc welding. They are made of metal alloys that have a high melting point. Stick electrodes are easy to use, and they can be used on a variety of materials, including metals that are rusty or dirty.

What are the names and types of electrodes? ›

There are two types of electrodes, cathodes, and anodes. Cathode attracts the positively charged cations. Anode attracts negatively charged anions. Electrodes are commonly made of metals such as platinum and zinc.

How are electrodes classified? ›

The welding electrodes are classified on the basis of the electrode metal, flux coating, current used, position of welding, performance characteristics, chemistry and the mechanical properties of the weld metal etc.

What is a 7018 welding rod used for? ›

The 7018 welding rod is a consumable electrode rod, and is typically used for welding carbon steel. The iron-based flux compound coating this electrode is characterized by a low hydrogen content, setting the 7018 apart from other welding rods.

What is the difference between 6010 and 6011? ›

Cutting with these electrodes produces big-time sparks and large globs of molten metal. 6011 runs on AC and direct current electrode positive (DCEP), while 6010 runs only on DCEP. This gives 6011 an advantage if you have an AC-only machine. I have found, and think most welders will agree, that 6010 runs more smoothly.

How strong is stick welding? ›

Industrial 6013 welding sticks are used for alternating and direct current applications where the maximum tensile strength is 60,000 psi. The 6013 electrode is best used for light to medium penetration on thin or sheet metal pieces.


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