The Tungsten electrode is the element most commonly ignored by manufacturing organizations, whether in manual or automatic welding, and is the area where manufacturing organizations and individuals can improve the consistency of their welding output with some dedicated effort.
The safety concern of Tungsten electrode material is also being considered more closely nowadays. Many welders do not realize that the welding electrodes they use contain Thorium, a radioactive element added to the Tungsten material to improve the arc starting and welding characteristics. While the radioactivity is low level, it raises the question of the danger regarding the radioactive dust present when grinding the electrodes to a point for welding. New Tungsten materials are available today, such as Lanthanated electrodes, which offer superior arc welding characteristics and lack of radioactivity. While these materials are now commercially available, they have been largely ignored.
Using pre-ground electrodes, or a dedicated commercial electrode grinder to provide electrode tip quality and consistency, offers the following benefits:
- Improved arc starting, increased arc stablity, and more consistent weld performance.
- Longer electrode life.
- Reducing tungsten shedding, minimizing the possibility of tungsten inclusions in the weld.
- Dedicated electrode grinder helps ensure that the welding electrodes will not become contaminated by residue or material left on a shop grinder wheel.
- Tungsten electrode grinding equipment requires less skill and ensures that tungsten electrodes are ground correctly and more consistently.
Written by Brian Chalmers