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Tungsten Data

Tungsten Electrode Tips Sheet Rules of thumb to follow Material Selection There's more to tungsten than "2%." Choose a tungsten that will maximize your welding application and provide extended service life. Tungsten Diameter Selection Are your amperages too high for the tungsten you use? Electrode Tip Geometry Selection The decision you make affects equipment performance and weld characteristics Proper Grinding and Cutting Techniques Even the best welding equipment can not overcome the effects of a badly prepared and contaminated electrode Thoriated Tungsten Radioactivity Data "2%" Tungsten is a radioactive element and therefore can be dangerous to the health of those exposed to it and to the environment

Tungsten Electrode Tips Sheets

Electrode material, diameter, grind angle, and tip diameter (flat) vary according to each welding application. Charts and guides are available identifying amperage ratings for a variety of grind angles and tip diameters. Where available, use your welding equipment manufacturer's recommendations as a starting point. In the absence of that, the information below offers some general rules of thumb to follow and may be modified according to the specific application.

Basic Considerations
The choice of electrode material and geometry will always be a compromise affecting the following:

shorter vs. longer electrode life easier vs. more difficult arc starting

deeper vs. shallower weld penetration wider vs. narrower arc and weld shape

Electrode Material
Different electrode materials offer various advantages in arc starting and electrode life. The following are the most commonly used electrode materials: 2% Cerium 2% Thorium Pure Tungsten 1% Lanthanum

Electrode Diameter
General Diameter x 1,500 = Average amperage for acceptable Formula: electrode life (20-30 degree angle) Example: .040" diameter x 1,500 = 60 amps maximum Rule of Thumb: For a given amperage, larger diameters offer longer electrode life but may be more difficult to arc start at low amperages. Click here for more information on this topic.

Sharper Electrodes

less arc wander at lower amperages more consistent arc starting have a wider arc longer life provide better weld penetration

Blunt Electrodes

can handle higher amperage levels Rule of Thumb: Use 20-30 angles for up to 90 amps, average. Higher currents can use larger included angles.

Flat/Tip Diameter
General Amperage/4,000 = "Rule of Thumb" Flat Diameter Formula: Example: 120 amps/4,000 = .030" "Rule of Thumb" Flat Diameter Rule of Thumb: Use above calculation as a starting point for tip flat dimensions. As with electrode angle/taper, smaller tip diameter (sharper electrode) offers better arc starting an a more stable arc at low amperages. Larger tip diameters offer longer electrode life.

Material Selection

For quite some time, tungsten manufacturers have added an oxide to pure tungsten to improve the arc starting characteristics and the longevity of pure tungsten electrodes. Below is a chart that lists the major commercially sold tungsten types, their American Welding Society (AWS) and International Standards Organization (ISO) classifications, and the amount and type of oxide contained in the electrode. AWS Class EWTh-2 EWTh-2 EWLa-1.5 EWLa-1 EWZr-1 EWP ISO Class WT20 WC20 N/A WL10 WZ3 W

Material 2% Thoriated 2% Ceriated 1% Lanthanated 1% Lanthanated Zirconiated Pure Tungsten

Oxide Content 1.7-2.2% ThO2 1.8-2.2% CeO2 1.3-1.7% La2O3 0.8-1.2% La2O3 0.15-0.40% ZrO2 None

Below is a description of each of these types and their uses:

2% Thoriated Tungsten
This is the most commonly used tungsten material because it was the first to display a significant improvement over pure tungsten. This is a good general use tungsten for DC applications, because it has a low work function and operates well even when overloaded with extra amperage. While many companies still use this material because it is specified as part of a qualified weld program, there is a definite migration to other tungsten types, namely 2% Ceriated and 1% Lanthanated, due to their superior performance in most applications and the fact that they are non-radioactive. The thoria contained in 2% Thoriated tungsten is slightly radioactive and many welders and safety officers are leading the move away from this material. The American Welding Society, in their A5.12 "Specification for Tungsten and Tungsten-Alloy Electrodes for Arc Welding and Cutting" state the following on this issue: Thoria is a low-level radioactive material. However, if welding is to be performed in confined spaces for prolonged periods of time or if electrode grinding dust might be ingested, special precautions relative to ventilation should be considered. The user should consult appropriate safety personnel. The primary concern in using this material is in ingesting the dust produced while grinding points on them. The AWS goes on to say, ...during the grinding of electrode tips there is generation of radioactive dust, with the risk of internal exposure. Consequentially, it is necessary to use local exhaust ventilation to control the dust at the source, complemented if necessary by respiratory protective equipment.

2% Ceriated Tungsten
This non-radioactive alternative to 2% Thoriated Tungsten is best when used primarily in DC welding at low currents. It has excellent arc starting capabilities at low currents and therefore it has become the standard for

many orbital tube and pipe welding equipment manufacturers. In addition, it is often used in other low amperage applications where small or delicate parts are being welded. It would not be good for higher amperage applications, because the oxides migrate very quickly to the heat at the tip under these conditions and the oxide content and benefits are then removed.

1% Lanthanated Tungsten
This has been a very popular new material internationally and has recently been introduced in the United States. The 1% content (as opposed to 2%) was chosen by two of the largest manufacturers as the optimum content amount based on scientific studies which showed that this content amount most closely mirrors the conductivity characteristics of 2% Thoriated Tungsten. Therefore, welders can usually easily replace their radioactive 2% Thoriated material with this tungsten and not have to make any welding program changes. It makes the switch quick and easy. In addition, one major manufacturer had an independent study performed on this material and it was presented at the 1998 American Welding Society Exhibition in Detroit, Michigan. In summary, 2% Thoriated, 2% Ceriated and two manufacturer's % Lanthanated were compared by observing tip erosion after 300 DC arc strikes at both 70 amps and 150 amps. In both cases, the 1% Lanthanated tungsten showed the least amount of tip erosion. This material is also suitable for AC welding. Therefore, if you are considering optimizing your welding, this is an excellent material to consider.

This material is used primarily for AC welding. The AWS states, "This electrode performs well when used with alternating current as it retains a balled end during welding and has a high resistance to contamination." This electrode has reduced in importance as other alternatives have become available. Pro-Fusion's recommendation is to try 1% Lanthanated tungsten for your AC welding. Zirconiated tungsten has very poor performance in DC welding.

Pure Tungsten
Like Zirconiated Tungsten, this tungsten is also only used for AC welding and there are better alternatives available. Try 1% Lanthanated instead of this material.

Tungsten Diameter Selection

The welding equipment supplier's recommendations and the American Welding Society recommendations are the best place to start with this variable. Equipment suppliers normally have specifications handy that they

can provide you with. If they are not available or you would like to experiment with altering their guidelines, the chart at the top of the next page that is published by the American Welding Society can be of help to you. Keep in mind that as you increase the diameter of the electrode you are able to handle more amperage. For a given amperage, larger diameter electrodes are more difficult to start than smaller ones, but they will probably erode less rapidly. If you use too large an electrode for your amperage level, you are likely to experience arc instability. Direct Current (Amps) Electrode Diameter in. 0.010 0.020 0.040 0.060 0.093 0.125 0.156 0.187 0.250 mm 0.3 0.5 1.0 1.6 2.4 3.2 4.0 4.8 6.4 Straight Polarity DCEN 0.1 to 15 5-20 15-80 70-150 150-250 250-400 400-500 500-750 750-1000 Reverse Polarity DCEP Not Applicable Not Applicable Not Applicable 10-20 15-30 25-40 40-55 55-80 80-125 0.1 to 15 5-20 10-80 70-150 140-235 225-325 300-400 400-500 500-630 0.1 to 15 5-20 20-60 60-120 100-180 160-250 200-320 290-390 340-525 Alternating Current (Amps) Unbalanced Wave Balanced Wave

All values are based on the use of Thoriated, Ceriated, or Lanthanated Tungsten electrodes with argon gas.

Electrode Tip Geometry Selection

In AC welding, the electrode is typically balled up and used so there is no tip geometry to prepare. Therefore, this section is dedicated to DC welding.

Welding should follow an equipment supplier's suggested procedures and dimensions first, because they have usually performed a lot of qualifying and troubleshooting work to optimize electrode preparation for their equipment. However, where these specifications do not exist or the welder or engineer would like to change those settings to possibly improve and optimize their welding, Pro-Fusion offers the following guidelines: A. Electrode Diameter - The welding equipment supplier's recommendations and the American Welding Society recommendations are the best place to start with this variable. Keep in mind that as you increase the diameter of the electrode you are able to handle more amperage. For a given amperage, larger diameter electrodes are more difficult to start than smaller ones, but they will probably erode less rapidly. If you use too large an electrode for your amperage level, you are likely to experience arc instability. B. Electrode Taper - This is usually called out in degrees of included angle (usually anywhere between 14 degrees and 60 degrees). Below is a summary chart that illustrates how different tapers offer different arc shapes and features: Sharper Electrodes Easy arc starting Handle less amperage Wider arc shape Good arc stability Less weld penetration Shorter electrode life Blunter Electrodes Usually harder to start the arc Handle more amperage Narrower arc shape Potential for more arc wander Better weld penetration Longer electrode life

C. In addition, to demonstrate graphically how the taper selection will effect the size of the weld bead and the amount of penetration, below is a drawing that shows typical representations of the arc shape and resultant weld profile for different tapers.


Arc Shape and Fusion Zone Profile as a Function of Electrode Included Angle

E. The fusion zone profile will also depend on: 1. Electrode tip diameter (flat) 2. Arc Gap 3. Material to be welded

4. Shield gas used

F. Electrode Tip Diameter - Grinding an electrode to a point is sometimes desirable for certain applications, especially where arc starting is difficult or short duration welds on small parts are performed. However in most cases it is best for a welder to leave a flat spot or tip diameter at the end of electrode. This reduces erosion at the thin part of a point and reduces the concern that the tip may fall into the weld. Larger and smaller tip diameters offer the following trade-offs: Smaller Tip Easier arc starting Potential for more arc wander Less weld penetration Shorter electrode life Larger Tip Usually harder to start the arc Good arc stability More weld penetration More electrode life

Proper Grinding and Cutting Techniques

Proper Tungsten preparation is a key variable in the quality of your welding. Even the best welding equipment can not overcome the effects of a badly prepared and contaminated electrode. Properly ground electrodes reduce or eliminate arc wander, splitting, shedding, welding quality inconsistencies and scrap of expensive parts. The general statement from the American Welding Society in the A5.12 standard on this subject is: The electrode should be properly cut and ground tapered by following the equipment supplier's suggested procedures. Breaking for severing an electrode is not recommended since it may cause a jagged end or a bent electrode, which usually results in a poorly shaped arc and excessive electrode heating. In addition to these general guidelines, Pro-Fusion offers the following recommendations:

Always use a dedicated Tungsten grinder. Grinding electrodes on regular shop equipment or grinding other materials on tungsten grinders leads to contamination of the electrode and reduced welding performance. In addition, dedicated grinder allow for geometry measurement for testing and for maintaining consistency of preparation according to established procedures. Grind longitudinally and concentrically so that the lines on the ground surface move in the same direction as the electrode and the electrode has no flat spots. Grinding crosswise causes arc wander and risk inclusions in some applications. Since tungsten is a very hard material, grinding wheels should be made of diamond or borazon. Electrodes should be cut using a cutting wheel where possible. Notching and breaking or using pliers to snap electrodes can cause splintering in the electrode that is difficult to see and can create a weld defect.

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