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What Does The AWS Rod Electrode Classification Mean?

Want to know how to choose the right welding rod for your application? Get answers to frequently asked questions about rod electrodes.                         


1. What are the most common rod electrodes?

Hundreds, if not thousands, of rod electrodes, exist, but the most popular belongings to the American Welding Society (AWS) A5.1 shielded metal arc welding carbon steel electrode specification. These include E6010, E6011, E6012, E6013, E7014, E7024, and E7018 electrodes.

GB ER50-3 AWS ER70S-3

 GB ER50-3 AWS ER70S-3   


2. What does the AWS rod electrode classification mean?

To help identify rod electrodes, AWS uses a standardized classification system. The classification takes the form of numbers and letters printed on the side of the rod electrode, each representing a specific electrode characteristic.


For the mild steel electrodes mentioned above, the AWS system works as follows.


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


The third digit represents the weld position where the electrode can be used. For example, a 1 indicates that the electrode can be used in all positions and a 2 indicates that the electrode can only be used for flat and horizontal fillet welds.


The fourth digit represents the type of coating and type of welding current (AC, DC, or both) that can be used with the electrode.

 Flux Cored Wire Gas-shielded

 Flux Cored Wire Gas-shielded   


3. What is the difference between E6010, E6011, E6012, and E6013 electrodes and when should they be used?

E6010 electrodes can only be used with direct current (DC) power supplies. They provide deep penetration and the ability to excavate rust, oil, paint, and dirt. Many experienced pipeline welders use these all-position electrodes to perform root passes on pipelines. However, E6010 rods have a very tight arc, which can make them difficult for novice welders to use.


E6011 electrodes can also be used for all-position welding using an alternating current (AC) welding power source. Like the E6010 electrode, the E6011 electrode produces a deep, penetrating arc that can cut through corroded or unclean metals. Many welders choose the E6011 electrode for maintenance and repair work when a DC power source is not available.


The E6012 electrode is suitable for applications that require gap bridging between two joints. Many professional welders also choose E6012 electrodes for high-speed, high-current fillet welds in horizontal positions, but these electrodes tend to produce shallow depth-of-melt profiles and dense slag, requiring additional post-weld cleaning.


E6013 electrodes produce a soft arc with minimal spatter, moderate penetration, and easy slag removal. These electrodes should only be used to weld clean new sheet metal.

 Mig Wire

 AWS A5.9 ER310         

4. What is the difference between E7014, E7018, and E7024 electrodes and when should they be used?

E7014 electrodes produce approximately the same joint penetration as E6012 electrodes and are designed for use with carbon and low alloy steels. E7014 electrodes contain a higher amount of iron powder, which increases the deposition rate. They can also be used at higher current strengths than E6012 electrodes.


E7018 electrodes contain a thick flux with a high powder content and are among the easiest electrodes to use. These electrodes produce a smooth, quiet arc with minimal spatter and moderate arc penetration. Many welders use E7018 electrodes to weld thick metals such as structural steel. E7018 electrodes also produce strong welds with high impact properties (even in cold weather) and can be used on carbon, high carbon, low alloy, or high strength steel base materials.


The E7024 electrode contains a large amount of iron powder that helps increase the deposition rate. Many welders use E7024 electrodes for high-speed horizontal or flat fillet welds. These electrodes perform well on steel plates that are at least 1/4 inch thick. They can also be used on metals thicker than 1/2 inch.

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