TIG Tungsten Electrodes:

Tungsten electrodes come in a variety of types and sizes dependant on what you’re welding:

  • Ceriated 2% (Gray) – Sometimes Orange:
  • Thoriated 1% (Yellow):
  • Thoriated 2% (Red):
  • Lanthanated 1% (Black):
  • Lanthanated 1.5% (Gold):
  • Lanthanated 2% (Blue):
  • Pure (Green):
  • Rare Earth (Purple):
  • Zirconiated 0.8% (White) – Sometimes Brown:
Note:
  • Note that many suppliers only stock the most popular selling items.
TIG Welding - Tungsten Electrodes (Gold Lanthanated 1.5%)
TIG Welding – Tungsten Electrodes (Gold Lanthanated 1.5%)

Topics:

The Differences Between TIG Tungsten Electrodes:

The table below tries to set out the differences between tungsten electrodes. However, there are many slight differences between each electrode, (and all the detail can’t fit in one table). So try to check any data sheets (if available).

TIG Welding – The Differences Between Tungsten Electrodes:
TIG Welding – Tungsten Electrodes
Material Colour AC DC Amp Material (and their alloys)4
Al Cu Mg Ni SS St Ti
Ceriated 2%
Gray
Orange5
Y Y2 low Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Thoriated 1%1
Yellow
Y
Thoriated 2%1
Red
Y Y2 med Y Y Y Y Y
Lanthanated 1%3
Black
Y Y
Lanthanated 1.5%3
Gold
Y Y all Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Lanthanated 2%3
Blue
Y Y med-high Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Pure
Green
Y low-med Y Y
Rare Earth
Purple
Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Zirconiated 0.8%
White
Brown5
Y all Y Y
This is only a guide, please refer to the manufacturers data sheets.
Reference:
  • 1 Thorium is radioactive substance. Therefore, always follow the manufacturer’s warnings, instructions, and the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).
  • 2 Gives best results.
  • 3 Compared to pure tungsten, Lanthana increases the maximum carrying capacity by approximately 50% for a given size electrode. There is less tip wear when compared to cerium and thorium electrodes.
  • 4 Aluminium (Al), Copper (Cu), Magnesium (mg), Nickel (Ni), Stainless Steel (SS), Steel (St), Titanium (Ti).
  • 5 Some area’s use a slightly different colour code.

TIG Tungsten Electrode Sizes:

TIG Welding Consumables – Tungsten Electrode Sizes:
Tungsten Electrode – Sizes
mm Inches
0.5 0.020
1.0 0.040
1.6 1/16
2.4 3/32
3.2 1/8
4.0 5/32
4.8 3/16
6.35 1/4

Summary:

The general opinion online appears to be that Lanthanated 1.5% (Gold) electrodes appear to be taking over from Thoriated 2% (Red)1 as one of the most popular ‘multi purpose’ types of Tungsten electrode. For best results on Aluminium or Magnesium, use a Zirconiated 0.8% electrode.

As always, a specific job may be suited to a particular electrode. Therefore please read the manufacturers data sheets.

Notes:
  • A Tungsten electrode must be ground longitudinally (lengthwise). If ground in another direction, the surface finish can effect the current flow and the performance of the arc.
  • Cut the end of a contaminated electrode off before re-grinding. Just grinding a contaminated electrode may contaminate the grinding surface.
  • 1 Do not breathe the dust from Thorium electrodes, as Thorium is a radioactive substance.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s warnings, instructions, and the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).

Images:

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