A Definitive Guide to Consumable Electrode Classifications

3 min read


Before starting on our post on Consumable Electrode Classifications, let’s know the basics. Firstly, many Inspection members, Inspectors and Engineers whom I have dealt with, can’t relate the terms “Electrode Classification” and the “Specification” of electrodes.

Classifications and Specifications

In short, we mention Classification to E7018 or ER 70S-2 in a WPS. On the other hand, Specification relates to the AWS No., like the AWS A5.18 / ASME SFA 5.18.

So, a classification is that mentioned as E7018 in a Welding Electrode. That is to say, Classification starts with an “E” and Specification always with an “A”.

Meanwhile, coming onto our main topic the Consumable Electrode Classifications.

About Electrode Classifications

AWS 5.1 Electrode Classification Reference

Let’s kind of go over the… what classification covers, then we’re going to look at some of the typical classifications and their guidelines.

About the Electrode Specification

Meanwhile, we have already discussed what are the electrodes, and in general, the AWS numbering classification of Electrodes on our previous post “Selection of Filler Wire/Electrodes.”

General AWS Specification Reference Table

Likewise, most widely used Specifications

SFA-5.01 : Filler Metal Procurement Guideline

SFA-5.12 : Tungsten & it’s alloy Electrode for Arc Welding & Cutting.

SFA-5.13 : Surfacing Electrode for SMAW

SFA-5.15: Welding Rods & Rods for Cast Iron

SFA-5.21 : Bare Electrodes & Rods for Surfacing.

SFA-5.16 : Titanium & It’s Alloy Welding Electrodes & Rods

SFA-5.7 : Copper & It’s Alloy Bare Welding rods & Electrodes.

Electrode Classified in General

Specifically, we are discussing on the consumable electrodes (bare/covered).

Certainly, they based on the main factors –Tensile Strength of the material, position of job, the flux coating and the type of currents applicable.

AWS Electrode Classification
Coating & Current Characteristics Reference

So, the classification is based on the composition of the electrode and not the application.

Likewise, consumable welding electrodes are classified according to their chemical composition table as follows:

Chemical Composition for Different Types of Classifications – 1
Chemical Composition for Different Types of Classifications -2

Electrode Classes as Groups

Subsequently, electrodes are also classified into 5 main groups as

  • Mild steel (Bare & Shielded)
  • High carbon steel
  • Special alloy steel
  • Cast iron and
  • Non ferrous materials (aluminum, copper, & brass).

Electrodes Classified based on Coating

On the other hand, based on filler coating, considering the mild steel types, for instance:

  • Cellulose Type
  • Rutile Type
  • Iron powder
  • Low hydrogen
  • Low hydrogen low alloyed
  • Hard facing

Similarly, classifications are also stated for Stainless steel, Cast Iron and Inconel Electrode not discussed in this article.

Classification of Electrode based on Materials

Firstly, Mild Steel Electrodes, Low Alloy Steel Electrodes and Stainless Steel Electrodes of the most basic and widely used classifications.

In addition, follow the below tables and corresponding details related to the electrodes, and their types and compositions.

CS Electrodes (AWS A5.1)

Classification of CS Electrodes (SMAW)

LAS Electrodes (AWS A5.5)

Classification of LAS Electrodes (SMAW)-1
Classification of LAS Electrodes (SMAW)-2

SS Electrodes (AWS A5.4)

Classification of SS Electrodes (SMAW)

AWS codes also defines the Consumable Electrode classifications for Cast Iron (AWS 5.15), Copper and Copper Alloy Electrode (AWS A5.6), Nickel and Nickel Alloy Electrodes (AWS A5.11), and Aluminium and Aluminium Alloy Electrodes (AWS A5.3)

Consumable Electrode Classification Based on Process

Similarly, for every specification the related process applicable are defined. Further, listed below the Electrodes and Rods Classifications for

  • CS Electrodes (Stick) – E XX YY -1 HZ R
  • LAS Electrodes (Stick) – E (X)XX YY -X-HZ R
  • SS Electrode (Stick) – E XXX (X)-YY
  • FCAW (CS) – E XX T- YM
  • Gas Shielded Arc Welding (CS) ER XX Y – Z
  • Gas Shielded Arc Welding (LAS) ER XX Y – ZZZ
  • SAW (CS) F 7A2 (Flux) – E M 12K (Wire)

Abbreviations, in general for stated designators, that is to say, E – Electrode, XX – Minimal Tensile Strength in Ksi, YY – Welding position, covering/current, and others are optional supplementary designators (refer respective codes)

Also, have you been considering electrodes based on their sizes for the job? Well, electrodes well maintained (handling) should be your consideration for the job.

Wrapping up

However, keeping in mind that there are several different filler wire or welding rod classifications based on composition or application. On the other hand, choosing the right fillers depends on various factors including Statutory Compliances or Jurisdiction Codes and Scope of the Job provided by the Client.

Hope you have had your quick reference during the guided above. Do visit my post on electrodes selection “Filler Metal Selection” on the other hand, as brief outline on how to choose a filler / electrode the easy way.

Do welcome your contributions, ideas and comments related to this article. Please post them below. See you soon on another read.

References :


None of the contents in this article, certainly, is meant to replace manufacturers recommendations or relevant codes. It is a brief outline of recommendations and to be served as a general guide only and that is to say, not as a replacement reference material.

Moreover, inspectionengineering.com is based on information from multiple sources including various referenced codes, free resources  and our own first hand experience with welding.

Above all, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. Moreover, submit your suggestions and questions or ideas, please comment below.