comprehensive information about welding electrode selection for SMAW (Shielded Metal Arc Welding) process. It includes electrode types, sizes & tips.


Welding is an essential skill across various industries, from construction to automotive. As such, the importance of selecting the correct welding electrode for a given job cannot be overstated. 

Various welding electrode options are available, and each has unique properties and strengths that make it suitable for different welding applications. 

Welding Electrode Selection Guide
Welding Electrode Selection Guide

The Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) process is one of the most popular welding processes, and it requires the proper selection of welding electrodes for the job.

In this blog post, we’ll look at the different types of welding electrodes available for use in SMAW welding, and we’ll provide a guide that explains how to select suitable electrodes for your welding project.

Fundamentals of Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW): A Comprehensive Guide

Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), also known as manual metal arc (MMA) welding or stick welding, is a widely used welding technique involving a consumable electrode coated in flux to create an electric arc and generate heat for welding.

Electrode ClassAWS Numbering SystemCharacteristicsApplicationsRecommended CurrentPreheat/Interpass Temp.
Carbon steelE6010High cellulose content, deep penetrationStructural steel, heavy plateDCEN150-200°F (66-93°C)
Low-alloy steelE8010-E80T1Iron powder and low-alloy elements for increased strength and toughnessPressure vessels, pipingDCEN250-350°F (121-177°C)
Stainless steelE308-E347Chromium and nickel for corrosion resistanceFood processing, chemical processingDCEP350-450°F (177-232°C)
AluminumE4043Aluminum and silicon for high conductivity and penetrationAluminum alloys, aircraft partsDCENN/A
Cast ironE6010High cellulose content, deep penetrationCast iron, high-alloy steelsDCENN/A
NickelENi-1Nickel and iron for high strength and corrosion resistanceNuclear power plants, offshore platformsDCEPN/A

In SMAW, the electrode is held by the welder and manually guided along the weld joint, with the arc and molten metal being shielded by the flux coating on the electrode. This produces a weld bead with a characteristic appearance and mechanical properties.

SMAW is a versatile welding process that can be used on various materials, including ferrous and non-ferrous metals, low- and high-alloy steels, cast iron, and nickel alloys.

It is beneficial for welding in hard-to-reach areas and repair and maintenance work, as it does not require complex equipment or specialized training.

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Welding Electrode Selection Guide
Welding Electrode Selection Guide

AWS Classification and Numbering System for Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) Electrodes

AWS ClassificationCoating TypeTensile Strength (psi)Current RangeWelding Positions
E6010Iron powder60,000DC RPAll, except vertical down
E7018Low-hydrogen potassium-iron powder70,000AC/DC SPAll, including vertical down
E7024Low-hydrogen potassium-iron powder70,000AC/DC SPFlat and horizontal

The American Welding Society (AWS) has developed a classification and numbering system for shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) electrodes, also known as manual metal arc (MMA) electrodes, to provide a standard and consistent method for identifying and selecting the right electrode for a particular welding application.

Welding Electrode Selection Guide

In the AWS numbering system, the first two digits of the electrode classification represent the tensile strength of the deposited weld metal, measured in pounds per square inch (psi). For example, an electrode with the classification E6010 would have a tensile strength of 60,000 psi.