Thoriated tungsten electrodes (AWS classification EWTh-2) contain a minimum of 97.30 percent tungsten and 1.70 to 2.20 percent thorium and are called 2 percent thoriated. They are the most commonly used electrodes today and are preferred for their longevity and ease of use. Thorium increases the electron emission qualities of the electrode, which improves arc starts and allows for a higher current-carrying capacity. This electrode operates far below its melting temperature, which results in a considerably lower rate of consumption and eliminates arc wandering for greater stability. Compared with other electrodes, thoriated electrodes deposit less tungsten into the weld puddle, so they cause less weld contamination.
These electrodes are used mainly for specialty AC welding (such as thin-gauge aluminum and material less than 0.060 inch) and DC welding, either electrode negative or straight polarity, on carbon steel, stainless steel, nickel, and titanium.
During manufacturing, thorium is evenly dispersed throughout the electrode, which helps the tungsten maintain its sharpened edge—the ideal electrode shape for welding thin steel—after grinding