Welding cable is designed for use in electric arc-welding machines to power an electrode, a specially designed metal rod, that conducts a charge. The charge carried by the electrode is needed to produce an electric arc, the heat source, between the electrode and the metals, or other materials, being welded.
Welding cable is made to be extremely durable and flexible. Arc-welding requires a person to move the electrode around the shop and along the joints being welded, so it is essential to have a flexible welding cable that allows for ease of movement. A high strand count, concentrically arranged, and rubber insulation help increase the cable's flexibility.
A durable cable is important since welding often takes place in industrial environments where abrasions, cuts, burns from sparks, and oil and water exposure can quickly wear out a weaker cable. See durability of welding leads for more information.
We recommend always checking with your engineer if you are planning to use welding cable for applications other than welding. See weld leads for other applications.
Ampacity is short for ampere capacity. For welding cables, ampacity refers to the maximum amount of electrical current a spool of cable can conduct before advanced deterioration sets in. For more detail on ampacity, see welding cable ampacity.
AC and DC are just descriptions of how electric charges move in a live circuit. Like any conductor, welding cable can carry both AC and DC power. Whether you are using an AC or DC welder matters more for determining what kind of electrode to use and affects what kind of weld you get. As long as the welding cable can handle the amount of amps being generated at a given voltage (not exceeding 600 volts), it will work.
No. Welding machines will generate either AC or DC power, but both AC and DC are just descriptions of how electric charges move in a live circuit. The conductor The type of power your welding machine uses matters more for determining what kind of electrode to use than what kind of welding cable.
Welding machines that generate DC power are more common because of the ability to control the polarity (charge) of the electrode, which affects the kind of weld you get. In relation to welding cables, if your welding machine does not have a switch to change polarity then you will need to change the cable terminals.
With DC Electrode Positive (DCEP, DC+), also known as DC Reverse Polarity (DCRP), the heat from the arc is greater at the electrode as electrons flow from the workpiece to the electrode. With DC Electrode Negative or (DCEN, DC-), also known as DC Straight Polarity (DCSP), the heat from the arc is greater at the workpiece as electrons flow from the electrode to the metal. Always go with what the manufacturer says concerning use of an electrode, since there are different electrodes designed for DCEP and DCEN.
AC welding machines require special AC electrodes since there is no fixed polarity. However, when using AC electrodes on DC machines there is typically one polarity with which the electrode works best.
For power supply the question is ultimately whether your cable can handle the currents you will be running through it. Three important factors to consider when selecting cable for any power supply application are cable length, gauge, and insulation temperature rating. For other applications where cable strength is what matters, like for use with hoists or cranes, higher strength welding cables (thicker cables with higher strand counts) may be used as a cheaper alternative. See "How to select welding cable" for more information.
Welding cable is made from stranded bundles of copper wire tightly packed and insulated. The wire stranding gives the cable more flexibility and resistance to wear, while the insulation (typically EPDM or Neoprene rubber) adds additional protection against the harsh environments found in welding applications and is more flexible than PVC or other rubber coatings.
Welding cable usually comes with rubber insulation, typically either Neoprene or Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) rubber, and is designed to be fire (small sparks), water, oil, and abrasion resistant. See welding cable insulation for more detail.
All welding cables have relatively high strand counts compared to other types of stranded cable. TEMCo's smallest welding cable, 6 AWG, has 259 individual strands of copper wire. Though there are other benefits, the primary reason for stranding in cables is to increase flexibility, and the higher the strand count the more flexible the cable will be. See stranding in weld leads for more information.
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