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Welding-terms are needed to learn the basics so you can begin your welding projects with the piece of mind knowing you have the right information on what you are doing.

Air Carbon Arc Cutting:

(CAC-A) - A cutting process by which metals are melted by the heat of an arc using a carbon electrode. Molten metal is forced away from the cut by a blast of forced air. To remove large amounts of metal, look for a welder that can use carbons of at least 3/8 in diameter. Consumables: carbon electrodes, compressed air supply.

Alternating Current::

(AC) - An electrical current that reverses its direction at regular intervals, such as 60 cycles alternating current (AC), or 60 hertz.


This is the measurement of the amount of electricity flowing past a given point in a conductor per second and current is also another name for amperage.


The physical gap between the end of the electrode and the base metal that causes heat due to resistance of current flow and arc rays.

Arc Force:

Also called Dig and Arc Control. Gives power source variable additional amperage during low voltage (short arc length) conditions while welding. Helps avoid "sticking" stick electrodes when a short arc length is used.


Internal inverter power source circuit that automatically links the power source to the primary voltage being applied, without the need for manually linking primary voltage terminals.

Automatic Welding:

Uses equipment which welds without the constant adjusting of controls by the welder or operator. Equipment controls joint alignment by using an automatic sensing device.

Constant Current::

(CC) Welding Machine - These welding machines have limited maximum short circuit current. They have a negative volt-amp curve and are often referred to as "droopers". The voltage will change with different arc lengths while only slightly varying the amperage, thus the name constant current or variable voltage.

Constant-Speed Wire Feeder:

Feeder operates from 24 or 115 VAC supplied by the welding power source.

Constant Voltage:

(CV), Constant Potential (CP) Welding Machine - "Potential" and "voltage" are basically the same in meaning. This type of welding machine output maintains a relatively stable, consistent voltage regardless of the amperage output. It results in a relatively flat volt-amp curve as opposed to the drooping volt-amp curve of a typical Stick (SMAW) welding machine.


Another name for amperage or the amount of electricity that is flowing past a point in a conductor every second.


One or more discontinuities that cause a testing failure in a weld.

Direct Current:

(DC) - Flows in one direction and does not reverse its direction of flow as does alternating current.

Direct Current Electrode Negative:

(DCEN) - The specific direction of current flow through a welding circuit when the electrode lead is connected to the negative terminal and the work lead is connected to the positive terminal of a DC welding machine which is also called direct current, straight polarity (DCSP).

Direct Current Electrode Positive:

(DCEP)- - The specific direction of current flow through a welding circuit when the electrode lead is connected to a positive terminal and the work lead is connected to a negative terminal to a DC welding machine. Also called direct current, reverse polarity (DCRP).

Duty Cycle:

The number of minutes out of a 10-minute time period an arc welding machine can be operated at maximum rated output. An example would be 60% duty cycle at 300 amps. This would mean that at 300 amps the welding machine can be used for 6 minutes and then must be allowed to cool with the fan motor running for 4 minutes. (Some manufacturers rate machines on a 5 minute cycle).


Internal power source cooling system that only works when needed, keeping internal components cleaner.

Fixed Automation:

Automated, electronically controlled welding system for simple, straight or circular welds.

Flexible Automation:

Automated, robotically controlled welding system for complex shapes and applications where welding paths require torch-angle manipulation.

Flux Cored Arc Welding:

(FCAW) - An arc welding process which melts and joins metals by heating them with an arc between a continuous, consumable electrode wire and the work. Shielding is obtained from a flux contained within the electrode core. Depending upon the type of flux-cored wire, added shielding may or may not be provided from externally supplied gas or gas mixture. Consumables: contact tips, flux cored wire, shielding gas (if required, depends on wire type).

Ground Connection:

A safety connection from a welding machine frame to the earth often used for grounding an engine-driven welding machine where a cable is connected from a ground stud on the welding machine to a metal stake placed in the ground.

Ground Lead:

When referring to the connection from the welding machine to the work.
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