What type of cable is welding cable?
Arc Welding, Class K, Class M, Distributor Wire & Cable, Dwc, Portable Cord, Welding Cable Flexible & Portable Cords, Wire & Cable
Welding cable sizes range from 6 awg to 500 MCM. They consists of bare annealed copper per ASTM B-3. Most have a jacket that is thermoset, typically EPDM or Neoprene. The most widely manufactured colors are black and red and the standard temperature rating is 90C.
While commonly known as a welding cable it's not uncommon to find them being used for something besides welding. They're mainly designed for use with connections from electrode holder and clamp to arc welder, welding box, bus or transformer. Check the welding cable ampacities chart prior to using the cable for a welding application or a 600V in-line application.
There are many manufactures of welding cable but the two of the largest are General Cable and American Insulated Wire. Both of these manufactures also manufacture more durable versions of the standard welding cable for extra hard usage. These will typically include a brighter colored jacket (usually orange), have higher strand counts for increased flexibility, higher temperature rating and greater industry approvals.
Be aware that these higher grade welding cables are rarely available on put-up lengths over 500′. Many times the more durable versions of welding cable can be used in applications such as on a hoist or crane to save money over the more expensive pendant and reeling cable. You should always check with your engineer for exact requirements of your electrical job before you use a welding cable in an application outside of its normal specifications.
Understand the difference in strand counts on your welding cable is key. Stranding is what makes up the majority of the cables flexibility.
There are two primary types of stranding on a welding cable. One is Class K, which is 30 awg strands and this will be your typical welding cable that is offered most predominately in black and red jacket colors.
The other version is Class M stranding, and that is a 34 awg which is a more durable and flexible version. It is the one that typically comes in the brighter florescent jacket and costs 20-40% more. This is due to the increase in copper and tougher jacketing properties.