When using DC arc welding, straight polarity refers to the electrode being the positive terminal (cathode) and the workpiece being negative (anode). Thus, electrons bombard the electrode from the workpiece. Straight polarity generates shallow penetration into the workpiece and a wider bead of weld. In AC welding, the reverse polarity portion of the cycle is responsible for the cleaning action around the weld, especially useful with aluminum and magnesium.

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