NEMA Publishes Standard for Graphic Symbols for Arc Welding, Cutting Apparatus

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has published EW 4-2009, the first new edition in 15 years. This standard provides manufacturers and users of arc welding and cutting equipment with a system for the development and use of graphic symbols for use on their equipment. It accommodates non-English speaking and functionally illiterate workers in the United States.

In addition, globalization of the welding and cutting industry also has expanded, making it necessary for U.S.-based manufacturers to design and mark their products in a way that is more easily understood by a more linguistically and culturally diverse customer base. As a result, the new edition of EW 4 contains all pertinent graphic symbols recognized by IEC TC 26, the international standards committee for electric welding and allied processes.

“The value of EW 4 is that it contains a comprehensive collection of 227 standardized symbols used in the U.S. and globally. But with advancements in technology and equipment, there is always a need to develop new symbols based on well-accepted ones. EW 4 describes a clear ‘building block approach’ to accomplish this. This approach is quite evident in the symbols that were incorporated in the IEC standard for welding power sources,” said Jerome Jennings, consultant to Miller Electric and chairman of the Graphic Symbols Committee in NEMA’s Arc Welding Section.

EW 4, however, recognizes that some non-international graphic symbols have been used for decades by U.S. industry and are consequently well recognized in American workplaces. As such, there are a number of instances where a single function or keyword is represented by more than one acceptable symbol, e.g., the symbols for engine developed by ISO, IEC, and the Society of Automotive Engineers. Manufacturers are therefore encouraged to analyze their customers, markets, and message context in order to arrive at a proper symbol selection.

EW 4-2009 may be downloaded at no charge or a hard copy purchased for $114 by visiting http://www.nema.org/stds/ew4.cfm, or by contacting IHS at (800) 854-7179 (within the U.S.), 303-397-7956 (international), 303-397-2740 (fax), or on the Web at global.ihs.com.

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