Flux Cored Wire vs Solid Wire: When You Should Use What and Why

Flux Core

FCAW or flux cored arc welding and GMAW or gas metal arc welding are different welding processes with different characteristics that a welder must evaluate before selecting either of the processes for their welding job. To get the best results out of either of the processes, you must evaluate the various factors such as worksite location, material thickness, shielding gas, voltage settings, the speed of wire feed and appearance of the weld.

Basics of Solid Wire

The power sources of MIG welding utilise a solid continuous wire electrode as filler metal and needs a shielding gas which is provided from a gas bottle that is pressurised. Usually, the mild steel wires are copper-plated in order to prevent any oxidation, improves conductivity and increase the welding contact tip life.

The molten weld pool is protected by the shielding gas from any contaminants that may be present in the atmosphere. Most commonly, the shielding gas used comprises 75% argon and 25% carbon dioxide. When making use of solid wire outdoors, you must ensure that the wind does not blow away the shielding gas coverage from the welding arc by making use of windshields.

Basics of Flux Cored Wire

There are 2 kinds of flux cored wires, self-shielding and gas shielded. Flux cored wires using gas shielding requires the use of external shielding gas and the removal of slag is very easy. Usually, gas shielded flux cored wires are used for out-of-position jobs or welding thick materials. These wires have a flux coating that hardens much faster than molten weld material.

In the case of self-shielding flux cored wire there is no requirement of an external shielding gas and the gas produced when the flux from the wire is burned protects the weld pool. This makes the self-shielding flux cored wire process portable as it does not need you to carry an external gas tank around.

Both the processes, FCAW and GMAW have varied characteristics that must be evaluated by the welding operator before deciding on which process to use. Whether you are an amateur welder or an occasional welder such as a farmer, rancher or a hobby DIYer, this article can help you understand the basics of both the flux cored and solid wires before you decide which will be more beneficial to your welding operations and offer the best results.

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