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Flux-Cored Arc Welding Techniques and Advantages

Flux-Cored Arc Welding Techniques and Advantages

Exterior renovationsFlux-Cored Arc Welding Techniques and Advantages

Flux-cored arc welding is a well-known method used among DIYers, it rarely requires gas, and appeals to most for its numerous advantages. However, note that it isn’t suitable for all types of work. 

The Fundamentals of Flux-Cored Arc Welding

flux-cored wire welding

Source: Canva

Flux-cored arc welding (FCAW), also known as dual-shield welding, is a type of welding method that:

  • uses a flux-cored wire and;

  • an electric arc;

  • is gasless and; 

  • can be used in windy conditions (self-shielded).

Flux-cored arc welding machines are single-phase devices into which a spool is inserted.

What’s a flux-cored wire?

When using a flux-cored arc welding device, the spooled wire used isn’t solid, unlike the one employed in MCAW (Metal-Cored Arc Welding). Instead, it’s a tubular electrode wire filled with powder. 

This powder serves as the flux, acting as the bonding agent between the pieces that will be welded together. The flux-cored wire is:

  • Wrapped in a metal sheath (0.8 mm to 3.2 mm wide).

  • Continuously spooled.

  • Fed at a constant speed (up to 3.28 ft [1m] per minute).

The flux-cored wire is placed on a spool and passes through a wire feeder that guides it to the welding torch’s nozzle. The faster the wire unwinds, the higher the welding intensity. 

But that’s not all; to adequately weld using a flux-cored wire, the stick-out is of crucial importance.

What’s the stick-out when flux core welding?

The stick-out refers to the appropriate length between the contact tip and the piece to be welded. Typically, it’s 0.6 inches to 1 inch (15 to 25 mm) depending on usage, with a maximum tolerance of 0.11 inches (3 mm). 

Why is that important? Because if the stick-out is too short, the welding wire will end up being too close to the contact tip, resulting in overheating and creating blowholes in the metal piece. On the other hand, if it’s too long, the wire itself overheats, causing an increase in slag, which is the substance that shields the weld. 

Electric Arc

An electric arc is formed between the welding machine’s contact tip and the metal piece (object to be welded). Its purpose is to generate intense heat, melting the piece to be welded and flux-cored wire resulting in the creation of a “molten pool.”

The electric arc is generated by a variable direct current, with an intensity ranging from 40 to 700 amps, depending on the following factors:

  • Welding position

  • Size of the metal pieces

  • Size of the flux-cored wire

  • Bonding

The higher the amperage, the smoother and more stable the electric arc will be, making it easier to handle and forming a well-defined molten pool.

A Gasless Process

The term “gasless” for flux-cored arc welding isn’t entirely accurate for two reasons:

  • Firstly, a shielding gas is naturally generated during the welding process. As the flux-cored wire disintegrates and the parts melt, carbon dioxide is produced. This gas forms a shield around the weld during the welding process.

  • Secondly, while a shielding gas can be added to the welding process, it isn’t mandatory. Welders have the option to save on gas consumption by using a specially formulated aluminum flux-cored wire for welding.

Ideal Outdoor Welding Method

Flux-cored wire welding is an ideal outdoor welding method used on worksites because it typically doesn’t require an external gas supply. 

Since there’s no external shielding gas, the wind doesn’t blow it away, making the process more practical and often used on large worksites, such as when constructing bridges.

Why use this welding method?

flux-cored wire welding

Source: Canva

Flux-cored arc welding often competes with 3 other types of welding:

  • Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW);

  • Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW);

  • Submerged Arc Welding (SAW).

If one welding method can replace another in numerous circumstances, the question is, why choose flux-cored arc welding? The answer lies in its cost-effectiveness compared to gas welding methods

While some DIYers just want to stick with flux-cored welding, it’s essential to note that this method isn’t always suitable. 

What can you weld with a flux-cored wire?

flux-cored wire welding

Source: Canva

According to the American Welding Society (AWS), flux-cored arc welding is suitable for the following materials:

  • Carbon steel 

  • Stainless steel

  • Low-alloy steel

  • Nickel alloys

  • Cast iron

  • Hardfacing alloys

However, certain materials aren’t suitable, including titanium, zirconium, magnesium, and copper alloys. And the list doesn’t end here.

The depth of flux-cored arc welding is rather impressive. However, it can cause metal parts and supports to warp or distort, making it unsuitable for thin sheet metal, such as 0.6 mm sheets.

Therefore, the bodywork of a vehicle can’t be welded with flux-cored welding machines. Attempting to do so would result in blowholes, distortions, and a shoddy end result.

10 Advantages of Flux-Cored Arc Welding

  1. High and variable deposition rate based on the flux-cored wire used.

  2. Deposits a larger amount of metal compared to arc welding.

  3. Possibility of working in windy conditions.

  4. Faster work compared to using TIG or shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) methods.

  5. Fewer welding repairs.

  6. Welding can be done in all directions since the flux-cored wire is small in size.

  7. Better welding penetration than SMAW.

  8. Gasless welding is a possibility depending on the flux-cored wire used.

  9. Continuous spooling, therefore there’s little time spent on changing the wire.

  10. Very good mechanical characteristics.

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Last modified 2023-11-07

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