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Flux-Cored Arc Welding Techniques and Advantages

Flux-Cored Arc Welding Techniques and Advantages

Exterior renovationsInterior 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.


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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 2023-07-28

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Therefore—and as we’ll explain in further detail below—fibre-reinforced concrete’s ability to withstand flames is directly linked to the use of polypropylene fibres. Nevertheless, fibre-reinforced concrete still has drawbacks as it’s: More expensive Not as water-resistant Can be less compression-resistant (as seen with plastic fibres) Not as capable of withstanding earthquakes Once again, fibre-reinforced concrete drawbacks are largely determined by the type of fibre used. Types of Fibre-Reinforced Concrete Source: Canva Ultra-high performance UHPC (Ultra High-Performance Concrete) is a type of concrete made using short fibres, meaning fibres that have been designed to reduce cracking and improve fire resistance. These synthetic or organic fibres are added to the concrete mixture, thereby providing increased compression resistance, from 150 to 250 MPa, compared to 30 MPa for regular concrete. Depending on the types of fibres used, fibre-reinforced concrete can completely negate the use of passive rebar. This is seen with structural concrete, which we’ll further detail at the end of this article. Generally speaking, the main characteristics of UHPC are: Low permeability Great mechanical resistance Enhanced strength and ductility Low creep Durability High density It shouldn’t be confused with HPC (High-Performance Concrete), since UHPC is a lot more resistant, as well as a lot drier, more fibre-reinforced, and has increased tensile strength. Shotcrete Sprayed fibre-reinforced concrete can be made with: Steel fibres (20 to 50 kg/m³) Polymer fibres (5 to 9 kg/m³) Said fibres render the mixture with: Superior bond strength Increased shear strength Ductility Less spalling when exposed to intense heat (fire) However, all dosages must undergo testing to ensure the concrete meets the necessary characteristics required to achieve a predetermined structural goal. What type of synthetic fibres can be added? Source: Canva Fibre-reinforced concrete is made using additional fibres of various natures (bamboo, jute fibre, plastic, etc.). However, nowadays, the majority of added fibres used are grouped under synthetic fibres: Fibreglass Polypropylene Carbon Plastics Metals Fibreglass Fibreglass reinforces tensile strength. It limits the need for steel rebar, but also increases the overall strength against: Weakening Flexural stress Tensile forces Impacts Cracking Regarding the last point, fibreglass directly impacts the size of cracking by reducing widths. However, unlike steel fibres, which we’ll cover below, fibreglass doesn’t improve concrete’s compression strength. Polypropylene Shields against chemical and bacterial infestations Improves compression strength Increases flexural strength Polypropylene fibres are used to enhance concrete’s resistance to heat exposure. Using these fibres means exposing concrete to temperatures of 600°C (1112°F) won’t affect its compressive strength. The more polypropylene fibres used in concrete, the better its resistance to flexural stress will be. However, as the fibre content is increased, the more unstable and hard-to-manipulate the mixture will become. As such, polypropylene fibres are used as concrete reinforcers mainly in demanding environments: Parks Roadways Public spaces Beaches Plastic fibre Increases adhesion of PET bonding mixture Increases tensile strength Improves ductility Increases flexural strength Plastic fibres are part of a major environmental concern. With the significant amount of plastic waste generated by our society, a considerable portion could be recycled into this type of fibre-reinforced concrete. In fact, simply adding 1.5% plastic fibres per concrete volume is ample to achieve an optimally reinforced mixture. However, plastic fibre-reinforced concrete does have a major downside: it lowers its compression strength. Therefore, to offset this particular drawback, additives are used, like metakaolin or silica fume. Carbon fibre Increases flexural strength Improves ductility Prevents weakening-induced degradation Strengthens load-bearing capacity Carbon fibres aren’t used independently. They’re used together with polymer concrete to create a type of concrete that’s known as CFRP (Carbon Fibre-Reinforced Polymers). While this type of concrete’s compression strength isn’t improved by carbon fibres, its flexural strength is literally doubled. CFRP is mainly used in environments in which concrete is subjected to harsh weather or pollutants. Structural Structural fibre-reinforced concrete (or fibre-reinforced concrete) is used to improve the mechanical strength of the concrete mixture, and at times can replace standard reinforcement steel. This unique characteristic is made possible due to its composition, which contains two types of fibres: Metallic fibres Macro-synthetic fibres It’s used to build: Foundations Footings Superstructures Columns Beams Slabs Walls When it’s used to completely replace reinforcement steel, fibre-reinforced concrete can speed up building processes, as the following doesn’t have to be done: Cutting rebar Securing rebar Installing shims Metallic Metallic fibres reinforce concrete in 3 distinct ways: Enhance compression strength Improve flexural strength Mitigate cracking The whole is obtained with a mixture consisting of only 3% steel fibres per concrete volume. One may be led to believe that the richer in steel fibres the concrete is, the stronger it is. Although this is true, the more steel fibres it contains, the less malleable it becomes. As such, one has to find the right balance between concrete strength and malleability. How do steel fibres reinforce concrete? Well, that’s rather straightforward. Steel fibres allow concrete to break apart in a ductile fashion, which differs from standard concrete cracking. For example, this steel fibre-reinforced concrete-specific characteristic means that concrete beams are more: Rigid Wear-resistant Shock-resistant Withstand energy absorption Ductile The same concept applies to steel fibre-reinforced concrete slabs. The latter can better withstand loads. However, steel fibres do have limitations. The bond between the fibres and the concrete can vary; it can range from a coefficient of 1.0 to 2.2, thereby doubling it.

4 min read 26 Jul 2023

Everything to Know About MIG/MAG Welding

MIG/MAG welding, also known as gas-shielded arc metal welding, is a widely used welding technique in various industries. In this article, we will delve into the details of this welding process and explore why MIG/MAG welding is such a popular method. MIG/MAG Welding Definition Source: Canva MIG/MAG welding is a type of arc welding that’s also known as GMAW, which stands for Gas Metal Arc Welding. It’s basically a process during which an electric arc is produced between a metal welding wire fed through a torch to a welding piece. The electric power strategically melts both the piece of metal and the tip of the welding wire, creating a molten pool. To ensure the quality of the weld, a gas supply is used to shield the electrical arc from any airborne contaminants (oxygen, nitrogen, moisture) present at the worksite. Fundamentals Two gases are used: Inert gas, for MIG (Metal Inert Gas) Active gas, for MAG (Metal Active Gas) MIG welding is suitable for fusing delicate materials like aluminum or alloys that are sensitive to oxygen and nitrogen. MIG welding employs inert gases such as argon, which is a mixture of argon and helium. As for MAG welding, this method employs oxidants found on the surface of molten pools. The oxidation process is done through the presence of oxygen or carbon dioxide. However, these gases aren’t used in their pure state but mixed with shielding gases. They're active gases. How does MIG/MAG welding work? MIG/MAG welding has three different metal transfer methods. This type of welding uses the following modes: Short circuit (GMAW-S): Direct contact between the welding wire and the molten pool; Pulsed MIG: A droplet forms with each peak of the electrical output; Axial spray: Includes globular transfer (glob by glob), axial spraying (spattering), and a combo of the two. Furthermore, there are four types of welds classified according to their position: Flat weld Horizontal weld Vertical weld Overhead weld Different gas mixtures are available depending on the welding mode used, the type of weld being made, and the materials being worked on. They’re mostly made of argon, which benefits from being denser than air. Therefore, it can shield the molten pool better than helium since the latter is lighter than air. Adding oxygen (O2) or carbon dioxide (CO2) to argon basically yields the same result: Stabilizes the electric arc. Improves the look of the weld. The benefit of oxygen and carbon dioxide is that they don’t need as much force to be expelled from the torch as helium since they’re much denser than air. As for helium, it has a better thermal conductivity compared to argon. Therefore, it ensures better uniformity with the electric arc. Are you looking for general contractors for your renovation project? Fill in our form to be connected with top-rated contractors! What’s a MIG/MAG welding machine? Source: Canva A MIG/MAG welding machine essentially houses a transformer that adjusts a high voltage (575 V or 220 V) to a low amperage (20 to 50 amps) and a low voltage (16 V to 40V) to a high amperage (80 to 500 amps). Aside from the transformer’s purpose, a MIG/MAG welding machine also includes a current rectifier, which converts alternating current (AC) into direct current (DC). Why? To ensure the welding arc is stable and reaches the very high heat required for welding. Polarity is also inverted during this welding process. To adjust a welding machine’s current output, the welder can use either of these settings: Amperage Voltage The welding machine’s current output can be set by adjusting the welding wire feed speed, while the voltage can be adjusted directly on the machine. Changes in voltage will directly impact the length of the electrical arc. Some MIG/MAG welding machines also have a slope and inductance setting. The inductance is what controls the speed at which the current reaches amperage and voltage parameters set by the welder. MIG/MAG welding machines that lack a slope control feature come preset from the factory at 2 volts for 100 amps. However, increasing the slope allows for better control over low amperage in a short circuit mode. This mode is essential for two reasons: It won’t cut through thin material. It reduces spattering when starting the arc. Regarding inductance, it serves to prevent overheating or electrode explosions. In certain modes, such as axial spray transfer, it’s essential to have, low inductance settings to ensure proper and controlled metal transfer. Pros and Cons Source: Canva The MIG/MAG welding process has eight advantages: It allows for welding in various positions, including underwater, using submerged arc welding (SAW). Has a continuous electrode wire feed. No length restrictions for electrode wire. Suitable for welding all metals and alloys retailed in stores; Lack of slag; High metal deposition rate, higher than those of SMAW (shielded metal arc welding). The welding speed is very fast, also related to deposition rates. Deep welding penetration can be achieved using axial spray mode. However, this welding process also has a few downsides: The equipment can be complex to set up and relatively expensive. The system is very vulnerable to drafts that disrupt the shielding gas. Generates intense heat and a powerful electric arc.

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