When it comes to perfect welding, you can never go with a single welding solution for every type of metal you may work on. Different types of metals require different types of welding machines. Since the MIG welding method started its journey back in the 1950s, it has been a great option to go with from small to large scale welding. But it was not good for outdoor welding, for that, you may want to go with the Flux-Cored welding technique and we want to help you on how to use a flux core welder.
What is Flux Core Welding?
The Self-shielded Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW) method is one of the most popular welding processes that welding professionals love to work with. For welding, you need to shield the joining point on the metals that you are welding. The Flux-Cored welding system works without any need for external gas shielding. It comes with an electrode that is continuously fed through a wire feed unit and works on the weld like a tube wire with flux inside. The tubular wire with flux inside melts both the base metals and joins them together using the molten electrode. You must use the best flux core welder to make the best welding with fewer slags behind.
Difference between flux core welding vs. Mig welding
If you are a beginner to welding, you will find your welding machine different from the other type in their welding and shielding process. Here are the main differences between the Flux core welding method and the MIG welding method.
The Flux Core welding method doesn’t need any external gas shielding to protect the molten weld on the metal bead. It works with a tubular electrode with flux inside, which makes it’s shielding on itself. The air outside does not manipulate it, so you can use it for outside welding just fine.
On the other hand, the MIG welding method uses an external gas supply to shield the welded joint. This is why it’s not an ideal selection for outside welding solutions; the airflow may manipulate the shielding around the mold and damage it.
Note: In the above discussion, the differences between flux core welder and Mig welder are highlighted but If you are interested to know their difference in detail, you can visit this in-depth post on the difference between flux core welding vs. Mig welding.
Advantage of flux core welding:
If you are confused about the advantages of using a flux core welding system over the other systems, here are the main advantages that will be able to grab your attention for better welding:
- The flux core electrodes are self-shielding, it doesn’t need the external shielding gas supply, so the weld is safe from oxidization, and it reduces both the cost and hassle.
- When you have to weld outside, using a gas-shielded welding system will be no good solution as the airflow penetrates the gas shield. But the flux-cored electrodes are safe in that term and give you plenty of advantages there.
- The flux-cored welding method is way tolerant with dirt and grim on the base metals. It can weld less clean metals without losing quality.
- You can weld in difficult positions without any problem when you use a flux-cored machine; they don’t have too many casualties.
- You can weld continuously without changing the electrode often with Flux-cored welding system, which is a big plus for professionals.
How to use a flux core welder?
From the beginners of welding to the advance welders, everyone gets confused when it comes to using a Flux-core gun with a MIG welding machine. Here are the things you must follow while welding with a Flux core using a MIG welder.
You have to use a welding machine that specifically designed for using the Flux-cored electrode. However, if you want to use a flux wire with a Compitable MIG welder, you can do so. But you have to follow the right procedure to use a flux-cored electrode without gas.
- Safety first:
Before you start welding, you must put on your safety gear such as welding gloves, welding goggles, and protective face cover. You should put on a leather jacket, a pair of leather shoes, and full-length pants, and they have to be flame resistant. Flux welding makes a lot of smoke and fume; make sure you have proper ventilation in the room you are working in.
- Prepare the equipment and the metal:
Starting with welding requires some equipment, such as a wire brush; you need it to remove the remaining slag after welding. Have pliers beside you to grip on to the welded metal if needed. Prepare the metal that you are trying to weld together, clean them, and remove all the stain, rust, or dust, especially the area you are going to weld on.
- Set up the welding machine for MIG flux core welding:
For a successful mig flux-cored welding, you have to set the current flow right. When you use a flux core with a compatible welder machine, it will use Direct Current (DC) to weld. However, when you are using the flux-cored electrode to weld with a MIG welder, you must set the Polarity negative (DCEN). You can also use DC wire if the manufacturer has tuned it to use with Polarity positive. Be sure to check the manufacturer manual to know if you should set the Polarity positive for the wire.
- Prepare the wire feed:
When you are putting on the flux-cored wire to the wire feed, make sure you adjust the wire length on the tip of the welder gun. Put your finger on the tip and make sure you have at least 1.5 inches of wire outside the gun. It will make a cleaner weld and less slag as you joining metals. If you are a beginner, you will have to make adjustments to the wire feed and learn how much your welding speed should be.
- Weld with care and clean off:
While welding, make sure you maintain the angle right, especially when you are doing opposite welding, upside down. If you keep the angle of the gun on a steady angle, it will make cleaner weld and make less slag. After welding, clean of all the slags around and chip of the thin layer of slag on the molten weld after it cools down.
Note: I’ve tried my best to figure out how to use a flux core welder and hope it helps you. Also, If you are interested in learning how to use a MIG welder then you can check out this article.
How to Avoid Flux-Cored Common Problems?
Self-shielded Flux Cored Arc Welding or FCAW method is popular because of its capability of welding heavy structural welding. Handling one is fairly easy, but If you are working with it for a little while, you must have faced some problems that are common for all the beginners.
- When your welds are melting into balls instead of a nice and clean joint, or if the welds are too thin and less strong, fix your welding speed. You can start with one inch per 20 seconds, and you will be able to adjust the speed as you gather experience.
- You must use the right arc length outside the welding gun; it shouldn’t be longer than 5 inches or no less than 1.5 inches. Make adjustments of the length before you start welding, don’t expect it to consume with heat or neglect it to leave alone.
- If you are getting tangled wires, which happens from halted wire feeding, set the drive tensions correctly pairing with your welding speed and check if there are any liner blockages inside the feed roller.
Frequently asked questions:
Can I use flux core in a MIG welder?
Yes, you can use a flux core wire in a MIG welder if the MIG welder machine supports Flux wire. However, a MIG welder uses an external supply of gas to shield the weld, so you typically need a filler wire.
What is flux core welding good for?
Flux core welding is good for better penetration in thicker metals and if you want to weld outside. It’s also less expensive as it doesn’t need an external gas cylinder.
Is flux core welding the same as MIG welding?
No, they are opposite to each other, MIG welders use an external supply of gas to shield the weld, and flux core comes with built-in shielding for the molten weld.
The main idea behind the Flux-core welding is the continuously fed electrode making the shield itself to protect the molten filler metal. This enables you not to use an external supply of gas to shield the molten welding, and that makes it less expensive. However, it requires experience to expert the most efficient way of perfect welding using Flux-core. We hope that you got some useful insight from our guide on how to use a flux core welder.