Welding is a specialized skill that requires training, specialized equipment, and years of experience to perfect. Among the various welding processes available, flux core welding is the most versatile and commonly used.
It allows for much more flexibility than traditional MIG welding, plus it is a cheaper and faster alternative. So, what is flux core welding used for? In this article, we will look at the practical applications of flux core welding, its benefits and its limitations.
We will also throw in some fun facts and figures to give you an idea of its popularity: over half a million tons of flux core welding wire are produced in the US, and over 3 million tons of this welding wire is used worldwide each year. Now, let’s dive deeper into the world of flux core welding!
What is Flux Core Welding (FCW)?Flux Core Welding, also known as FCW, is a semi-automatic welding process used to join two metallic surfaces using a consumable wire electrode and a flux filled tubular welding electrode.
It is a type of welding which does not require the use of an additional shielding gas. The flux surrounding the electrode dissolves in the molten weld pool, forming a protective shield which helps protect the weld from contaminants in the atmosphere. It is an ideal process for welding in outdoor or windy conditions as it is less affected by drafts than a MIG welding process requiring an external shielding gas.
Advantages of Flux Core WeldingFCW is a highly efficient welding process and offers several advantages, such as:
- Robustness: the flux produced around the weld is harder than the base metal, making it more durable and resilient to abrasion and corrosion.
- Accuracy: the carbon dioxide produced in the welding process helps to concentrate heat in the entire weld bead, meaning that the weld can be made with greater accuracy.
- Speed: FCW is a very fast welding process, allowing multiple welds to be created in a short time frame.
Disadvantages of Flux Core WeldingLike any welding process, FCW is not without its drawbacks:
- Cost: due to the additional supplies needed such as flux and a wire feeder, FCW can be more expensive than traditional MIG welding.
- Slag: the molten slag created by the welding process can be difficult to remove.
This is particularly true when using a flux cored electrode and can lead to an uneven finish.
- Cleaning: the wire and flux used in FCW will tend to accumulate debris that needs to be cleaned off for a good quality weld.
Applications of Flux Core WeldingFCW is a versatile welding process with many applications, notably in:
- Automotive engineering: FCW can be used to weld multiple layers of different metals together to form components such as exhaust systems and engine blocks.
- Shipbuilding: FCW is the preferred method of welding for hull construction due to its speed and flux’s ability to protect the weld from corrosion.
- Structural steel: FCW can be used to fabricate large structures such as buildings and bridges.