Flux Cored vs Shielding Gas
Which MIG Welder is Best for You
The decision of using Flux Cored vs Shielding Gas welding is one you need to consider when shopping for a portable MIG Welder. Understanding the basic differences of Flux Cored vs Shielding Gas welding will help you make an educated decision on which process is best for you and your specific needs. While the best options may be different for large industrial applications, we will try to focus on small portable MIG machines in this article. Let’s take a quick look at how this decision affects the average novice welder.
Flux Cored vs Shielding Gas Pros & Cons
Before we dive into the pros and cons of each process, lets first understand the basic differences of Flux Cored vs Shielding Gas Welding. To keep this as brief as possible, MIG welding requires some form of shielding to keep particles in the air from contaminating the weld. When you weld with a solid wire, this is accomplished with a Shielding Gas. This is usually an inert gas such as Argon. In fact, the “I” in “MIG” stands for “Inert” as in “Metal Inert Gas Welding.”
Conversely, Flux Cored wire welding is performed without the use of an Inert Gas. In this case the flux that is inside the wire itself forms a slag which protects the bead of weld from oxidization as you weld.
Advantages of Flux Cored Welding
Outdoor Welding: Perhaps the greatest benefit of Flux Cored Welding is when welding outdoors on a windy day. A strong wind can blow away shielding gas resulting in a contaminated weld. On the contrary, the Flux is applied immediately over the weld pool protecting the puddle from the elements. This is a great advantage if you intend to use your small portable MIG machine outdoors on your farm to repair equipment.
Welding Out of Position: As a novice welder you will soon discover how difficult it is to weld out of position. Since the flux itself creates somewhat of a shelf to hold he molten metal in place; it is much easier to weld out of position when using Flux Cored Wire. In fact, you can even weld overhead with a little practice.
No Gas Bottles: No heavy gas bottles to lug around the jobsite. Not to mention, have you ever ran out of gas just 3 inches away from completing your project on a Sunday when the gas supply house is closed?
Portability: Since you don’t need any shielding gas, you won’t need to carry heavy gas bottles to the worksite, or up and down stairs. Carry your welding helmet in one hand and your Portable MIG in the other. Plug your machine into a heavy-duty extension cord and your all set.
Greater Penetration: As a general rule, Flux Cored Welding provides greater penetration. Making it a better choice for welding thicker metal, and possibly a stronger repair on your farm equipment or other critical brackets.
Advantages of Shielded Gas Solid Wire Welding
Cleaner Process: Welding with solid wire and a shielding gas tends to produce less spatter as compared to Flux Cored Welding. Additionally, there is little or no slag to chip off after welding.
Smaller Heat Affected Zone: MIG Welding with solid wire produces a smaller heat affected zone as compared to Flux Core Welding. Hence there is less chance of burn through. For this reason, automotive enthusiasts who are primarily welding on thin sheet metal prefer MIG Welding with solid wire and a shielding gas.
Lower Cost: On the surface, MIG Welding with solid wire has a lower operating cost. But don’t be fooled, as this is not the only factor. For production welding, all things being equal, you can burn more wire per hour in a Flux Cored application and boost your production rate.
The Punch Line: Flux Cored vs Shielding Gas Which is Better:
The truth is, you can’t state that either process is superior over the other. You really need to pick based on your personal needs. For instance, for automotive restoration you should go with solid wire and a shielding gas. For outdoor farm repair, I would lean towards Flux Cored welding. In either case make sure you clean the work area before you start welding. Remove any paint, grease, or dirt that would otherwise contaminate the weld.