It was in the 1950s that Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW) was first introduced to the welding industry. Technically speaking the process has been around for some time, but it was the development of a new electrode that gave the process new life. This electrode could be used on a MIG welding machine. The process of FCAW is similar to that of MIG welding; they both require a continuous feeding of wire and use similar machinery. MIG and FCAW both use the same power supply. They both have high production rates and use a semi automatic process.
The difference with both of these welding processes lies in how the electrode is protected from the atmosphere. Flux cored arc welding gets its name based on the fact that there is a hollow wire that has flux in the center. The difference with flux cored arc welding and MIG welding is that FCAW is protected by the flux core allowing the welder to operate in outdoor environments where there is a lot of wind. MIG welding on the other hand is shielded by gas. This process has some disadvantages especially when operating in an outdoor environment where there is wind.
Production Output Using the Flux Cored Arc Welding Process
Flux cored arc welding has a higher rate of production when compared to its MIG welding counterpart. A MIG welder is able to do 5 to 8 pounds of welding per hour. When compared to the flux cored arc welder this is second best a welder who uses flux core arc welding can produce 25 pounds of welding per hour. FCAW is capable of producing a fully penetrated weld on both sides of half inch plate in a single pass. For this reason flux core arc welding is used mainly for ship building. Flux core arc welding is capable of producing high quality welding even in windy environments.
Flux Cored Arc Welding FCAW and Metal Types
There are some serious drawbacks to the flux cored electrodes. Flux cored arc welding can be used to weld cast iron, most carbon steel, some forms of stainless steel and nickel-based alloys. The drawback comes from the process being unable to weld non-ferrous exotic metals one of which is aluminum. If you are a hobbyist, then the flux cored electrode is the perfect selection for work that needs to be carried out in the garage. If you decide to use a MIG welder the shielding gas is not necessary for some electrodes.
How Flux Cored Arc Welding Works
There are three ingredients that are necessary for flux cored arc welding. These are a filler metal, electricity, and something to shield the weld from the air. Similar to MIG welding, FCAW requires a continuous feed of the electrode to the joint. The welder firsts squeezes the trigger feeding the wire to the electrode and then to the joint. The electrode is then charged upon hitting the metal joint and a short circuit is created causing the electrode heat up and melt, after which the metal becomes hot causing both to form a puddle. The puddle is what melts the flux core which shields the weld from the slag is the produced.