A professional welder is able to master multiple welding techniques specific to different metals and industries. Flux cored arc welding (FCAW) is a variant of arc welding and is often used to join heavy steel plates together.
FCAW differs from other welding processes as it can be done outside with minimal equipment and produces impressive results. It is one of the fastest manual welding processes and can produce more than 25 lbs of welded metal per hour. By comparison, gas metal arc welding (MIG) generates substantially less.
Read on to learn more about FCAW before practicing it for real in the workshop!
Learn How Flux Cored Arc Welding Works at Welder School
Similar to MIG, FCAW involves joining two pieces of metal together using heat. An electrode is continuously fed through a welding gun onto the joint. The electricity short circuits to generate heat, or an ‘electrical arc’, that causes the electrode to melt. This forms a molten puddle that joins the metal together when it cools.
Flux cored differs from other welding processes as the electrode contains a flux compound and shielding gas, which is released when heated. Shielding gas is normally made up of carbon dioxide or argon carbon dioxide, which protects the weld pool from contamination by oxygen or water vapour. This is normally added externally, however, in FCAW it is released automatically in a process called ‘self shielding’. Taking welding classes will teach you even more about these different aspects.
The Difference Between Self Shielding and Dual Shielding
There are multiple versions of FCAW, including self shielding and dual shielding. In self shielding, no external protective gas needs to be applied, as the gas released from the electrode is enough. This means that welding can be performed outside without concerns about windy weather contaminating the heated pool.
By contrast, dual shield welding uses an external shielding gas as well as the inner shield for extra protection. At welding school, students will gain practical hands-on experience performing these processes in the workshop.
The Advantages of Flux Cored Arc Welding
FCAW is a highly productive arc welding method and can weld large volumes of metal in a short time period. The electrode is continuously fed through, meaning that the operator does not need to stop and start to introduce a new electrode. Because of this, it is a common technique for welders working in the construction and maritime industries and who usually work with large, heavy metals.
FCAW is one of the only welding processes that can be completed outside. It is less easily contaminated by dirt or rust because of the flux compound, and requires minimal equipment. You do not need a heavy gas bottle, meaning that welders can move around and work outside of a workshop if needed. As well as this, FCAW can be used on mid- and low-alloy steels, stainless steels, and some high nickel alloys.
…and the Disadvantages of Flux Cored Arc Welding
However, there are some disadvantages that come with flux cored arc welding. FCAW produces high levels of noxious smoke, which can make it difficult for the welder to see their work. There is also a risk of the finished metal being porous as gases escape through the metal as it cools.
In addition, the wire and filler in FCAW is more expensive than in other arc welding processes. Lastly, FCAW cannot be used on non-ferrous metal likes aluminium, meaning that it is less flexible than other welding processes out there.
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