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Is a flux cored welder any good?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by flatblackstude, Jan 16, 2009.

  1. dale48mrc
    Joined: Mar 15, 2008
    Posts: 82


    I bought a Miller175 a couple year ago,I love it!I tried flux core with and without CO2,and found the smoke and spatter to be a pain!Decent welds,decent penetration,but just not as nice as hardwire.I use 75/25%argon CO2 mix and change up wire as to what I'm welding..024 for sheetmetal and .030 or .035 for the heavier fab stuff.Hardwire produce a much nicer bead and very little clean-up.
    Dollar for dollar I think that you are better of spending the extra cash on a MIG.
  2. BillBallingerSr
    Joined: Dec 20, 2007
    Posts: 651

    from In Hell

    My little Lincoln can do both, you just have to hook up the bottle, change spools, the liner, and reverse the polarity. Mig is pretty, but outside and general repair small enough to not need the stick welder, the flux core does good. We've made a whole exhaust system in the driveway with flux core, its a challenge, but it works. If it was going to be pretty and done inside I would switch it to the mig. Toeboard floor welds, rocker panels, body mounts, with lap welds and multiple layers of metal, a flux core works good, you are covering it up anyway, and a grinder cleans up spatter. Penetration has never been as much a problem with flux core as burning through for me. It needs to be 1/8th inch thick really, under that the mig is better. Even mig is touchy on less than 16 ga, you can get some warpage.

    Most of the small welders are convertible, you just have to get a bottle and liners and always remember to switch polarity.
  3. Flux core welding will get the job done, but it does have some disadvantages. To me one of the biggest is prep if you are doing malti-pass welding. You have to get every bit of slag off of the weld before you can make another pass, or you'll have slag inclusions in your weld. A slag inclusion is like a hallow spot in your weld that is filled with slag. These can also be formed from using the wrong work angle with the gun, or incorrect tecnique, like drag and whip.
    Dont get me wrong, Im not saying not to buy the machine. A flux core welder will always be better than nothing at all.
  4. they can be, but I prefer gas shielded.
  5. I've never ever had to change a Liner to switch from hardwire to fluxcore.....Never.....unless I was in the middle of converting my machine from a flux core ONLY machine to a gass shield process machine.

    You just change the wire, change the wiring of the machine & shut off your argon/co2 tank. Pull trigger to weld. Carl Hagan
  6. ehdubya
    Joined: Aug 27, 2008
    Posts: 2,313


    I'd rather eat be stuck with with gas than a low amp fluxcore. Save up for 175 amp or better so you can happily MIG up to 1/8. Straight CO2 is cheap and nasty.
  7. flatblackstude
    Joined: Jan 4, 2009
    Posts: 89

    from carver, ma

    Wow! Thanks for all the info. I guess I should get a dual purpose set up. i saw a clarke set up in a catalogue w/ a tank cart and regulator think it was 399. Any good?
  8. 55chieftain
    Joined: May 29, 2007
    Posts: 2,188


    I bought the Clarke 180A/230V welder at Farm and Fleet. 399 is what I paid and came with a cart, welding gloves, grinder and a chintzy welding mask. I bought the conversion kit seperate. I believe it's the same as the Craftsman welder except it's blue instead of red. They are made in Italy at least, not china
  9. wrencher
    Joined: Nov 11, 2006
    Posts: 39


    I used a flux welder on some small stuff on my project and it worked good enough that later I used it to notch my frame( worked great ) butttt mig is the way to go. I guess its up to the person thats welding and how they feel about there own welds. ( trust ) mmmm.
  10. There is nothing wrong with flux core. There are three welding processes that are prequalified, in construction, for structural steel. Stick, flux core and subarc. I have run miles of flux core wire on high rise office towers, the L.A. Metro Rail system and other jobs. It works. If you are getting inclusions, gas pockets or other flaws, it is your fault not the process. One thing to remember is that flux core runs DCEN, that is, the ground cable is positive, not negative as MIG is , generally, run. Run it ass backwards and you will get poor welds every time. All of the welding processes extant were developed by some pretty bright guys and they all work well when used as designed by a qualified welder. Too often, people will try something, screw it up and then blame their tools instead of their inexperience. Welding is like sex, it takes practice to get good at it. Never stop practicing
  11. Chuckles Garage
    Joined: Jun 10, 2006
    Posts: 2,366

    Chuckles Garage
    Alliance Vendor

    In my opinion.....good for crafts and such. Not much else.
  12. KeithDyer
    Joined: Mar 26, 2007
    Posts: 193


    Carl La Fong is right!!

    As a Welding Inspector for large pressure vessels, heat exchangers, boilers, piping, and such, I get to see lots of welders and the x-ray film that shows their handiwork.

    These are some truths that hold up where you have to make welds like someone's life depended upon their quality

    * * * Hard Wire MIG is for thin section weldments, minimal penetration and colder weld deposit to limit distortion. Most of my clients forbid it's use * * *

    * * * Fluxcore is for high deposit, thicker cross sections, single or multiple pass technique (and yes. . . , you do have to clean the flux off of every pass like a good craftsman!!)* * *

    * * * Fluxcore gives good penetration and likes to be run in the flat position. Crank up or lower your feed rate to control the heat input and spatter.

    Some wire likes and is designed for gas shield, for some, gas is not required. Get your Welding Supply guy or a professional welder to give you some tips.

  13. ehdubya
    Joined: Aug 27, 2008
    Posts: 2,313


    Pressure vessels and construction have as much to do with welding cars as jewellery, penetraton is what you make it.
  14. metalshapes
    Joined: Nov 18, 2002
    Posts: 10,716

    Tech Editor

    I used to have a certificate to stickweld pipe ( in a certain dia, with a certain weldingrod, etc...)
    I must still have some X-ray pics somewhere...

    Welding automotive sheetmetal ( weither its with a O/A setup, Mig or whatever ) has absolutely nothing to do with that.

    Its that different...
  15. Reverand Greg
    Joined: Oct 18, 2007
    Posts: 199

    Reverand Greg

    I use fluxcore all the time at work,If you run it right it will produce just as good if not better weld than MIG,depending on material.On heavy sections(3/4" and upto what ever) we run 75-25 with it on thin sheet metal get a 110v MIG and use Lincoln wire and you should be ok
  16. All of the industrial welding I do is hard wire / gass shield using either a short circut MIG process or spray arc MIG process. Varying gass from 85/15 to 90/10 ration on the argon/co2. That's fork lift platforms, extension booms, outrigger legs, buckets. Carl Hagan
  17. 39 All Ford
    Joined: Sep 15, 2008
    Posts: 1,531

    39 All Ford
    from Benton AR

    I am answering without reading any other answers...

    A flux core wire feed is fine, but it will not make welds as pretty as a gas welder will, just wont....

    If you are not on a tight, tight, budget buy a 220v gas shielded mig, if you are on a tight budget, get the flux core. It will work fine, and if you don't have the $$ to upgrade then that bug wont bite you...

    If you have the cash, (you are not just being cheap) and you actually end up USING the flux core welder, you will want a gas welder, this being the case, you will be better off buying the better welder to start with, because you will end up buying it anyway...

    Tough logic, but factual....
  18. mpls|cafe|racer
    Joined: Jun 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,323


    Actually, flux core tends to run hotter than hardwire, penetrates awesone (even if you use dual shield) and you can use flux core when you weld thin stuff, especially galvanized.

    99.9% of the time the fact of the matter is that the person doing the welding just doesn't have the skill.

    If someone were gonna wing it and just give welding a car together a shot I'd rather they use a well tuned flux core, dual shield, or stick setup than MIG. MIG can look AWESOME, but have cold lap and no penetration.

    I run flux core, dual shield, MIG, TIG, and stick (6010/6011/7018 mostly) at work and ALL of these processes can be done well with great results if you know how to use the tools you have.

    More than a few times I've heard someone new bitching about how FC sucks, only to find on their polarity is backwards and they're running the welds funny.
  19. 39 All Ford
    Joined: Sep 15, 2008
    Posts: 1,531

    39 All Ford
    from Benton AR

    I ain't a welder by any stretch,,,, but if you can't see penetration on the back side of a weld then the weld is questionable,,, at least in my meager experience.. If I can "see" the weld on the back side, my confidence in either my weld or another persons weld is heightened, mig, stick, flux or gas.... can't say about TIG, I have not used that machine yet...

    If I can't see a very visible trail on the back side, I can't saY MUCH ABOUT THE WELD.

    I am willing to accept correction here,,,,
  20. KeithDyer
    Joined: Mar 26, 2007
    Posts: 193


    mpls / cafe / racer and 39 All Ford, I think you just proved my points.

    Any weld with an "Open Root" on the backside or the weld or welds exhibiting "Lack of Penetration" are subject to cracking from that non-welded backside, no matter which process was used.

  21. ehdubya
    Joined: Aug 27, 2008
    Posts: 2,313


    Agreed MIG would have to be the most misused form of welding, the quality manufacturers have good infos ...

    Attached Files:

  22. FTF
    Joined: Nov 13, 2002
    Posts: 99


    Mr. Dyer is right. It would be to your safety to heed him, sheet metal who cares what you use, the rest, your life depends on it. I've been waiting on the lawsuits to filed for hardwire welds used by the novice that killed someone to happen.
  23. 28chevrat
    Joined: Oct 11, 2005
    Posts: 322


    you won't know which is better untill you use both, personally as a welder, I like the gas but when its not availible flux handles the job ...just my 2.....
  24. CoolHand
    Joined: Aug 31, 2007
    Posts: 1,927

    Alliance Vendor

    IMO flux core gets a bad rap not because it's a bad process (which it obviously is not), but rather because the bottom of the barrel el-cheapo flux core only machines are usually 110V, meaning you're at a maximum current draw of ~30 amps.

    Of course that machine is going to make a bad weld on 1/4"-3/8" plate, it doesn't have enough hunch by a long shot to give sufficient penetration. Those small machines simply aren't meant to weld material that thick.

    A big machine running flux core is a fine tool for structural steel. We have assembled many a building, mezzanine, and mixing platform in the field using a Lincoln Pipeliner (flathead Ford powered no less :D ) and portable flux core wire feeds.

    If you ask a machine to do something it was never designed to do, you can't blame the machine when the plan goes all pear shaped on you.

    That's like being mad at the dog 'cause he doesn't produce cheese. It's not his fault, he's just not properly equipped.
  25. Lincoln NR211 flux core makes beautiful welds, Much better than other brands I have tried. Usually a wire brush cleans them up in one pass. I have had to remove a piece I welded and was shocked at how definatley it was attached. It wasnt welded it was part of the other part!
    If you cant afford a 220 unit installing a fan in a 110 will brng the duty cycle to mre than required for any human being. I used an 8 inch computer fan from a surplus store and found my welder already had a hole or vent for the fan and a free terminal on the switch for it. I use 030 wire on a 035 nozzle for flux core. Why not gas? Because to pay the 140 per year demarrage on a bottle that will last me two years is not practical. Yes i could buy the bottle but with what? I dont have all that much spare change.
    When you are welding watch to be sure BOTH parts are recieving heat evenly. A bit of weave in your wand helps a bunch.
  26. 73RR
    Joined: Jan 29, 2007
    Posts: 6,603


    WOW, alot of good info here, but the question remains; what do you plan to actually use the machine for?? Flux core is about the only option, beside a stick, if you are working outside (even a slight wind blowing).
    Too much splatter?? Your welding supply store has some anti-splatter spray. These little machines are very good for light sheet metal work but I would caution against anything structurally related.
    In addition to a stick machine that I've had for over 40 years, and a Millermatic 250 thats been in the shop for 15 years (zero problems) , I also have a 110v cheepie that I keep a spool of flux core wire in. Its small, very portable, and for many small jobs it works very well. By the time you get ready to upgrade to a 'better' machine perhaps you'll be able to buy a larger second unit rather than add-on to the little guy.

  27. mpls|cafe|racer
    Joined: Jun 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,323


    What it really boils down to is this...

    there's more to being a good welder than splotching down a nice looking weld... knowing how to select the most applicable process for what you're doing is just as much a skill as burning some metals.

    Knowing how to run multiple process simply broadens your abilities.

    More people should read a book and practice than repeating what they hear on the internet about how "this or that welding process looks like shit and doesn't really work."
  28. Black Primer
    Joined: Oct 1, 2007
    Posts: 966

    Black Primer

    Flux core runs hotter than MIG, just look at the reccomended settings for your welder. Spatter shield works wonders to keep things clean. I'll use flux core for any heavy duty welding and switch back to .023 wire and the bottle for sheet metal.
  29. mpls|cafe|racer
    Joined: Jun 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,323


    Personally, given the selection, I'd use dual shield on anything 1/4" or heavier. I'll probably use it to weld up my chassis when I get going on it too cause it's a good burn. Mi gusta!
  30. bubba69
    Joined: Aug 28, 2008
    Posts: 49


    I agree with the other guys, A gas shielded welder works much better,but I have used flux core wire and it works OK. It looks like sh## but it works ok on sheet metal and stuff just wouldn't rely on it for any strength.

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