Welders who have just spent over $1,000 on a brand new MIG welder may be hesitant to pick up a canister of shielding gas. That’s especially the case when a spool of flux core MIG wire runs close to the same price as solid wire and doesn’t require shielding gas. If you don’t have to worry about the extra expense of gas, let alone transporting it, storing it, and setting it up with your MIG welder, why even bother with anything other than flux core MIG wire?
Budget Time for Cleaning Up Flux Core Wire
The first reason why you may prefer gas-shielded solid core wire for MIG welding is the most obvious: You don’t have to clean up the flux when you’re done welding. The shielding gas saves you a clean up step and helps you immediately create a clean weld. If you’re welding regularly or for long stretches at a time, shielding gas and a solid MIG wire can be a real life saver.
Only Solid MIG Wire Works for Auto-Set
You can’t use the Millermatic Auto-Set feature for flux core wire, and that is a big loss for Miller fans who may have bought blue in order to take advantage of the setting that allows them to input the material thickness and wire thickness in order to get the optimal settings automatically dialed into their machines. However, welders with a bit of experience and a material chart can certainly adapt and figure out their own settings.
Flux Core Works Great on Rusted Metal
If cleaning up the welding work piece is a big concern, then flux core is a great option. Just as in stick welding, flux core MIG welding can handle some rust and impurities in the weld joint, as you can just scrape them away when you’re done welding. In addition, while solid wire MIG produces a clean weld, you may not be quite so worried about getting the perfect weld if you’re dealing with a rusted work piece. Functionality may mean more than appearance!
Flux Core Works Great for Outdoor Welding with a Breeze
Farmers, repairmen, and welders without a dedicated welding shop will also benefit from flux core welding since it doesn’t require shielding gas that can get blown about by the breeze. This versatility and portability is a great reason to at least pick up a few spools of flux core MIG wire to keep around just in case a project calls for a little outdoor welding.
Change the Polarity for Your Wire
When you’re MIG welding with a flux core MIG wire, you need to change your machine’s polarity settings to electrode negative in order to get a smooth, stable arc. Solid MIG wire calls for electrode positive polarity.
The Metal Type Determines What You Use
For a thin sheet metal project, flux core MIG wire is going to give you a lot of trouble and may create a messy weld that burns through the metal. You may do better with a solid core wire and shielding gas or just tacking the metal if the metal is thin. However, thicker metal could work great if you’re joining it together with flux core wire.
Shielding Gas Is an Extra Expense
Depending on costs, you can expect to pay around $200 for a canister of shielding gas. You’ll save some money in the future if you get a refillable gas canister so that you don’t have to buy a new canister from scratch every time, unless you can find a supplier with a reasonable canister exchange program.
In addition, storing shielding gas presents a safety hazard, as you have to deal with potential gas leaks and combustible materials around the fuel canister. While many welders safely use shielding gas, some prefer the simplicity of storing a spool of flux core wire.