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Welding Starter Guide : Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)

Flux Cored Arc Welding

Because of the diversity of welding, you can be a expert at one welding process and lack basic knowledge of another. “Welding Starter Guide” will be a series focused on bringing you the basics about different welding processes. To start you off, this week we’ll focus on FCAW, or flux cored arc welding.

This guide was inspired by content from GoWelding.org, one of the ultimate resources for understanding the core aspects of welding.



What Is Flux Cored Arc Welding?

A process dating back to the 1950’s, flux cored arc welding (FCAW) is an extremely similar process to MIG welding. How the electrode is shielded from the air is the main difference between these two processes. Flux cored arc welding uses, of course, flux core to shield the electrode. Using the FCAW process makes it easier to complete welding projects outdoors or in windy situations.

How does the FCAW process work?



Similar to that of MIG welding, you need electricity, filler metal, and some form of air-shield. The electrode must be continuously into the joint.

First the welder squeezes the trigger, and then the wire feeder begins to feed the electrode to the joint, at the same time the electrode gets electrically charged.

Once the electrode hits the metal joint, the electricity short circuits, and heats up the electrode till the electrode begins to melt.

Once the electrode begins to melt, the metal also starts to melt, and then both of them start to create a puddle.

This puddle at the same time melts the flux core, creating a shield from air, and at the same time produces a slag that protects the weld from contamination.



Flux Cored Arc Welding VS MIG Welding : Which process is more productive?

Fluxed cored arc welding, by far, produces more pounds of weld per hour than any other manual welding process.



MIG Welding Flux Cored Arc Welding
Typically produces 5-8 pounds of weld per hour Can produce 25+ pounds per weld

Bonus: Able to create full penetration welds on both sides of a 1/2-inch plate in one pass


FCAW and metals

Though the FCAW process is popular in the ship building industry, the process has serious flaws when it comes to welding metals. Most non-ferrous exotic metals (such as aluminum) cannot be welded using the FCAW process. However, the fluxed cored arc welding process has been crafted to work on the following metals:

  • Most carbon steels
  • Cast iron
  • Nickel based alloys
  • Some stainless steels

FCAW Shielding: Self VS Dual

There are two types of shielding that can be used with the flux cored arc welding process:

  • Self-shielding (or inner shield)- The electrode is a tubular wire filled with shielding powder in the middle.
  • Dual shield – The electrode is the same, gas is also used as an external shield to protect the weld area.


Only the most basic aspects of flux cored arc shielding is presented in this guide. Visit GoWelding.org for more detailed instruction and information on FCAW.



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