Some of the links on this page may link to our affiliates. Learn more about our ad policies.

Best Flux Core Welder Under $200

Top 5 Best Flux Core Welder Under $200: Buying Guide + Reviews

A flux core welder is a must-have machine in the inventory of any welder no matter their skill level. Sadly, this handy tool surely doesn’t come cheap, and so, not everyone can afford to pay hefty money for it. That’s why today, we’re helping you find the best flux core welder under 200 dollars to make sure you get a reliable performance without breaking the bank.

Best Flux Core Welder Under $200 in 2020

Super Deal PRO Commercial MIG 130 AC Flux Core Wire Automatic Feed Welder Welding Machine w/Free Mask 110V
504 Reviews
Super Deal PRO Commercial MIG 130 AC Flux Core Wire Automatic Feed Welder Welding Machine w/Free Mask 110V
  • ★ SUPER DEAL MIG130 Welder is a top of the line household welder that is lightweight, powerful and intuitive. Made of high-class PVC material as well as delicate treatment, this welding machine integrates comfortable grip, easy operation and high precision.
  • ★ Uses convenient Flux - Cored wire, self release metal-inert gas while welding, prevent oxidation of the welded part.
  • ★ User-friendly interface - Makes set-up a snap with easy to access advanced options. SUPER DEAL mig130 gives you the power to tackle the biggest jobs with ease and confidence. Ready to weld out of the box.
  • ★ Variable Feed Speed Control - Easily adjust current flow by adjusting the 4 buttons for MIN/MAX,1/2. Also features a wire feeding speed adjust rotary knob. 10 levels of wire feeding speeds for your choice. Torch With Full On / Off Safety Control
  • ★ Compact and powerful - Weighs only 38 lbs. deal for shop, home or field use. Perfect for welding mild steel and stainless steel. Comes with a reel of 0.9mm, 0.55lbs welding wire, a protection mask and a brush/Chipping Hammer. 2.5M Torch, xtra 2 Tips and Ground Cord. Just what you're looking for, right?

Pros

Cons

Kicking off our list with a flux core welder that offers incredible value for money, the Super Deal PRO Commercial MIG 130 Flux Core Welder is a fantastic choice if you’re in the market for a machine that delivers a wide range of features but still doesn’t put a dent in your wallet.

Starting with the basic attributes of the Super Deal PRO MIG 130 Welder, it’s a top of the line welder that’s mainly built for household applications. It has a lightweight construction, coupled with a powerful performance and an intuitive design.

This welder is made out of premium-quality PVC and undergoes delicate treatment to produce a flux core welding machine with a simple operation, a comfortable grip, and high precision. It employs convenient flux-cored wire with a self-release metal-inert gas during welding to protect the welded part from oxidation.

Perfect for beginners, the Super Deal PRO MIG 130 Welders delivers an impressive duty cycle of 10% at 105 amps as well as 35% at 60 amps.

Moreover, this flux core welder has a user-friendly interface that allows a quick set up process minus the hassle thanks to the easily accessible advanced options. The control panel is extremely simple to figure out as it integrates a responsive digital soft key panel that gives you a clear overview of important information for reliable monitoring.

This intuitive panel features a variable feed speed control consisting of a rotary knob with 10 levels of wire feeding speeds available to adjust. This is to let you choose the exact speed you need for your weld depending on the type of the project at hand.

Additionally, you can easily adjust the current flow by flipping the two switch buttons for MIN/MAX and 1/2. The Super Deal PRO MIG 130 Welder comes with temperature controls to allow you to weld on steels of various thicknesses, which makes for a more diverse unit. You can readily access the panel display even if you’re wearing welding gloves, minimizing the risk of operating errors.

This affordable flux core welder is equipped with a metal tip at the end of the gun, namely copper. The reason for using a copper tip is to prevent the build-up of slag while you’re welding. Granted, this welder metal chip can develop a bit of a build-up after you use it for some time, but the machine comes with extra tips so you can easily switch them yourself when needed.

As for safety features, the Super Deal PRO MIG 130 Welder includes thermal overload protection coupled with a cooling fan to ensure the good condition of your investment. This compact flux core welder weighs only 38 pounds and has a built-in carrying handle to boost portability. It comes with multiple accessories, including a welding mask, a wire brush, and a ground clamp.

VIVOHOME Portable Flux Core Wire No Gas MIG 130 Welder Machine 110V Yellow
355 Reviews
VIVOHOME Portable Flux Core Wire No Gas MIG 130 Welder Machine 110V Yellow
  • NO REACTION WELDER - Uses convenient flux-cored wire to self-release metal inert gas while welding, preventing oxidation of the welded part; A great choice for home repairs and hobby projects on light gauge steel
  • WELDING PROCESS - This welding machine is particularly suitable for mild steel and stainless steel; It will enable you to obtain a professional finish in welding, auto body work, and many other thin steel welding processes
  • ADJUSTABLE WELDING SPEED - Features 4 levels of current flow settings; By adjusting the 4 buttons for MIN/MAX,1/2 with the variable feed control which has 10 welding speeds, this welder makes it easy to tackle thin steel, stainless or aluminum sheet metal or thicker steel with flux-cored welding
  • PORTABLE DESIGN - Lightweight and compact design; Comes with a comfortable hand grip, making it easy for you to carry anywhere you want
  • ACCESSORIES INCLUDED - Package includes all the accessories you need to weld like a pro; 1 welding gun with on/off safety control, 1 grounding clamp, 1 welding helmet, 1 welding wire brush and several other small accessories

Pros

Cons

VIVOHOME is a Chinese company with a long list of affordable yet reliable products to its name. It manufactures quite an extensive range of bargain products, from electric fireplaces to fruit juicers, and it just so happens that a flux core welder is one of the machines that these folks build.

Honestly, I was kind of skeptical about this welder, seeing that I haven’t heard about the company before and that it’s not specialized in power tools only, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised once I got a closer look at it.

The VIVOHOME Portable Flux Core MIG 130 Welder is made out of high-quality stainless steel and PVC materials, topped off with a layer of protective coat that resists rust, corrosion, wear, and tear. The solid construction coupled with the guarding finish ensures long-lasting performance, which translates into better value for money.

The VIVOHOME welder is a “no reaction” welder. This means it utilizes a convenient flux-cored wire aiming to self-release metal inert gases during welding, which works to prevent the oxidation of welded parts. Not only does this feature make it ideal for beginners, but the superior oxidation resistance also guarantees the best results when it comes to precision and overall look.

The VIVOHOME Portable Flux Core MIG 130 Welder runs on 110-115 volts power, so a common 15-amp house breaker will give you more than enough power to weld steel up to ¼ inches thick. If this didn’t quite impress you, this unit delivers a maximum current output of 15% at 105 amps. Such a duty cycle allows for a flexible operation time to accommodate your different projects.

Consequently, you can use this flux core welder in a wide range of applications around the house or garage, including art projects, finishing your automobile as well as frames and supports.

As for the adjustability aspects of the VIVOHOME welder, it’s a total fool-proof situation. The featured control panel is rather simple to work with thanks to the intuitive digital soft key panel that allows you to easily adjust and monitor every element in the welding process.

The integrated panel features a rotary knob with 10 levels of wire feeding speeds, so you get to choose the exact speed you need for whatever type of project you’re dealing with at the time. You can also adjust the current flow by controlling the two switch buttons offering 4 levels of current settings (MIN/MAX and ½). This combination of controls enables you to tackle steel, stainless, and aluminum sheet metal.

The VIVOHOME Portable Flux Core MIG 130 Welder is equipped with 2 air vents to promote heat dissipation and decrease operating temperature. The exterior of the welded, as well as the handle, is heat resistant so you can safely carry it without risk of injury.

Moreover, there’s a storage compartment on top of the machine to hold nails, screws, and other small tools.

Weighing about 36 pounds, this lightweight flux core welder comes with many accessories and including a ground clamp, a welding helmet, and a wire brush.

Forney Easy Weld 298 Arc Welder 100ST, 120-Volt, 90-Amp,Green
259 Reviews
Forney Easy Weld 298 Arc Welder 100ST, 120-Volt, 90-Amp,Green
  • Inverter power system
  • 120 volt input and 90 amp output
  • TIG capable (sold separately)
  • Handles up to 1/8 inch rod
  • Click on the (BY FORNEY) name above in blue under the title to view our full catalog of Welders, Abrasives, Chain/Wire Rope, Tools and more!

Pros

Cons

If you’re interested in the world of welding, chances are you’ve heard of the brand Forney. This reputable company is well-known for manufacturing high-quality reliable welding and metalworking products.

Luckily, their Easy Weld 298 Arc Welder is no exception. It’s a stick welder that houses an inverter power system, so despite plugging into an AC power outlet, the machine delivers a 100% DC output. It runs on 120-volt input and produces 90 amps output.

While the Forney Easy Weld 298 Arc Welder is indeed made in China, you don’t have to worry about the durability of the machine since the build quality is evidently superior to what you can typically see in low-cost welders. In fact, hundreds of users reported how impressed they were with the sturdiness of this unit, surviving through frequent use, harsh weather, and pushing beyond its duty cycle.

One thing you can definitely expect from the Forney Easy Weld 298 is outstanding portability and flexibility. For starters, this flux core welder weighs approximately 9.5 pounds only! This is obviously a huge advantage if you’re looking for a powerful welder that’s very easy to carry and transport wherever your next project is.

Additionally, the unit comes with a 6 feet long power cord, which offers you a decent room of movement away from the wall outlet. There’s also a built-in carrying handle that you can use to lift the welder or wrap the cord around to keep everything organized.

Unlike traditional stick welders, the Forney Easy Weld 298 Arc Welder is rather compact, taking up almost as much space as a toaster. It has a solid green metal exterior; the signature design of the company’s welders. Not only is it stylish, but this welder also delivers a duty cycle of 30% at 80 amps, which is pretty impressive for its compact size.

To take it one step further, this flux core welder actually accommodates Lift arc TIG welding. If you want, you can buy the company’s TIG capable accessories and install them onto the unit to expand your range of applications. You don’t even have to worry about switching from Stick to TIG, it’s a super simple procedure that requires a mere flip of a switch.

The Forney Easy Weld 298 Arc Welders can tackle welding 16 gauge all the way up to 5/16 inches. It can also handle up to ⅛ inches electrodes. The unit will struggle with thicker steel or cast iron, but I think it’s capabilities are quite reasonable for its price and size.

On a final note, the Easy Weld 298 is backed up by a 12-month warranty to resolve any issues you may encounter, but this doesn’t cover misuse or accidental breakage.

Forney Easy Weld 261, 140 FC-i MIG Welder, 120V, Green
866 Reviews
Forney Easy Weld 261, 140 FC-i MIG Welder, 120V, Green
  • EASY TO USE-140 FC-I MIG machine uses 0.30, flux core wire. It has infinite voltage and wire feed speed control so you can dial in the perfect weld! Perfect entry level welder
  • POWERFUL- Up to 140 Amp output that allows you to weld mild steel up to 1/4 in plate
  • PORTABLE WELDER- Lightweight 19 lbs. easily carried to any Do-It-Yourself, Maintenance, Repair, Metal Fabrication and Hobbyist project
  • RUGGED- All metal case, Built to take the day to day. Big enough to handle 2 and 10 pound rolls of wire
  • WELDER INCLUDES- 8' MIG gun, 8' ground clamp, Integrated handle with torch wrap and a 20A-15A adapter. Backed by a 12-month warranty

Pros

Cons

The Easy Weld 261 140 FC-i MIG Welder is another fantastic flux core welder from Forney that’s right within the $200 budget we’re sticking to today.

Compared to the previous Easy Weld 298, the Easy Weld 261 is notably larger and more capable. This welder is ideal for hobbyists, do-it-yourselfers, and even professional welders looking for something affordable to do repairs, maintenance, or metal fabrication.

This welder is a semi-professional grade portable flux core welder with an impressive output of 140 amps. Such high output is quite a rare sight to see in welders within lower price points, which is why the Forney Easy Weld 261 received hundreds of positive reviews referring to its outstanding value for money. This output is also constant for the entire duty cycle of the unit, which is 30% at 90 amps.

Not only is the 140 FC-i MIG Welder powerful, but it’s also rather portable. It weighs just 19 pounds, which makes it very easy to carry around especially if you’re working around a remote area with no static settlement.

Speaking of outdoor use, this sturdy welder comes with a rugged all-metal case that’s built to withstand frequent use in harsh conditions. So if you accidentally hit or drop the welder, or something happens to fall on it, the delicate electronic components won’t be damaged. The case is also big enough to deal with 2 and 10-pound rolls of wire.

The Forney Easy Weld 261 adopts a gasless welding operation only. It’s very easy to use as it employs a flux core wire of diameter ranging between 0.30 inches to 0.35 inches. The fact that it has infinite voltage and wire feed speed allows you substantial control and flexibility with your welding settings, so you get to tweak the machine exactly how you need to create the perfect weld.

Thanks to its powerful 140 amp output, this machine can weld 24-gauge mild steel up to ¼ inches sheets.

The Forney Easy Weld 140 FC-i MIG Welder comes with a bunch of essential accessories for a quick, hassle-free operation such as an 8-inch MIG gun, an 8-inches ground clamp, an integrated handle with torch wrap, and 20A-15A adapter to power up the machine. Just like the Easy Weld 298, the Easy Weld 261 is covered by a 1-year warranty to resolve any problems you may encounter, but it doesn’t apply to cases of misuse or accidental breakage.

From its powerful performance and flexible adjustability, all the way to its ease of use and durable metal construction, this flux core welder is certainly among the best value products on this list.

ARKSEN MIG-130 Welding Machine Gas Less Flux Core Wire DIY Home Welder Automatic Feeding, Yellow
100 Reviews
ARKSEN MIG-130 Welding Machine Gas Less Flux Core Wire DIY Home Welder Automatic Feeding, Yellow
  • Household smart welder: our ARKSEN welding machine is compact and exquisite MIG Gas welder, made of heavy duty stainless steel body, painted with durable yellow paints, ensure its long-last serving life-span.
  • Flux-cored wire-no Gas welder: our ARKSEN welding machine uses convenient flux-cored wire, self release metal-inert Gas while welding, prevent oxidation of the welded part.
  • Adjustable welding speed: Our ARKSEN welding machine features a wire feeding speed adjust rotary knob. 10 levels of wire feeding speeds for your choice.
  • Portable design & wide applications: Our ARKSEN welding machine is perfect for welding normal thin steel and iron, perfect for home DIY and general repairing work. Mini size but also practical, it will obtain a professional finish in welding. Features a easy carrying handle, light weight, compact design, Easy for translation and storage. Very convenient, can be used anywhere you need.
  • Many complimentary necessities: The ARKSEN welding machine comes with two air-vent on the machine to help heat dissipation. The welding gun with full on/ off safety control. Standard American triangle ground cord and automatic thermal safety protection.

Pros

Cons

Last but not least, the ARKSEN MIG 130 Flux Core Wire Home Welder is one of the most popular options among welders on a budget and looking for a cheap 115-volt flux core welder for light to medium duty welding projects. This small yet powerful welder can be all you need to complete just about any garage work, easily accommodating the majority of household jobs.

Despite its modest price, the ARKSEN MIG 130 does offer a set of impressive features to satisfy your welding needs. The duty cycle of this welder is rated at 10% at 105 amps and 35% at 60 amps.

If you’ve been keeping tabs on the previous candidates on the list, you’ll notice that the duty cycle of the ARKSEN is a bit lacking, especially when you select the highest settings. Still, it’s pretty good considering the size and the cost of the unit.

This handy machine uses flux-cored wire sized 0.030 inches to 0.035 inches for mild aluminum, as well as 0.023 inches to 0.035 inches flux-cored wire for steel and stainless steel. Since you can use almost any type of metal, the ARKSEN provides flexibility to let you work on a wide range of projects.

To give you even more freedom, this MIG 130 welder can weld mild steel as thick as 18 gauge up to 3/16 inches. It’s also capable of welding ¼ inches thick mild steel with beveling and several passes. However, this will require a higher level of skill as you’ll need to prepare the joint first and master the beveling techniques.

The control panel on the ARKSEN MIG 130 is quite simple to figure out, which is ideal for beginners. It consists of a rotary knob with 10 levels of wire feeding speeds, so you get to swiftly set the exact speed you need for the project at hand. You can also adjust the flow of the current via two switch buttons with 4 levels of current settings (MIN/MAX and ½). The panel is complete with a clear digital screen to display all the welding information for reliable monitoring.

Safety is another impressive aspect that ARKSEN didn’t overlook. Their welder features Thermal Overload Protection to warn you then shut down the unit in case you accidentally overrun it for a long time or the duty cycle capacity is somehow breached. Moreover, the welding gun comes with an on/off safety control, as well as two air vents to boost heat dissipation.

The ARKSEN MIG 130 Flux Core Wire Home Welder weighs 38 pounds with compact dimensions and a convenient carrying handle for enhanced portability and storage. The heavy-duty stainless steel case ensures durability, while the yellow paint finish resists wear and tear for a long-lasting service. The only real downside to this unit is the sloppy instructions manual.

The Verdict

Choosing a flux core welder can get pretty confusing with all the specs and features you’re supposed to decide on. It’s even more challenging when you’re shopping on a tight budget! This is why we only included the top-performing affordable machines to make sure you’re buying the best flux core welder under $200.

To guarantee you’re getting the right flux core welder for your metalworking needs, there are a couple of questions you should ask yourself before making a purchase such as: how big is the machine? What are you planning to weld? Does it offer enough power? Is it from a reputable brand? Does it include safety features?

Once you provide answers to these questions and go through our detailed buying guide, we’re confident that you’ll land the perfect deal.

That being said, if you’re looking for a durable unit with an impressive duty cycle and all the accessories you need to start welding right away, then we recommend the Super Deal PRO Commercial MIG 130 Flux Core Welder as today’s winner.

But if you’re in the market for something more portable and also TIG capable, then the Forney Easy Weld 298 Arc Welder should be right up your alley!

What is a Flux Core Welder?

A flux core welder is a welding machine designed to utilize the Flux Cored Arc Welding technique or “FCAW” for short. So, the real question here should be: what is FCAW? Well, and let’s break it down.

FCAW is categorized under the Arc Welding process because it creates an electric arc between the wire electrode and the metal you’re working on. However, what makes FCAW special is that it uses a consumable tubular electrode wire with a flux embedded in its inner core.

This formed arc will heat up both metals (base metal and filler metal) beyond their melting points. The molten metals will then mix, settle, then solidify to attach together all your workpieces and produce one entire piece.

In FCAW, the welder provides a continuous feed of filler wire into the metal pool to make sure it’s uniform. This electrode wire is introduced to the welder via an automated wire feed unit that’s typically equipped with knurled rollers. These rollers ensure a secure hold on the wire without flattening or damaging it.

As you’re welding, the added flux will burn because of the high heat, generating a burning cloud flux that’s responsible for isolating the weld from the air. Preventing the exposure of molten metal to air keeps the weld from deforming and becoming weak.

The general concept of maintaining a constant feed is similar to MIG welding (Metal or Inert Gas Welding), you can even own a welder that simultaneously supports MIG and FCAW welding. But the true difference comes from the use of a flux core wire, as well as the absence of gas shielding equipment, which makes FCAW a more portable and economical option.

Flux core welders are extremely popular among welding beginners as well as experienced professionals in the metalworking world thanks to its apparent ease of use and reliable performance.

How to Choose the Best Flux Core Welder Under $200?

Now that you know what a flux core welder is and how it works, it’s time for you to better understand the features you need to look for before making a purchase.

Duty Cycle

You’ve probably read these words a whole bunch of times throughout our article or while viewing flux core welders online. The duty cycle is a percentage value that expresses the operation capacity of a flux core welder.

To put it simply, the duty cycle tells how long you can keep your welder running before it needs to cool down for 10 minutes. So basically, the duty cycle is a measure of how long you can use your welder at a time, which is particularly important if you often work on larger projects or you want to weld thick metals that require multiple passes.

For example, if a flux core welder has a duty cycle of 35% at 60 amps, this means you can use it to weld for 3.5 continuous minutes at 60 amps output of power, after which you’ll need to shut the welder down to cool down for 10 minutes before you fire it up once again. Generally speaking, the higher the value of the duty cycle, the more expensive it costs.

Voltage

If you’re familiar with TIG or stick welders, then you know how they maintain a fixed amperage throughout their operation. But for flux core welders, the voltage is what should be kept steady instead, because this type of welders adjusts its amperage according to the speed of the wire feed.

This is also the reason why flux core welders typically offer flexible amperage ranges that you can easily adjust, allowing them to efficiently meet the different requirements of your projects. To put things into a better perspective, the more heat you want to use, the higher the wire feed speed you’ll need, and consequently, the higher the amperage output required. Notice how the voltage was never mentioned as a varying factor.

Most flux core welders available in the market operate on 110 volts or 115 volts, this is the standard voltage input of wall outlets in almost all households. Such voltage generates about 140 amps output, which is plenty of power to weld 24-gauge mild steel up to ¼ inches maximum thickness.

That being said, if you’re looking for a flux core welder to work on thicker pieces of metal, you’ll need to pay extra for more powerful models running on 220 volts input.

Type of Shielding

There are 2 main types of flux core welding (FCAW): Gas-shielded (FCAW-G) and Self-shielded (FCAW-S). You should determine what type of shielding you’ll be using before buying a welder because each type requires an electrode wire flux core of a unique design to work properly.

FCAW-S utilizes a flux core electric wire that produces a protective cloud to surround the molten weld pool as you’re welding. The purpose of this cloud is to shield the hot metal from exposure to atmospheric oxygen and nitrogen, preventing any reactions from happening and preserving the integrity of the weld.

FCAW-S saves you the extra cost of gas shielding equipment, which is a plus for welders on a budget. Since there’s no additional equipment required, this type is also very portable.

FCAW-G, on the other hand, employs flux-cored electrode wires that rely on shielding gas (for example, pure carbon dioxide) from external cylinders to protect the molten welds from reacting with the atmospheric gases. These high-pressure gas cylinders are the same ones used in MIG welding, where a regulator controls the introduction of the shielding gas.

Despite the added cost of cylinders and gas shielding equipment, FCAW-G provides a fast deposition rate which is why many workers prefer this type of operation.

Polarity

As for polarity, flux core arc welding typically uses the current type DC (Direct Current) where one end is always positive and the other is always negative. An example of DC is the current flowing from a car battery.

The polarity is usually DCEP when you’re using a large electrode. This means the electrode is positive while the metal workpiece is negative. However, if you’re using a small electrode to weld a thin metal sheet, then you should change the polarity to DCEN where the electrode is negative and the metal sheet is positive.

To switch polarity, you’ll find the control buttons to adjust this setting on the welding machine itself (not the welding gun).

Dimensions

You’d be surprised by the number of people who forget to check the size of the welder before buying it.

Granted, flux core welders are usually compact (even more so with a budget under 200 dollars), but different brands and models can still have varying sizes that you need to consider. You don’t want to spend money on a welder, only to find that it doesn’t fit in your workspace.

To avoid such hassle, make sure you accurately measure your workstation, then compare the numbers with the dimensions of the flux core welder you’re planning to purchase.

Safety

One of the most crucial aspects of a flux core welder is the safety features it offers. You’ll be working with many hazardous elements including electricity to power the unit, heat generated by the unit, cables to connect to the wall outlet, as well as the weight of the machine itself. Each factor poses a risk of an accident, so imagine combining all of them at the same time!

To protect the user from getting injured and the welder from being damaged, manufacturers incorporate certain safety features such as cooling fans, air vents, and thermal overload protection systems.

Cooling fans and air vents have pretty much the same job. They aim to dissipate excess heat away from the welder to keep it running at decreased temperatures to avoid overheating. When it comes to budget options, almost all flux core welders have either air vents or cooling fans.

Thermal overload protection systems are present in the more sophisticated models of affordable flux core welders. If you accidentally operate your welder for too long, or you dangerously breach the capacity of its duty cycle, the thermal overload protection system gets triggered to shut down the unit until it’s cooled down enough for safe use once again.

Additionally, some flux core welders come with ground clamps to securely fasten ground cords and prevent tripping.

Case

The case that houses the welder plays a key role in its overall durability. It protects the delicate electronic components inside from being damaged in case you drop the unit or something falls on it.

For maximum protection, you want an all-metal case (stainless steel is usually the go-to option here). Some manufacturers combine PVC with metal to make their welder more lightweight for better portability.

Is Flux Core the Same as MIG? What's the Difference?

This is a very common question among newcomers (even some more experienced welders may confuse the two techniques), so let’s set the record straight. Flux core welding and MIG welding are pretty similar as they both utilize filler wire that’s continuously fed into the weld. However, there are a couple of major differences between the two.

For starters, MIG welding uses a regular wire, not a flux-cored wire. Here, shielding of the welded metal is done via shielding gas from external cylinders containing pure carbon dioxide or a mix of argon and carbon dioxide.

Due to the absence of flux, MIG welding produces cleaner welds that are generally less messy so they don’t require as much post-weld polishing. MIG welding also gives off less toxic gases.

Flux core welding, as we mentioned above, utilizes flux-cored wire to shield the metal during welding. This makes it the superior choice for welding outdoors since it resists the effect of wind and airflow. Flux core welders are also way cheaper than MIG welders, so they’re better suited for people who are just starting out.

Can You Use a MIG Welder for FCAW?

Now that you’ve learned the primary difference between MIG and FCAW welders, you may find yourself wondering if you can just switch the regular wire of MIG with a self-shielding wire and use your MIG welder for FCAW.

In most cases, the answer is yes, you can use a self-shielding flux-cored wire in a MIG machine. However, you’ll need to also change the polarity of the unit from DCEP to DCEN.

Prepping the Metal

Using a carbide scribe, mark a line on the metal and cut using a metal-specific saw or hacksaw. To get precise welding results, it’s wise that you first clean the metal with a degreaser.

The next step in the preparation process is to grind or file a small bevel along the edges that you’re welding. This will help the weld to penetrate more deeply. However, you need to be careful not to go overboard. If you do, you’ll end up burning through the metal as you weld.

Tips to Avoid Common FCAW Issues

Flux core welding is a fairly simple, hassle-free technique to learn and master, but this doesn’t the process is guaranteed to go totally smooth. You may encounter some hiccups along the way, so you should be prepared for it. Following the tips below, and with a bit of practice, you can easily avoid common FCAW issues to achieve the weld quality you desire.

  • Ensure proper ventilation – this isn’t exactly a technique tip, but it’s the first step to create a professional workspace.
  • A flux core welder requires more than the average home shop ventilation because the chemical reactions and the absence of shielding gas produces a haze of sparks and smoke that can be a serious hazard.
  • Double-check your wire feed settings – burnback and birdnesting are the two most common wire feeding problems that can extinguish the arc prematurely, leading to weld defects.
  • To avoid burnback, make sure you’re using the correct feed speed for your project, and maintain a distance no further than 1¼ inches between the contact tip and the weld.
  • As for birdnesting, you want to use knurled V- or U-groove drive rolls to prevent tangling of the wire and halting the feed.
  • Remove any moisture, dust, dirt, oil, paint, grease, rust, and coatings from the base metal before welding. This helps prevent porosity that weakens the integrity of the weld.
  • Avoid using excessive voltage for your amperage and wire feed settings to prevent tracking (marks on the surface of the weld caused when the flux core creates gas).
  • Be sure to place the weld bead correctly and provide adequate space in the weld joint for extra passes to prevent the formation of slag inclusions.

Flux Core Welders - FAQs

Can I weld aluminum with a flux core wire?

In theory, you can weld aluminum with a flux core wire, but in practice, you’d need a specialized type of wire to make it happen. To date, such a wire doesn’t exist, so the actual answer to this question is no, welding aluminum with a flux core wire isn’t practically possible yet.

MIG and aluminum stick is your best bet to weld aluminum without TIG.

What causes wormholes in flux core welding?

There’s a variety of reasons why your flux core weld may develop wormholes or worm-tracking.

The first thing you should check is moisture residing in the flux core wire spool. Wet conditions or increased humidity around your weld can also result in wormholes. Additionally, operating your welder at a voltage that’s too high can cause such issues, so consider recalibrating your ratios.

Does a flux core welder need shielding gas?

Typically, a flux-cored wire is self-shielding, which eliminates the need for external shielding gas. In this case, the wire creates a flux cloud that protects the surface of the weld from reacting with air. However, there are certain types of flux-cored wires that require shielding gas, particularly for FCAW-G.

In any case, most budget flux core welders don’t support the input for shielding gas.

How thick can I weld with a flux core welder?

Generally speaking, a flux core machine can weld thicker metals than a MIG welder in one pass. The thickness your flux core welder can tackle depends on two main things: the gauge of the flux core wire and the power input you’re running through the unit.

Working with the basic setup for at-home welding; 115 volts power input and 0.35″ wire, you can weld steel up to ¼ inches thick. If you up the power to 220 volts, you can weld ½ inches thick steel or more.

Do I push or pull the weld in flux core welding?

When it comes to flux core welding, you should pull the weld because there’s much slag produced from the high-intensity arc created by the flux-cored wire. Moreover, you should maneuver the welding handle to work at a 25-degree angle by lifting it just off the surface of the metal. After that, slowly pull the weld across the seam of the weld.