Common welding related questions we hear. Part 13
Can I MIG weld with a flux core machine? Well this is an often discussed question on many forums where there are multiple brands and types of welders represented. I get a version of that question quite often as well: Can I flux core weld with my Everlast Power I MIG welder? Let’s be clear, MIG (or GMAW to use the current correct term of the day) has been defined as Metal-Inert-Gas, or rather for GMAW, as Gas Metal Arc Welding. This means that it uses gas to weld. A flux core wire feed welder is a bit different, though they may look similar from the surface.
A flux core welder uses no gas. It uses a self shielding wire that has a hollow core that is packed with a flux powder that acts similar to a welding rod while stick welding. This flux comes out and covers the weld while welding. In MIG, gas is the shielding agent. Many companies make a cheap, entry level flux core welder. Usually these will hold small 4” rolls of wire and are fairly expensive to purchase when a price per pound is figured in for the wire. These units do not have a gas solenoid built in for the use of standard MIG wire, and the flux core gun is not usually equipped to carry gas.
Of course, for a significant fee, many of these welding companies will sell you a kit to upgrade to full MIG capabilities. These kits will often include a solenoid valve, wiring, new gun, hard wire type rollers, and a regulator. Some will only include a solenoid valve. Either way, it is usually expensive to convert a flux core wire feeding welder over to standard MIG. In the case of Everlast and many other brands, almost any MIG can use flux core wire. The gas part is not needed of course, and is left off. The only thing needed are special serrated type drive rolls that range from twenty to forth dollars.
A standard MIG gun can be used for flux core as well, though if a lot of flux core is to be done, it would probably be best to swap for a full blown flux core gun since the tips are made differently and no shielding cup/cone is needed, which will increase visibility and even duty cycle. So if you are struggling to make a decision between a flux core and a MIG welder, be sure to keep the limitations of a flux core only machine in mind if you ever think that you’d want to upgrade to a MIG.