April 28, 2014
Q: We are a job shop that builds shipping containers out of aluminum and occasionally steel. We have a steel job coming through that calls for flux-cored arc welding (FCAW). Is there an equivalent or alternative to FCAW available?
A: I’m not aware of all the specifics of your situation, but your equipment list seems to indicate that your company would have no obstacles to using FCAW. It seems you would need to change only your welding electrode and shielding gas on your standard gas metal arc welding (GMAW) equipment. The equipment may need larger drive rolls, liners, and contact tips, but using the FCAW process with your existing equipment is a pretty simple crossover. You would need to qualify FCAW procedures and qualify those welders doing the work.
If finding an alternative is a must, you might consider the GMAW process with a metal-cored welding electrode. Again, your equipment would be compatible. Your welders may already be considered qualified if they have qualified using the GMAW process with a solid electrode. You would still require a qualified welding procedure specification (WPS) for the process.
FCAW and metal-cored GMAW are fairly similar processes. Both use the same equipment, similar shielding, and a tubular electrode. The FCAW process leaves an exterior slag deposit; metal-cored GMAW does not. The American Welding Society (AWS) considers flux-core and metal-core to be different processes. The Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB) considers them to be similar.
Please remember, I’m making this observation with very limited information regarding the specifics of your application. If you would like to discuss this further, you are always more than welcome to contact me directly.
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