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FCAW to GMAW worth it?


JHCC

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I've been running my Lincoln ProMIG 140 with flux-core wire for years, mainly because it came to me without a hose and regulator. Having a few bucks available from a recent project, I was thinking of getting the parts to set it up for MIG (hose, regulator, nozzle, gas bottle, wire), but I'm not sure if it would be worth it. Anyone have any thoughts or recommendations? What are the pros and cons?

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There is the associated costs to it but I love getting clean welds using co2/argon with steel mig welding. Aside from cleaner welds you will get less spatter. Might just be me but I feel like you get better penetrating welds as well. 

I would say to go with a larger tank than you might think to start out with. 

Now maybe someone who knows more will chime in. I just know from doing, not really technically leaned in the field. 

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Having learned on GMAW I bought a Lincoln unit from Home Depot ages back. Still on the same tank of 100% CO2, have a backup of 75%/25% to try out for when I run out of the CO2.

It came with a spool of flux core wire but I've never bothered to try it out, only time I could see it being useful is when welding somewhere besides your welding table. But the tank of CO2 weighs next to nothing compared to the welder so again, I've never felt the need to try the flux core. 

I've never had an issue with spatter, I'm using some .030 wire now and it gives a little more to clean up than I had running .025 wire but most of it pops right off with a screwdriver swipe. Not as clean as my TIG at work but still pretty clean. 

My $0.02 is give the gas setup a shot. Can always sell the setup off if you don't find yourself using it much and recoup some of the money. Keep it in good condition and it shouldn't lose too much value.

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There's a lot more to the decision to consider. What are your main welding conditions? What are your intentions for use (light gauge, heavy metal, clean or rusty steel...)? Do you have the amperage available to run heavy metal?

With the 140 you're going to pretty much be limited to gauge metal if you run it a lot with Innershield or GMAW. If you use Dual shield you can get to heavier metal and better welds as it penetrates even more than GMAW. If you pre-heat the metal to 150+ you can go even heavier. 

As far as which gas to use, CO2 gives the most bang for the buck but some say the spatter is worse. It also is better at covering the weld in light breezy conditions than mix. I get about 3-4 spools of .045 Ultracore C71 / CO2 bottle compared to 1+ of .045 Ultracore M71 85/15% mix. YRMV.

There's a ton of variables between gasses and wire not to mention each individual welder, both man and machine.

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Well, I do pretty much all of my welding in the garage, so wind isn’t really a problem. 

I’ve been doing some jobs with welded scrollwork, and it would be nice to not have to worry as much about spatter and flux residue. 

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I'd go with shielding gas set up. If you have to run a bead back over a weld you can do so without much if any clean up. With a 140amp 120volt welder you might be finding yourself doing that with 3/8" or thicker steel a little to often. This brings up another consideration, that maybe this is time to upgrade to either dual voltage/ 220 volt welder. If your doing any kind of volume/production work the difference in duty cycle, penetration,weld bead quality is pretty remarkable.

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JHCC, MIG welding is far cleaner than FCAW.  Less smoke, spatter, less clean up after welding.  Also prettier beads too.  No slag to remove post weld either.  

Downsides are few- If you are welding in windy conditions, your shielding gas can be blown away.   FCAW is more forgiving in working with dirty/rusty/painted metal, less prep needed.

You already have the machine capable of MIG, go ahead and buy the additional parts and you'll have the option to work between both techniques. It's worth it.

Edited by Mod34
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Well, you all have convinced me, and I've ordered a regulator, hose, and MIG nozzle. I'll pick up a tank of gas and some wire from my local after that stuff arrives.

Thanks, everyone.

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It will have to fit under my mobile welding table/cart combo, so I might end up with a pair of size 60s if the size 80 is too tall. We shall see.

(Which reminds me: I need to exchange one of my O2 tanks, which is now empty.)

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 Go with the gas mix last year i tried pure co2 cause it was cheaper than the mix which it is but the time cleaning splatter along with the torch tip and cone was not worth it. I did alot of fabbing in a couple of months building trailors. I went thru 22lbs of wire which is a fair bit for me with the added cleaning time it  made me go back to the mig mix gas cause its way cleaner and there is less splatter,.

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Looks like everything was pretty well covered here and you've made a decision. I will agree and cast my vote for GMAW>FCAW for all the reasons listed above.

 

I'll also be that annoying new guy know-it-all grammar nazi and note that bottles hold water, tanks have tracks and cylinders hold compressed gasses. :D

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JHCC,  I would love to hear your reaction after your machine is set up and you've had some time to play with it.   As mentioned previously above, polarity will have to be switched.  That should be pretty clear cut on that machine, but if not you can reach out here or look online.

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I've ordered all the necessary bits from a variety of eBay sellers, and the regulator and nozzle arrived today. I will get a spool of wire when I go get a container of gas from my local supplier.

1 hour ago, Mr_Gixxer said:

bottles hold water, tanks have tracks and cylinders hold compressed gasses.

Oh, you're going to do just fine here!

An additional thought: while I'm moving ahead with getting everything necessary to run 0.023" solid wire, I do still have quite a lot of .035" Lincoln Innershield that I'll probably continue using for purely structural work in the shop (racks, jigs, etc). I got a great deal on a 50 lb. spool at the industrial surplus place a few years ago, and I'm still working my way through it!

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On 1/6/2023 at 8:01 AM, Mr_Gixxer said:

grammar nazi and note that bottles hold water, tanks have tracks and cylinders hold compressed gasses.

That is semantics not grammar. I point of fact the armored fighting vehicle "tanks" were labeled as large liquid containers for shipping in an attempt to disguise them during WWI and the name stuck. I believe "bottles" generally but not always hold liquids not specifically "water," as do tanks and many tanks and bottles are cylinders. Cylinder being a description not a thing, for example an engine cylinder.

Not being a grammaticist I can't comment on your grammar. Any good at puns?

Frosty The Lucky.

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Update: although most of the necessary gear has arrived (the hose came in the mail this morning: the regulator and nozzle, yesterday), we've hit a bit of a roadblock. I was at my local welder's supply this morning getting a full tank bottle cylinder of O2, and I found out that the price of a bottle tank cylinder of ArCO2 was somewhat more than I currently have in the budget. So, the project is on a bit of a hold until I can pick up another commission.

Still going to go ahead with rebuilding the cart in anticipation of the new setup, though.

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Don't forget the scientific term "bomb" for a compressed gas container. I remember an old Bell Labs story about an engineer carrying some crystals grown in a high pressure hydrogen environment telling an Airline employee he was carrying a Hydrogen Bomb onto the plane...

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I wonder if 1 size 40 bottle would be a place to start. The Napa I exchange my bottles/cylinders lets you upgrade to larger bottles when you do the exchange. On my oxygen acetylene I think I upgraded a couple of times before ending up with a size 250 oxy. bottle.

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