Best Flux Core Welders

1. Forney Easy Weld 299 125FC Flux Core Welder

Forney Easy Weld 299 125FC Flux Core Welder

If you are new to flux core welding, the Forney Easy Weld 299 MIG welder is the ideal choice. Operating on an amperage of 125 amps, it functions with no need for any gas setup and as it is, effectively, a “plug-and-play” unit it is a convenient option for anyone who is looking for versatility together with the ability to run 10 pound spools and to weld 24 gauge up to 0.25”.  Thanks to its user-friendly operation, it is ideal for welding novices, but is equally suitable for more experienced welders thanks to its flexibility.

As this welder is made by one of the longest established metalwork product companies in the USA, you can have confidence that this is going to be a high quality, well designed product that will be durable and long lasting. Best suited to light to medium duty use, this product can be used with either 2lb or 10lb spools of wire and it's also impressively portable thanks to its integrated handle. This means that you can easily carry it around between tasks.

While it isn't suitable for use on jobs that require thick metals, overall, this is a practical and functional welder which works remarkably well on light to medium duty projects, and which represents good value for money.


2. Goplus MIG 130 Welder Flex Core Wire Automatic Feed Welding Machine 

Goplus MIG 130 Welder AC Flux Core

If you need a MIG welder that is compact and well designed, this model from Goplus is a good choice. Its stainless steel body is strong and robust enough to stand up to the rigors of even heavy duty tasks, and its durable yellow paint cover ensures that it will last a long time.

This no-gas unit uses flux core wire for extra convenience and offers the user four different settings for current flow. Making adjustments is a breeze thanks to the min/max buttons and the rotary knob for changing the wire feed speed between any of its 10 different levels.

The Goplus MIG 130 welder has a compact, portable design, with a lightweight construction and an integrated carry handle, and yet it can be used for a host of applications including welding standard thin iron and steel. It is ideal for use in general repairs and DIY projects, and despite its diminutive size, it is capable of producing a highly professional finish.

Many additional extras also come as standard with this unit including a 2 air-vent design to dissipate heat more efficiently, an on/off safety control for the welding gun and automatic thermal safety protection. It also comes complete with a brush/chipping hammer, a reel of wire and a protection mask for extra value for money.


3. Super Deal Black Commercial MIG 130 AC Flux Core Wire Automatic Feed Welder Welding Machine

Super Deal Black Commercial MIG 130 AC Flux Core

If you are a beginner to welding, this Mig welding machine from Super Deal is a good choice for you, and will get you off to the best possible start. Boasting many of the essential features for hobbyists and DIY enthusiasts, this unit is not just affordable, but it can also be used with a standard household electrical current for extra convenience. The Super Deal Black Commercial MIG 130 welder comes equipped with a number of excellent safety features too, including an on/off safety control for the torch and automatic thermal safety protection, making this an even better choice for those who are just starting out.

While this model isn't suitable for heavy duty projects, it's ideal for light duty tasks that require thin metals of up to 16 gauge. It is best suited to welding stainless steel or mild steel, which should be adequate to meet the needs of most domestic welders. It also comes complete with a number of vital accessories including a free welding mask, a spool of wire, a chipping hammer, a wire brush, additional tips, fuses and electrodes and a 2.5M torch meaning that you can get started straight away on your first welding project.


4. Ironton Flux Core 125 115V Flux Cored Welder

Ironton Flux Core 125 115V Flux Cored Welder

Capable of welding up to 18 gauge mild steel which has a thickness of up to 3/16”, the Ironton Flux Core welder offers users some excellent features, yet comes in at a much more affordable price than many of its rival brands. Ideal for use in a number of domestic projects, this light to medium duty unit offers a highly dependable and reliable performance for the DIY user or hobbyist.

Operating on a standard 115 V/20 amp power system, this convenient welder ensures that no special wiring will be necessary, although it does function on 2 different voltage settings to allow for optimal versatility of use. The arc is also trigger activated to keep the wire electrically cold when the welder is not in use for better user safety.

Portability is always an advantage for any flux core welder, and this model from Ironton does not disappoint, featuring a convenient carrying handle as well as a compact design to allow for easier transportation between job sites. It even comes complete with a chipping hammer and wire brush as well as Tweco-style contact tips, a ground clamp and a heavy duty flux core gun with a six foot cable for even better value for money.


5. Lotos MIG140 140 Amp MIG Wire Welder Flux Core Welder

Lotos MIG140 140 Amp MIG Wire Welder Flux Core Welder

Manufactured by the high quality Lotos brand, this MIG flux core welder has been upgraded for 2017 to include a 2T/4T switch as well as two digital displays to enable users to adjust their welding voltage and wire feeder speed more accurately and easily.

Capable of welding to professional quality and industrial-level performance, this unit is surprisingly affordable and yet impressively versatile. Suitable for DIY domestic users and professional users alike, it also functions as a spool gun which can weld aluminum.

The Lotos MIG140 is quick and easy to set up in under 10 minutes since it can be connected with ease to any existing standard 110 volt power outlet. It can even handle industrial standard 8 inch or 4 inch wire spools and has an integrated thermal overload protection safety for better user safety.

You can use this machine for welding a variety of metals including aluminum, mild steel and stainless steel up to 18 gauge and 3/16”. Benefiting from a manufacturer's one year warranty for the purchaser's peace of mind, this unit comes with a number of essential accessories including welding wire, a free mask, contact tips, an argon regulator, a gas horse, ground clamp cable and MIG torch, representing great value.


Flux Core Welding

For over five decades now, flux core welding provided engineers with a strong, versatile solution to their needs. Strictly speaking, flux core is actually a distinct type of electrode, which is used within a standard MIG welding unit. An MIG unit on its own relies on a separate shielding gas, meaning that it cannot be used in windy outdoor conditions. On the other hand, shielding gases are generated from a flux core as the wire melts. By keeping the electrode protected from the air in this way, flux core welders can be used in a wider range of situations and circumstances.

Flux core welding uses a hollow wire with the center containing a flux. This allows the welder to work quickly, while also giving a remarkably high-quality weld. When compared to a standard MIG unit, the results are astonishing- while an MIG unit might generate between five and eight pounds of weld each hour, a flux core unit can instead provide over 25 pounds in the same amount of time! What’s more, flux core units can also weld half inch plates, making it the primary choice within the shipbuilding industry.

How Flux Core Welding Works

AS with MIG welding, flux core welding has three main requirements: a shield, a filler metal, and an electrical supply. The electrode is supplied continuously to the joint in order to weld it together. The electrode is supplied by the wire feeder with an electrical charge. As the electrode comes into contact with the metal joint, a short circuit is created, which heats the electrode and causes it to melt, as does the metal it is in contact with. In a very short space of time, both of these which simultaneously melts the flux and form a puddle to provide an air shield and a slag to prevent any contamination.

Why Use Flux Core Welding

Flux core units are used because they provide results which are simply impossible to achieve with an MIG unit. For instance, flux core units can provide a faster, stronger weld in galvanized, flat, vertical up and steel welding. In addition, it is more productive when welding mild steel.

Flux core welders provide better shielding even in dirty environments, making them the ideal choice for work in the field. In addition since there is no tank of gas to carry around, the unit is also lighter, so workers are able to carry it around with them with ease. Finally, flux core units burn hotter than MIG units, so they can weld materials that are thicker in a single pass.

By far the greatest advantage of flux core units, though, is that they are a much more-cost effective solution than MIG units. If you have the necessary budget, then you can even purchase an MIG welder which also provides flux core welding, offering you a wide range of applications.

What To Consider

As with any equipment, there are multiple factors that you’ll need to keep in mind when choosing the optimum flux core welder for your needs. These are as follows:

Shielding Types

The first thing you’ll want to consider with your flux core welder is the type of shielding used. There are two main options here: self-shielded, gas shielded. They both come with flux filling and external sheath made of a compound of deoxidizers and alloys to keep pollutants out. The main difference between the two lies in the electrode. A self-shielded unit has an electrode in the form of a tubular wire, which lies in the center and is coated with a shielding power. A gas shielded unit, on the other hand, has an additional gas bottle, to provide an extra layer of shielding. This shielding gas works to protect the area of the weld.

Self shielded units have a flux wire which is extremely portable, making them a solid choice for things like bridge and ship construction, and structural steel welding. Gas shielded wires often are a superior choice for vessels, petrochemical piping, and more general fabrication. Nonetheless, both types of wire work well in both all-position and flat or horizontal welding on a wide range of different steel types and other metals which are alloy based. They can even be used to repair worn-out welds and to provide extra protection from abrasion.

Electrode Type

Although a flux core unit uses the same sort of electrode as in MIG welding, the main difference is that these electrodes are tubular, or come with a hollow tube with the flux in the center, whereas MIG electrodes are typically robustly metallic.

Flux core electrodes come in numerous sizes. Some of these are the same size as MIG electrodes, whereas others are closer in size to that of a stick electrode. The most common sizes for industrial use are .035, .052, and .0625. These wires also have their own special classifications from the American Welding Society, which you should also look at as well as the size.

A standard flux core electrode would be classified like this: E71T. The E stands for electrode, the 7 refers to the minimum tensile strength in 10,000lbs per square inch of weld, the 1 means that it is if an all position welding ability (flat and horizontal welds have a 0 instead), and finally the T tells you that it is a tubular electrode.

With shielding gas, the classification would be the same, with the addition of C or C/M at the end. A C means that only carbon dioxide shielding gas, whereas C/M means that argon gas may also be used.

You will also need to think about the diameter of the wire you are using. The standard diameter for a wire is .03 inches, since this allows you to weld a wide range of different metal thicknesses. If you will be welding particularly thick metal, then consider using a .35-inch diameter wire instead, which will put up with the additional heat needed for this. Furthermore, look for the stick out length of the electrode- flux core welding needs almost three-quarters of an inch of stick out, which is double that of standard MIG welding.

Shielding Gas

Dual shielding units can only use a relatively limited range of gases for shielding: argon, carbon dioxide, a mix of these two gases, argon and oxygen. On the other hand, gas shielded flux core units require either pure carbon dioxide or a combination of carbon dioxide and argon. The difference between the two is that the former provides better penetration, the latter results in less scatter and a superior arc quality. This is because the flux in the wire reacts negatively to carbon dioxide, meaning the arc is less stable. While argon also has a similar reaction to the wire, the effect is not as severe, and therefore it works to stabilise some of the effects of the carbon dioxide reaction. Nevertheless, both gases will deliver a weld that looks good.

The most common gases used in dual shielding units are argon plus carbon dioxide, or oxygen plus argon. The majority of welders use 75% argon with 25% of carbon dioxide, as this is the optimum amount for a stable arc with superior spray transfer and minimal splatter. We recommend that you seek out the manufacturer’s recommendations for both gas and electrodes.

Transfer Type

There are two different metal transfers used in flux core welding: spray transfer and globular. The former is more widely used, and as the name suggests, metal from the electrode is heated so that it “sprays” liquid metal into the joint to fill it. Globular, meanwhile, involves heating the electrode, and then allowing the metal to “glob” down from the electrode to the joint. The main differences between the two transfer types are the wire speed, the gas used, and the voltage setting

 Power/Polarity/Voltage

Flux cored welders require voltage supply that is constant in order to function properly. Whereas stick and TIG welding units, which maintain a steady amperage, flux cores instead maintain a constant voltage. The reason for this is that flux core units alter their amperage along with the speed of the wire feed- the faster the feed, the higher the electrode’s contact, which generates more heat. To do this requires additional amperage, so the power supply needs to be somewhat flexible. However, most flux core units have a restricted amperage range, so this flexibility is somewhat limited.

All flux core welders use direct current (DC), much like a typical battery. In most cases, the polarity will be DC-electrode positive, meaning that electricity flows from metal to handle. Again, this is fairly standard when larger electrodes are being used. However, when thinner sheet metals are being welded, a smaller electrode is needed, so the polarity needs changed to DC-electrode negative.

Flux core welders use much more power than MIG welders- in essence, the former is a vastly more powerful version of the latter. In fact, there are some flux core welders out there which can run with over a thousand amps of power! Generally, though, these welders are 110v, and therefore generate 140amps- less than a gas model or alternator. This is plenty enough power for most users’ needs, and it’s possible for such models to work 24-guage steel up to ¼ thick. However, if you’re looking for something a bit more powerful, then there are also numerous 220v flux core units out there, too.

Duty Cycle

Naturally, a welder with a higher voltage is a more powerful and robust piece of equipment than one with a lower voltage. Not only is it able to generate a greater amount of heat, but it can also weld thicker materials. A high voltage welder is essential for working on aluminum, which requires additional amperage compared to steel of the same thickness. Compared to a low-amperage 110v unit, a 220v unit has a higher duty cycle, meaning it is easier to use and provides faster results. You should therefore carefully consider this duty cycle when choosing a welder. The duty cycle essentially tells you how many minutes (within 10) you can weld for, before you have to recharge the unity

So, if the duty cycle of a welder is 30%, that means you can use it for three minutes at a time, before waiting another 10 minutes to use it again. The duty cycle is dependent on the amperage load, so the measurement will be for a specific amperage rating- for example, that 30% duty cycle might be for 90A.

The amperage rating is the very highest amperage that the welder can possibly emit. If a welder’s specifications were 30-120A with 30% at a 90A duty cycle, it would mean that while it is possible to use 120A for welding thicker metal, the device would nonetheless also run comfortably at 90A for three minutes’ worth of use.

Duty cycle is certainly something you should look at, but remember not to compare units of different duty cycles. If you know what kind of amperage load you need, then look within those boundaries- if you need 90A, then a unit with 30% at 70A probably isn’t going to cut it. What’s more, while you can buy cheaper welders with a duty cycle of 60A or below, these won’t give you enough power to get through steel for basic fabrication.

Angles

When welding, there are two angles you need to think about: work and travel. The travel angle is relative to the gun when held at a 90-degree angle to the flat part of the joint. In most cases, this will be somewhere between 5 and 15 degrees. However, in extreme conditions, it may exceed 20 degrees- and this can lead to increased spatter, an instable arc, and decreased penetration.

The work angle, meanwhile, is the position of the gun in context with the flat surface of the joint. This is therefore a lot more variable, since it depends not only on the position of welding, but also the joint configuration itself. The measurement refers to flat, horizontal, and vertical positions, since it is a variable angle.

Overheating Protection

Finally, it’s vital that you choose a welder which has adequate protection against overheating, or else you’ll only be able to use it for a limited amount of time. If the welder overheats, then you’ll have to wait a long time for it to cool down again- not what you want to happen when you’re in the middle of a job. You should therefore seek out a welder which comes with thermal overload protection.