GMAW vs. FCAW – The advantages and disadvantages

Aug 29, 2013

GMAW and FCAW welding processes each have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, as they are distinct methods that offer unique benefits.


Two of the most com­mon kinds of arc weld­ing used in indus­tri­al process­es are gas met­al arc weld­ing (GMAW) and flux cored arc weld­ing (FCAW).

GMAW or MIG Welding

What is GMAW?

Gas met­al arc weld­ing, bet­ter known as GMAW or MIG weld­ing, uses a con­tin­u­ous­ly fed sol­id wire elec­trode that is used for filler met­al that welds togeth­er two pieces of met­al. An exter­nal­ly sup­plied gas is used to keep out­side con­t­a­m­i­nants away dur­ing and after the weld­ing before the weld has set. Molten met­al is reac­tive to oxy­gen, nitro­gen and hydro­gen, accord­ing to the Lin­coln Elec­tric web­site. The shield­ing gas pro­tects against dis­con­ti­nu­ity, which could weak­en the weld.

Advan­tages of GMAW:

  • High-qual­i­ty welds with good appear­ance and low spatter

  • Bet­ter con­trol over the weld­ing process with less clean up required

  • High­er weld­ing speeds and efficiency

  • Good for weld­ing thin materials

  • Eas­i­est type of weld­ing to learn 

  • Process is more for­giv­ing for the robot

  • GMAW appli­ca­tions are more forgiving

Dis­ad­van­tages of GMAW:

  • Requires a shield­ing gas, adding to the cost

  • Lim­it­ed to weld­ing fer­rous materials

  • More com­plex equip­ment setup


What is FCAW?

Flux cored arc weld­ing, also known as FCAW, uses a wire that is not sol­id, but instead has a core that con­tains the shield­ing gas­es need­ed to pro­tect the weld from con­t­a­m­i­nants. As the wire burns, the flux agents and shield gas­es are pro­duced, and help pro­duce a strong weld, the LE web­site stated.

Advan­tages of FCAW:

  • Good for weld­ing thick­er materials

  • High depo­si­tion rates and deep penetration

  • Can be used for weld­ing fer­rous and non-fer­rous materials

  • Can be used in out­door and windy conditions

Dis­ad­van­tages of FCAW:

  • High spat­ter and slag, requir­ing more clean up

  • Slow­er trav­el speeds com­pared to GMAW

  • Lim­it­ed con­trol over the weld­ing process

  • More expen­sive con­sum­ables com­pared to GMAW

Every day, man­u­fac­tur­ers make impor­tant deci­sions regard­ing weld­ing process­es like GMAW vs FCAW. Com­pa­nies such as Robots​.com are ded­i­cat­ed to help­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers make informed deci­sions for their facil­i­ties. Robots​.com, a cer­ti­fied inte­gra­tor for Fanuc, Motoman, ABB, and KUKA robot­ics com­pa­nies, has sev­er­al robot mod­els avail­able for FCAW and GMAW applications.

If you would like to learn more about the FCAW vs. GMAW debate, or to auto­mate your process with Robots​.com, con­tact us online or at 8777626881.

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