GMAW vs. FCAW – The advantages and disadvantages
Two of the most common kinds of arc welding used in industrial processes are gas metal arc welding and flux cored arc welding. When researching the GMAW versus FCAW question, one finds that these processes are different and have different advantages and disadvantages when applied to manufacturing applications.
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.
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.
When looking at GMAW vs FCAW, there are many advantage and disadvantages to consider.
While gas metal arc welders are a better choice aesthetically speaking, because they provide lower spatter levels than flux cored arc welders, flux cored welders have a shielding gas that stands up better to possible breezes in a shop, which protects the weld better.
Another issue to consider is set up and process in the gas metal arc welding vs. flux cored arc welding argument. GMAW applications are more forgiving. It is the easiest type of welding to learn, and the process is more forgiving for the robot, even if there is an erratic movement. FCAW tasks may have to be performed in a more precise nature, but the set-up is easier than GMAW because there is no external shielding gas or additional equipment to set up.
Decisions like GMAW vs. FCAW are made by manufacturers every day. Companies like RobotWorx exist to help manufacturers make educated, informed decision for their facility. RobotWorx, a certified integrator for FANUC, Motoman, ABB, Universal Robots, and KUKA robotics companies, has several robot models available for FCAW and GMAW applications.