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Old 04-14-2010, 11:29 PM
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Default MIG welding question for the experts

I got a Miller 180 for my birthday, so this will be my first foray into mig welding. I understands the basics that you need solid core wire + shielding gas or flux core wire without gas. Question is, how big of a difference does it make from one method to the other for welding basic mild steel up to 3/8 of an inch? That scenario would probably cover 90% of what I weld. I understand you get a much better weld on stainless steel, aluminum, etc when using gas. But for my scenario, are the benefits of using gas worth the cost of buying/renting a cylinder, periodic refills, etc?
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Old 04-15-2010, 12:08 AM
teamextreme teamextreme is offline
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Biggest difference is the extra weld spatter when using flux core wire & no gas. With gas you get a much cleaner weld. Is it worth the extra $? That's a personal call, but I definitely prefer the gas. In fact I just re-filled my bottle for the first time yesterday. If you decide to go with gas, I found the best deal at Buckeye Welding in Commerce City. You're going to love the 180. I got a Hobart 180 last year and love it. I'm amazed how much I use it.
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Old 04-15-2010, 06:48 AM
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IMHO, I would use the solid wire and the gas.

If you plan on welding 3/8" mild steel, you will have the best chance to get close to the penetration you need for good welds with that Miller 180. I would personally stay away from welding that thick with that 180 simply because you won't get the penetration you need to make a weld that will hold up under severe stresses. It just doesn't have the poop. Thinner stuff, its a great little machine.

Flux core is usually .045, and you will have a hard time getting the power you need to weld that big stuff with the 180 and flux core. Plus, using the flux core on thinner material will require some practice as the likelihood of burning through is higher due to flux core running hotter than the solid+gas.

We use thermalarc 251's with .035 and a 85/15 steelmix on all of our 3/16" and up mild steel work. Even those will, on rare occasion, have a tough time welding the thicker stuff (1") with the penetration the job requires.
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Old 04-15-2010, 07:38 AM
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gonna differ slightly with nathaniel on this. Flux core does penetrate and burn hotter than equal amperage/wire thickness shielded. for structural stuff like impact resistant bumpers and sliders you're going to be doing multi-pass anyway on thicknesses above .25

hell a 110v with flux in .035 will burn .25 thick all day long. There is a reason cored is used a lot in construction.

With good prep and a spray of "weld kleen" splatter won't be an issue.

weld with core for a while, as it will teach you some valuable lessons such as puddle/heat control and travel speed. Welding with cored wire, you will be adjusting power, not wire speed so much as you do with shielded wire. This will teach you torch control.

my .02
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Old 04-15-2010, 08:00 AM
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Randy,
I have essentially the same machine you do but have to set the power. I am not a GOOD welder, I get by and have to grind some.

With the flux core I got more spatter and smoke, had to grind a lot even using the anti spatter spray (highly recommend that stuff)

With the solid wire and gas, Argo/C02 mix in my case, I get a cleaner weld and less splatter. Most important to me is the less smoke, I can see better. It seems too, at least in my case, that I can weld one temp lower now and get good penetration.

You are more that welcome to come over and try mine this weekend so you can see the difference between the two. I will be welding a ton.

PS Don't forget to change the internal wires, flux core has one setting and solid the other..............DAMHIK But I am getting better, working on some sheet metal now, that takes some learning
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Old 04-15-2010, 08:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Groucho View Post
IMHO, I would use the solid wire and the gas.

If you plan on welding 3/8" mild steel, you will have the best chance to get close to the penetration you need for good welds with that Miller 180. I would personally stay away from welding that thick with that 180 simply because you won't get the penetration you need to make a weld that will hold up under severe stresses. It just doesn't have the poop. Thinner stuff, its a great little machine.

Flux core is usually .045, and you will have a hard time getting the power you need to weld that big stuff with the 180 and flux core. Plus, using the flux core on thinner material will require some practice as the likelihood of burning through is higher due to flux core running hotter than the solid+gas.

We use thermalarc 251's with .035 and a 85/15 steelmix on all of our 3/16" and up mild steel work. Even those will, on rare occasion, have a tough time welding the thicker stuff (1") with the penetration the job requires.
According to the specs on the machine it will weld 5/16 in a single pass and heavier stuff with multiple passes and proper prep. I rarely ever welded anything heavier than that with my stick welder. When you get into stuff that big it's usually structural or heavy load stuff that I'll get a pro to weld for me. The machine comes setup for gas but they also include a roll of .030 flux core, so I may get to try both. Thanks for the feedback.
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Old 04-15-2010, 08:22 AM
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Well everybody else stated the technical aspects. I personally just don't like welding with the flux core stuff. It's too messy and I spend too much time cleaning up spatter. I have it around for when I run out of gas and that's about it.
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Old 04-15-2010, 08:38 AM
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Maybe someone who knows better than me can chime in. I keep a bottle of pure CO2 for welding thicker steel because it runs hotter than with 75/25 argon mix. Also for when I'm tig'ing.

I do use flux cored when I'm low on gas but I made sure to get a good leather jacket and good gloves for the splatter. The best move I made when learning to weld was to get a self adjusting mask, (auto darkening I guess its called), made starting the puddle and following my lines SO much easier!
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Old 04-15-2010, 09:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Air Randy View Post
According to the specs on the machine it will weld 5/16 in a single pass and heavier stuff with multiple passes and proper prep. I rarely ever welded anything heavier than that with my stick welder. When you get into stuff that big it's usually structural or heavy load stuff that I'll get a pro to weld for me. The machine comes setup for gas but they also include a roll of .030 flux core, so I may get to try both. Thanks for the feedback.
There's the rub. The "it will weld 5/16 in a single pass and heavier stuff with multiple passes and proper prep." Just what is "proper prep" that the manufacturer used to get the machine to weld the spec material? Your guess is as good as mine. And probably as good as the Miller rep's. I have had to take classes in visual destructive and non-destructive testing for work. Believe me, I worry about welds that we do. I have seen some of the samples welders turn in for certification. Some are downright scary. Makes me glad that at least someone is checking to see that the welds people lay are going in deep enough. Every time I hire a welder, we have them present coupons for testing. We cut them apart, evaluate penetration, and weather they have the correct heat, speed, etc.

For almost every applications the 180 machine will be a great machine. I just wouldn't use it to weld a 1/2" tow point to the face of a bumper and hope that it holds when I'm being strapped out of the muck.

Congratulations on the birthday present. It will no doubt come in handy almost everywhere. Now the problem is that you will always be looking at a project with the mindset of "now how can I weld this bugger together..."
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Old 04-15-2010, 09:16 AM
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This is a bit off topic and I am a noob when it comes to comes to welding. Still using flux core for my small projects now and then. I think someone posted this article on mud (or maybe RS) a while back re: using gas w/ argon + brake cleaner and welding. Bad news, so wanted to share w/ folks. Imagine professionally trained welders are aware, but I sure wasn't.

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