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Metal Cored electrode Basics

This tubular welding wire offers the unique benefits of both a solid and a flux cored wire
By Steve Barhorst
Fig. 1 -- Metal cored welding produces low visible fumes.
For the right application, metal cored welding wire paired with an inverter power source can
typically save $100 to $200 for every 100 lb of weld metal deposited. In fact, production rates can
double for many applications currently using another welding process or wire type. Applications
that make good candidates for metal cored wire include single-pass welds more than 3 in. long;
flat and horizontal position applications where a solid wire in the spray transfer mode is used;
many gas-shielded flux cored and some submerged arc applications; and in multiple-pass robotic
or automatic welding.
Metal cored wire, technically called a tubular electrode, combines the best properties of a solid
wire and a flux cored wire. Benefits of metal cored wire include the following:
 High deposition rates and travel speeds.
 Minimal slag and low spatter.
 Little to no postweld cleanup or cleaning between passes.
 Excellent sidewall fusion and root penetration.
 Ability to bridge uneven fitup without melt-through.
 Ability to weld thin materials without melt-through.
 Typically able to use the next larger electrode diameter compared to solid wire.
 Specialized alloys available for a variety of applications.
 Weld out-of-position with pulsed spray or short circuit transfer.
 Low diffusible hydrogen levels, typically less than 4 mL/100 g of deposited weld metal, meets
ABS, DNV, API, Lloyds, ANSI/AWS D1.1 and other standards.
 Reduced smoke and fumes compared to flux cored wire ‹ Fig. 1.
 Handles rust and mill scale well.

No Smoke or Mirrors

Fig. 2 -- Cross section comparison shows the deep "finger" of penetration with a solid welding
There's no catch to switching to metal cored wire. It makes economic sense in the right
applications. However, metal cored electrodes do cost more than solid wires and about the same
as flux cored wires. Like solid wires, metal cored wires require a shielding gas with an argon
content of 75% or more (the balance is typically CO2) to obtain spray transfer, where flux cored
electrodes can use less expensive 100% CO2.

metal cored wire uses higher wire feed speeds than solid wire ‹ Fig. a metal cored welding wire will have a higher wire feed speed.. you may be able to switch from short circuit to spray transfer with metal cored wire to improve travel speeds. With a metal cored wire. weld 16 ga. wire). with a 0.g. On thinner metals (1Ž8 in. Labor accounts for 85% of welding costs (power accounts for the remainder). Also.045-in. Melt-Off Characteristics The entire cross section of a solid wire carries the welding current. For the same amperage and wire diameter. you have to boost travel speed to avoid over welding. Since metal cored wire often permits the use of the next larger diameter wire. however. obtaining spray transfer requires less amperage with metal cored wire. more tolerant arc could still catch the toe of the joint and provide an acceptable weld.e. One exception is when savings can be realized by improving the quality of the weld bead. metal cored wire requires a wire feed speed of 566 in. bead appearance and bead quality. an 0. For example. Focusing current on the wire's outer diameter creates a broader. it is not necessarily a substitute for solid wire in an application requiring short circuit transfer (i. 3.. solid wire tends to have a "deep finger" of penetration in the middle of the bead and shallow toes. Any significant productivity increase created by metal cored wire outweighs an increase in consumable costs. What this means is when a fillet weld with a 3Ž16-in. This can eliminate wire size change-over time and lower inventory costs. with the metal powders inside being less conductive due to their granular nature. so it is important to understand their differences. companies often standardize on a single metal cored wire diameter to cover a broad range of metal thicknesses (e. Metal cored wire operates in all GMAW transfer modes. less than 200 A). It also creates fine molten droplets and a less turbulent weld pool. 2). bowl-shaped arc cone. Examining weld bead profiles (Fig. Metal cored wire can weld thin materials without melt-through as it lacks the deep finger of penetration. to 3Ž8 in.045-in. Deposition rates for metal cored wires continue to rise as amperage increases. Because metal cored wire becomes more cost attractive at higher amperages.Given the same amperage and wire diameter.2 lb/h of metal. that filler metals only make up 10% of a weld's cost and gas just 3%./min and deposits 14. an 0. and the molten droplets are rather large in comparison. In fact. Its broader. Fig. the travel speed can be increased by about 30%./min and deposits 13. metal cored wire offers benefits over solid wire. including short circuit. solid wire at 350 A requires a wire feed speed of 460 in. . If an operator doesn't point the arc directly at the joint. however. the current concentrates on the sheath. At 350 A. 3 -.045-in. Alternatively. or if parts in an automated application have less than optimal fit up. Metal cored's spray transfer pattern provides sidewall fusion while maintaining good penetration.Recognize.9 lb/h of metal. or less). In the spray transfer mode. spray transfer and pulsed spray transfer. This pattern bridges root openings and helps eliminate incomplete fusion. greater deposition rates and travel speed can result if the application permits. metal cored wire might be able to compensate. leg is required.

Second. Increased Production Productivity increases often involve overcoming poor fitup or incomplete fusion. infrastructure construction./min did not address the radius problem or provide an adequate solution to the parts count. highstrength quenched-and-tempered (HSQT) steels and T1-type steels. To solve the problem. Carbon steel metal cored wires include those for mild steel. High reject rates. some people cannot bring themselves to buy "more expensive" filler metals. Production rates increased to 750 good parts per shift. manufacturers can formulate metal cored wires to meet a variety of applications.96 lb of weld metal. the part fitup had root openings of 2 to 3 mm and the steel was only 2. First. For example.5 mm thick. An advantage of metal cored wire is its low spatter and minimal slag. Low-alloy metal cored wires are formulated for specific metal types such as nickel. 0. ITW Hobart Brothers. and give a spool or two of metal cored wire a trial run.0 to 2. If you're hesitant to switch. depositing a total of 0. limited this workstation to an output of 350 parts per shift. there were problems getting the tandem arc to make a suitable bead around a radius. appliance.045-in. automatic and robotic applications. one manufacturer of an automotive component had difficulty with a twin-wire. This can provide time savings for semiautomatic. chrome-moly. offshore oil. there is no slag covering with metal cored wire.t STEVE BARHORST is Tubular Wire Marketing Manager. Multiple-pass welds can be made with minimal. Slowing travel speeds from 120 to 90 in. power utility and rail car ‹ have used metal cored wires in their metal fabrication. At a reduced travel speed of 90 in. All major industries ‹ automotive.-diameter metal cored wire and 85 argon/15 CO2 shielding gas. Despite the success stories. most of it to slag. which means for every 1 lb of metal cored wire on the spool.High Deposition. Minimal Slag Metal cored wire has a typical deposition efficiency of 96%. medium alloy. contact your welding distributor or manufacturer's representative. Work with them to develop a cost analysis for your application. while a flux cored wire loses about 10 to 18% of its original weight. the welding operation was changed to a 1Ž16-in. motorcycle. the larger diameter metal cored wire and its broader arc cone bridged the gaps without melt-through. high-strength low-alloy. Except for a few silicon islands that float to the top. Typically. and sometimes no. heavy plate fabrication. weathering steel and galvanized steel. Alloys for All Occasions By altering the composition of the metal powders in the core. mostly from incomplete penetration and missed joints. a solid wire loses 3% each to vapor and spatter. solid wire robotic system. truck. Ohio . cleaning between passes. you lose 2% of weight to metal vapor (smoke) and 2% to spatter. heavy equipment. Troy. shipbuilding./min.