OxyFuel Welding fluxes are used to protect the metal in the joint area from this oxidation and thus let the molten filler metal flow onto clean metal surfaces. Oxyfuel welding fluxes are available as powder, past or rod coating. Flux powder is sprinkled over the slightly preheated joint area. The filler rod is similarly preheated and dipped into the flux to pick up additional flux.
Oxides of all ordinary commercial metals have higher melting points than the metals and alloys (except steel) have themselves. They are usually pasty when the metal is quite fluid and at the proper welding temperature. An efficient flux will combine with oxides to form a fusible slag. The slag will have a melting point lower than the metal so it will flow away from the immediate field of action. It combines with base metal oxides and removes them. It also maintains cleanliness of the base metal at the welding area and helps remove oxide film on the surface of the metal. The welding area should be cleaned by any method. The flux also serves as a protection for the molten metal against atmospheric oxidation.
The chemical characteristics and melting points of the oxides of different metals vary greatly. There is no one flux that is satisfactory for all metals, and there is no national standard for gas welding fluxes. They are categorized according to the basic ingredient in the flux or base metal for which they are to be used.
Fluxes are usually in powder form. These fluxes are often applied by sticking the hot filler metal rod in the flux. Sufficient flux will adhere to the rod to provide proper fluxing action as the filler rod is melted in the flame.
Other types of fluxes are of a paste consistency which are usually painted on the filler rod or on the work to be welded.
Welding rods with a covering of flux are also available. Fluxes are available from welding supply companies and should be used in accordance with the directions accompanying them.
The melting point of a flux must be lower than that of either the metal or the oxides formed, so that it will be liquid. The ideal flux has exactly the right fluidity when the welding temperature has been reached. The flux will protect the molten metal from atmospheric oxidation. Such a flux will remain close to the weld area instead of flowing all over the base metal for some distance from the weld
Fluxes differ in their composition according to the metals with which they are to be used. In cast iron welding, a slag forms on the surface of the puddle. The flux serves to break this up. Equal parts of a carbonate of soda and bicarbonate of soda make a good compound for this purpose. Nonferrous metals usually require a flux. Copper also requires a filler rod containing enough phosphorous to produce a metal free from oxides. Borax which has been melted and powdered is often used as a flux with copper alloys. A good flux is required with aluminum, because there is a tendency for the heavy slag formed to mix with the melted aluminum and weaken the weld. For sheet aluminum welding, it is customary to dissolve the flux in water and apply it to the rod. After welding aluminum, all traces of the flux should be removed.
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