Have you ever wondered if you could weld cast iron with a wire feed welder?
Even if you’re a beginning welder, you are likely already familiar with the types of welding, including MIG, TIG, and stick welding, to name a few.
MIG welding is one of the most popular types of welding, in part because it is an inexpensive method, not to mention a method that is very easy to learn.
For all practical purposes, MIG and wire-feed welding are the same thing, and this is indeed a good method to use when you are welding cast iron.
Can you weld cast iron with a wire feed welder? Yes, you can successfully use a wire-feed welder for this type of job as long as you know-how, and fortunately, it isn’t difficult to learn how to do this.
Because cast iron has a chemical makeup that is different from other metals and is more prone to cracking and becoming brittle, you have to use caution when welding with it.
With metals such as mild steel or wrought iron, you don’t need to do a lot to prepare for the welding task, but this isn’t the same when working with cast iron.
With cast iron welding, the material has to be hot already before you strike an arc.
In addition, a slower cool-down time is required, but you can weld cast iron successfully if you know how to do so. To get started, you have to take a torch and preheat the cast iron with it, making sure the job is done evenly.
Simply put, cast iron requires a preheat so the material itself isn’t damaged. You cannot weld cast iron while it is ice-cold because it will crack.
✔️ When you’re preheating, use the torch to heat up the entire surface of the cast iron piece, which includes the area you’ll soon be welding.
Make sure you bring up the temperature of the cast iron slowly before you start welding because otherwise, the heat from the arc might damage it.
For large pieces of cast iron, simply preheat as much of the area as possible, while you can preheat the entire piece if it is small.
Since your welding will take place very slowly, you’ll want to stop every one to two inches so that the iron starts to cool a bit in between your welds.
Related reading: How to Weld Cast Iron – All Facts You Should Know
This is also necessary because if you try to weld your cast iron all at once, it may crack due to the stress. This is one of the many reasons why preheating your cast iron slowly is always such a good idea.
✔️ If you decide to use a flux-cored wire, you’ll have to scrape the flux off of the weld whenever you pause. This will keep the piece clean and smooth for the weld, and you also do this to get a good clean arc every time.
Use a good wire brush for this purpose because they work the best.
Another important tip: the cast iron has to cool down very slowly after the welding is complete. Cracks in the metal can happen if you allow the cast iron to cool down too quickly.
✔️ If you’re working with a very small piece of cast iron, you might want to either bury it in sand or wrap it in a thermal or insulated blanket as it’s cooling down because this will prevent the item from cooling down too quickly.
With larger items, you can hit the item with your torch every 30 seconds or so over a short period of time; this technique can also bring the temperature down gradually instead of all at once.
The Advantages of Using Wire-Feed Welders
In case you’re wondering, there are indeed many advantages to using wire-feed welders, not just when welding metals such as cast iron but with other metals as well. Some of the many advantages to using this type of welding include:
✔️ Better weld profile. These welders offer a very fine degree of control over the weld’s formation.
The grind angle affects both the width and the penetration of the weld and therefore, you can better control this aspect of the job ahead of time instead of having to do manual adjustments during the welding process.
✔️ Heat control. With wire-feed welding devices, you have a lot of fine control over amperage, which means you can finely control the input of each into the pieces you’re working with.
✔️ Purity. Since the electrode, fill material, and shielding are all separate, you get finished welds that are purer and neater.
Of course, this type of welding also has its share of disadvantages, although there are only a few of them. For one thing, this is not a type of welding that is easy to learn because it takes a lot of practice and training to master the skill.
You may also suffer with welder fatigue, although if you choose an automated orbital welder, it can remove both of these disadvantages.
If you think that working with a wire-feed welder is the only way to work with cast iron, think again. You can also use nickel rods, iron rods, or even stick welders.
These methods, however, are often difficult to use because of the many challenges associated with welding cast iron. Using a wire-feed welder for jobs involving cast iron is usually simple, cost-effective, and very convenient.
Furthermore, since slag doesn’t get entrapped in the metal and gas is protecting the arc, this type of weld tends to last a long time and produce high-quality results.
In short, it makes welding cast iron a relatively stress-free task even for welders who haven’t been doing the job for very long.
Welding with cast iron is always a challenge, and since there are so many types of welding available, you have your choice when it comes to using a certain technique for your cast iron welding job.
Each type offers advantages and disadvantages, so it’s always best if you research all of them for your next welding job, especially if it involves welding with cast iron.
Wire-feed welding can be difficult to learn, but you won’t have to use advanced techniques just to work with cast iron and therefore, it is often the smartest type of welding to choose for this purpose.