The MIG welding process involves using a consumable wire fed from a spool through to the weld joint of the metals you want to join together. A good wire makes the process easier, while a substandard one can cost you dearly in terms of weld quality. Typically, a poor MIG wire could translate into more money spent in pre and post-weld preparation, such as surface preparation, cleaning, cutting, tacking, forming, grinding, and painting.
Selecting the best MIG wire is critical. It may turn out more forgiving and produce quality even when working under less than perfect conditions. Additionally, the right MIG wire provides more accuracy in electrode placement and consistency in your welds. Also, it allows you to do away with some of the pre-weld preparations and rework less of an issue.
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1. Forney 42300 Flux Core Mig Wire
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This EZ1T-GS is a flux-cored MIG welding wire for fabricating mild steel, and it feeds extraordinarily well through the MIG gun. The weld quality is great, and the puddle is easy to control. Additionally, it produces very little to no slag to clean up, and the finished work looks great. The best feature of this flux core wire is that you don’t need to clean up the metals before welding. It can weld dirty, rusted, and painted materials, and it is the best MIG wire for all-position welding.
- Self-shielded flux core MIG wire: This welding wire does not require a shielding gas when striking an arc, eliminating the need for a gas cylinder. It is an ideal choice for remote and outdoor applications or where portability is essential. It is also best suited for rusty and dirty materials, and it offers good impact toughness even at low temperatures resulting in more productivity.
- Low spatter: The manufacturer points out that this welding wire produces very little to moderate spatter. And although it is self-shielded, they recommend using an Argon/CO2 gas mix to help reduce the spatter. Also, using proper amperage and voltage setting on your welder can help with this. Additionally, remember to choose the correct type of current and the right materials for the job.
- Runs hotter: This MIG wire is classified as E71T-GS, and it runs hotter than its solid wires counterparts. It has a high travel speed, so it is best suited for single-pass applications. Additionally, it is an all-position wire, and it works with any MIG welder. Besides, it feeds extensively and is recommended for DCEN straight applications.
- Great for outdoor use: Since this wire does not require you to use a shielding gas, it is excellent for outdoor, windy conditions. The advantage of this is that you don’t run the risk of wind blowing away the shielding gas, resulting in porosity. Also, it does not need to be replaced over and over again, which means reduced downtime and changeover.
- It does not require shielding gas
- High tensile strength
- Welds most steels and some coatings
- Moderate to low spatter
- Ideal for all welding positions
- Suited for low amperage welders
- Winding issues reported
If you are planning to do or do most of your welding outdoors, this flux core MIG (GMAW) will do the job. It is shelf-shielded, which means no extra shielding gas, specialized gas regulators, or extra gas tanks.
2. INETUB BA71TGS
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INETUB BA71TGS is made using the state of the art technology to give you a blend of versatility and consistency. It produces very little spatter that is easy to remove during the welding process. Besides, it is the best flux core wire if you’re working with zinc-coated steels or galvanized plates. Other applications include repairs, boilers, tanks, earthworks, steel structural works, and steel building.
Features and highlights
- High feedability: This gasless flux-cored welding wire is classified as E7IT-GS by AWS, and it is designed for high feedability and smooth arc action. It is easy to weld, the arc is so smooth, and the weld quality is always consistent. It is also much cleaner to work with once you get your settings right. The smoke is minimal, and it produces beautiful and consistent beads.
- Single and multi-pass welding: This wire can be used in both single and multi-pass welding. This implies that the weld metal can be subjected to repeated passes to ensure successive deposition of filler metal. Plus, you do not require shielding gas; it flows well, giving a consistent performance throughout. It runs great on multi-position welds, and it is a cheap machine for simple household repair and DIY welding projects.
- Easy slag removal: A lot of spatter can result in downtime for cleanup and wastage of materials. This wire does produce too much spatter, and the resulting slag is easy to remove. It is also free from porosity, and generally, it results in a good bead appearance. However, it is always a good idea to prepare your metals before welding, as this will play a big part in the appearance of your final welds.
- Versatility: This self-shielding welding wire is used for welding thin carbon and carbon-manganese steels in all welding positions. Another great advantage of this wire is that it works well in windy and draft conditions, and it produces porosity-free welds. The wire requires DCEN, so ensure your polarity is set correctly depending on the instructions that came with your machine.
- High deposition rate
- Quick freezing slag
- For welding in all position
- Made from the finest quality materials
- Some users reported too much spatter
This flux core wire is great if you’re going to be welding outside your shop or garage. It is ideal for all welding positions, while its consistent quality makes it an enticing option for welders looking to produce lasting bonds.
3. Blue Demon E71TGS
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This wire offers good coverage from the flux and is so much pleasant to work with. The welds are clean, no porosity, and the arc stays more consistent. Also, the spatter is way manageable for gasless welding, plus it offers the best value for money. Additionally, it lays down nice beads, the beads have good penetration, and they look great.
Features of Blue Demon E71TGS
- An all-position welding wire: This E71TGS is used to weld in all positions, including vertical, horizontal, flat as well as out-of-position welding. That’s not all. It welds very smoothly, and actually, it produces a pretty nice bead for a flux-cored wire. It works great in outdoor conditions, and it is ideal for everyday DIY tasks around the home and small repairs.
- Single-pass welding: This wire is used in processes that involve the deposition of filler metals by a single pass. The welds achieved in single pass welding are quality welds, but they may not be 100% satisfactory. Besides, it offers good penetration, feeds well, and it produces way less spatter and much cleaner welds. All you need is to get your settings right, and you can never go wrong with this wire.
- Reliable flux-cored wire for welding carbon steel: The wire works well with carbon steel, and it is also ideal for welding dirty and painted metals. Typically you can use this wire to make lap and butt joints on galvanized sheet metal, and the best part is you don’t need a shielding gas. It is a great accessory to have around the workshop or garage for small projects and on-the-spot welding repairs.
- High tensile strength: This Blue Demon welding wire is designed to meet the minimum tensile strength of 70,000 psi. This ensures that it will provide you with the best welds that require less grinding and the most aesthetically pleasing. Plus, you don’t require an external shielding gas, and you don’t have to carry around gas-related accessories, so you’ll save money.
- Great for working outside
- The go-to welding wire for low voltage flux-cored welders
- Less grinding
- No gas welds
- The price is amazing
- Single-pass only
- Entry-level welding wire- not ideal for big machines
This .035 wire is awesome, feeds well, and about half the price of other brands, but welds just as nice. It has much better-looking welds, and it is a good MIG wire for small jobs.
4. YESWELDER ER70S-6
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YESWELDER ER70S-6 offers good coverage, and it produces slag that is effortless to remove. It is also free from porosity, which is not easy to achieve with inferior quality wire. Besides, it has a reputation for easy feeding and a good bead appearance. The recommended polarity is DCEP, and it is compatible with all MIG welders with a 2-inch arbor hole and 8-inch diameter roll.
- General-purpose welding wire: The YESWELDER ER70S-6 is a general-purpose wire for fabricating mild steel. It contains high contents of manganese and silicon deoxidizers to allow for higher welding currents. Additionally, the wire uses 80% Ar+20% CO2 or 100% CO2 shielding gas to give you smooth weld beads that require little to no post-cleanup. Besides, the deoxidizers offer better wetting at the base of the weld for a more aesthetically pleasing weld bead.
- Multi use: This welding wire has a wide range of use, including construction work, farm fabrication, and general shop metal fabrication. It is also perfect for dirty or rusty metals or applications with poor fit-up or oil plates. Additionally, this copper-coated MIG wire is ideal for fabricating a variety of mild and low alloy steel while eliminating the need for rework.
- Low spatter: This is designed to work perfectly in all welding positions, and it is used for single and multi-pass welding. It is suited for high welding current application, and it helps ensure weld integrity without a burn-through. In addition, it provides more consistent welds, which mean less spatter and reduced time spend grinding down.
- Good build quality: For a cheap welding wire, the YESWELDER ER70S-6 has an outstanding build quality, and it offers quality work. Besides, it is packed in a moisture-resistant plastic foil to keep it free from corrosion. The biggest advantage of this wire is its price to quality ratio. It is quite affordable, but it offers the performance of its high-end counterparts.
- Cleaner welds
- It feeds easily
- High content of manganese and silicon
- Porosity free
- Fits almost all MIG machines
- Requires a shielding gas
- Not ideal for outdoor use
All in all, this wire is high quality and creates excellent welds. It is incredibly low-priced, welds much nicer, and it is a lot cleaner than a standard wire. It is ranked as the best MIG wire for general use, and it is excellent for tackling medium to heavy-duty applications.
5. WeldingCity E71T-GS
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WeldingCity comes in excellent wire packaging, and it runs smoothly through the gun. The wire also welds cleanly with little spatter, and it doesn’t result in an excessive amount of flux build-up on the weld. However, it does put off a good amount of smoke, but this is expected of a flux-cored wire.
Best features of WeldingCity E71T-GS
- Self-shielded: WeldingCity E71T-GS is a self-shielding flux core welding wire for single-pass applications. No shielding gas is needed, and you can use it in any welder with a flux core welding setup. Like other flux core wires, it offers numerous advantages including, high deposition rates and good weldability. Also, it is a great choice for outdoor welding and windy environments.
- Single-pass fillet and lap welding: The wire is used to make single welding beads, and it is also ideal for lap welding. In addition, it conforms to AWS A5.20/ASME SF A5.20/E71T-GS. It is easy to weld with, and it does an excellent job even under not-so-good conditions. And if you are looking for a good MIG wire for auto body repairs, this WeldingCity wire is a great fit.
- Burns clean: This flux core wire burns cleanly, leaving you with the most aesthetically pleasing welds possible. It runs as smooth as any other high-end wire on the market, but it costs less. Furthermore, it uses convenient flux technology to prevent oxidation of the welded parts. It has a tensile strength of 70,000 PSI, and it is ideal for welders with high amperages.
- Great packaging: The WeldingCity E71T-GS comes in a vacuumed aluminum foil packaging to keep moisture and oxidation away. The diameter of the wire is 0.030 inches, but other sizes (0.035 inches, 0.045 inches) are also available. The roll weighs 10-lb with, and it comes with a 2-inch hole in the middle. Overall, it is a great wire, especially for welding training.
- You don’t need shielding gas
- Good penetration
- Easy slag removal
- Smooth arc action
- It burns smoothly
- It is heavy
- Single-pass welds only
WeldingCity E71T-GS is one of the most inexpensive fluxed core wires available on the market, and it is wrapped securely. The operator will have minimal spatter to deal with, and the slag created is easy to scrape away.
6. PGN – ER70S-6
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The PGN –ER70S-6 comes in an 11-pound spool and is ideal for a wide range of applications. The selling point of this wire is its excellent feed performance and superior bead appearance. It is a high-quality wire, and it is designed for low spatter performance. Overall, it is an inexpensive alternative for metal fabrication projects, repairs, and DIY applications around the home.
Feature of PGN – ER70S-6
- Solid MIG welding wire: The PGN – ER70S-6 is designed as a solid MIG welder, so you’ll need a shielding gas to protect the molten metals from atmospheric contaminants. It is a good choice for welding thinner materials, and it feeds smoothly without tangling. The wire gives you maximum accuracy in all your welding applications, and it welds cleanly and smoothly.
- Compatible with all welding machines: The PGN – ER70S-6 is designed to meet the minimum tensile strength of 70,000 PSI, and it is compatible with most MIG welders. Moreover, the wire comes in a moisture-resistant film to prevent it from rusting. Equally important, it offers an all-around performance, and you won’t experience wire jamming or irregular feed rates. Overall, it provides a great welding experience and a tidy appearance when the weld hardens.
- Porosity free: The look and durability of the final weld are critical, especially where presentation matters. This wire feeds steadily to offer you durable welds that are free from porosity. Besides, it flows very smoothly with sufficient heat resulting in a uniform weld profile that requires less finishing work.
- High content of manganese and silicon: This general-purpose wire has high levels of manganese and silicon, and it is ideal for welding mild steel. The deoxidizers offer better wetting and allow you to produce a flatter bead shape. Further, it increases the travel speed, and it is suited for welding steel with significant amounts of rust or dirt. It has a moderate level of spatter, and it is not quite expensive.
- Rans good, no tangle
- Consistent quality
- Low spatter
- It gives quality beads
- Great customer support
- It cannot be used without shielding gas
PGN offers the best value for the money, and it is excellent for mild steel. You can also use it for welding carbon steel and low alloy steel.
7. Hobart H222106-R19 E71T-11
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Hobart makes quality products, and it is unlikely to have any problem with this wire. The Hobart H222106-R19 is consistent, clean, and it is the best wire for the money. It may require more heat to penetrate but once heated, it flows easily, and it is super hard when cooled. Splattering may be a bit more, but this product welds really well and gives a nice bond and finish.
- Self-shielded: The wire is a flux core welding wire, so it operates without shielding gas. It is an excellent wire for welders of all skill levels and those who need to weld outdoors. It is more forgiving of materials that are rusty, dirty, or somewhat contaminated. However, it does produce slag that remains on the finished weld, but it is easy to chip off.
- Single-pass and multi-pass welding: This wire is great in both single pass and multi-pass welds, so it will give you the flexibility you need during welding. Typically, it offers goods results even in a single pass, and it offers the simplest operation. It is a perfect match for Hobart MIG welders, and it offers powerful and strong welds. The wire comes in a 2-pound spool to give you a satisfactory performance with minimum splattering.
- Better flow and penetration: Achieving deeper penetration or at least good penetration is very crucial in MIG welding. This wire operates on a straight polarity (DCEN) that allows it to produce the deepest penetration. It flows smoothly, and beads are formed in easy steps. Overall, it makes strong welds, and it delivers more than most cheap flux core wires.
- Ideal for a range of applications: This Hobart welding wire designed to weld carbon steel and thin gauge mild and galvanized steel. The gasless welding wire is an ideal choice for professionals and hobby welders alike. Its application includes machinery fabrication, light structural construction, short assembly welds, and general fabrication. It can also be used in auto body repairs but is best suited for small projects.
- Welds most steels
- Used in both single-pass and multiple-pass welding
- Perfect for welding mild and galvanized steel
- The price is decent
- Flows well
- Very clean welds
- Ideal for lighter jobs
- Just two pounds- not economical
Hobart H222106-R19 is an excellent welding wire with an acceptable amount of spatter. With this flux core wire, you get what you pay for, and it completely meets expectations. It’s easy to see the difference in a good brand name wire, so there is no need to take a chance on crappy welds for the sake of saving money.
8. PGN – E71T-11
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PGN – E71T-11 is designed to work in all welding positions and multi-pass welding. The wire diameter is 0.035 inches (0.9 mm), and it is ideal for welding mild steel and a range of metal thickness. This wire welds better by far, and it creates clean, strong welds. All you need is to practice and learn to read the weld pool to achieve consistent flux-cored welds.
Features of PGN – E71T-11
- Gasless welding: PGN – E71T-11 is a self-shielded flux core wire, so the welder will not encounter any challenges when MIG welding outside. It is an all-around welding wire, but it is especially useful for fabricating mild steel as well as sheet metal applications. So whether you are working on construction projects or automobile repairs, this wire is up to the task, and it will produce the best results.
- Better arc control: The PGN – E71T-11 offers better arc control, and it can hold up really well against heavy use. Furthermore, it delivers smooth bead all the time, and you will not require to do a lot of inspection and post-welding cleaning. Also, it is the best welding wire for budget-conscious welders, but it produces the best outcomes.
- Improved feeding performance: This wire is economical, and it produces deep penetrating welds. Additionally, it offers high deposition rates, and also the weld appearance is clean and seamless. The wire is ideal for out-of-position (overhead) welding, and it offers a very fast freezing slag. The wire minimizes porosity and weld cracking, and the slag is effortless to remove.
- Low spatter welding: This wire is designed to produce much less spatter, not forgetting how smooth the wire is wound on the spool. The wire will let you work continuously, and there is no room for irregularities or tangling. Its low spatter properties also mean you can weld faster and more easily.
- Decently priced flux core wire
- Good flow
- Gasless operation
- It feeds great
- Medium spatter
- Easy slag removal
- Might run hot occasionally
PGN – E71T-11 welds superbly, and it produces less spatter and smoke. It is well worth the money, and before you know it, you’ll be searching up and down your workshop or garage for new things to fabricate or repair.
9. LINCOLN ELECTRIC CO ED016354
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Nothing compares to Lincoln Electric products, and this wire lives up to your expectations. It is the best wire to use in an average garage, and it works great on galvanized steel and rusty metals. The flux shields the welds, and it is ideal for anywhere a gas-shielded wire would not work- outside, windy environments, etc.
Features and benefits
- Flow and spatter: This Lincoln wire offers a smooth flow that makes it easy for you to push your weld puddle. It is easy to melt, making it great for beginners and DIY projects. A wire that has a good flow translates to a smooth process and attractive outcomes. Also, splattering should not be a big problem when using this wire as it emits very little spatters.
- Consistent wire feed: This wire is wound very thoughtfully on the spool to ensure that it will unravel smoothly and consistently. Irregularities in the wire often result in poor wire feed, which means that your welding will be unpredictable. This wire has addressed this problem to ensure that you have much control over the wire feed and that it remains as consistent as possible.
- High tensile strength: This wire meets the required minimum tensile strength to help ensure you’ll get durable welds. It has 70000 PSI tensile strength, which is more than enough for most metals that you’ll be working with. The strength of the wire should match that of the base metal, so make sure you’re aware of your metals’ capability before buying the wire.
- High deposition rates: The deposition rate is equally important since it determines the amount of time the filler takes to deposit into a seam. This wire can accommodate much higher heat inputs, resulting in higher deposition rates when compared with other wires. For that reason, this wire can be rightfully ranked as the best buy for your money.
- Multi-pass wire
- It does not use gas
- Low spatter and excellent weld appearance.
- Efficient on any rough surfaces
- Easy to use
- Works flawlessly
- Produce a bit of slag
- Not economical- the spool is one pound only
This MIG wire will produce a smooth looking bead, and it works exceptionally well on rusty and dirty metals. It will make your MIG welder perform like a brand new machine, and for its wide range of use, it is worth the money.
10. Harris E70S6F8 ER70S-6
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The Harris E70S6F8 ER70S-6 is a general use welding wire, so it will suit most of the welding projects that you may have. It is packed nicely to prevent contamination and to keep it dry. The spool will fit onto any machine without any issues, but you may want to ensure that your machine can deliver the required voltage.
Features of Harris E70S6F8 ER70S-6
- All-round welding wire: Harris E70S6F8 ER70S-6 is an all-around welding wire for all sorts of welding projects. It does not produce a significant amount of spatter, and it is great for welding shops or average welders who need to get the job done. Besides, the spool offers plenty of wire you need for single pass or multiple pass welding applications.
- Consistent wire feeding: The wire feeds consistently, and there are no snags or tangles to deal with. It also feeds smoothly, which means you can work continuously. It can be quite frustrating to deal with inconsistent wire feeding, and that’s why you should work with a high-quality welding wire. It also results in consistent welds, and it creates seamless beads to give you the best results.
- Ideal for contaminated materials: This wire is classified as ER70S-6, meaning you can use it on rusty materials or other contaminants; the materials need not be clean. It contains more deoxidizers that absorb the contaminants while provides better wetting. It also offers a seamless transition of the weld to the parent metal, and it conforms to AWS A5.18 ER70S-6.
- Ease of use: This wire is used with 100% CO2 to shield your welds from atmospheric contaminants. It can also be used with a combination of 75% Argon and 25% CO2 making it ideal for a variety of projects. Besides, it is the best MIG wire for mild steel, and it is also the best choice if you do a lot of sheet metal applications.
- Feeds nicely
- Welds rusty materials
- It flows well
- Very little cleanup is needed afterwards
- Minimal spatter
- Most users reported packaging issues.
If you are involved in a lot of construction work or general metal fabrication, this MIG wire is an ideal choice for you. It feeds smoothly, and produces very nice beads, and you get clean results all the time.
Best MIG Wire Buying Guide
i. Wire Diameter
Consistent wire diameter helps ensure correct current passage through the wire. An oversized wire can cause excessive feeding force, wire slippage, tip blockage, and downtime. On the other hand, an undersized wire can result in arcing between the wire and the tip, and this can eventually fuse the wire to the tip. In addition, wire diameter variation can affect weld deposition and weld quality overtime.
Generally, the thinner the base metal you’re working with, the small the wire size, and vice versa. Typically, MIG welding wires range from .023 to .045inches. If you’re using thin sheet metals, .023″ to .030″ is a good place to start. For 1/8″ or thicker materials, you might want to consider a .035″ wire and above.
Also, if you have a small MIG welder rated for 125 amps and below, it will be a good idea to go with .030″ wire. But with a machine that packs a little more punch, it should be able to run a .035″ or .045 wire sizes. However, it is important to note that a single wire size will weld a wide range of metals.
ii. Solid MIG wire vs. Flux core wire
Ideally, MIG welding uses a solid electrode for filler metal and a tank of shielding gas. Usually, a combination of CO2 and Argon is used to shield the weld area as the wire melts into the parent metal. The shielding gas protects the weld pool from atmospheric contaminants. While welding outdoors, you’ll need to use caution to prevent wind from blowing the gas away from the arc.
On the other hand, a flux core wire allows you to skip this step and weld without shielding gas. A cored wire contains substances that do the work of protecting the weld pool against contaminants. This setup does not require an external gas tank, and it is especially useful when welding outdoors.
Furthermore, flux-cored wires allow the operator to use higher amperages, so they are extensively used in heavy-duty structural welding. A flux core wire also costs more than a solid MIG wire, but the best part is that you don’t have to deal with gas tanks.
iii. Classification of MIG wire types
The America Welding Society (AWS) uses different classification systems for the different types of MIG wires. It prescribes the requirements for categorizing electrodes for welding different types of metals, including carbon steel, low alloy steel, and mild steel. For instance, the classification for fabricating mild steel is denoted by ER70S-3 and ER70S-6.
ER- Stands for Electrode
70 – Stands for minimum tensile strength x10000 psi
S- Stands for solid wire
Number 3/6 – Denotes chemical additives used in the electrodes
ER70S-3 is often used to weld clean and new steel material because it does not have any chemical additive. On the other hand, ER70S-6 can be used to weld dirty or rusty materials since it incorporates more deoxidizers to combat the surface contaminants.
The organization also has another specification for flux core wires, often used to weld carbons steel and low alloy steel. It uses E71T-11 or E71T-GS letter-number designation to indicate the requirements for welding the metals. The designations in these specifications are as follows;
E- for electrode
7- for minimum tensile strength x 10000psi
0/1- for welding position; 0 indicate flat or horizontal position while 1 denotes all welding positions
T- for tubular/flux core
GS/11- for usability, performance, and impact
iv. Wire chemical composition
Make sure to choose a welding wire that offers consistent chemical composition. This will ensure that you’ll get consistent performance and more stable quality control. Variation in chemistry, wire diameter, and wire feed may lead to low productivity, high operation costs, and inferior welds quality. Also, inconsistency in composition might require rework and repetitive procedural adjustments during welding. As such, consistency is critical to improving productivity and control over the weld results.
MIG Welding is the most common process for industrial welding applications and product fabrication in general. While it is an easy process to learn, you’ll require to use some sophisticated equipment, and it will take practice to master different MIG wire types and parameters used in MIG welding. However, by utilizing the best MIG wire and surrounding yourself with various MIG welding training resources, anyone can become a professional welder.
William Phillips was born and raised in Keller, Texas. He is a licensed general contractor, and he has been a home improvement specialist for two decades. His passion for the trade led him to freelance writing to share his life experiences with his readers. Phillips enjoys thoroughly researching DIY tools and writing guides at ToolsHaunt as a way of giving back to the community.