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The metallic flakes often found at the bottom of MIG wire feeder feed rolls look like copper flakes.  However if you use a magnet you'll often find they are magnetic.  Can copper be magnetic??-- NO!

Then what are these flakes or particles.  They are mostly iron.  An excellent article written by Kevin Lyttle for the American Welding Societies Welding Journal  (March 1982) discussed what caused these particles.


Lyttle shows that if welding wire is wrapped around itself like a spring, the outer surface has many small splinter type protrusions (lines point to several) which are steel that was overworked in the wire drawing process.
He shows how these steel splinters are plated over with copper and when they break away from the wire surface during feeding or when going through the feed rolls they are often copper coated.  So that magnetic copper is steel copper coated!

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