Arc Welding Essentials: Your Guide to Know When to MIG & When to TIG
The Old-Age Contention: MIG vs. TIG
Arc welding processes are as varied as their results, and choosing your welding process can determine your project's success. The most common of these processes are TIG (tungsten inert gas welding) and MIG (metal inert gas welding). Although MIG and TIG both use an electric arc, the techniques and the outcomes could not be more different. Thus, using the wrong techniques may lead to undesired results and frustration.
So what's the difference between TIG and MIG welding? TIG and MIG welding both use an electric arc to create the weld. The difference is the way the arc is being used. MIG welding uses a feed wire that constantly moves through the gun to create the spark, then melts to form the weld. TIG welding uses long rods to fuse two metals directly together.
What Is MIG Welding?
Metal Inert Gas or MIG welding is an arc welding process that uses a continuous solid electrode wire fed into the weld pool through a welding gun. First, the two base materials are melted together to form a joint. Then, the gun feeds a shielding gas alongside the electrode, helping protect the weld pool from airborne contaminants.
MIG Welding Advantages
1. Unmatched Speed
When it comes to speed, MIG has the advantage. A MIG gun or torch, like our Bernard style 300 Amp options, is intended for prolonged, continuous use, even long hours. This makes them extremely efficient, especially for large-scale industrial operations requiring high production rates.
2. Friendlier Cost
In business, time is money. Since MIG welding is much faster and more efficient, it's more cost-effective. Moreover, MIG parts, like contact tips and diffusers, are generally more readily available and less expensive than TIG ones.
3. Ease of Use
MIG welding is easy to learn and perfect. You can get the hang of it just after a few weeks of training.
When Is It Best to MIG Weld?
1. Large & Thick Materials
MIG welding is easier, more efficient, and gets the job done faster, especially when it comes to large, thick materials.
2. Long Runs
Because MIG welding uses a continuously fed wire, it’s perfect for when you need to continuously weld for long periods.
3. Difficult Position
Since you can use a MIG torch with only one hand, you have a free hand to balance yourself as you manoevure around a piece that needs welding or even hold the pieces together.
4. High-Production Demand
Since MIG welding is objectively easier, more welding work can be completed in an hour using MIG welding than TIG welding. So when a lot needs to get done, MIG welding is the go-to method. The caveat, though, is that MIG welding isn’t the best option for detailed work, so this needs to be taken into consideration when looking at the work that needs to be done.
5. Less Experienced Welders
A less-experienced welder can lay good beads on a project with the MIG process, whereas TIG welding requires tons of practice to master.
What Is TIG Welding?
TIG welding can be a challenging skill. That's why using proper, high-quality TIG welding supplies is a must. Tungsten electrodes create the arc, while inert gases, like helium, argon, or a mix of the two, are used to protect the shield. Filler wires, then add molten material if needed. You'll also need a proper TIG collet to ensure the correct positioning of your tungsten electrode and distribution of the shield gas. But, the results are definitely worth it.
TIG Welding Advantages
1. Superior Quality
TIG welding can create a clean, beautiful job with small, fine details when working with various thinner-gauge materials, such as aluminium and stainless steel alloys. Thus, it's the welding process of choice for finer smaller projects like ornamental pieces, gunsmithing, repairs and toolboxes. It's also the go-to technique where precision is required, such as in transportation, aerospace and the military.
2. Greater Control & High Precision
The welder has better control over the weld with TIG welding, thus achieving higher precision than MIG welding. Using a non-consumable tungsten electrode to form the arc requires the filler metal to be added separately. This allows the welder to control the weld's speed and depth more precisely. Fine details can also be created by controlling the heat of the arc. The heat can be adjusted through a foot pedal to prevent damage to thin and fine metals.
TIG welding is a cleaner process in many aspects. First, the manual control of the filler metal in the weld eliminates the spatter that can come from MIG welding. It can even be done without using any filler metal at all. Second, MIG welding can cause a lot of smoke, fumes and even sparks. This makes TIG welding a lot safer for people and the environment.
4. Increased Strength
TIG welding is a reliable technique to produce strong, quality welds on thin materials. The beads made with the TIG technique can be much smaller and cause less disruption in the surrounding metal. This is because the welder has manual control over the filler metal. Moreover, control over the heat output means that the weld can be strong without burning through the parent metal and requiring rework. That's why it's ideal in high-tech, high-impact industries, including automotive and aerospace.