MIG Welding vs TIG: Choosing the Right Process

Are you trying to decide between MIG welding vs TIG welding? Both techniques are popular for metal fabrication, but they have distinct advantages and disadvantages. As such, many people struggle to know which technique is best for their project.

This article will explain their key differences. We'll also cover the types of equipment needed, applications, and key factors to consider when deciding which technique is right for your project.

MIG Welding Techniques (GMAW)

MIG (also known as gas metal arc) welding is an arc welding process that uses a continuous solid wire electrode and a shielding gas from a welding gun to melt two base materials together. This MIG process produces strong welds with excellent corrosion resistance. It's also fast, with the ability to deposit large amounts of metal quickly.

During welding, an arc forms between the wire electrode and the workpiece, melting them to create a weld pool. The wire acts as a heat source and filler metal for the joint. It is guided through a copper contact tube that conducts current. The shielding gas is released through a nozzle around the wire, to protect the weld area from any impurities in the air that can weaken it. The result is strong, consistent welds with very little slag or spatter buildup on surfaces.

Both MIG and TIG welding have their place, depending on their application. However, MIG tends to be more widely used due to its speed and ease of use.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of MIG Welding

Benefitting from its speed and efficiency, versatility in welding different materials, and ease of use for beginners, MIG welding has many advantages. The process involves a special welding torch that is connected to a gas metal arc welding (GMAW) machine. This makes it quick and easy to weld metals such as aluminium, steel, stainless steel or magnesium alloys.

The advantages of MIG welding include:

  • Quick setup times and easy to learn.
  • Easier clean-up due to the lack of slag created during the process.
  • MIG welding is better for welding thin metals with precision.
  • Can be used in tight spaces where other processes can't go.

Despite this, this type of welding also has some drawbacks:

  • Limited application when it comes to thick material types since too much heat may cause warping or distortion.
  • Due to the fluidity of the welding puddle and the high heat required in MIG welding, vertical or overhead welding is extremely difficult (if not impossible).
  • Prone to splatter if not done properly which can create an eyesore on your workpiece.
  • Switching the shielding gas frequently is necessary to prevent contamination of the weld pool. This can contribute to the overall cost of MIG equipment.

In addition, there is a risk of porosity when using MIG welding. This often results from poor shielding in the weld pool, leading to contamination and oxidation from atmospheric gases in the weld pool formation. 

Equipment and Materials Required

To get started with MIG welding, you'll need a power source, wire feed system, conduit, and welding gun. The power sources are usually DC with a flat voltage/current characteristic.

The metal transfer modes in MIG welding include dip, spray, and pulsed. Dip transfer uses low current for thin sections and requires direct contact between the wire and weld pool. Spray transfers metal as fine droplets without contact, while pulsed mode achieves a spray-type transfer using high-frequency pulses.

Depending on the transfer you utilise, the equipment you need may vary. Regardless, for metals that require higher heat input, a shielding gas cylinder may also be beneficial to properly shield the weld from oxidation.

TIG Welding Techniques (GTAW)

TIG welding is an advanced arc welding process that uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode and an inert gas to create high-precision, strong welds. Also known as gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), it involves forming an arc between the tungsten electrode and the workpiece in argon or helium.

TIG welding requires a constant current power source (DC or AC) to prevent damage to the electrode and control heat distribution. Compared to other types of welding, TIG offers more accuracy and strength due to its focused arc and non-consumable nature. TIG welding machines are available in a variety of sizes for specific applications, such as thin sheet metal fabrication or pipe welding - and it continues to be one of the most reliable processes for creating high-quality welds on many materials.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of TIG Welding

TIG processes offer several advantages over other types of welding:

  • Precise control over the welding process, making it ideal for applications that require intricate welds or precise control over heat input. This precision ensures high-quality and reliable welds.
  • The process enables the welding of thin materials without distorting or damaging them, resulting in strong and durable welds.
  • Because TIG welding uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode, the result is a narrow and concentrated arc that creates precise and visually appealing joints, with minimal slag or splatter.
  • TIG welding is a versatile process that can be used to join a wide range of materials

Despite these benefits, TIG welding does have its disadvantages:

  • The process of arc welding with TIG is slower than MIG.
  • TIG welding is more expensive than other methods because it requires more sophisticated equipment.
  • Their machines tend to be heavier and bulkier compared to their less expensive counterparts.
  • TIG welding is difficult to learn due to its intricate technique and the need for precise control over the welding torch, filler metal, and shielding gas.

Despite these disadvantages,  many people choose TIG welding for its superior accuracy and finish when working with thinner materials or on complex projects.

Ultimately, whether you decide on TIG or another method will depend on your budget and project requirements.

Equipment and Materials Required

For TIG welding, you'll need specialised equipment and materials such as a power source, grounding cable, welding torch, shielding gas tank or gas network interface, and filler material. It might also include a liquid cooling unit.

You will also need:

  • An AC/DC arc welding machine capable of producing an electric arc between a tungsten electrode and the workpiece.
  • A TIG welding gun with adjustable current settings.
  • Shielding gas to protect the weld pool from atmospheric contamination.

TIG welding produces high-quality welds with superior strength. However, it can be more expensive than other types of welding due to its specialised equipment requirements.

With the right tools, TIG welding can be used for precise welds with minimal heat distortion. It is a versatile form of arc welding that requires careful attention to detail in order to get the best results.

MIG Welding vs TIG Welding: The Applications 

MIG and TIG welding are two of the most popular types of welding used in many different industries today. Both have their own unique applications, as well as different weldable materials that can be used with each process. The types of materials that both processes can weld range from ferrous metals like mild steel and stainless steel to non-ferrous metals like aluminium, copper, magnesium, brass, bronze, silver, and titanium.

The Applications of MIG Welding

You can use MIG welding in a variety of industries, from automotive to pipelines and even for home improvement projects. It's the most common welding form of electric arc, so can be found almost everywhere in the welding industry, including:

  • Sheet metal fabrication;
  • Pressure vessels and steel structures;
  • Automotive industry repair and maintenance.

The versatility of MIG welding makes it ideal for large-scale production runs and small jobs. For this reason, it is often the preferred choice for MIG welders in various industries. It's great for repair work as well as making new products!

TIG Welding Applications

TIG welding is used in a variety of industries, from aerospace and aircraft construction to automotive repairs. It's an ideal choice for precision welding jobs that require high attention to detail.

TIG welding is particularly well suited for thin metals, such as those used in automotive bodywork repair, because it minimises the risk of warping or distortion.   The process allows you to control heat input much more precisely than with MIG welding, making it easier to avoid burn-throughs or other imperfections on your finished product. You can also adjust amperage levels on smaller projects for a higher level of accuracy.

Although MIG and Stick welding are easier to learn and their processes are more common, TIG offers the most versatility in terms of materials and applications.

The Different Weldable Materials

When it comes to welding, there are a variety of materials that can be used, including aluminium, carbon steel, stainless steel, and other select metals. MIG and TIG welding can both be used on these materials. Saying that MIG is more suitable for thicker materials, while TIG is better suited for thinner pieces.

No matter what material you're working with, it's important to use the right technique to ensure a secure weld. By understanding the different characteristics of each material, you can choose the best type of welding process for your application. Whether you need to weld thin or thick material, MIG welding vs TIG are both robust methods used in many industries.

The Difference Between MIG and TIG Welding

Both MIG welding vs TIG involve joining two metals together, but there are key differences in weld strength, speed, shielding gas, the versatility of techniques, aesthetics, process difficulty, and cost.

MIG welding is generally faster and cheaper. However, welds made with MIG aren't always as strong or aesthetically pleasing as those made by TIG welding. On the other hand, TIG offers more precise control over the welding process and produces a higher quality finished product with a smoother surface finish. The technique is also more versatile as it can be used on materials that cannot be joined using traditional MIG welding methods. Additionally, TIG welds tend to look cleaner because they don't require a filler material like MIG welds do.

Depending on your budget, TIG welding is slower and has lower deposition rates (expected weld metal weight deposited per hour), making it more expensive per foot of bead. It requires an experienced TIG welder, which adds to the cost.  By comparison, MIG welding units are usually cheaper - they are faster, resulting in a lower cost per foot of installed bead. 

Overall, it depends on your project needs which process will produce the best results in terms of strength, speed, cost considerations, aesthetics, and versatility.

Factors to Consider Between MIG vs TIG Welding

When it comes to welding, deciding whether to use MIG welding vs TIG techniques is an important decision. You'll need to consider when each technique should be used and which one you should choose for your project. Think about the materials you're working with and the type of weld joint that needs to be created, to make a choice that will give you the best results.

When to Use MIG Welding

MIG welding is a great choice when you need quick results and are working with thicker materials. It is also ideal when longer runs, difficult positions, high productivity, and less experienced welders are a factor - with this technique, you can also easily switch between different types of metals with the same machine. The process produces strong welds with minimal spatter or cleanup required afterwards.

MIG welding is the go-to choice when it comes to completing projects quickly with consistent results that will last for years to come. With its ease of use and minimal setup time, MIG welding is the perfect solution for any project requiring thick material work or long runs in difficult positions with high productivity demands.

When to Use TIG Welding

TIG is ideal for thinner materials, short runs, delicate work, and non-ferrous metals.  It allows for greater control over the heat generated by the arc, allowing you to produce a better-quality weld without warping or burning material. It also produces a higher level of detail than other techniques like MIG welding and can be used on projects that require precision and accuracy.

Shop/bench work can also benefit from TIG's high-quality finish which requires minimal post-weld cleanup. It also allows greater versatility for creating complex joints on difficult angles or hard-to-reach locations.

MIG Welding vs TIG: Which Should You Choose?

With so many options, it can be difficult to decide between MIG welding vs TIG techniques. Link Business can provide lasting and reliable TIG and MIG welding services to meet a variety of needs.

When weighing up your choices, consider:

  • The type of metal being joined
  • The required speed of the project
  • The strength of the weld needed
  • Your budget constraints
  • Whether the job requires special attention to detail or aesthetics.

With Link Business' expertise in both MIG welding vs TIG, you can be sure that either option will provide quality results.

Does your project require fabrication welding? Our expert team is here to help. We offer both MIG vs TIG welding capabilities, providing durable and strong welds for a variety of applications.

Still unsure which type of welding your project needs? Get in touch today and we can offer assistance when selecting MIG welding vs TIG techniques. We work with a range of metals, such as steel, aluminium, and copper, with our team on hand to determine the right weld procedure for your material during the consultation process.

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