What is the difference between MIG welding and TIG welding? This is one of the most frequently asked questions among newbie welders. Before embarking on a welding project, it is essential to know which process fits you.
In this article, we are going to be pitting Mig welding vs tig welding. It is important to note that both processes have different applications. Therefore, understanding both empowers you to choose which method suits you best.
That being said, we will be looking at how each of these welding processes works, their pros, cons, and applications.
An Overview Of MIG Welding
What is MIG welding?
Metal Inert Gas or MIG for short, is an arc welding process. In MIG, a continuous solid wire electrode is fed into the weld pool through a welding gun. Also fed through the welding gun is a shielding gas.
It is from this shielding gas that this process gets its name. Inert gases such as helium and argon are used as shielding gas in MIG. The reason being that due to their inert nature, they do not react with atmospheric gases and particles.
The shielding gas creates a protective shield over the weld pool and protects it from atmospheric contaminants. Moreover, the gas is sent through the gun from an external pressure gas tank. With this welding process, you can weld metal as thin as 24 gauge and as thick as ½ inches.
The procedure involved in MIG
MIG welding involves the continuous feeding of a solid wire into the weld pool using a spool gun. Since the wire has no special additives, the wire does not combat rust, dirt, oils, or other contaminants.
Therefore, before welding, it is essential to clean the weld surface. A metal brush or grinder is used to clean the metal before striking an arc.
MIG welding applications
Another topic we cannot avoid in the tig vs mig welding comparison is the applications. MIG welding has many applications, with the primary being fabrications. Because it does not work on dirty, rusted, or painted metals it is predominantly used in fabrication works.
Moreover, MIG welding produces aesthetically pleasing welds. Thus it is also used in the creation of metal sculptures. This process is also used in the auto body works and shipbuilding. And in welding applications that involved the welding of aluminum.
Why choose MIG welding
- Compared to TIG welding it is easier to learn and use
- It is easier to produce high-quality welds faster with MIG welding
- Compared to other welding processes the spatter produced is very minimal
- Is a versatile process that can be used on both ferrous and non-ferrous metals as well as alloys
- It can be performed in either semi or automatic way.
Disadvantages of MIG welding
- Due to the high amount of heat produced, it is not recommended for overhead and vertical welding applications.
- The solid wire electrode used cannot weld dirty, rusted, or painted metals.
An Overview Of TIG Welding
What is TIG welding?
Gas Tungsten arc welding is a welding process that was developed in the 1940s for welding magnesium. In this process, a tungsten electrode is used to create an arc with the base metal. The tungsten electrode is non-consumable and thus does not melt into the weld pool.
As such, a thin wire of filler metal is hand-fed into the weld pool where it melts. TIG welding requires patience and experienced hands. Thus, not everyone is capable of pulling off a TIG weld.
Main components of TIG welding
As you probably have already guessed, TIG welding is a bit more complicated. As such, you will need more parts to perform this kind of welding. Ideally, a power source, which can either be AC or DC, is a must.
A TIG torch and a tungsten electrode are also needed. A foot pedal may be required depending on the configuration of your TIG torch. A foot pedal may be required to control the electricity that goes to the torch. That is if the controls are not in the torch.
As mentioned before, tungsten does not melt, and a second filler metal is needed. The filler rod you use should match the material you are welding. Also, the thickness of the metal you are welding will determine the size of the filler rod.
Similar to MIG, a gas bottle is also needed. This gas bottle is usually filled with argon. The argon gas is used to shield the weld pool from external contaminants and oxygen in the air.
How does TIG welding work?
TIG is a reasonably technical welding process. An electric current from the power source flows through the tungsten electrode to the base metal. An arc is struck, and a filler metal is fed into the weld pool by hand.
As such, you hold the TIG torch with one hand and the filler rod with the other. The filler rod melts into the weld pool. To protect the weld pool from oxygen and external contaminants, a mixture of helium and argon gas is used. This gas is usually fed from an external gas bottle.
TIG welding applications
TIG welding is a process that requires hand-eye and foot-hand coordination if you are using a foot pedal. Therefore, it is not ideal for projects that require a lot of welding work. Instead, it is recommended for small welding projects.
This can include welding toolboxes and sinks. It is also used to make ornament designs and in automotive works. Basically, it is suited to short-run technical welding projects where finesse is required.
One thing to note is that TIG is not recommended for welding cast iron. On the flip side, it is recommended for welding magnesium.
Why Choose TIG welding
- Produces more precise and higher quality welds compared to MIG welding
- The process is cleaner and better for the environment and produces little to no spatter
- With a foot pedal, you can control the heat input
- Compared to MIG welding creates more aesthetically pleasing weld beads
- The electrodes used can be used multiple types since they are not consumed when welding
- Is more expensive as it is a slower process with low deposition rates
- The weld surface needs to be thoroughly cleaned before welding can be done on it
Differences between MIG and TIG Weldimg
It is clear that MIG and TIG welding are two very different welding processes. They are not without their similarities, but the differences are more. Thus, in this Mig welding vs tig welding comparison, it is essential to look at the differences. These two processes differ in several aspects, which are going to look at below.
The main difference between tig welding vs mig is the technique used. In MIG welding, a solid wire is fed to the weld pool via a spool gun. In TIG a filler metal is fed by hand to the weld pool while you operate the TIG torch with the other hand.
By now, it is already clear that TIG welding is a complex welding process. As such, MIG is more straightforward to perform than TIG. Thus, in terms of difficulty, TIG welding is the more difficult of the two.
Sure, TIG welding can weld most of the metals that MIG welding can weld. However, the difference comes in the thickness of the weld metal. Ideally, TIG welding is more suited to welding thinner sheets of metal. MIG, on the other hand, is more accommodating and can weld thicker sheets of metal.
Both TIG and MIG welding processes can be used to weld aluminum and steel. However, more finesse is required when welding steel using TIG.
Between the two MIG is the faster method. TIG welding takes more time but produces welds of higher quality and finish.
due to TIG welding taking more time, it is suited to smaller projects. For all-round heavy-duty welding works, MIG is the better of the two. TIG welding is suited to small specific projects.
Ease of control
MIG welding is a bit more forgiving of mistakes and easier to use compared to TIG welding. A lot of coordination is required in TIG welding. It is for this reason that in some places it is done using an Automated Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machine.
When it comes to maintenance costs, TIG welding is a bit more expensive than MIG welding.
As with the maintenance cost, the price of TIG welding is higher compared to the price of MIG welding equipment.
Shielding gas used
One area where these two processes are similar is in their use of shielding gas. However, they differ in the type of gas used. TIG mainly uses a combination of helium and argon. MIG, on the other hand, uses either argon, carbon dioxide, or helium.
The appearance of the weld
When comparing MIG to other welding processes, it produces a more aesthetically pleasing weld. When compared to TIG welding; however, it comes in second. TIG welding produces better-looking welds.
Electrode type: In both processes, there is no flux material used. However, while MIG uses a solid wire electrode, TIG uses a tungsten electrode. The MIG solid wire electrode is usually made of steel.
In regards to the deposition rates, MIG has a higher deposition rate compared to Tungsten Inert Gas welding.
The power source used depends mainly on the metal you are welding. For TIG DC current is recommended for welding aluminum. On the other hand, AC current is recommended for welding steel. MIG welding can use both AC and DC electric current.
TIG welding is a process that requires experience and skills. MIG on the other hand is a reasonably easy welding process.
Both welding processes do not do well on dirty, rusted or painted metals. Before welding a metal, you must first clean it. This applies to both procedures.
Which is better?
So which one is better Mig welding vs tig welding? Well, it comes down to you and the task at hand. For all-round heavy-duty welding, MIG welding is better. You can weld thicker sheets of metal and do more welding tasks with this process.
The same cannot be said for TIG welding as it is more suited to smaller projects that involve thinner sheets of metal. In particular, TIG is preferred when making intricate welds such as welding curves.
So when should you use MIG welding vs tig? For TIG, it is best for small projects with thinner metals. MIG is ideal for more demanding work where there is more welding to be done.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What is the tig vs MIG welding difference?
In MIG welding, a solid wire electrode is fed to the weld pool through a spool gun. In TIG welding, a filler rod is supplied to the weld pool by hand while you operate a TIG torch with a tungsten rod with the other.
Question: mig vs tig welding for beginners, which is better?
For beginners, MIG welding is recommended as it is easier to use. TIG requires more experienced and skilled hands.
Question: mig vs tig welding aluminum, which is better?
For welding aluminum, both welding processes can be used. However, in most instances, MIG is recommended for welding aluminum.
MIG and TIG welding have several similarities. But for the most part, are two very different welding processes. Knowing which process to use for which welding task is crucial. In conclusion, there is no clear winner in the Mig welding vs. tig welding comparison. It all boils down to what you are welding.