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MIG vs. TIG Welding – An Effective Guide to Choose Right Method

MIG TIG Welding

In the world of welding, electric arc welding is the most popular and admired metal joining technique. Among its four types, TIG and MIG welding has great importance for their welding efficiency and quality.

They have entirely different specifications, pros, cons, and applications. MIG vs. TIG welding comparison will greatly help you to give a better concept.

 

What is MIG Welding?

MIG welding is a semi-automatic process that uses a continuous wire feed and an inert gas to weld metal materials like aluminum and copper.

Once the power is supplied to the consumable electrode through an AC or DC source, an arc is produced at the end of the electrode. The arcs tend to melt the base metal to form a weld pool. This weld pool is protected by a shielding gas known as CO2. After solidifying, the welding joint is formed.

MIG Welding img

 

What is TIG Welding?

TIG welding uses a tungsten non-consumable electrode to create an electric arc that produces heat and joins metal parts.

The electrode is mainly connected to the negative and the metal to the positive terminal to produce an arc. This process uses filler metal fed into the weld pool and later melted to offer deep penetration with solid welds. Moreover, argon is used as a shielding gas to protect the damage from atmospheric contaminants.

TIG Welding 1

 

MIG Vs TIG Welding: In Depth Comparison

TIG MIG Comparison 0

1. Power Source

Both MIG welding and TIG welding use different power sources. Typically, TIG welding uses AC as well as DC power sources, while MIG welding only uses a DC power source. With the DC power source, you can create stability in the electric arc and provide good penetration of the metals. On the other hand, AC power is ideal for aluminum materials.

Therefore, you can pick a specific welding technique according to the needed electric arc, metal material, and the spatter amount in the weld pool.

2. Metal or Material

When it comes to the comparison of MIG vs. TIG welding in terms of material selection, there is not much difference. This is because both welding techniques are compatible with metals, including stainless steel, aluminum, and carbon steel. The only difference lies in the thickness of the material. MIG welding is suitable for thicker metal parts, whereas TIG welding is perfect for thin metal parts up to 0.6 mm or above due to better operational control.

3. Electrode

Positive (anode) and negative electrodes (cathode) are used in creating electric arcs and act as filler materials in the welding process. Generally, electrodes are referred to as:

  • Consumable electrodes
  • Non-consumable electrodes

MIG welding particularly uses a consumable wire electrode that is continuously fed to join metal workpieces. They act as fillers as well as create electric arcs. Moreover, these electrodes have low melting points and are made of mild and nickel steel.

On the contrary, TIG welding uses non-consumable electrodes that only create electric arcs, as no melting occurs during this welding process.

4. Welding Torch

The welding torch positioned on the machine head consists of the electrode and gas nozzles. It works well when cooled by gas or water. The air-cooled welding torch uses gas as a coolant, which is lighter, less effective, and cheaper. However, in the case of a water-cooled welding torch, water acts as a good coolant. It is ideal for heavy-duty applications.

Both MIG and TIG welding primarily use any of the two types of welding torches. But, as TIG welding needs to generate more heat, it primarily uses water-cooled welding torches to offer the best cooling effect.

5. Shielding Gas

As the name indicates, shielding gas protects the workpiece and welding pool from atmospheric contaminants. In MIG welding, CO2 (below 5%) and O2 (below 2%) are significantly used as shielding gases. Other than this, helium, oxygen, and argon are also used for specific metals, like aluminum.

In contrast, TIG welding utilizes argon as a crucial shielding gas. Yet, shielding gas mixtures can be used for materials with high nickel content or stainless steel—for instance, a combination of helium and argon, argon and nitrogen, or hydrogen and argon.

6. Speed

Another point of difference between MIG and TIG welding is the speed of the process. MIG is faster, while TIG welding is comparatively a slower process. The reason is that TIG welding requires more detailing than MIG welding. Moreover, there is no use of filler materials in MIG welding, which saves time and makes the process speedy.

7. Welding Quality

The welding quality or aesthetics matters a lot in the welding process. This is because most fabricators prefer TIG welding as it offers a clean finish at the welding lines. In comparison, MIG welding doesn’t provide clean welds. Thus, you may choose TIG over MIG welding in terms of finishing.

8. Cost

Regarding expenses, TIG welding is more costly due to the use of expensive equipment and filler materials. Plus, it demands more detailing and time which increases the electricity cost. On the other hand, MIG welding is a budget-friendly option.

9. Others

Some other common differences between MIG and TIG welding are listed as follows:

  • The preferred shielding gas flow rate for MIG welding is 20 to 25 L/min, while 7 to 15 L/min for TIG welding.
  • The arc length should be controlled within 4 to 6 mm in MIG and 1 to 4 mm in TIG.
  • Windproof measures should be taken when the wind speed is more than 0.5 m/s in MIG welding while greater than 1 m/s in TIG welding.

 Comparison Summary Between MIG Welding and TIG Welding

Aspect

MIG Welding

TIG Welding

Power Source Uses only a DC power source for stable electric arc and good metal penetration. Uses both AC and DC power sources. AC is ideal for aluminum materials.
Metal or Material Suitable for thicker metal parts; compatible with stainless steel, aluminum, and carbon steel. Perfect for thin metal parts up to 0.6 mm or above due to better operational control; compatible with the same metals as MIG.
Electrode Uses consumable wire electrodes that act as fillers and create electric arcs. Electrodes have low melting points and are made of mild and nickel steel. Uses non-consumable electrodes that only create electric arcs, with no melting occurring during the process.
Welding Torch Can use both air-cooled and water-cooled torches, but less likely to use water-cooled due to lower heat generation. Primarily uses water-cooled torches due to higher heat generation, offering the best cooling effect.
Shielding Gas CO2 (below 5%) and O2 (below 2%) are used, along with helium, oxygen, and argon for specific metals like aluminum. Primarily uses argon, but mixtures can be used for materials with high nickel content or stainless steel.
Speed Faster due to no use of filler materials and continuous wire feed. Slower due to more detailing required and manual feed of filler material.
Welding Quality Does not provide as clean welds as TIG welding. Offers a clean finish at the welding lines, preferred for aesthetic reasons.
Cost More budget-friendly due to less expensive equipment and materials. More costly due to the use of expensive equipment and filler materials, plus higher detail and time.
Shielding Gas Flow Rate 20 to 25 L/min 7 to 15 L/min
Arc Length Control 4 to 6 mm 1 to 4 mm
Windproof Measures Measures needed when wind speed is more than 0.5 m/s. Measures needed when wind speed is greater than 1 m/s.

 

MIG vs TIG Welding: Advantages And Disadvantages

Now, let’s learn about the pros and cons of both types of welding.

Pros of MIG Welding

  • MIG welding is more budget-friendly than TIG welding
  • The process is faster, thus consuming limited time
  • It results in clean and tidy welds
  • Offers the equipment and tools that are more accessible
  • The welds are automatic and pretty accurate
  • MIG welding allows to weld at complex angles

Cons of MIG Welding

  • The welded joints are not as strong as the ones in TIG welding
  • Issues with electric arc stability make it less reliable than TIG welding
  • MIG welding is not compatible with thin metals as there is a greater probability of burning due to poor operational control
  • It is not an environmentally friendly process as it results in fumes and smoke
  • You need to protect yourself from the fumes
  • The process needs to be performed indoors because of shielding gas
  • The welded part may experience rusting

Pros of TIG Welding

  • TIG welding is an environmentally friendly process
  • It features better operational control than MIG welding
  • Offers you precise and accurate welding joints
  • It is the best welding option in terms of aesthetics
  • TIG welding demands lower maintenance and operational cost due to using non-consumable electrodes.

Cons of TIG Welding

  • It’s more expensive than MIG welding as it uses filler materials, and the process is also slow.
  • Only experienced and technical operators can use this welding process
  • TIG welding is applicable on clean surfaces
  • The process takes longer completion time

 

MIG vs. TIG Welding: Which One Is Better And Why?

The answer to the question relies on what the word ‘better’ means in your welding project dictionary. Generally, people prefer MIG welding to TIG welding in terms of convenience.

Below are some other reasons that justify the superiority of MIG welding:

  • Easy to Learn

It’s quite easy to learn and master MIG welding than TIG welding. In TIG welding, welders use their hands and one foot to weld, whereas only one hand is enough in MIG welding.

  • More Diverse

Based on the material compatibility and consumable electrodes, MIG welding is more diverse compared to TIG welding. It’s the best choice to weld thicker materials. Moreover, there’s no need to heat the part throughout to make the weld, as in TIG welding.

  • Speed

MIG welding is way faster than TIG welding because of its continuous feed.

 

MIG vs TIG Welding: Applications

Let’s take into account the applications of both welding processes:

Applications of TIG welding

TIG welding is preferable for mechanized welding, which includes pipeline and pipe welding. It’s also applicable in the aviation and aerospace, and automotive industries. The following are some common applications of TIG welding:

  • Suitable for Thinner Metals

You can prefer TIG welding when dealing with thinner metal workpieces. Additionally, it has better operational control.

  • Shorter Production Runs

TIG welding is unsuitable for longer production runs as it might get expensive. Thus, it is mainly used for welding shorter production runs.

  • Metal Materials

TIG welding makes a perfect match with various metals, including aluminum, copper, and titanium.

  • Aesthetics

Another great application of TIG welding is its use in ornamental designs and artwork. Primarily, automotive projects use this welding technique to aim for high aesthetic appeal parts.

Applications of MIG Welding

MIG welding is a popular technique used by most welders to weld sheet metals in the home improvement and automotive industries. Regarding applications in the automotive industry, both MIG and TIG are applicable.  The difference is TIG welding is used to treat complex parts like thin-walled and small-diameter tubing and piping for automobiles. In contrast, MIG welding is practical when higher volume production of auto parts is needed.

Let’s have a look at the areas where MIG welding is applicable:

  • Compatible with Big and Thick Metals

Contrary to TIG welding, MIG welding is used for welding big and thicker metal workpieces.

  • Suitable for Beginners

As discussed earlier, MIG welding is easy to handle and needs less technical knowledge than TIG welding.

  • Longer Production Runs

MIG welding is suitable for longer production runs, unlike TIG welding.

 

Conclusion

After reading the detailed comparison between MIG vs. TIG welding, you can choose the most suitable technique for your applications. All you need is to carefully understand each welding type’s unique factors, merits, and demerits.

 

FAQs

What are the major distinctions in MIG or TIG welding?

Metal Inert Gas welding (MIG) is an automated or semi-automatic process that makes use of the continuous feed of wire as an electrode, as well as the inert gas shield that protects it from contaminating and makes this technique appreciated for its efficiency and speed of operation. Tungsten Inert Gas welding requires using non-consumable tungsten electrodes with separate filler materials, providing more precision and control over thinner materials or detailed projects.

Is TIG Welding Stronger Than MIG?

Weld strength depends on both the skill of the welder and the materials used rather than on the welding process alone; both MIG and TIG welding offer strong welds when performed correctly; however, TIG offers greater control of weld quality when working on thinner materials where heat control is crucial.

What Are The 4 Types Of Welding?

There are four primary forms of welding: 

  1. Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) is also called stick welding, is the use of an electrode that has the application of flux around it. This shields the weld pool from oxidization and prevents the formation of slag.
  2. MIG Welding/Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), employs a wire feeding gun equipped with adjustable speed feed capability that feeds wire at an adjustable speed while simultaneously flowing an inert gas or mixture over the weld puddle to protect it from contamination.
  3. TIG Welding/Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW), involves employing a non-consumable tungsten electrode to produce welds.
  4. Flux-Cored Arc Welding (FCAW), similar to MIG welding but using special tubular wire filled with flux; can be used with or without a shielding gas shield.

Which Welding Is Strongest? 

Whilst the strength of welds depends on numerous factors, including their type, materials being joined together, and skill of their welder, TIG welding is generally considered to produce stronger welds due to its precision and ability to achieve quality welds on thinner materials; however, MIG can produce extremely robust welds on thicker ones too.

Does TIG Require Gas?

It is true that TIG welding needs a shielding gas that protects the area of welding from gases such as nitrogen and oxygen that could cause defects to the weld. Argon is typically preferred as its efficiency across various materials allows it to produce consistent results across various applications while helium or mixtures of both can also be utilized to achieve deeper penetration or superior weld quality.

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