MIG vs TIG Welding: Differences Every Metalworker Should Be Aware Of

mig vs tig
Written by Willie Osgood

You may not opt for welding as a hobby, but you may need to grasp a welding machine when needed. There are three main variants of welding processes – Stick, MIG, and TIG. Each process comes with a unique set of advantages and disadvantages. But there goes a big debate on the MIG vs TIG welding process and the avid welders have failed to come to an absolute conclusion regarding the eminence of any specific welding process. You can either choose a top-class TIG welder or a MIG welder as per your need and convenience.

TIG and MIG Welding – Definition

The basic of welding is similar for all types of welding processes. The welder heats the metals to an extreme level and melts them until they become liquid. A filler material is used then to join the two target metals. There is a core difference between MIG and tig welding, though they use an identical mechanism.

TIG Welding

TIG welding refers to Tungsten Inert Gas which is also known as Gas Tungsten Arc Welding. Here the welding arc takes place between an electrode of tungsten and a workpiece. The tungsten electrode helps the current run through the target metals you are going to connect. But in this process, the welder has to engage their both hands in the welding as the filler material and the torch is separate in TIG welding. When the electrode liquefies the metals by extreme heat, the welder holds the filler material using the hands and dips it in the puddle to join the two target pieces of metals.

MIG Welding

MIG welding refers to Metal Inert Gas which is also known as Gas Meter Arc Welding (GMAW). This welding process involves the use of consumable wire fed through the welding machine. This metal wire gets in contact with an electrode and melds the project consequently. The filler material uses this wire to travel to the joining point of the torch and the metal. The inert gas comes into play in this step as it protects the weld puddle from other reactive elements present in the air.

TIG vs MIG Welding

You already know the basic difference between TIG and MIG welding. If you are still wondering about what is the difference between MIG and TIG welding, the following section of this article will give replies to all your queries.

1. The technique

The primary difference lies in the technique used in these two welding processes. MIG welding uses a wire electrode that feeds through the welding machine and creates the weld. On the contrary, tig welding needs to engage a separate filler material to the welding task.

2. Heat

MIG welding produces heat by using the consumable wire. This wire along with the arc heat the metal, melt it and create the welded joint. In the case of tig, the tungsten-tipped torch is the source of heat. The consumable rod helps make the joint with the help of the arc, torch and the filler material.

A MIG weld has the upper hand over the TIG in terms of the cooling ability. A MIG weld cools down way faster than a TIG weld. The surrounding of the base metal of a MIG weld absorbs the heat produced in the joint and works as a heat sink. But the base metal surrounding of a TIG weld gains heat along with the welded joint. So, it doesn’t work as a heat sink.

3. Cleanliness

The MIG vs TIG welding debate reaches a new level in terms of the cleanliness. The inert gas such as carbon dioxide, argon, etc. play a significant role to keep the welded joints clean and prevent them from getting contaminated with the ambient air. MIG performs better than TIG to keep the joint surface clean by concentrating the heat into the joint and reducing the crud and residue from the surface.

4. Difficulty Level

This is obvious that you have to employ both your hands while using TIG welding method. You have to hold the torch in one hand and the filler material in the other, which makes it quite challenging for the inexperienced welders. But, MIG welding doesn’t include any such difficulty as it feeds the wire through the machine and one can easily weld with one hand due to the easier technique.

5. Welding Speed

Time is an important factor whether you are welding for the job or your DIY project. MIG welding automatically feeds the wire and concentrates the heat to the weld joints faster than a TIG can do. A good quality MIG welder can weld joints three times faster than a tig. So, if you are looking for a speedier and timesaver welder, MIG is the right one for you for sure.

6. Metal Thickness & Size

A MIG welder is effective for thicker metals and larger projects as it performs fast with easy technique. A TIG welder is suitable for comparatively thin metals and smaller projects as it produces excellent precision in the weld joints.

7. Adjustability

You have to set the wire speed and current level before you start the welding with a MIG welder. You can’t adjust the speed or heavy level when the machine is on the fly. TIG welder comes with fantastic adjustability in this regard. You can easily adjust the heat by pressing the pedal and feed the filler as you want. Some high-end MIG welders allow the users to adjust the speed and heat on the go, but they are very costly.

8. External Look

TIG welder comes with a clean and beautiful finish, and it provides extra precision on the welding task. That’s why it is widely used for artistic projects and small craftworks. TIG welder is better in terms of appearance and aesthetic value.

9. Price

Even the top of the line MIG welder is comparatively inexpensive than a TIG welder. TIG welding method costs a bit higher.

MIG vs TIG Contrast Shown in a Table

If you are still confused which one to choose between TIG welding vs MIG welding, the following table will be of great help.

Heat AbsorptionCools down quicklyAbsorbs heat slowly
CleanlinessMore clean jointsLess clean joints
Difficulty LevelEasyHard
Welding SpeedQuickerAverage
Metal Thickness & SizeSuitable for thicker metals and larger projectsGood for thin metals and small projects
AdjustabilityAdjustable only in high-end toolsAdjustable speed and heat

Hope this table has depicted a detailed overview of this MIG vs TIG discussion. Now, you will be able to make an educated decision while adopting the right welding method. No matter which method you are following, remember to abide by the safety rules. These electronic tools pose potential risks for users. Stay safe and rock the welding task.

About the author

Willie Osgood

An Avid Metalworker

Willie doesn’t really consider himself an artist, rather a craftsman involved in practical trades. Yet, most of his projects require him to make interesting and fine objects. Being the eldest son of a carpenter, his background is 100 percent rooted in crafting. He found the art of blacksmithing quite appealing since his teenage years… that fire, the sound of swinging hammers, and those long and shiny blades that came out as a finished product. Soon he literally became obsessed with metal – the way it moved, worked, and changed when heated or cooled.

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