Here’s a question that a lot of Marlin clients ask: What’s the difference between MIG and TIG welding?
A little confusion is perfectly normal. After all, both processes use electrical arcs to produce heat and join metallic objects. Also, both processes use an inert gas mixture to prevent corrosion of welding electrode.
But, there are some key differences between these two electrical arc welding processes:
How Each Process Works
MIG, or metal inert gas, welding is a process that involves continuously feeding a metal wire into the weld being made. The consumable welding supply of the wire acts as a filler material to help join the two metal objects. This process is also known as GMAW (Gas Metal Arc Welding).
TIG, or tungsten inert gas, welding uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode to run a current through the metals being joined and may or may not use a filler metal for the welding supply. Another name for this process is GTAW (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding).
Suitability for Welding Thicker Metal Objects
Because MIG welding employs a consumable filler material to make welds, it can often complete welds of thicker metal objects in less time than a TIG weld.
Without a filler material, TIG welding needs to get the pieces of metal being welded hot enough to form a bond with each other. Typically, this is easier with thinner pieces of metal than with thicker ones.
Overall, for really thick, heavy-duty welds, MIG welding is the go-to option. For thinner pieces of metal, TIG welding tends to be the more effective solution.
Ease of Control
Generally speaking, MIG welding is more often recommended for ease of use. The process tends to be a bit more forgiving of mistakes than TIG welding is—so it’s often recommended for first-time operators and non-professionals.
TIG welding, on the other hand, requires very strict control over the timing, pressure, and electric current used in the weld. In most cases, TIG welding is best done using an automated, computer numerically-controlled (CNC) welding machine. Machines can reliably perform identical welds over and over much more easily than a manual welder could.
When using an automated welder (whether it’s MIG or TIG), it’s important to get the weld settings and controls just right—otherwise, you risk repeating the same mistake over and over.
Which One is Better?
The answer depends on the job in question. As noted earlier, MIG welding is typically better for heavy-duty welding work where larger, thicker pieces of metal are being joined because it uses filler material.
However, TIG welding can work wonders for joining smaller pieces of metal, such as the wires for a custom steel wire basket. Also, because the TIG process directly joins two pieces of metal, there’s no filler material to fail—meaning less money spent on welding supplies.
With robotic welding equipment, TIG welding can be a bit lower-maintenance, since the welding electrode isn’t being constantly consumed by the welding process. However, the welding electrode still needs to be properly cleaned and polished between uses—especially when welding stainless steel.
In short, choosing one welding solution as the best should be done on a case-by-case basis, which is why Marlin Steel is dedicated to having a range of tools and technologies for completing welds.
Learn more about welding and other issues that affect metal forming today, and see what the best tools for your custom basket are!