Arc welding techniques are as diverse as the finished products they produce, making it imperative that you select the method that best suits your project requirements. Even while both MIG and TIG welding uses an electric arc to make the weld, the two processes are very distinct, and utilizing the wrong one can cause various problems.
So here is an extensive guide that covers the key differences between the two arc welding processes to help you decide which one serves your project needs better. Let’s get started.
Metal Inert Gas (MIG) Welding
Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding, also defined as Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), is a type of welding that employs either a semi or fully-automatic arc to generate the weld. It uses a consumable wire electrode as the filler material and shielding gas to prevent the weld from being damaged, increase weld penetration, and lower porosity in the weld bead.
Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) Welding
Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) is another name for Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding. While similar to MIG welding, this method employs a non-consumable tungsten electrode in conjunction with a consumable filler material. Welding using a tungsten electrode and a filler rod requires using both arms, as the filler rod must be physically inserted into the weld pool.
Prominent Differences Between TIG & MIG Welding Processes
- Weld Strength
The joints created by TIG welding are often more durable than MIG welds. It’s because TIG welders can get deeper into the metal due to the concentrated arc they produce. When TIG welding is performed properly, the resulting beads have very few holes or other imperfections that could cause the weld to break.
Despite this generalization, MIG welders are still capable of producing solid welds with excellent penetration by cutting or carving V-shaped grooves into the joint before welding. The quality of MIG welds could be enhanced further by maintaining a fast travel speed and proper torch placement.
- Aesthetic Characteristics of the Weld
TIG welds are more aesthetically reassuring than MIG welds. Light polishing is usually all that’s needed to remove discoloration and complete TIG welds, as very little spatter is produced during the welding process. On the other hand, MIG welds are less appealing, even if a skilled welder can create attractive weld beads using this technique. Even with the aesthetic variations, MIG welds are typically appropriate for situations where aesthetics is not that essential or when the welds need to be coated, hiding the form of the joint.
- Weld Speed
In a manufacturing setting, MIG welders often offer higher welding speeds. It occurs since the arc in an air-cooled MIG welder is more rounded and wider, allowing more heat to escape during the welding process. Welders may now make longer runs sans getting too hot, and the weld puddle can be moved at a faster rate.
TIG welders, on the other hand, can’t match MIG welders’ speed since they can’t move the weld puddle or provide as much filler rod. Furthermore, TIG welding requires the use of air-cooled torches, which become extremely hot throughout long welding runs and necessitate cooling or replacement with more cooling methods such as water-cooled torches.
- Operational Difficulty
Compared to TIG welding, MIG welding is significantly simpler to pick up and master. During TIG welding, you’ll need to use both hands: one to control the movement of the welding torch while using the other to insert the filler rod further into the weld pool. In addition, the amperage can usually be adjusted with a foot pedal. These varying motions provide more command, but they take practice to master.
Welders typically view TIG as a more complex procedure, as it requires careful cleaning and preparation of the metals being joined. In comparison, MIG welding is far less complicated to master. You simply need to use a single hand to accomplish the weld since there is no involvement of the foot pedal, and the filler material gets automatically fed through the welding gun.
- Cost Considerations
Usually, the costs involved with TIG welding are higher than that of MIG welding per bead foot. TIG welding is more expensive than other forms of welding because of the low deposition rates and the higher skill level of the welders required. TIG welding also demands additional preparation time, which drives up costs. On the contrary, the expenses of MIG welding equipment and materials are typically lower than that of TIG welding.
Which Welding Process Is More Suitable for You?
Several benefits unique to each method provide a framework for making a decision.
MIG welding offers the following benefits-
- Better suited when the requirement is to join thicker materials.
- One-handed operation makes the MIG easier to use in tight spaces.
- MIG serves the best when high productivity levels are required.
- Less experienced operators find MIG convenient to adapt.
- MIG is better for longer runs without the need for frequent stops & starts.
TIG welding offers the following benefits-
- It is considered ideal for thinner materials like copper, aluminum, steel, titanium, and more.
- TIG serves best for shorter runs.
- TIG welding is the method of choice when the aesthetics of the finished weld are crucial, such as in the case of highly visible components, such as automotive restoration or artwork.
- TIG welding also delivers superior control to avoid warping and burning.
So, keeping these welding attributes and differences in mind, you can decide which welding process to employ for your project requirements.
Be mindful that picking the most suitable welding technique is just as critical as choosing the right desktop CNC mill for the project. The question of which one among TIG or MIG is preferable is complicated by the fact that it depends on so many variables.
If done correctly by an experienced welder, TIG gives stronger weld strength and excellent aesthetics; but if the operator is less experienced, MIG welding may be the best alternative. Since MIG welding is generally more efficient than TIG welding, production runs of greater length could be finished in less time. Thus, TIG is superior in some situations, whereas MIG is superior in others.