TIG vs MIG: How to Compare & Which Process is Right for You?

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Perfectness in welding requires frequent practice, fantastic equipment, and sufficient adeptness of welding processes that best fit your needs. TIG and MIG welding are two widely used procedures of welding and deciding whether to choose TIG or MIG can turn into a horrible headache to many welders. Hence, to help welders choose wisely between the two processes here is a brief and concise comparison to achieve the best out of welding.

What is TIG Welding used for?

TIG also referred to as Tungsten Inert Gas welding is one of a versatile welding process to construct more precise, thinner welds. This welding generates an arc between a heat-resistant tungsten electrode and metal workpiece to heat-up and merges metals. TIG welding process is predominantly applied in aerospace industries, bicycle industries to weld aluminum and its alloys, stainless steel, magnesium, and carbon alloys.

TIG welding ensures high-quality welding guaranteeing stronger joints. This welding is also noteworthy for clean welding generating no waste and splatter. TIG welding has more control over the welding parameter and can be easily automated. Despite creating strong weld, it is a comparatively slow welding process and can weld thin shield metals only up to 5mm.

What is MIG Welding used for?

MIG which is also known as Metal Inert Gas welding utilizes consumable electrode in wire form while feeding at a constant rate by using servo-mechanism. This is the easiest process to learn for newbie welders.

Beginners prefer MIG welding more because of its simplicity and super-fast high-quality welding. A good welder can easily carry out MIG welding for thick materials along with softer materials. Due to high speed, quick automation, and easy operation MIG welding is frequently seen in every automobile and manufacturing industry. Moreover, this welding process can create extremely clean and effective welding. MIG welding can not be used for portions that are difficult to reach and only suitable for indoor welding as gas shields are likely to be damaged by wind.

How MIG Welding Works?

MIG welding is quite similar to TIG welding. For setting up a MIG welder requires a non-consumable electrode instead of a consumable electrode. It works on the basic principle of heat generation due to electric arc. A fine intense arc will generate between electrode and workpiece due to power supply. MIG needs a continuous consumable electrode supply in the form of a wire to join metals. Inert gases are inserted through a nozzle placed in the front end of the torch protecting molten liquid metal from other reactive gases and contamination. To learn more about MIG welding check out our How to MIG Weld article.

How TIG Welding Works?

TIG or Tungsten Inert Gas welding is a welding method that uses heat generated by an electric arc and a tungsten consumable electrode to weld metals together. The tungsten electrode does not melt during the welding process so an extra filler is needed to melt onto the two pieces of metal. A shielding gas, mostly some kind of inert gas comes out from the torch to protect the weld pool and electrode from contamination.

The Difference: MIG vs TIG Welding

Choosing the right welding process from MIG and TIG welding can be extremely confusing for beginners. Both welding processes claim to be one of a kind and choosing the right kind highly depends on the welder’s expertise, situational factors, purpose, materials needed, time consideration, and of course budget.

Technique:

The main difference that makes MIG and TIG counter each other is the unalike technique. TIG uses a non-consumable electrode that is manually fed by a separate filler material whereas MIG uses a consumable electrode instead of a metal filler fed from a spool to connect the metals of welder’s project.

Speed:

TIG welding process is slow compared to MIG and other welding processes. MIG is more productive because of continuously operating gun that welds for a longer period. Frequent replacement of short filler interrupts continuous feeding of filler electrode during TIG.

Difficulty:

High skill is not essentially required in MIG welding because of a continuously fed consumable electrode that is easy to handle. TIG welding requires high skill operators to weld workpieces with welding torch on one hand and supplying filler metals with the other along with foot pedals too.

Weld Quality:

TIG welding produces higher quality weld compared to MIG because of greater control over the entire process. Whereas the quality of weld using the MIG technique is not too satisfactory resulting in imperfect finishing.

Cost:

Deposition rate of the TIG welding process makes it more expensive than MIG welding. Moreover, tools like electrodes, gas flow meter, and other extra equipment make TIG a big-budget welding process.

Metal Types:

MIG can weld both thin and thicker metals faster than TIG. Conversely, TIG can only heat thinner sheets measuring not more than ½ inch but presents more precise and cleaner welds. TIG can be used to weld copper, bronze, steel aluminum, nickel including two dissimilar metals, and can reach complex positions to attach workpieces. MIG welding works with aluminum, stainless and mild steel.

Control:

TIG is often trickier to handle than MIG. Beginners often prefer MIG welding more than TIG welding because of its simplicity and quicker welding.

Gas Used:

Helium, oxygen, nitrogen, or a mixture of these inert gases can be used for MIG welding. Argon gas is meant for TIG welding.

Usefulness:

If you are new to this welding business, MIG welding can be your constant companion preparing your projects faster with higher production rates. TIG welding is extremely useful in situations where perfection and cleanliness are the welders’ ultimate goal.

Power supply:

Direct current reverse polarity is used in MIG welding to heat for a long time ensuring the maximum melting rate of electrode Whereas direct current straight polarity ensures more heat generation on a workpiece and is used for TIG welding.  But in the case of aluminum, magnesium or its alloys AC power supply can avoid the problem of metal oxidization.

Defects:

Weld defects can arise in the beginning and ending points of the workpiece. Lack of fusion can be a common error meaning that there is no commixture between the weld and base metal. Inappropriate welding can lead to burning, cracks, undercutting, and other defects in MIG welding.  While in TIG weld dirty filler material, wrong polarity and poor gas coverage appear to be major threats for welders.

Bottom Line:

Choices are abundant, but it is the foremost duty of a perfect welder to take the right decisions and guarantee steady progress.  The best thing you can do is visualize the effective impact of TIG or MIG on your project, compare and contrast, and go for the welder that excites you or simply is the right choice. Make sure the welding process is suitable for your application.

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