MIG And TIG Welding: What Are The Differences?

While the differences between gas and gasless MIG welding are palpable. The differences between MIG and TIG welding are far less at first sight. Indeed, both MIG and TIG follow the same theory and much of the same practice, allowing many to achieve dexterity with both.

That said, if one asks – MIG and TIG Welding: What Are The Differences”, substantial answers can be found in terms of speed, metal versatility, cost, ease of use, reliability and much else.

Purchasing a TIG or MIG, therefore, requires a careful evaluation of one’s needs and the comparison of each type’s pros and cons. Below we provide some of the differences that are most likely to affect buying choices.

MIG and TIG: The Physics And The Functionality

Put simply, MIG or Metal Inert Gas welding involves using a consumable metal wire connected with an electrode current. The electrode produces the electric arc and the wire acts as the filler between the two metals, melting and welding them together.

The term “inert gas” comes from the ability of inert gas to offer a shield against air impurities which otherwise would enter the welded region. TIG or Tungsten Inert Gas follows the same physics except that the tungsten wire is not consumed in the process. Instead, a filler wire may be used.

Differences are also present when it comes to the design of the apparatus. The major differences are:

Trigger: TIG comes with a separate foot pedal for operation, similar to what are found on sewing machines. MIG torches however, usually come with the switch/trigger integrated into the unit itself. This saves the user the need to use another limb for operation.

Nozzle design: Because MIG torches involve passing wire and inert gas at the same time, they have a slightly more complex design and have more parts compared to TIG.

Autogenous welds: Autogenous welds are one of the biggest differentiators in the discussion of – MIG and TIG : What are the differences – since it is a speciality of the TIG units. Here, the metal is melted to achieve the weld instead of using external metal. Such welds are useful where, for reasons of purity, stability or beauty, a second metal cannot be used. Such welds are not possible in case of MIGs.

Speed and Reliability

As anyone who knows how to use a MIG welder would explain, the MIG comes with far greater speed than the TIG. Such superiority naturally increases as the thickness of the metal increases, becoming extremely noticeable in case of ½” and thicker steel plates. Furthermore, such speed can be enjoyed across virtually all types of metals including steel, aluminium and copper.

In terms of reliability though, the MIG comes a cropper. Many veteran users have suffered from burn-back of the wire and irregular wire feedback when using the MIG machine. Furthermore, the arc tends to be less stable and can create small “bubbles” of metal. While such bubbles are not dangerous, they can lead to a messy cut. TIG on the other hand provides a steady arc and little or no complications during operation.

Precision and Cleanliness of Cut

Precision and cleanliness are closely linked – the smaller the area in which the arc circulates and melts metal, the less likely it is to end up producing a messy edge. Here, the TIG is a winner since the slow pace and the nature of the process ensure that there is virtually no erratic behaviour on the part of the arc. This allows the user to maintain the arc on a straight line with greater ease. The end result is a cut so clean that many metal sculptors and artists prefer the TIG welder to the MIG.

That said, the MIG is not known for producing a lot of slag or debris, thereby differentiating it from the solid metal shield cutters. Hence, while you may still have to go through the cut with a grinder afterwards, it is unlikely that extensive amounts of time would be wasted on this. Furthermore, with the improvement of MIG technology, many of the best MIG welders are rapidly catching up with the TIG units

Thickness and Metal Variety

TIG is typically used for welding thin metal sheets since the speed dramatically falls as the thickness rises. Since holding the TIG torch is not as easy as holding the MIG one. It creates ample scope for human errors and this can nullify many of the precision and cleanliness benefits associated with the TIG welder. The MIG welder on the other hand can be used across all thicknesses, ranging from 16 gauge to ½” and even ¾”.

Coming to the variety of metals that can be cut, opinion is varied. Both units can handle all major metals without failure but the ease of cutting is debated. Most agree that stainless steel can be cut without any major hiccups.

However, some find that cutting aluminium with MIG is a difficult task while others point to the availability of push-pull guns to suggest that with improved technology, this hindrance has been left in the past. Other metals like copper, nickel, bronze (silicon variant), magnesium and their various alloys can be handled by both products with equal ease.

Price, Ease of Setup and Ease of Use

Though both units have large price ranges, the MIG easily wins over the TIG in terms of price. Most MIG products and accessories are easily available in a large variety of sizes and this, combined with more accessible technology, tends to keep MIG welding prices low.

Prices for TIG on the other hand, are kept high even in case of large cuts because the speed of the cut ensures that more gas is used up. Hence, many people prefer to use MIG for day-to-day production runs while leaving the TIG (or borrowing/loaning one) for complex and technical welds.

Such differentiation also makes sense because the TIG is decidedly harder to set up and use for beginners. The MIG on the other hand tends to be more user-friendly and since parts are more easily available, users are not afraid to experiment with it.

But sometimes you need to determine what is ease for your work Mig or tig ?  Like you a want to make  a umbrella stroller DIY for your son as a hobbyist . This seems a  best umbrella stroller for travel to you. The frame is made of aluminium.  What would you want to use MIG or TIG. I prefer TIG welding, that's ease for the work. 

Conclusion

As the above discussion shows, TIG welders are specialty cutters while MIG units are more attuned to regular, everyday runs. Given the price difference, ease of use and the time required to achieve the same cut with both, it makes sense to start off with a MIG and then add a TIG to the workplace when one has achieved sufficient skill in operating the MIG welder.

While it can never be said that the discussion on – “MIG and TIG Welding: What are the differences ?” – will end decisively in favour of either, the choice of MIG should be able to cover more ground than the TIG for most users, especially those who are just starting out.

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