Electric arc welding is a common welding process used in sheet metal fabrication. There are four main types: MIG welding, TIG welding, Stick welding, and Flux-cored welding, with each one applicable under different conditions. Of the four main types, MIG welding and TIG welding are the most popular methods known for their welding quality, production efficiency, and other advantages.
Both arc welding processes have unique techniques, advantages, disadvantages, and they give different results. Therefore, they are applicable in different scenarios. To effectively choose the better welding process for your project, you must understand the MIG vs TIG welding comparison. This article introduces the difference between MIG and TIG welding, their advantages, disadvantages, applications, and how you can choose the right method.
Difference Between MIG and TIG Welding
To effectively choose the best methods for your project, you need to know the TIG VS MIG welding difference. Here are the standard criteria for the MIG vs TIG comparison.
· Power Source
The power source makes an important difference in the MIG vs TIG welding comparison. On the one hand, TIG welding’s power source can be AC or DC. Using any of the two power sources in TIG welding depends on the metal you want to weld and the electric arc you desire. The AC power source is suitable for working with aluminum materials, while the DC power source is suitable for strong electric arcs. On the other hand, MIG welding uses the DC power source and currently passes through the consumable wire to the workpiece.
· Metal Selection
When it comes to TIG vs MIG comparison in terms of metal selection, there is only a mild difference. Both arc welding processes are suitable for many metals such as aluminum, carbon steel, and stainless steel. However, MIG welding is the better process for welding thick metals, while TIG welding is better used for thin metals. The reason is that there is better operational control with the TIG welding, which limits the destruction of the workpiece.
Electrodes can be positive/anode or negative/cathode, and they function in creating electric arcs (leading to the name arc welding), and sometimes they act as filler materials. There are two types: Consumable and Non-consumable.
Consumable electrodes create electric arcs and act as fillers. They come from materials such as mild steel and nickel steel, and they have low MP and are used in MIG welding. Non-consumable electrodes only create electric arcs as they don’t melt during the welding process. Examples include copper-coated carbon, graphite, and tungsten which is the material used in TIG welding.
· Shielding Gases
Shielding gases protect the welding pool and workpiece from damage due to atmospheric contaminants.
On the one hand, CO2 is the most common shielding gas due to its abundant use in MIG welding. Other gases suitable for the gases include helium, argon, and oxygen. However, they are more suitable for certain metals such as aluminum material. On the other hand, in TIG welding, argon is the shielding gas. However, in some scenarios, e.g., when welding materials with high nickel content, you can use a mixture of helium and argon. Also, when welding stainless steel, common shielding gas mixtures include argon/nitrogen or argon/hydrogen.
· Welding Torch
The welding torch is part of the machine head that contains the electrode and gas nozzles that function in different parts of the welding process. To function well, it must be cooled effectively either by gas or water while delivering in terms of welding. Consequently, knowing about the welding torch is a crucial factor when comparing the MIG vs TIG processes.
Both the TIG and MIG welding uses air-cooled or water-cooled welding torches. The air-cooled welding torches use gases to cool the nozzle. They are less effective, lighter, and cheaper. The water-cooled welding torches are more suitable for heavy-duty work as water is a better coolant. While both arc welding processes use any of the two types, TIG welding uses more water-cooled welding torches because they generate more heat.
· Welding Quality
This is one of the most important criteria in the MIG vs TIG comparison. Most sheet metal fabricators prefer TIG welding to MIG welding as it gives a clean and beautiful finish along the weld line. Consequently, TIG welding is the better method for materials requiring a high aesthetic appeal.
Another important difference in welding is the speed of the welding process itself. MIG is faster than TIG welding. This is because TIG welding requires a higher level of detailing than MIG welding. Also, TIG welding involves using filler materials, something non-existent in MIG welding. Consequently, you can use MIG welding when thinking of high speed.
Another TIG vs MIG welding difference is in how much they cost. TIG welding is the more expensive method due to the aggregation of the cost of components used, higher detailing, more time needed, which drives the cost of electricity, the quality of welding, and the need for filler materials. But you can check an article to know some tips for reducing welding sheet metal.
|Differences||MIG Welding||TIG Welding|
|Metal Selection||Work for all metals||Suitable for all metals|
|Electrode||Consumable electrodes||Non-consumable electrodes|
Choosing between MIG welding and TIG welding can be a challenge. However, you can check up with us at RapidDirect for advice on choosing the right method. We also provide the best sheet metal fabrication services, including welding. Upload the design file on our platform and get an instant quotation with DfM analysis.
Advantages and Disadvantages of TIG and MIG Welding
TIG and MIG welding are suitable for joining different types of metals. However, they both have their advantages and disadvantages which if you know can help you decide on the better one.
Advantages of TIG Welding
- TIG welding is precise and accurate
- It delivers in terms of aesthetics
- TIG welding is more environmentally friendly
- It has better operational control
- It uses non-consumable electrodes leading to lower maintenance and operational cost
Disadvantages of TIG Welding
- TIG welding is costlier due to the slow process and filler materials.
- It needs a clean surface
- There is a need for an experienced operator
- The welding process takes a longer time
Advantages of MIG Welding
- The welding process takes a short time
- It is less expensive than TIG welding
- It is also accurate
- It is automatic
- Equipment is more accessible
- It produces a clean weld
Disadvantages of MIG Welding
- The welded joint is weaker
- It is less reliable than TIG welding due to issues with electric arc stability
- It is not environmentally friendly as it produces smoke and fumes
- It can lead to the formation of rust
- MIG welding can burn thin materials due to lesser operational control
- Shielding gases requires the process to be indoor
- There is a requirement for every metal to be welded.
Applications of TIG Welding vs MIG Welding
The MIG vs TIG welding comparison can’t end without knowing when and how to choose the right one of the two methods. We believe you can use the advantages and disadvantages to choose the suitable method. Therefore, we will only introduce the applications of both arc welding processes.
Applications of TIG Welding
Compared to MIG welding, TIG welding is suitable for manual and mechanized welding making it applicable in pipeline and pipe welding. It is also suitable for welding sheet metal parts used in the aviation and aerospace industries. Below are a few of its applications:
- Welding Thinner Metals: TIG welding is a suitable method for welding thinner metals. This is due to its precision, accuracy, and better operational control. It also doesn’t require cleaning.
- Welding Aluminum and Other Appropriate Metals: TIG welding is suitable for welding many metals such as aluminum and copper. It is also suitable for welding special metals such as titanium. However, you should avoid using it with cast iron.
- Welding Shorter runs: TIG welding is applicable in welding shorter production runs. When used for longer production runs, it becomes are complex and costlier.
- Aesthetics: TIG welding is also applicable in welding workpieces that need to make a product of high aesthetic appeal. For example, they are applicable in making artwork, ornamental designs, and automotive projects.
Applications of MIG Welding
MIG welding is the most common sheet metal welding process used in the automotive and home improvement industry. Below are a few of its applications:
- Used in Welding Big Metal Parts: MIG welding is a suitable method for welding thick and big metals as it uses a filler material that connects the part on solidifying. However, it might require you to smoothen the welded joint.
- Used in Welding Products That Should have Lower Defects After Welding: MIG welding technique has a continuous nature, i.e., it is not a start and stops mechanism, unlike TIG welding. Therefore, there is a lesser chance of having defects during welding. You want a smoother process with fewer defects.
- Welding Longer Production Runs: MIG welding is ideal for welding many materials as it can be easily managed and is more production efficient.
- Novice: MIG welding is applicable for use without much technical knowledge. It is also applicable in handling big projects as it is easy to handle.
TIG Welding vs MIG Welding: An Overview of Each Welding Process
To understand the TIG vs MIG welding comparison, there is a need to understand how the process works. Below is a principle of how the two welding processes work.
TIG Welding: Principle of Process
TIG welding or Gas Tungsten Arc Welding is an electric arc welding process suitable for welding metals having a thickness of about 10mm. It uses a tungsten non-consumable electrode located in a welding torch to create an electric arc that generates heat needed to join the metal together.
The heat generated is used to melt a filler metal/rod fed by the welder into the weld pool. The electric arc is enclosed by an inert gas produced in the gas nozzle, which is mainly argon which shields it from atmospheric contains.
TIG welding creates a deep penetration and better welds but is slower because the welder always hands feed the filler materials.
MIG Welding: Principle of Process
Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding is an electric arc welding method suitable for thick and thin materials such as aluminum and copper. The electric arc is formed at the end of a consumable electrode consumed with the workpiece to form a weld pool.
The weld pool is protected by a shielding gas fed through the gas nozzle on the electric arc. The shielding gas is mainly CO2 due to its abundance in the atmosphere.
MIG welding is semi-automatic. The electrode feed rate and arc dimension depend on the power source. However, the speed and position depend on the operator. In some cases, there is no manual part, and the process can be said to be automatic.
Why MIG Welding Is Better than TIG Welding?
Many sheet metal fabricators assume that MIG welding is better than TIG welding. The reasons are not far-fetched. Below are a few you should know about it:
MIG welding is more diverse than TIG welding based on material compatibility and more on the use of consumable electrodes. The consumables function in producing the electric arc and act as a filler, making it ideal for combining two different metals.
MIG welding is faster than TIG welding because the machine is automatic or semi-automatic. The MIG gun runs continuously, making it more efficient and productive than TIG welding, which focuses more on details.
MIG welding does not require much technical expertise before handling when compared to TIG welding, which many welders consider as the epitome of welding. MIG welders can weld sheet metal parts with only one hand, while a TIG welder will require the hand and one foot to function well.
The better method depends on the quality you want, the materials you are working on, and other factors. Therefore, it is better to understand the TIG vs MIG comparison to know the better method for your project.
For example, if you desire a welded joint with aesthetic appeal, TIG welding is the better method. However, if you want a product with a lesser cost, you should go with MIG welding. You can check the difference between MIG and TIG welding above on which one is better for your project. You can also use other methods such as riveting, although both methods have distinct characteristics explained in their comparison.
TIG welding is the most complex process when you compare the two processes. This is because it requires much operational control. Also, manually feeding the filler material into the welding pool requires technical expertise.
Yes, MIG welding is suitable for any metal. Although it was first used with aluminum, it can be used for many types of stainless steel. However, the issue would be to ensure that the material is thick enough as MIG welding has less control than TIG welding.
Choose RapidDirect for Your Welding Needs
Do you have a challenge related to MIG vs TIG welding? Contact us and our team will provide the most suitable solution for your project.
In addition, RapidDirect is your best partner if you have welding needs. We’re a rapid prototyping company specialized in sheet metal fabrication services for mass production. We are committed to delivering quality at a short lead time and competitive price to help you achieve your welding needs.
Of the four main types of electric arc welding process used in sheet metal fabrication, the MIG vs TIG welding comparison is the most common among sheet metal fabricators. Both methods have their unique perks, and choosing one comes with understanding their techniques, advantages, disadvantages, and other differences. Understanding these factors will allow you to choose the proper welding process for your project.