WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MIG AND TIG?
MIG and TIG are different forms of welding that have situational advantages and disadvantages. To find the way that’s best for you, look at your project goals and what you need to do to achieve that final product. Consider your experience in welding, what materials you’re working with, how much time you have for the project and your budget.
Some of the differences between MIG and TIG welding include:
- Technique. The main difference between these methods is the technique used. With MIG welding, a wire electrode is continuously fed through the spool gun to create the weld. TIG welding requires the welder to feed a separate filler material onto the weld with one hand while operating the torch with the other.
- Difficulty. MIG’s method of continuously feeding wire makes it an easier technique to handle than TIG. With TIG, you have to hold the welding torch in one hand and the filler material in the other, which makes it very difficult for inexperienced users.
- Object Thickness. MIG can weld thicker metals faster than a TIG weld. If the metal you’re using is thin, TIG could be a better option.
- MIG welding works with most types of metals. You can use aluminum, stainless steel and mild steel. TIG welding is also compatible with these metals but works better with thinner gauge materials.
- Speed. MIG is the faster method of welding, making it ideal for projects requiring higher production rates. TIG is a slower method but provides a higher level of detail.
- Project Size. The size of your project could determine which form of welding to choose. MIG welds work well with larger projects with thick metals that need longer, continuous runs. TIG welds are better for thinner metals and smaller projects because they produce precise and clean welds.
- Control. MIG is typically easier to control and is better for beginners. TIG welders need to have experience with timing and balancing materials in both hands.
- Costs. TIG is a more expensive method than MIG welding.
- Appearance. TIG welding is loved by many for its clean, beautiful finish. This type of welding is often used for artistic and ornamental purposes due to its attractive appearance.
The equipment is made differently, too. MIG and TIG welds have unique designs and components that fit them to their specific jobs:
MIG WELD COMPONENTS
- Power. The source is usually DC with a constant voltage.
- Wire. The wire-feed system has to run smoothly so your welding will be even. Feeding systems include pinch rolls, push-pull and spool-on-gun.
- Electrode. Depending on your project, you’ll need to get the right diameter and composition for your MIG weld.
- Torch. The welding torch provides gas that protects the arc and weld pool and transfers the welding current to the wire. Torches can be air-cooled or water-cooled. Air-cooled torches are typically cheaper and lighter than water-cooled torches. They use the gas going through to cool the nozzle. They’re suited for lighter welding projects. Water-cooled guns are preferred when a welder is using a high current and doing heavy-duty work.
- Conduit. Keep the conduit short and straight so feeding can happen without issue.
- Filler Metal. It conducts electrical current to melt the electrode but also reinforces what you’ve welded.
- Gas Shielding. The gas that protects the weld pool and arc is usually made up of Argon and Carbon Dioxide.
TIG WELD COMPONENTS
- Power. The source can be AC or DC. Some welders will have a switch to choose a preferred current. An AC power source will work better with metal like aluminum. A DC power source will give a strong arc, but the work piece should be cleaned beforehand so the gas shield works.
- Torch. A TIG torch can have a wide variety of designs. Some might have the on/off switch and control in the handle or a foot pedal could control these commands.
- Foot Pedal. This controls the electricity that goes to the torch. When you push harder on the pedal, the amount of electricity is increased and makes the arc hotter. This speeds up the welding process, but you need to be aware of how to handle the extra heat and speed.
- Electrode and Gas Shielding. The electrode tip angle shapes the arc that makes the weld pool. In between welding, you need to make sure it’s in good condition. The torch nozzle needs a gas lens for gas flow to protect the arc and weld pool. Nozzles come in different sizes to get varying gas coverage. The gas is usually Argon.
- Filler Material. Filler rods come in many materials and sizes. The rod should match the material you’re welding and the material’s thickness determines the size of the filler rod.
- Backing Bars. These help cool the weld area faster than if you’d let it cool down on its own. You clamp backing bars to the back of the welded piece. A backing bar can be made of either copper or aluminum to disperse heat. Water-cooled backing bars are also available, in which cold water circulates through the bar to speed up the cooling process.