Fundamentals of MIG: What Gas is Used For MIG Welding

When creating the perfect MIG gun there is a lot for you to consider. From what torch to select to what gas to use, you need to determine which is best for your application.

So in this article, we are going to discuss:

  • What is shielding gas?
  • Types of gas
  • What gas is used for MIG Welding?
  • Consumables to select

Let’s dive in!


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MIG vs TIG Welding: Why MIG Welding is Better Than TIG Welding

Arc welding processes are as varied as the workpieces they create, and choosing the right one is vital to your project’s success. While MIG and TIG welding both form the weld using an electric arc, the techniques are quite different. Choosing the wrong one can lead to more than a headache, it could lead to wasted time, resources, and money.

That’s why it is important to distinguish the appropriate application for a MIG welder or TIG welder.  Read on for the reasons you may want to choose MIG welding vs. TIG welding.

(Click here to learn why TIG is better than MIG.)

MIG vs TIG Welding

MIG and TIG welding both use an electric arc to create the weld. The difference between the two is the way the arc is used.

mig welding process

MIG (metal inert gas) welding uses a feed wire that constantly moves through the gun to create the spark, then melts to form the weld. It uses a semi-automatic or automatic arc.

tig welding process

TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding uses long rods to fuse two metals directly together. It uses a non-consumable electrode and a different filler material.

RELATED: Most Common Welding Equipment and Processes

Why MIG Welders Are More Efficient

While TIG welding guns have their benefits, there are a number of reasons why MIG welders are more efficient. For our more visual learners, here is a comparison chart of the MIG vs TIG benefits.

benefits MIG weld vs TIG weld

Now, let’s explore some of the key benefits of MIG welding in more detail.


First, a MIG welder is more diverse. While TIG welding can be used on more types of metals, it’s limited in its effectiveness on thicker jobs. MIG welding can be used on aluminum, stainless steel, and steel, and on every thickness from 26-gauge sheet metal to heavy-duty structural plates. This makes it a popular choice in many industries such as automotive, construction, and manufacturing. The process is also adaptable to different welding positions, such as flat, horizontal, vertical, and overhead, which makes it versatile for various welding applications.

MIG welding holds this advantage over TIG because the wire feed acts not only as an electrode, but also as a filler. As a result, thicker pieces can be fused together without having to heat them all the way through. And because it uses filler rather than fusing, MIG welding can be used to weld two different materials together.


Another reason for choosing MIG vs. TIG is speed. A MIG gun is designed to run continuously for long periods of time, making them more efficient and productive than its counterpart. MIG welders are efficient is because the process is automated and relatively easy to learn, which reduces the amount of time and effort required for training.

For large, industrial operations that require high production rates, MIG is the go-to choice. The speed of MIG welding also translates into lower labor costs, as welders can complete more welds in a given amount of time. In contrast, TIG welding is a much slower process that’s focused on detail.

Finest Welding Equipment Manufacturer American Torch TIp, mig welder


As with any manufacturing job, time equals money. And because the MIG welding process is so much faster, it’s also more cost-effective. MIG parts are also more readily available and far less expensive than TIG.

Moreover, MIG welding machines are typically less expensive than TIG welding machines, and the wire used in MIG welding is less expensive than the tungsten electrode used in TIG welding. MIG welding also uses a consumable wire electrode, which means that there is no need for frequent electrode replacements as there is in TIG welding.

Another factor that makes a MIG welder more cost-effective than TIG welding is the fact that it produces less waste. MIG welding creates less scrap material and less rework than TIG welding, which means that less material is wasted and the overall cost of production is reduced. TIG welding has a lower deposition rate making it more expensive per foot of bead. The initial costs are also a little more than MIG because the consumables are a bit pricier.


Finally, a MIG welder is easier to learn and can be perfected after just a few weeks of training. In fact, it’s even been referred to as the “hot glue gun” of welding — just pull the trigger to start or stop the weld. A MIG welder can hold and operate the gun with only one hand, making it a better option for beginning welders. TIG welding, on the other hand, is a specialized technique that requires the use of both hands and one foot — all doing separate things.

MIG welding is also easier than TIG welding because it requires less preparation and clean-up time. A MIG welder does not require the use of a tungsten electrode, which must be sharpened and cleaned before use. It also doesn’t require the use of filler rods, which must be cut to the proper length and diameter. MIG welding produces less spatter and requires less post-weld clean-up than TIG welding.

Moreover, MIG welding is easier to learn and master than TIG welding. It can be learned in a relatively short period of time, and welders can become proficient in the process with minimal training. On the other hand, TIG welding requires more time and practice to develop the necessary skills and experience.

RELATED: How to start a career in welding

When to Use MIG Welding

Both TIG and MIG welding have their pros and cons, so it is important that you consider the application. Manufacturers find MIG welding useful when high production is necessary and delicate work isn’t required. It can also be helpful when there aren’t experienced welders available.

Here are applications best suited for MIG welders:

  • Thicker materials
  • Long runs
  • Difficult positioning

Welding Thick Materials

When it comes to thicker materials, MIG welding’s high deposition rates and efficient heat transfer make it an excellent choice. The continuous wire electrode used in MIG welding allows for faster welding speeds, enabling efficient and effective fusion of thicker metal sections.

Additionally, the adjustability of MIG welding parameters, such as voltage and wire feed speed, allows welders to tailor the process to accommodate the specific requirements of thicker materials.

Long Runs

MIG welding is also advantageous for long runs, which involve welding over extended distances without interruptions. The continuous wire feed in MIG welding ensures a constant heat source, making it suitable for continuous welding applications. This eliminates the need to frequently stop and start, resulting in faster and more efficient welding for long runs.

Difficult Positioning

MIG welding can handle difficult positioning scenarios more easily compared to other welding processes. The wire electrode and the use of shielding gases help to protect the weld pool from external factors like drafts, ensuring better arc stability and shielding.

This feature is particularly useful when working in challenging positions, such as overhead or vertical welding, where maintaining proper shielding and controlling the weld pool can be more challenging.

Get High-Quality MIG Welding Parts, Torches, & Guns

Are you a MIG welder looking for high-quality MIG welding equipment? American Torch Tip offers durable MIG welding parts, torches, and guns that are specifically manufactured for welders like you.

Our line of Lightning® MIG guns and consumables are impact resistant, ink-resistant, and ergonomic. With our indestructible handles and swivel-neck technology, welders can get more done with less downtime.

For help with your MIG setup, download our free MIG Ultimate Troubleshooting Guide.

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Basics of MIG Welding: MIG Gun Liners

Basics of MIG Welding: MIG Gun Liners

Have you ever encountered feeding problems in MIG Welding? MIG Gun Liners can help.
With the right equipment knowledge and maintenance, you can prevent feeding problems.
Welding MIG Gun Liners
Welding problems are a mild inconvenience at their least. At their worst, they contribute substantially to lost productivity and cause delays in the fabrication process.
MIG gun liners tend to have some kind of mysterious aura surrounding them. Even some veteran MIG welders don’t fully understand the design, function, and replacement process of their liners.
However, we’re here to simplify the use of MIG gun liners and provide you with a more in-depth understanding of their role.

What’s the Function of a MIG Gun Liner?

The basic function of a liner is to act as a guide for the wire electrode from the drive rolls to the contact tip. Sounds simple, right? Well, yes and no.
While the job of a liner is pretty straightforward, the dynamics of a MIG gun and wire feeding system present a unique set of challenges. When the wire encounters resistance on its journey from the spool to the pool, a myriad of problems may occur.

Common Wire Feeding Issues

The most common symptoms of a wire feeding issue are erratic wire feeding, burn back, and bird nesting (this can occur at either end of the liner). Consequently, you should carefully choose liners to fit the application.
Most liners are manufactured from carbon steel wire (also called music wire or piano wire), which is tightly wound in a coil to allow for a balance of rigidity and flexibility. The profile of the wire can be round, oval-shaped, or flat, with each shape lending itself to the optimum function of its design.
Liners used with stainless steel, flux-cored, or aluminum wire will often be coated with a polymer, such as Teflon, to reduce drag, wear, and contamination.
Tightly fitted insulation wrapped around the base of the liner prevents shielding gas from seeping through where the gun cable exits the feeder. Additionally, as gravity pulls the insulation downward, it becomes bent at a more substantial angle.
The size of the liners typically matches both the diameter of the wire and the length of the gun cable. There is some margin of error on both accounts.
You can move up one or two sizes on the diameter of a liner without impeding proper feeding (example: a .045” liner used with .035” wire). The fit is more critical with smaller diameter wire than with larger sizes. A.023” wire may not feed properly through a .035” liner.
People are most likely to run into problems when trying to squeeze a larger diameter wire through a small liner (such as .035” wire through a .030” liner).
Liners are usually a foot or so longer than the gun and cable assembly, which allows the operator to trim it to the proper length.

When should you change a MIG Gun Liner?

Liners don’t get the attention they deserve. They sit silent, ignored, and unmaintained until a problem happens. Truth be told, they don’t need a lot of attention, but a little bit of love goes a long way.
The single most important measure a welder can take to prolong the service life of their liner is to keep contaminants out of it. You can accomplish this by keeping your wire feeder closed or off the floor and blowing out your liner with compressed air.
Best practices recommend blowing out your liner with compressed air every time you install a new roll of wire in the feeder. Simply remove all wire from the MIG gun, remove the contact tip, remove the MIG gun, and shoot a few blasts of clean compressed air from the power pin end. You should be able to feel the air pressure at the front end of the MIG gun.
When the liner inevitably does reach the end of its life, you will likely encounter feeding issues. Bending a MIG gun cable too sharply can cause kinks in the liner. Although the rest of the components inside the cable will return to shape, you should replace a kinked coiled steel liner immediately.
If you take care to keep contaminants out of your liner and not abuse your MIG gun, you can expect an average of 6-12 months of service life.

How to Change a MIG Gun Liner

Proper installation is critical to the liner function. Improper installation may damage the liners, and trimming a liner too short can cause feeding issues. Any burrs left from a poorly cut liner will catch your wire and may shave off metal or even cut through the wire entirely.
To properly change a MIG gun liner, you will need the following: A new replacement liner of the appropriate diameter and length, a clean area long enough to lay your MIG gun out with the cable straight, a tool for clipping the liner, pliers, and a liner gauge or ruler. Some designs may also require a 5/64” hex key or a 10mm wrench.

Here are a few key steps you need to take to change a MIG Gun Liner.

  1. Shut off the shielding gas and purge any remaining gas from your system. Turn off your machine and unplug it.
  2. Remove the MIG gun from the feeder and lay it out straight on a table or the floor. Remove the nozzle, contact tip, and diffuser.
  3. If the power pin has a guide cap or threaded nut, loosen it by turning it counterclockwise. If the liner is retained with a set screw, loosen it with a hex key.
  4. Grip the liner from the rear with a pair of pliers and remove it from the MIG gun.
  5. Feed the new liner into the MIG gun from the rear, being careful to avoid kinking. Twist the liner clockwise if needed.
  6. If your power pin is threaded, tighten the liner collet with the 10mm wrench. If your power pin uses a guide cap, install it at this time. If your power pin uses a set screw, tighten it while making sure that the o-ring is fully seated in the bore of the power pin.
  7. Trim the front end of the liner to the proper length according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. This distance may vary from 3/8” to ¾” depending on the design. Do not use helpers! A cutoff wheel or diagonal cutting pliers are the best choices. If there are any burrs, dress the end of the liner with a small round file.
  8. Reinstall the diffuser, contact tip, and nozzle. Reinstall the MIG gun on the feeder and make sure that the power pin is fully seated.
  9. Feed the wire into the MIG gun and set your drive roll tension.

MIG Gun Liners

If you take care of your liner, it’ll take care of you!

If you want to learn more about welding equipment & maintenance, we have plenty of material just for you!

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MIG Anti-Spatter Coatings for Welding and How to Use Them

If you’ve ever spent time and effort meticulously welding your project, only to find a large amount of spatter all over it when you’re done, then you share the frustration that sometimes comes with MIG welding. And the time that it takes to remove the spatter only adds to it.

The good news is that there are several anti-spatter coatings that will spare you a lengthy cleanup process.


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5 Causes Of Contact Tip Burnback & How to Solve Them

The wire is one MIG gun component that can make or break a successful weld. A good, steady wire feed increases your ability to maintain consistently good welds.

But what if your MIG wire burns back to the tip, causing burnback and sputtering your work to a quick halt?


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Are You A MIG Welder Whose Gun Wont Feed Wire? Here’s What to Check

Trouble with your MIG wire not feeding properly can lead to various frustrating problems that lead to downtime, extra cost, and all the associated headaches that come with having to stop what you’re doing and troubleshoot. And because wire-feed issues can happen anywhere along the length of the gun, you may need to check several areas until you find the problem.

Here’s where to start.


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5 Tips To Reduce Excessive MIG Welding Spatter

Ask any welder what causes spatter when MIG welding and the answer will be … MIG welding. MIG setups use electrode wire that bonds with the metal to form the weld, and spatter is the excess molten wire that bonds with everything else.

In this article we will discuss:

  • Why you should be cautious of too much spatter
  • Tips to reduce excessive spatter

Let’s dive in!


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Automotive Robots for Welding and Manufacturing: Benefits & Applications

Many manufacturers have implemented automation into their day-to-day operations, and the automotive industry is no different.

In fact, automotive robots have been aiding in the production of cars since 1967. General Motors (GM) implemented the first industrial robot, called the UNIMATE, which performed spot welding.

It wasn’t until the 1980s that robotic welding began to take off and other automotive companies followed GM’s lead.


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Your MIG Welding Consumables Are Backordered. Now What?

The world we find ourselves in is a strange one. Orders are up for just about everything, yet nothing seems to be available. Supply chains are more like supply Swiss cheese.

Items are tied up in WIP awaiting the last few critical components. It seems as if the whole manufacturing world is waiting in the soup line for the parts they desperately need.

Fingers get pointed. Suppliers get blamed. The buck gets passed in a seemingly endless circle.

So, what can your organization do to keep the gears of production turning? Luckily, you’ve got options.

But we need THIS item!

Do you really, though? As the old saying goes, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat”. Here’s how to figure out what you NEED vs. just what you happen to be using.

Examine the Application

Unless you’re performing a highly specialized process that requires equipment and consumables specifically designed for that application, chances are that there are multiple options for accomplishing the same weld.

When you pick up a pencil to write with, do you stop to examine the brand? Probably not.

A pencil is a pencil if you can write with it. MIG welding consumables are very much the same. While there are many different options, they all essentially work the same way.

Consider Alternative Brands

Marketing is big business. Many brands spend millions to convince you that their special sauce makes their product indispensable and that you would be ill-served by using anything else.

Largely, this is effective, as we tend to stick to what we know and trust when making purchasing decisions.

After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Well, maybe not.

Just because you know a product works doesn’t mean it’s the ONLY product that works or that it’s the best product for the job. Also, if you can’t get the product, none of that matters anyway.

There are many high-quality versions of the same products you’re already using that come in a different color packages. But how can you trust that another brand will work? Look at where it’s made.

Bulk imported products often won’t list a country of origin, but if the package is sporting the red, white, and blue there’s a good chance the product has been made with care by someone you can actually talk to if a problem ever occurs.

Finest Welding Equipment Manufacturer American Torch TIp

Consider Alternative Designs

Every company wants to build a better mousetrap. Most claim that their design sports features that will provide X% better performance and that make their product superior to all others.

Many times, the hyperbole is just that. The other thing many companies don’t want you to know is how easy it is to switch to another design of consumables.

Often, this can be accomplished in under a minute. So, what’s the catch?

You’ll have to step out of your comfort zone and try something different.

There may be hurdles. There may be challenges. There may also be savings, longevity benefits, and uptime gains.

You’ll have to decide for yourself if these are worth giving a new product a try.

Ask Your Supplier for Recommendations

It’s likely that your welding supplier has experience with an array of solutions. Sometimes, their “outside looking in” view of your operations gives them insight that will allow them to make recommendations you may not have otherwise considered.

They’re likely to know which products are overrated and which ones represent value. They also oftentimes know which products are actually AVAILABLE given current market conditions. Consider them your partner and trust them to bring value to your organization through their experience.

American Torch Tip Can Ease Your Supply Chain Pains

At American Torch Tip we have a wide array of replacement of consumables for all your MIG needs.

Want to see what a consumable swap looks like? Check it out here: Lightning® Upgrade from Centerfire™ Welding Consumables.

Interested in giving American Torch Tip a try in your shop? Contact us to find out more about a risk-free trial offer!

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How to Prevent Premature MIG Contact Tip Failure

Contact tips are meant to fail. They’re one of the most used (and abused) consumables, and it’s important to replace yours on a regular schedule. But ask any welder their frustrations about the job, and premature contact tip failure is likely to be near the top of the list.

It’s a common problem that can lead to degraded weld quality, downtime, and extra costs that take a heavy toll on efficiency and productivity.


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How to Decide on the Right Robotic Through-Arm MIG Welding Gun

More and more users of robotic MIG welding systems are switching from the older “over-arm” assemblies to modern robotic through-arm MIG gun configurations. The through-arm MIG gun allows the cable assembly to reside inside the robotic arm, instead of outside the arm, which is where the cable is found in older, over-arm systems.
The benefits of running the cable internally are:


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What is “Ergonomic”?: Ergonomic Factors of MIG Welding Guns

Ergonomic is a buzzword in the description of many tools, but it’s tossed around frequently when referring to MIG welding torches. So, what exactly is ergonomic?


The Oxford Dictionary defines the word ergonomic as:



relating to or designed for efficiency and comfort in the working environment.

“Ergonomic keyboard design”


So, what does that mean with regard to MIG welding guns? Well, it depends. Numerous studies have been done on which designs are likely to have the greatest benefit in terms of neutral body, wrist, and hand position, operator fatigue reduction, and potential for injury reduction.

In a controlled environment where variables can be controlled, this looks great on paper. In the field, however, “ergonomic” is not so cut and dry.


Top Factors That Influence the Ergonomics of a MIG Welding Gun

MIG ergonomic factors

There are several ergonomic factors that affect MIG welding guns.


It should come as no surprise that the weight of a tool has a direct and substantial impact on how it handles and the strain it places on the operator. In a MIG gun, most of the weight is in the cable.

Generally, the higher the amperage rating of a MIG gun, the larger and heavier the cable will be. The length of the cable is an important factor also. A 10’ MIG gun will weigh far less than a 20’ MIG gun of the same rating.

Tips for reducing weight:

  1. Choose a MIG gun that is rated for your intended application, not the capacity of your power supply. If you have a 400A power supply but you only weld at 250A, there’s no need to waste money on a MIG gun that will only weigh you down. If you’re tacking or welding short seams, you don’t need a MIG gun with a 100% duty cycle rating. There is a lot of potential for weight and cost savings here!
  2. Select the shortest cable length possible. This will not only reduce the potential for damage and wire feeding problems, but it will also mean less weight to drag around (and cost less!)
  3. Consider how your cable is managed. Is your feeder sitting on the floor? On a cart? On an overhead boom? The way the cable gets from the feeder to the operator can make a big difference in how much resistance the operator sees when moving the MIG gun.

Handle Design

This is a factor that’s difficult to quantify, however, every operator will have a very strong opinion on. Generally, the size of the operator’s hands and the type of gloves they wear will influence their preference in handle design.

Diameter, spacing, and angle can vary considerably from one brand and style to the next. You’ll just have to try this one out for yourself.



ergonomic factors

There are two major factors of gooseneck design that will influence the ergonomics: Length and degree of bend. The length of a neck will typically increase with the gun rating as there is more radiant heat for the operator to contend with.

Moving their hands further away from the weld joint helps with heat management. Standard bend angles are 45° and 60°, however other angles are readily available. Some goosenecks are also able to be swiveled or flexed to the operator’s preference.



MIG welding is hot work. There’s no way around it. The type of cooling mechanism a MIG gun utilizes will impact its ergonomics. As a general rule, air-cooled MIG guns will weigh considerably less and have less bulk than water-cooled MIG guns.


Fume Extraction

Nobody should be breathing in weld fumes. There are many solutions for fume management. One solution is a fume-extraction MIG gun.

While these designs are effective in reducing harmful fumes, they can add a substantial amount of bulk and weight to a MIG gun.


Additional Features of MIG Guns

Strain-relief springs

These springs serve to ease the transition (or droop) of the cable where it exits the MIG gun handle. The design and dimensions of these springs can also have a small effect on how the cable acts to leverage and balance the gun in the operator’s hand.


Rear Swivels

Some MIG guns have a rear swivel or ball-and-socket joint on the handle, which allows for easier rotation of the MIG gun handle.


Long Story Short

There is no single, perfect MIG gun in terms of ergonomics. The right MIG gun is a balance of rating, features, and design that allows an operator to lay down an acceptable weld with a minimum of effort.

Interested in trying out a new MIG gun? Contact us today to learn more about our 30-day risk-free trial!

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Frequently Asked Questions About MIG Welding

Metal Inert Gas, or MIG welding, is generally the easiest welding method to learn and use. Even so, it is not foolproof and trouble may occur if the operator is inexperienced with their equipment, technique, and maintenance. Here, we address some frequently asked questions from our customers. Find the answers to your MIG welding questions here.


Q: When should I change my contact tip?

A: If you experience a burnback that fuses the filler wire to the tip, if the tip develops a “keyhole” shape in the front, if it becomes bent or deformed, or if excessive spatter accumulates.


Q: What Is stickout?

A: Stickout, also called contact tip to work distance (CTWD), is the distance the wire must travel between the leading edge of the contact tip and the workpiece. A longer stickout increases amperage. A shorter stickout reduces it.


Q: What materials can I MIG weld?

A: You can MIG weld carbon steel, stainless steel, and aluminum with the proper equipment, shielding gas, and filler wire.


Q: What shielding gas should I use for MIG welding?

A: The most common shielding gas for MIG welding is 75/25, which is 75% Argon and 25% Co2. Other various mixtures of Argon and Co2 are often used as well as straight Co2 and occasionally Helium.


Q: What do I need to start MIG welding?

A: At a minimum, you’ll need a machine, filler wire, shielding gas, a regulator with hose, a torch, consumables, a work lead, a source of appropriate power for the machine, and personal protective equipment (PPE) such as a helmet and gloves.


Q: Do I have to use shielding gas?

A: No. If you do not have shielding gas or your machine is not equipped with a gas solenoid, you may use flux core wire, which is self-shielded. This process is called FCAW, or Flux-Cored Arc Welding.


Q: Should I push or pull my weld?

A: There is a lot of debate on this, however it is generally recommended to push your weld where possible unless you are using flux core or dual shield wire or where more penetration is needed.


Q: Should I use a protruding (stickout), flush, or recessed nozzle?

A: This is largely a user preference decision and will vary depending on the amount of spatter generated by your process, but as a general rule you should transition from a protruding nozzle to a recessed nozzle as you go up in amperage. The goal is to maintain a consistent CTWD while keeping the contact tip protected from spatter and heat.


Q: What is the difference between MIG guns and why should I upgrade?

A: There are many choices of MIG guns on the market. They differ in cost, length, size, duty cycle, amperage rating, design, and functionality. Upgrading your MIG gun can offer benefits such as increased durability, higher duty cycle, improved shielding gas flow, better ergonomics, easier access to the weld joint, and more.


Q: Is MIG welding better than TIG welding?

A: That’s a loaded question! Both processes have their advantages and disadvantages. See our blog article on why MIG welding is better than TIG welding HERE (


If you have further questions about MIG welding, feel free to reach out to us, or read more of our resources on MIG welding.

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Case Study: How this Midwestern railroad manufacturer achieved $260,000+ in annual savings by switching welding consumables

Located in the sprawling great plains of the Midwest, this reputable rail manufacturer operates three high-volume railcar manufacturing facilities across Missouri and Arizona. In operation since 1988, this manufacturer has grown to employ a large workforce of 1,600 hardworking welders specializing in the construction of hopper and tank cars.

However, the welders frequently reported experiencing technical difficulties with their equipment that was leading to significant downtime and eating into their overall output month-over-month. In efforts to increase corporate efficiencies, the manufacturer looked for a solution.

Read Full Case Study

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