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
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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
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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.

Versatility

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.

Speed

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

Cost

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.

Ease

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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TIG Welding Techniques: Scratch Start, Lift Start, or High-Frequency?

When considering a TIG welding machine, the number of features, modes, and settings can be daunting. One of the most critical to understand, however, is the arc initiation method the machine uses. In this article, we will discuss the three types of TIG welding techniques used for starting an arc.

The Scratch Start Method in TIG Welding

The scratch start method is the original arc starting TIG welding technique. With the scratch start method, welders must manually “scratch” their electrode across the workpiece. The motion is often compared to striking a match.

This arc starting method is not very user-friendly, and it can take quite a bit of practice. The electrode tends to stick to the workpiece, which leads to point loss on the electrode and contamination of the weld. To avoid getting the electrode stuck to the workpiece, it is important to maintain control over the torch at all times. When using this method, the operator must also manually terminate the arc by pulling away from the workpiece.

As opposed to a gas solenoid in the machine, a valved torch head controls the gas in this TIG welding technique. This arc starting method will only be found on older machines, entry-level machines, and machines converted from SMAW operation. If you are new to TIG welding techniques, machines utilizing scratch start may be difficult and frustrating to learn on.

The Lift Start Method in TIG Welding

Lift start is a common TIG welding technique used on many welding systems because it is very user friendly. To use this method, the welder will touch the electrode to the work piece, depress the foot pedal or finger switch, and “lift” the torch off of the workpiece to form an arc.

This arc initiation method is much smoother than scratch start and will not disrupt nearby sensitive electronics like high-frequency start circuitry can. Lift start is often found on multi-process machines where the TIG process may only be used sparingly.

The High-Frequency Start Method in TIG Welding

This is the most common arc initiation method for industrial TIG welders. High-frequency start is the only true “touchless” TIG welding technique for arc initiation. Applications where any contamination of the weld puddle would result in a structural defect, most notably aluminum pipe work, will usually require high-frequency start..

High-frequency arc starting is also the most user-friendly method, as the welder may simply hold the torch where they want to start an arc and depress a foot pedal or finger switch. For machines that use scratch or lift start, adding on a module with high-frequency capability can upgrade the machine.

The downside is that these arc starting systems can cause issues with nearby televisions, radios, computers, lighting, pacemakers and other sensitive electronics. Fortunately, machines equipped with high-frequency arc starting capability will usually have the option to switch to lift start when it is needed.

Scratch start, lift start, and high-frequency start all have their pros and cons. Knowing the difference between these arc starting TIG welding techniques will help you choose the best method for your project.

For more information about TIG Welding practices, you can read more of our guides & blogs here at American Torch Tip.

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TIG Filler Metals and Their Best Uses

When choosing the right TIG filler metal, you will find a wide variety of products on the market. From steel, and aluminum, to an assortment of tungsten, there are many fillers to choose from. Each one has different benefits, so scope out the project at hand and make sure any filler you use is up to the task. You want to be sure to read any and all rod specifications before striking an arc.

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Why TIG Welding Is Better Than MIG Welding

TIG welding and MIG welding both use electric arcs, filler metals and shielding gasses to create a weld. But their techniques, applications and finishes are quite different. As with any welding project, success depends on choosing the right processes and equipment. So we created a list of reasons to choose TIG welding over MIG welding. (Click here for the reasons to choose MIG welding over TIG welding.)

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