MIG vs TIG Welding: All Their Differences You Need To Know

mig welding vs tig welding

TIG and MIG welding are two common electric arc welding processes in sheet metal fabrication. Both produce welded joints of top-notch quality and efficiently join different materials together. However, they have unique processes, advantages, and disadvantages, making them have different applications.

Choosing between the two sheet metal welding processes should only occur after a thorough MIG vs TIG welding comparison. Therefore, this article will fully do the MIG vs TIG comparison, exposing you to the differences between the processes, their advantages and disadvantages, and their applications so you can decide on the right method.

Difference Between MIG and TIG Welding

To choose the better method of the two, you must know their differences. Knowing the differences between MIG and TIG welding will allow you to easily make a TIG vs MIG comparison using the parameters highlighted below.

electric arc power source

Power Source

The power source used by both welding processes is a major parameter when looking at the MIG vs TIG comparison.

TIG welding uses AC or DC power sources depending on the type of metal and the desired type of electric arc. The AC power source used in TIG welding is more suitable for Aluminum due to its cleaning action (i.e., it removes oxide from the metal surface). In contrast, the DC power source is applicable for creating strong electric arcs.

MIG welding uses only a DC power source.

Material Compatibility and Thickness

Material compatibility is not a cogent MIG vs TIG welding comparison parameter compared to the power source because there is a slight difference between both processes.

Both welding processes are compatible with the same materials, such as Aluminum, carbon steel, and stainless steel. However, you can consider the thickness of the material to choose between the two methods.

TIG welding is more suitable for working with thick metals due to the better operational control, reducing the tendency to destroy the workpiece.

types of electrode

Type of Electrode Used

MIG welding uses consumable electrodes, while TIG uses non-consumable electrodes.

Electrodes functions in creating electric arcs, acting as fillers, or in electric conduction. Due to the difference between both processes in electrode use, this is a major parameter in the MIG vs TIG welding comparison.

Two types of electrodes are used in electric arc welding: Consumable and non-consumable. Both electrodes create electric arcs. However, during welding, consumable electrodes are consumed as fillers.

Examples of consumable electrodes are mild steel and nickel steel, while non-consumable electrodes are copper-coated carbon, graphite, and tungsten.

types of shielding gas

Type of Shielding Gases

Shielding gases are responsible for protecting the welding pool and workpiece from atmospheric contaminants during welding. On the one hand, MIG welding uses CO2 (the most common), helium, argon, and oxygen as shielding gases.

On the other hand, TIG welding uses argon as the shielding gas. In some scenarios, you can use a combination of helium/argon (for welding materials with high nickel content), argon/nitrogen (stainless steel), and argon/hydrogen (stainless steel).

Cooling System Used for Welding Torch

A welding torch generates a lot of heat and must be cool with the right coolant. Two popular coolants used in welding are water and gas.

On the one hand, air cooling is light and cheap but less effective when dealing with very high temperatures. On the other hand, water cooling uses water better than air.

Due to TIG welding generating more heat than MIG welding, it uses water cooling welding torches. Nevertheless, you can still use air cooling welding torches for both processes.

welding process

Quality of Welded Parts

The quality of the welded area is another crucial factor that makes the MIG vs TIG comparison distinct. TIG welding is of better quality as it reduces a clean and beautiful surface finish along the weld line. Hence, it is the better product method requiring a high aesthetic appeal.

Productivity

MIG is faster than TIG welding because TIG welding requires a higher level of detailing, and it involves using filler materials.

Cost

TIG welding is more expensive due to the cost of components and higher welding quality and detailing. It also requires more time which increases the power needed and the cost of power.

Here is a chart where you can easily see their difference.

DifferencesMIG WeldingTIG Welding
Power SourceDCAC/DC
Metal Compatibility and DimensionAll metalsAll metals
Types of Electrodes UsedConsumableNon-consumable
Type of Shielding GasCO2Argon
Cooling System for Welded TorchWater cooled/Air-cooledWater cooled/Air-cooled
Quality of Welded PartGoodExcellent
ProductivityFastSlow
CostCheapExpensive

Different Components of TIG vs MIG Welding

The major difference between MIG and TIG welding arises from their components. Below are the different components of both processes.

components of TIG vs. MIG

TIG Welding Components

Here are the most important components of TIG welding you should know when comes to TIG welding:

Power

The power source can be AC or DC. An AC power source is suitable for working with Aluminum due to its inherent cleaning effect. DC power source produces a stronger arc, but it is only suitable for working with a clean surface, so the gas shield works.

Torch

A TIG torch comes in many designs. Common ones have an on/off switch and control in the handle. Some use a foot pedal to control these commands. They are majorly water-cooled due to the high heat involved in the process.

Foot pedal

This is responsible for controlling the amount of electricity that enters the torch. When you push the pedal, the amount of electricity entering the torch increases, and the electric arc gets hotter. This speeds up the welding process. However, be careful of the extra heat and speed.

Electrode and gas shielding

The electrode tip is responsible for the electric arc shape, while the gas (normally argon) emitted by the nozzle protects the arc and the weld pool. The nozzle requires a gas lens for gas flow. They come in different sizes, which determines the gas coverage.

Filler material

The filler rod should have size dependent on the workpiece thickness. Also, the material should match the workpiece.

Backing bars

They are made from copper or Aluminum and clamped at the back of the welded piece. Here, they disperse heat to cool the weld area. You can also use water-cooled backing bars (which involve circulating cold water through the bar).

welding

MIG Welding Component

MIG welding uses a different set of equipment to achieve the same goals. Below are the important components used in the process.

Power Source

MIG welding requires a DC power source for the process’s high heat. Hence many MIG welding enthusiasts refer to it as a constant voltage power supply.

Wire

The wire feeding system should be smooth for better welding quality. There are two major MIG welding wires: flux-core and solid MIG wire. The former is a metal containing a flux compound that forms a gas that protects the arc and the weld pool. This type of wire does not require a shielding gas. In contrast, solid MIG wire doesn’t contain any flux and needs a shielding gas.

Electrode

Electrodes used in MIG welding are consumables, i.e., used in the welding process. They come in different shapes and sizes, with the common sizes used being: .023, .030, .035, and .045. Of the four, the .035 is the most common.

Torch

This component protects the arc and transfers current to the wire. They can be water-cooled or air-cooled. When choosing a MIG welding torch, consider the weight, ease of use, extraction, neck config, and cable length.

Gas shielding

MIG welding uses CO2 or argon as shielding gases. They are responsible for protecting the electric arc and weld pool from atmospheric contaminants.

TIG Welding: An Overview of the Electric Arc Welding Processes

For people new to the process, you can understand the TIG vs MIG welding comparison by getting to know the process properly. Below is an overview of the principle surrounding both processes, their advantages and disadvantage, and their applications.

tig welding

Principle of TIG Welding

TIG welding is an electric arc welding process that uses a tungsten electrode to create an electric arc that generates heat for welding the material.

The heat generated melts a filler material fed by the operator into the joining space or weld pool. During the welding, argon, or other combination such as argon/nitrogen and argon/hydrogen shields the electric arc from contaminants.

TIG welding is the better method for welding metals with a thickness of about 10mm and higher welded part quality. However, it is slower since it involves manually feeding the filler material. The electrode is non-consumable, and it creates a deep penetration.

Advantages of TIG Welding

  • With high precision and accuracy
  • Delivers quality welded joints, which improves its level of aesthetics
  • It is environmentally friendly
  • Gives the operator better control
  • There is lower maintenance and operation cost since it uses non-consumable electrodes

Disadvantages of TIG Welding

  • An expensive process due to the need for filler materials.
  • It is a slow process
  • Requires a clean welding surface

Applications of TIG Welding

For welding thin metals

TIG welding has better operational control, making it highly precise and accurate. Hence it is the better method for welding metals with thin thicknesses.

For welding aluminum

Aluminum and other metals such as copper and titanium are sheet metals with low thickness. Also, they require an aesthetic finish without a loss in their functionality. TIG welding accuracy and better-welded joints make it the most applicable electric arc welding process for such metals

Suitable for short production runs

Due to its accuracy, TIG welding is the better method for short production runs. However, it becomes more complex and expensive when you use it for long production runs.

For making products that require aesthetics

TIG welding delivers a quality welded joint making it the better welding method with aesthetics. Hence it is applicable in the artwork, construction, etc., where aesthetics is a selling point.

MIG Welding: An Overview of the Electric Arc Welding Processes

mig welding

Principle of MIG Welding

MIG welding is an electric arc welding method that uses a consumable electrode to create an electric arc that generates heat for welding the material. During the welding process, CO2 shields the electric arc from contaminants.

Unlike TIG welding, MIG welding doesn’t need a filler since the electrode is consumable. Also, the process is semi-automatic (or sometimes automatic) due to these consumable electrodes.

Advantages of MIG Welding

-The welding process is fast and cheap
-With accurate
-It is semi-automatic or automatic
-Produces a clean welded line

Disadvantages of MIG Welding

-May not be reliable due to unstable electric arc
-It is not environmentally friendly due to the production of smoke and fumes
-Not suitable for thin material as it can burn it

Applications of MIG Welding

For welding thick metal parts

MIG welding uses a consumable electrode that is a filler and solidifies welding. This makes it easier to weld thick metals.

Applicable in welding low defect parts

MIG welding is not a start and stops mechanism like TIG welding. Its continuous nature reduces the chances of welding defects, making it the perfect method for welding low-defect products.

Welding longer production runs

MIG welding is production efficient and easily managed. Hence it is the better method for long production runs.

MIG Welding vs. TIG Welding: Which is Better?

According to sheet metal fabrication experts, MIG welding is better than TIG welding. Below are a few reasons why MIG welding is better:

MIG vs. TIG

MIG is more diverse

MIG welding has higher diversity due to the use of consumable electrodes. The process makes it easier to join two metal parts together without stress.

MIG has a better speed

MIG welding is an automatic or semi-automatic process. Hence it is faster than TIG welding. Also, MIG welding is continuous without focusing on details like TIG welding.

MIG is easier to operate

TIG welding requires the operator to have high technical expertise before considering the process. On the other hand, MIG welding does not require much technical expertise giving it batter ease of operation.

Conclusion

MIG and TIG welding processes are common electric arc welding processes with a wide range of material compatibility. Both methods are unique, with different advantages, disadvantages, and applications. To choose effectively for your project, you can make a comparison to show the most compatible one for your project.

Are you struggling with MIG vs TIG welding, WayKen is here to help. We’re a rapid prototyping company specializing in sheet metal fabrication and other machining services. Our team will work with you to find the best solution for your project, ensuring to meet your sheet metal welding needs. From one prototype to volume production parts, we always provide quality products at a competitive price. Get a free quote today to get more information.

FAQs

What is the main difference between MIG vs TIG welding?

The major difference between TIG and MIG is based on their application and principle. MIG is more suitable for thick metals, unlike TIG welding, while TIG welding is ideal for thin metals due to the operational control. Also, MIG welding uses a consumable electrode that acts as a filler, while TIG welding uses a separate filler. You can check other differences between MIG and TIG welding above.

Is MIG or TIG better for welding aluminum?

Both processes are suitable for aluminum welding. However, most sheet metal fabricators would choose TIG welding because Aluminum is a light material that requires better operational control. Also, Aluminum is used for its aesthetic appeal, and TIG welding’s quality welding makes it the better option

Should I Choose riveting Over Welding?

Riveting and welding are both joining methods with their advantages and disadvantages. For example, riveting is a temporary method, while welding is permanent. Also, welding has less aesthetic appeal than riveting. Considering such advantages and disadvantages would be best before choosing between both processes.

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