difference between MIG and TIG

Difference Between MIG and TIG

When you first get into welding, as with just about anything else, it can be a bit confusing figuring out the various procedures and processes as well as what tool to use when. This is also true with MIG or TIG welding. For an amateur, some procedures look very similar, however, once you start digging around for more information, you discover the differences between the two. 

What is the difference between MIG and TIG? MIG welding is performed using a feeding wire. TIG welding is performed using welding filler rods. MIG (metal inert gas) welding is typically used on stainless steel, aluminum and mild steels. TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding is used on thinner metals. 

Now that you know the difference between MIG and TIG welding, let’s explore the two in more detail, to further differentiate between them and to give you a better understanding of the uses for and the processes involved with each. Knowing what you want to weld will help you understand which is better for your situation. There is definitely a time to TIG and a time to MIG! So now, let’s get to it! 

How to Know When to Use MIG or TIG Welding?

If you are in a hurry and are not concerned about the long term strength in the weld, then MIG welding is the way to go, as this process can be done very quickly. With TIG welding, you have to get the metals heated up enough so that they will ‘take’ the weld, which is a much slower process. 

When to use MIG Welding

  • Thicker pieces of metal will be much easier to weld using a MIG welder. The thicker the metal, the harder it is to heat it up to a point where it starts to melt, so the metal can be fused together with a welding rod. If the sheet metal is quite thick, you should definitely consider using a MIG welder. 
  • If you are a hobby welder and use random pieces of metal, maybe a MIG welder is for you. If you are using dissimilar pieces of metal as well as different thicknesses, you could ruin the metal trying to heat it up for TIG welding. When welding for hobby and maybe to resale repurposed scraps of metal, consider using a MIG welder. You will find it a much easier process doing so and chances are you won’t ruin the metal in the process. 
    • Another great point to back up this suggestion is that the feeding wire you choose will have a filler product in it. This will improve the bonding between the two different metals. Make sure the wire and filler combo you select is okay to use with the metals you plan to weld. 

When to use TIG Welding

  • If the look of the finished weld is important to you, then using a TIG welder is the way to go. Using metal welding rods will leave a much nicer, cleaner looking weld than using a feeding wire which has filler. The feeding wires tend to make more of a mess than using rods for welding. If cleaning up the welds is something you would have to spend time on afterwards, then definitely do yourself a favor and TIG weld. 
  • TIG welding can be performed using less power, which means you can weld thinner pieces of metal more accurately than MIG welding. Therefore, welding thinner, more expensive quality metals would be an option using a TIG welding process as the metals shouldn’t be damaged. 
  • If you have a steady hand, you might choose to TIG weld as this method leaves you with a much nicer and cleaner welded bead. If you are going to stress out over the way your weld looks, then choosing TIG over MIG is for you.   

Another consideration is the electrical conductivity of the metal you are attempting to weld. Metal that is electrically resistant heats up quicker which makes these metals better for TIG welding. If the metal takes longer to heat up, then MIG might be the way to go. 

TIG vs MIG Welding Strength [which is strongest]

With MIG welding, you are essentially heating up the welder and feeder wire and as it does this, you apply the heated wire to the join. This then joins the metals together, forming said weld. 

With TIG welding, you have to heat both metals and the welding rod you want to weld together enough so that the rod starts to melt and fuse to the very hot metals. 

I should also mention that MIG welded metals cool down much quicker than TIG, as the metals don’t need to be heated up as much as when welding with TIG. 

This all means that a TIG weld will give you a much stronger weld. This is the way to go for commercial and industrial applications. The hobby welder, working in their garage creating pieces to sell or fixing the odd thing, is just fine going with MIG, as we have already eluded to in a previous section. 

Which is Easier TIG or MIG Welding?

Still not clear on what method would be easier? Let’s touch on it again. It depends on your skill level, comfort and confidence working in the trades. Also, it can depend on what you plan on welding. How much or how big is the welding job? Is it for hobby purposes or are you welding pipe on the worksite etc.

Of course, there will always be exceptions to the rule, however. Here is my take on what is easier. 

MIG welding is easier to hold the torch and start joining metals together. The problem I see with MIG welding is that you can’t always see the weld as it is happening. If that doesn’t matter to you and you just need to join metals together as quickly and easily as possible, then MIG is the way to go. 

TIG welding isn’t really that hard, technically speaking. It just takes a bit longer than MIG to get the weld started and you can’t weld as fast. With TIG, you can adjust the power required to weld thinner metals, if needed. Using this method allows you to be able to watch the weld location as you work. You can easily see how you are progressing. If that is important you, and long welds aren’t a factor then maybe TIG is the way to go for you. 

TIG is definitely not easy as you need a steady hand to hold the torch in one hand and the rod in the other while welding the joint. As you practice, the bead will look better and better over time. 

As far as which method is easier, I would say based on the information I have just provided and your needs, you can now determine on your own which will be easier for you. Personally speaking, I think MIG welding has a easier learning curve and if you just want to be able to weld and not care about anything else, then MIG is the way to go. 

Is TIG better than MIG?

When researching this article, I found the above question. I feel it is worth talking about briefly, even though, if you have read everything in this article so far, I feel you should already know the answer. 

Determining if TIG is better than MIG or vice versa solely depends upon the metal you are welding and the project you are trying to accomplish.  

Difference between MIG and TIG Gloves

It is worth mentioning here that if you are selecting to weld via MIG or TIG, you should know that with each process comes a different type of safety glove. 

TIG gloves are thinner than MIG gloves. This is because when TIG welding, you require the ability to move fingers freely in order to better grasp the rod and locate where it needs to be on the metal. TIG gloves also fit tighter than MIG gloves. 

MIG gloves fit looser than TIG gloves. They have thicker padding on the back of the glove/hand. The extra padding helps protect the free hand, as it rests on the work bench. The looser gloves are great in case you need to shake the gloves off quickly from too much heat.  MIG gloves are not great for maneuverability which is fine because there isn’t much finger movement when welding this way. 

Conclusion

In conclusion and to sum things up. The difference between MIG and TIG welding starts with the torch and material used to weld the metal with. 

A MIG welder will be an excellent option for a ‘newbie’ and someone welding in their garage. This option leaves a messier bead, however, it is so much easier to do than using a TIG welder. 

A TIG welder is better for someone who wants to be able to see the weld as they progress. TIG welding is better for thinner pieces of metal, as the power can be adjusted accordingly on the welder. 

Either option has its pros and cons and will get the job done. Knowing the key considerations listed above will enable you to make the right choice for a successful weld. Good luck!

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