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The Difference between MIG and TIG Welding

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

The main difference between MIG and TIG welding is that MIG uses a continuous wire electrode feeding wire through a welding gun, whereas TIG welding uses long welding rods that have to be held separately to slowly feed them into the weld puddle. A weld puddle refers to a small-sized workable portion of a weld where the base metal has reached its melting point and is ready to be infused with filler material. The weld pool is central to the success of the welding process.

MIG stand for metal inert gas however may also be known as wire welding. MIG welding is an arc welding process, where a continuous solid wire electrode is fed through a welding gun and into the weld puddle, joining the two base materials together. A shielding gas is also sent through the welding gun protecting the weld puddle from contamination. The MIG process enables many different welders to make most types of fabrication, maintenance and repair welds on material from 24 gouges up to ½” thick. Many people use MIG welding as it’s an easier process to learn than TIG welding processes.

TIG stands for tungsten inert gas and is technically called gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW). TIG welding uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode that delivers the current to the welding arc. The tungsten and weld puddle are protected and cooled with an inner gas (typical argon.) Tungsten is a rare metal found naturally on earth that has the highest melting point. A TIG welder uses two hands for this welding process one hand feeds the filler rod into the weld puddle and the other uses an electric torch. TIG welding has the ability to soft start and soft stop making TIG welding different from other types of electric welding.

Knowing when to use MIG & TIG

MIG and TIG welding both use an electric arc to make the weld and shielding gas to protect the weld pool from potentially damaging atmospheric gases. However, each process of welding is suited to specific productions. Generally, MIG welding is more often recommended for ease of use, the process tends to be a bit more forgiving of mistakes than TIG welding is. TIG welding requires very strict control over the timing, pressure and electric current used in the weld.

TIG is a technical process to learn which requires a refined technique on specific angles and needs to be done at a slow pace to produce cleaner and more visually appealing welding. This is why this process is often suggested for small amounts of welding and is commonly used for thinner gauge materials. Items that are made with this process are things such as kitchen sinks and toolboxes. Whereas MIG welding is a better choice for larger production as it doesn’t need to be quite as accurate to be strong. Using MIG welding you are able to weld a range of material thicknesses from thin gauge sheet metal right up to heavier structural plates.

We also have an ESAB Rebel welding machine which offers multiple custom settings meaning you are able to choose from MIG, MMA and TIG modes. It offers 120/320v flexibility and some of the most innovative welding technology available. A breakthrough design inspired by professional welders, the Rebel is a complete package to weld mild steel, aluminium and stainless steel.

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