Mig Vs Tig Welding: the Difference Explained

May 1, 2016

Metal inert gas (MIG) welding and tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding are two unique welding processes with different techniques which yield different results. It’s important to know what each type of welding requires and which one is better matched to your needs.

We want to help you figure out which type of welding is best for you. At Fairlawn Tool, Inc., we’re passionate about providing solutions to meet your needs. Comparing the pros and cons of TIG and MIG welding will help you make an informed decision about which type you should choose.

TIG Welding vs. MIG Welding

TIG and MIG torches both produce an electric arc between the material and the electrode during welding. This melts the metal so the filler material can combine with it. Both welding processes require clean and clear surfaces to get the best results. Make sure you brush off any dirt or debris before you start welding.

Both welding techniques heat the metals until they reach a liquid state. Then they use a filler material to join the metals. So how do these two techniques go about this process differently?

TIG welding involves a tungsten electrode that runs a current through the metals you want to join. After the electrode heats the metals and they liquefy, the welder manually dips the filler material into the puddle and the two pieces begin to join.

TIG welding requires the use of both hands because the torch and filler material are separate. However, TIG welding doesn’t require a filler material for a successful weld. TIG welders also have a foot pedal to control the amount of electricity that goes to the torch. Some arc welds produce splatter during the process. TIG welding doesn’t splatter and allows for a cleaner finish.

MIG welding involves feeding a metal wire connected to an electrode that melds your project together. This wire runs the filler material through the torch and to the liquefied metal. MIG uses short-circuit welding. When the weld puddle forms, the inert gas comes out of the gun and protects the puddle from other elements in the atmosphere. As a result, the inert gas acts as a shield so you can weld the metals.

The MIG process is more common today than TIG welding. MIG welding is easier to learn and much faster.

When deciding between which of the two welding processes to choose from, you can see they have their similarities and differences. In the next section, we’ll look more closely at how they differ. You may prefer one over the other for your upcoming welding projects.

What’s the Difference Between TIG and MIG Welding Methods?

TIG and MIG are different forms of welding that have situational advantages and disadvantages. To find the way that’s best for you, look at your project goals and what you need to do to achieve that final product. Consider your experience in welding, what materials you’re working with, how much time you have for the project and your budget.

Some of the differences between TIG and MIG welding include:

  • Technique: The main difference between these methods is the technique used. TIG welding requires the welder to feed a separate filler material onto the weld with one hand while operating the torch with the other. With MIG welding, a wire electrode is continuously fed through the spool gun to create the weld.
  • Difficulty: With TIG, you have to hold the welding torch in one hand and the filler material in the other, which makes it difficult for inexperienced users. MIG’s method of continuously feeding wire makes it an easier technique to handle than TIG.
  • Object thickness: MIG can weld thicker metals faster than a TIG weld. If the metal you’re using is thin, TIG could be a better option.
  • Types of metals: MIG welding works with most types of metals. You can use aluminum, stainless steel and mild steel. TIG welding is also compatible with these metals but works better with thinner gauge materials.
  • Speed: TIG is a slower method but provides a higher level of detail. MIG is the faster method of welding, making it ideal for projects requiring higher production rates.
  • Project size: The size of your project could determine which form of welding to choose. TIG welds are better for thinner metals and smaller projects because they produce precise and clean welds. MIG welds work well with larger projects with thick metals that need longer, continuous runs.
  • Control: TIG welders need to have experience with timing and balancing materials in both hands. MIG is typically easier to control and is better for beginners.
  • Costs: TIG is a more expensive method than MIG welding.
  • Appearance: TIG welding is loved by many for its clean, beautiful finish. This type of welding is often used for artistic and ornamental purposes due to its attractive appearance.
  • Equipment: The equipment is made differently, too. TIG and MIG welds have unique designs and components that fit them to their specific jobs.

The Components of TIG vs. MIG Welding

A major difference between these two forms of arc welding is the equipment used. Since they both approach welding with different methods, the equipment must be different to accommodate these changes. The next sections will show you the different components used between TIG and MIG welding.

TIG Weld Components

Here are the defining components of TIG welding:

  • Power: The source can be AC or DC. Some welders will have a switch to choose a preferred electrical current. An AC power source will work better with metal like aluminum. A DC power source will give a strong arc, but the workpiece should be cleaned beforehand so the gas shield works.
  • Torch: A TIG torch can have a wide variety of designs. Some might have the on/off switch and control in the handle, or a foot pedal could control these commands.
  • Foot pedal: This controls the electricity that goes to the torch. When you push harder on the pedal, the amount of electricity is increased and makes the arc hotter. This speeds up the welding process, but you need to be aware of how to handle the extra heat and speed.
  • Electrode and gas shielding: The electrode tip angle shapes the arc that makes the weld pool. In between welding, you need to make sure it’s in good condition. The torch nozzle needs a gas lens for gas flow to protect the arc and weld pool. Nozzles come in different sizes to get varying gas coverage. The gas is usually Argon.
  • Filler material: Filler rods come in many materials and sizes. The rod should match the material you’re welding and the material’s thickness determines the size of the filler rod.
  • Backing bars: These help cool the weld area faster than if you’d let it cool down on its own. You clamp backing bars to the back of the welded piece. A backing bar can be made of either copper or aluminum to disperse heat. Water-cooled backing bars are also available, in which cold water circulates through the bar to speed up the cooling process.

MIG Weld Components

MIG welding and TIG welding use different equipment to achieve similar goals. The following list describes MIG welding’s components:

  • Power: The source is usually DC with a constant voltage.
  • Wire: The wire-feed system has to run smoothly so your welding will be even. Feeding systems include pinch rolls, push-pull and spool-on-gun.
  • Electrode: Depending on your project, you’ll need to get the right diameter and composition for your MIG weld.
  • Torch: The welding torch provides gas that protects the arc and weld pool and transfers the welding current to the wire. Torches can be air-cooled or water-cooled. Air-cooled torches are typically cheaper and lighter than water-cooled torches. They use the gas going through to cool the nozzle. They’re suited for lighter welding projects. Water-cooled guns are preferred when a welder is using a high current and doing heavy-duty work.
  • Conduit: Keep the conduit short and straight so feeding can happen without issue.
  • Filler metal: It conducts electrical current to melt the electrode but also reinforces what you’ve welded.
  • Gas shielding: The gas that protects the weld pool and arc is usually made up of Argon and Carbon Dioxide.


What Are the Pros and Cons of TIG and MIG Welding?

Keeping your project in mind, factor in the pros and cons of TIG and MIG welding to make your decision.

While you might be leaning toward a particular kind of welding technique, knowing the advantages and disadvantages will help you make a more informed decision of what will help you reach your goal and complete the best welding job for your project.

TIG Welding Pros

Here are some of the pros of TIG welding that could suit your next project:

  • Precision: TIG welds are more precise and have a higher general quality than MIG welds.
  • Cleaner process: The TIG process is cleaner and better for the environment.
  • No need for filler: TIG welding doesn’t require filler material.
  • Greater control: The pedal used allows for foot control to adjust heat input.
  • Lower maintenance: With MIG welds, the welding process consumes the welding electrode, but that isn’t the case for TIG welds. The electrodes don’t need as much upkeep, although they do need to be cleaned between uses.

TIG Welding Cons

TIG welding is a great option for certain scenarios, but you should consider some factors before choosing it. Here are a few considerations common to TIG welding:

  • Expense: The welding cost of TIG is higher than MIG welds because it’s a slower process and has low deposition rates. The welding deposition rate is measured in pounds-per-hour deposited at a particular welding current.
  • The need for a clean surface: The welding surface needs to be thoroughly cleaned before starting this method.
  • Greater difficulty: TIG welding requires a more experienced operator because the welds are more complex to execute.
  • Longer time: This method takes more time to prepare and the welding process takes longer.

MIG Welding Pros

Many welders may find MIG to be the better option for their needs. Examine the following list of pros to see if it’s the right welding process for your requirements:

  • Shorter time: MIG creates welds in a shorter amount of time.
  • Less cost: This process is not as expensive as TIG welding, and the required equipment is more accessible.
  • Accuracy: It is easier to get an accurate bond with MIG welding.
  • Cleaner process: This method produces a clean weld with little post-weld maintenance required.

MIG Welding Cons

When it comes to welding processes, you’ll always find cons as well as pros. Here are some aspects of MIG welding you should consider before choosing it for your welding projects:

  • Weaker strength: MIG is typically not as strong as TIG welding.
  • Less reliability: This weld method’s reliability can be problematic due to factors such as decreased arc stability and wire burn-back.
  • Hazards: MIG welding can produce heavy smoke and fumes — and potentially sparks.
  • Rust: This method can cause rust deposits.
  • Required thickness: With thin materials, MIG welds could potentially burn through the metal.
  • Environmental limitations: This method is hard to use outdoors because of the gases involved.
  • Requirements of different materials: MIG can weld many metals, but they each have specific requirements for wires and gases.

When Do I Use TIG and MIG Welding?

Using TIG and MIG welding could be the difference in your project that takes it to the next level. You could greatly reduce the time and effort spent making it and improve the quality and durability of the final product.

Knowing the kinds of projects that TIG and MIG welds are suited for can lead you to a decision about which weld type you should use for your own endeavor.

TIG Welding Applications

If your project has certain needs or characteristics, your best choice may be TIG welding. Here are some of the best instances and applications for choosing it for your next welding project:

  • You’re welding thinner metals: If your project uses thinner metal or is smaller, then TIG is the way to go. It’s better for precise welds that leave your project looking great and requires little to no cleaning.
  • You have good hand-eye coordination and have practiced: TIG welding is a three-part process where you need to have strong hand-eye and hand-foot coordination. It’s a delicate technique that needs practice and patience. The foot control allows for more precision when controlling the heat.
  • You’re working with easier-to-reach angles: While welders like using the foot pedal for TIG welding, that method might not work when you’re trying to weld smaller areas at odd angles. For these, consider using finger-tip control so you can get to those angles and weld them correctly.
  • You’re welding the appropriate metals: TIG can work with many kinds of metal, like aluminum and copper, but not with cast iron.
  • You’re welding shorter runs: Short-run, technical welds are best for TIG welding. Longer runs can be more difficult and expensive.
  • You’re taking on a delicate or artistic project: If your project is something like a toolbox or a sink, TIG is a better option. TIG also works best with artwork, such as ornamental designs and automotive projects. When your project’s final appearance matters, you may want to choose TIG welding.

MIG Welding Applications

Your project may need the unique abilities of MIG welding for success. Consider choosing MIG welding if your project includes the following scenarios and demands:

  • You’re welding thicker or bigger pieces of metal: If your project uses thicker and bigger pieces of metal that are going to need a lot of welding work, MIG is the option for you. The filler material that’s fed continuously on a spool will connect your pieces together to get the final product you want. This form of welding might require some grinding or smoothing after the welding process.
  • You want a smoother process with fewer defects: The continuous nature of MIG reduces the chance of a defect because you don’t have to worry about starting and stopping repeatedly.
  • You’re working at difficult angles or need a free hand for more control: MIG welds have triggers that control the operation and allow a free hand for tacking or holding the materials in a certain way so they can weld correctly.
  • You need to weld longer runs: MIG welds can handle longer production runs because they’re easier to manage and work faster than TIG welds.
  • You’re new to welding: MIG welding is better suited for bigger projects because it’s easier to handle and can do longer welds.

Welding Safety

Regardless of your chosen welding process, you need to keep yourself safe. Whether you’re entrusting a professional who’s been doing this for 30 years or you’re welding for the first time, safety measures should be your top priority. All welders should wear protective equipment to prevent serious injury.

Here’s an overview of the sort of protection you should be investing in — as well as why it’s essential:

  • Face: A welding helmet will protect your eyes and face from any radiation, sparks, bright lights and burns that could occur from welding. If you see exposed skin on part of your head or neck, wear a fire-resistant cover under the helmet.
  • Eyes: You should not wear contact lenses while you’re welding. Your contact lenses can collect dust particles and chemicals from the air and irritate your eyes.
  • Ears: Wear earmuffs to prevent hearing loss from the welding noise. If you’re wearing earplugs, make sure they’re fire-resistant.
  • Lungs: Welding produces a lot of fumes and oxides that are dangerous to breathe in. A respirator will keep your lungs healthy.
  • Skin: Cover any exposed skin with fire-resistant clothing. Make sure to close your pockets and uncuff your pants because these can collect sparks. Your pants should cover the tops of your boots so no sparks fall in and hurt your leg or foot.
  • Hands and feet: Wear insulated, fire-resistant gloves and rubber boots to protect yourself from electric shocks or burns. The gloves should cover your forearms fully.

Additionally, be sure to angle the weld in such a way that the resulting sparks spray away from you. Take off any jewelry before welding and make sure none of your clothes are made from synthetic materials. These are highly flammable, which means you’re putting yourself at an unnecessary risk for burns.

Make Fairlawn Tool Your TIG and MIG Welding Professional

Here at Fairlawn Tool, Inc., we take pride in supplying you with all of the materials you need for success. We’re your resource for unparalleled expertise in welding and other metal fabricating services for industries such as agriculture, telecommunications, construction and more.

When your company needs medium to large welding orders to complete your project, we’re the solution for you. We provide high-quality service with unparalleled results. Our welding services and capabilities will surely meet your needs. Get started on your dream project now! Give us a call to learn more or set up a consultation for your next project.

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