What Is the Difference Between MIG and TIG Welding?

Understanding the difference between MIG and TIG welding will help you with your welding needs.

Difference between MIG and TIG Welding

What is the difference between MIG and TIG welding? Choosing the right welding process is crucial to the success of your project. Examine the difference between MIG and TIG welding below to determine which is best for your needs.

Arc welding is a useful skill to learn, as it allows you to join metal elements for a wide range of projects and applications. If you are just getting into welding, choosing between MIG welding and TIG welding can be a complex choice.

MIG and TIG welding both use an electric arc to create the weld. The electrical current melts a base material or bonding material that cools to form a solid joint. However, MIG and TIG torches have different designs.

What Is MIG Welding?

Metal inert gas (MIG) welding relies on a wire electrode. The wire is fed through the welding gun. When you start the torch, the wire moves constantly to create the spark.

The wire also acts as a filler. The wire begins to melt when it reaches a high temperature, helping to create a stronger weld between two metal materials.

What Is TIG Welding?

Tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding uses a tungsten electrode to produce the weld. Unlike MIG welding, the electrode is a non-consumable part. It may be used with or without filler material.

TIG welding provides greater control over the weld compared to MIG welding. It is easier to maintain a clean weld, but the process tends to take longer. TIG welding is more time-consuming, making it suitable for smaller projects.

Advantages of MIG Welding

Welders often learn MIG welding before TIG welding, due to the following benefits:

  • Easier to learn
  • More efficient
  • Suitable for thicker materials

TIG welding requires the use of both hands and a foot while MIG guns can be operated with one hand. Anyone can learn how to operate a MIG gun while TIG welding requires specialized training.

MIG equipment is built for continuous operation, making it the preferred choice for industrial applications. The efficiency of MIG welding allows you to get more done quickly. The electrode also acts as a filler, helping to fuse thicker materials.

Advantages of TIG Welding

While MIG welding is often easier to learn, TIG welding provides several advantages:

  • More control
  • Cleaner welds
  • Suitability for detailed work

TIG welding allows you to focus on details. The arc is smaller and easier to control, making it the better choice for projects that involve tight work areas or complex joins. TIG welding also tends to produce clean welds due to the slow pace and lack of filler. You may not need to spend much time cleaning or finishing the weld.

What Type of Materials Can You Use with MIG or TIG Welding?

MIG and TIG welding can be used on many of the same materials. You can use MIG or TIG welding on aluminum, copper, stainless steel, magnesium, bronze, carbon steel, and nickel.

MIG welding is better suited for thicker materials while TIG welding is preferred for thinner materials. MIG welding is recommended for large projects involving thick material. TIG welding is recommended for smaller applications where you need to pay more attention to detail.

What Is a Good Welding Helmet for MIG Welding?

A good welding helmet for MIG welding protects your eyes from the flash burn caused by the bright arc. The lens of the helmet is shaded to shield your eyes.

However, there are many other factors to consider, including:

  • Shade rating
  • The type of lens
  • The size of the lens (viewing area)

Welding helmet lenses are rated on a scale of 0 to 13 based on the amount of shade provided. Shades #4 to #8 are comparable to a pair of sunglasses. Most welding helmets offer a range of shades from #9 to #13. Shades #10 to #13 are typically recommended for MIG welding while #9 to #13 is recommended for TIG welding.

Welding helmets also use different types of lenses. The two main types include passive lenses and auto-darkening lenses. Passive (fixed) lenses are typically made of hard plastic and have a fixed shade rating. Auto-darkening (variable) lenses include sensors and a layer of LCD glass. When the sensors detect the bright flash of the welding arc, the LCD glass grows darker.

The size of the lens impacts your view of the work area. As MIG welding is often used for large projects, you may need a wide viewing area.

Do You Need a Special Helmet for TIG Welding?

You do not necessarily need a special helmet for TIG welding. A standard welding helmet offers the shade needed to protect your eyes from the bright arc. However, TIG torches produce a smaller, lighter arc. A darker shade makes the arc more difficult to see.

If you get a helmet with a fixed lens, a #9 shade should be ideal for TIG welding. However, MIG welding typically requires more shade. A #10 lens is a good compromise if you plan on using both MIG and TIG welding.

If you are new to TIG welding, you may prefer an auto-darkening welding helmet. The LCD glass adjusts to suit the brightness of the arc. Auto-darkening helmets are also more convenient. You do not need to flip your mask up and down between welds to check your work. You leave the mask on and let the sensors automatically adjust the shade.

Look for helmets with multiple sensors when shopping for auto-darkening lenses. Multiple sensors increase the accuracy and speed of the lens switching, ensuring the sensors detect a smaller TIG arc.

Conclusion: Should You Use MIG or TIG Welding?

So what is the difference between MIG and TIG welding? MIG and TIG welding are both forms of arc welding. You can use either method to successfully join metal materials. However, TIG welding allows you to work with thinner materials and often results in cleaner welds.

MIG welding is better for tasks involving thick material. The wire acts as a filler, which helps increase the strength of the weld. MIG welding is also useful for long projects, as it is more efficient and cost-effective.

As MIG welding is also easier to learn, it is the recommended choice for beginners. After you grow comfortable with your welding skills, you can try TIG welding for more detailed work.

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