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MIG vs. TIG Welding

Popular for their strong bonds and efficient processes, MIG and TIG welding are the most widely used types of welding in the metal fabrication industry. While they are both forms of arc welding, there are several differences between the two. With distinctive equipment and processes, each welding type has specific advantages. Understanding the differences between MIG and TIG welding can help you determine which is best for your needs.

MIG Welding vs. TIG Welding

MIG and TIG welding both use an electrical current to melt base metals and create a solid joint when bonding two pieces of metal together. They are known for forming strong bonds through an efficient process. Yet, the difference in materials, technique, and equipment yield distinct results.

What is MIG Welding?

Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding is the process of forming a permanent bond between two metals with a MIG welding machine, often referred to as a welding torch or welding gun. The torch is controlled by an operator who presses a trigger to continuously feed electrode filler material through the torch. As this feed material leaves the tip of the torch and makes continuous contact with the steel workpiece, positive and negative electrical connections are created to melt the feed wire and form the bond. The speed and thickness of the filler material are controlled by the operator, allowing the process to be used for varied thicknesses of metal.

Benefits of MIG Welding

Sometimes called point-and-shoot welding, MIG welding is easier to learn and faster to use than other methods. Metal fabricators choose MIG welding for these benefits:

  • The welding process is less expensive and produces quality results quickly.
  • The filler wire is fed continuously when the operator holds the trigger of the welder, making the process automatic while maintaining accuracy.
  • The equipment used for MIG welding is easily accessible.

What is TIG Welding?

Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding is the process of joining two metals together permanently with a tungsten electrode filler placed by hand and melted with a TIG welding torch. The operator controls amperage with a foot pedal and feeds the tungsten electrode wire at the precise rate needed for the application. TIG welding produces more heat than MIG welding and requires precise operation from the welder to form smooth seams with deep penetration and a strong bond. The coordination and skill required for TIG welding result in a slower process. However, it generally produces more aesthetically pleasing results without the signature raised seam produced by MIG welding.

Benefits of TIG Welding

Due to the manual process and materials used, TIG welding is known for smooth, strong, flexible welds. Metal fabricators choose TIG welding for these benefits:

  • Accurate welds with a pleasing appearance free of bulges and bumps
  • Improved operational control compared to MIG welding
  • Eco-friendly process that uses safer materials
  • Low maintenance requirements due to the use of non-consumable electrodes

Applications of TIG Welding

TIG welding produces more heat to create deep penetration and a stronger bond. Therefore, it’s used in many applications that require extreme strength and attractive finish quality. Common applications of TIG welding include:

  • Printing and converting equipment
  • Food and beverage processing equipment
  • Defense industry (radar systems, aerospace, shipbuilding, etc.)
  • Thin sheet metal applications that prioritize appearance, especially stainless steel or aluminum
  • Custom parts and fabrications that require extremely tight tolerances and attractive finishes

MIG vs. TIG: Which Is Better?

MIG and TIG welding are both used to permanently join two pieces of metal together with a strong bond. The main MIG and TIG welding difference is how the operator uses the equipment to form a bond. There is a place in manufacturing for both TIG and MIG welding, and the choice typically comes down to the desired application and quality of specific product requirements. Yet, it’s not always easy to determine which type of weld is best. The welding department at General A&E offers a variety of welding services including MIG welding, TIG welding, spot welding, and more. Our welders are able to work on a wide range of material types and thicknesses to meet your project needs. Contact us to learn more about our available welding and brazing services.