What’s the difference between MIG vs. TIG welding for your industrial project?
Each form of industrial welding services has its own strengths and uses. Here’s what matters for choosing MIG or TIG welding for your metal fabrication project.
Industrial Welding Services 101
Both MIG (metal inert gas welding) and TIG (tungsten inert gas welding) are arc welding processes. Arc welding is one of the most common and oldest types of welding. It uses electricity to melt the metals to join them together. After the metals cool, they bind nicely.
All arc welding is divided into two types: consumable electrode methods and non-consumable methods.
Consumable electrode methods include:
- Gas metal arc welding (GMAW)
- Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW)
- Submerged arc welding (SAW)
- Manual metal arc welding (MMAW)
- Flux-cored arc welding (FAW)
Non-consumable methods include:
- Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW)
- Plasma arc welding
MIG Vs. TIG Welding
What is MIG Welding?
MIG welding feeds a consumable wire through the welding gun and connects to an electrode current, joining the two base materials together.
A shielding gas protects the electrode from contaminants as the wire passes through the gun.
When is MIG Welding Used?
MIG welding services are the perfect choice when you need speed. Weld gun adjustments can be made infrequently. This allows the welder to focus for longer periods of time and increase productivity.
MIG welding is a quicker and easier process to learn than TIG welding, making it perfect for new professionals and amateur welders. Or, of course, for your local metal fabrication shop if you're outsourcing.
MIG welding is typically done inside shops and factories because wind displaces the shielding gas. MIG welding can be done out in the field, but you need wind blocks to prevent displacing the shielding gas.
In short, using a MIG welder is most appropriate if:
- You need shorter lead times or quick production
- You don't necessarily need an super-experienced welder for your project
- Your product can be made indoors (aka it's not a replica Tyrannosaurus rex)
What is TIG Welding?
TIG welding uses a tungsten electrode for production. Tungsten's hardness and high-temperature resistance carries the welding current to the arc.
A shield gas is used, like in MIG welding, to protect the electrode from contaminants in the air.
When is TIG Welding Used?
TIG welding services are the perfect choice when high quality, precision welding is a must.
TIG welds are cleaner and stronger than MIG welds, but the process is difficult to learn.
Overall, TIG welding is a slower process than MIG welding, but it allows for more operational control as you hand feed the filler rod into the puddle.
In short, choose TIG welding when you have a:
- Project that requires highly precise welds
- Project that requires a clean appearance
- Project that will place the weld under stress
- Project that requires precise control over welding operations
Still Not Sure What to Do?
Use the qualifiers above to decide whether MIG vs. TIG welding will be a better choice. To be sure, you’ll want to consult with a professional industrial welding company before specifying a welding method.
We’re happy to help, whether you're looking at sheet metal or tube welding. Feel free to schedule a free, 30-minute manufacturing consultation to pinpoint your most appropriate type of welding.
(Editor's note: This article was originally published in January 2017 and was recently updated.)