TIG VS MIG Welding Differences and Similarities – Which One to Choose?

TIG VS MIG welding debate has become popular not only between beginners but also among the professional welders. MIG welders say their process is more beneficial and TIG welders say their process is more versatile. They both are right. Both these processes are best according to welding job requirements. Each process has a specific benefit in certain situations.

TIG vs MIG welding

If you are new in the welding field then definitely there are some questions in your mind like, which one from MIG vs TIG welding is better or which one you should choose. After my experience and extensive research, I want to help you figure out which welding process is best for you. The first step is to understand the basic overview of both the TIG and MIG welding processes. This article gives you the best comparison of MIG and TIG welding. This comparison will help you to decide which type you should choose.

MIG welding process overview

MIG stands for metal inert gas welding. The American welding society also calls this process gas metal arc welding or GMAW. Sometimes it is also called wire welding. In MIG welding, a heated thin wire which also acts as an electrode is fed into the weld pool through a welding gun. You can also call it a hot glue gun of the welding world because heated wire feeds continuously between joints when you pull the trigger of the welding gun.

Electrode wire is fed from a spool, mounted inside the welding machine.

Mig Welding overview

When the trigger of the MIG gun is pulled it switches-on the current. An electric arc forms between this feed wire electrode and workpieces. This electric arc heats feed wire metal and workpieces metal above their melting points. These metals mix together and join the workpieces into a single piece.

The trigger on the MIG gun is just like an ON-OFF switch to start or stop the welding process.

The metal piece you need to join is called base metal and the metal that comes from the melting wire electrode is called filler metal. MIG welder always adds filler metal to the joint because the wire electrode melts and sticks to the joint.

Shielding gas is also fed through the MIG welding gun. Gas from the cylinder comes to the gas diffuser and flows out through the nozzle of the welding gun. This gas is usually Argon and CO2. Shielding gas protects the molten metal from oxidation due to reaction with oxygen, water vapor, or other things in the atmosphere. This shielding gas is stored in a high-pressure cylinder. A regulator on the cylinder reduces sheilding gas pressure to useable limits.

Pros
  • MIG process is best for beginners to learn.
  • Convenience of the process is another advantage of mig.
  • Fast electrode wire deposition rate increases welder’s productivity.
  • Excellent control over wire speed and voltage helps the welder to manipulate his task.
  • MIG does not need a metal surface to be perfectly clean as TIG requires.
  • This weld process produces a little spatter so there is a little requirement of post-weld treatment.
  • MIG welding is versatile and can work with different metals of different thickness.
Cons
  • Not preferable for overhead and vertical welding position.
  • Relative less weld quality than TIG.
  • Not a portable machine for outdoor welding.
  • You can weld only in a stable atmosphere because Shielding gas which protects the arc can easily blow away by wind drafts.
  • Need proper maintenance of machine parts.
  • There is a risk of burn-through if your workpiece is less than 5mm.

TIG welding process overview

TIG stands for tungsten inert gas welding. American welding society calls this process gas tungsten arc welding or GTAW. Helarc welding is its another name. Just like MIG welding, TIG is also an electric arc welding process. But the difference between TIG and MIG welding is that in TIG the arc is formed between a non-consumable tungsten electrode and the metal you need to weld. While Filler metal adds separately by hand in the form of a filler rod.

TIG welding process overview

Tungsten metal has a very high melting point of 3422’C. When you do TIG welding, the electrode gets hot but it does not melt and never becomes part of your weld. You can also make an adjustment with the length of the tungsten electrode stick by loosening the end cap of the holder.

Metal pieces that you need to weld are called base metal.

Electric arc in TIG welding melts only the base metal and then the base material melts your filler rod. Make sure filler rod material is compatible with the base metal.

Shielding gas flows around the arc in the same manner as in TIG. But gas is usually argon or helium.

Unlike MIG, TIG welding requires every piece of the base metal to be very clean. This process can weld stainless steel, nickel, titanium, aluminum, copper, and their alloys.

Pros
  • TIG offers high-quality weld as compared to MIG welding.
  • TIG is best to weld critical joints more precisely.
  • Best for thin metal welding.
  • TIG can easily seal the joint than MIG welding.
  • There is no spatter and smoke problem during TIG weld.
  • TIG weld is more decorative than MIG.
  • Its transparent arc at low amperage enables the welder to clearly observe welding puddle and electrode.
Cons
  • TIG process consumes more time than MIG.
  • You have to clean base metal perfectly for better results.
  • You have to learn high level of welding skills to get the best results.
  • The labor cost of TIG welding is relatively higher than MIG.
  • TIG welder has to use his both hands and one of his feet to perform welding.
  • As compare to stick welding You need stable atmospheric condition.
  • TIG-welded metal pieces cannot be taken-apart without destroying.

TIG vs MIG welding comparison

If you keep your welding project in mind then these comparison tables prove to be very useful to choose between TIG and MIG welding.

Quality Comparison

TIG WeldingMIG Welding
TIG weld offers the highest quality welds out of all other welding processes.MIG welds quality is not as perfect as TIG welds. Usually, small holes develop in the weld puddle.
You can easily seal the welding joint because the TIG weld puddles do not have small holes. So, for pressure holding equipment TIG welding is best.Porosity in the MIG weld joint does not ensure a leak-proof joint. So, the MIG welding process usually does not consider for pressure holding equipment.
You can easily seal the welding joint because the TIG weld puddles do not have small holes. So, for pressure holding equipment TIG welding is best.MIG arc is large and spread over a wider area. SO, filler electrode wire never has deep penetration into the joint. You can easily remove MIG weld by grinding to take apart metal pieces.
The TIG-welded joint is strongMIG welded joint is not as strong as TIG joint

Process Productivity Comparison

TIG WeldingMIG Welding
TIG weld quality is high but you have to slow the travel speed to achieve desire results.MIG gun is designed to run continuously with fast travel speed. So, the MIG process becomes more productive.
TIG is a Time-consuming process due to the slow deposition rate of filler metal.MIG is a time-saving process due to the high deposition rate of the filler wire electrode.
TIG welder has to engage both of his hands and one of his feet to perform welding. This can cause excessive fatigue and laziness of welder.MIG is a one-handed control operation which increases welder performance and productivity
Suitable for an industrial operation that requires high-quality weld.Suitable for an industrial operation that requires a high production rate

Process Difficulty Comparison

TIG WeldingMIG Welding
TIG welding is done by a complicated procedure.MIG welding is done by a simple procedure. MIG welding gun is also called hot glue gun of the welding world.
TIG welding is a difficult job. A welder has to engage both of his hands and one of his feet to start welding.The MIG process is easy to understand and convenient to use for a beginner. To do MIG welding, the user just needs to engage one of his hands to hold a MIG gun.
TIG narrow arc also requires more concentration of welder with a stable hand.MIG arc is large and spread over a wider area. So, the MIG process tends to be more forgiving of mistakes due to a lack of concentration.
TIG welding requires very strict control over welding amperage and filler rod feed timing.You can fix the speed of filling electrode wire and current amperage on the MIG machine. So, you just need to pull the trigger of the MIG gun to start welding.
You need a high level of welding skill to get the best result from TIG welding.For an unskilled person, the MIG welding process is best to learn to weld. You can learn it in one day.

Pre & post weld treatment comparison

TIG WeldingMIG Welding
Before TIG welding you have to clean metal surface perfectly. Otherwise, result in weaker weld quality.Unlike TIG welding you do not need the metal surface to be perfectly clean in MIG welding.
TIG requires a clean surface in fuse welding.In MIG welding metal surface cannot fuse. You just drop molten filler wire on the joint.
You have to use a right-angle grinder or metal surface cleaner before welding which results in extra effort and money consumption.You can use only sandpaper to remove dirt, oil, paint, and corrosion. Relative less effort needed for pre weld treatment.
In TIG welding there is no spatter and porosity problem at all. So, you don’t need any post-weld treatment to decorate weld.In MIG welding usually small hole develops in welding puddle. Moreover, there is a small spatter generation during MIG weld. So, there is a need for post-weld treatment to decorate weld.

Comparison based on metal thickness

TIG WeldingMIG Welding
TIG weld is better to join small and thin pieces of metal like stainless steel.MIG is better for a large and thicker piece of metal like steel.
Without a filler rod, TIG weld can be used for fuse welding in thin metal only.It completes weld of thicker metal in less time by filling the welding joint with filler wire electrode.
For thicker metal sheet more energy requires to melt the base metal which melts filler rod. So TIG becomes less efficient for thick metal.In MIG welding energy need to melt filler wire electrode and heat-up of base metal to deposition weld paddle. So, it is efficient for thick metal.

MIG vs TIG cost comparison

TIG WeldingMIG Welding
TIG welding is a slower process. Moreover, it also needs high skilled labor. So, the project cost of TIG welding is high.MIG welding project cost is low because of high productivity. Moreover, it also requires average skill labor.

Similarities in TIG vs MIG welding

  • TIG and MIG both need an electric arc to generate heat.
  • Both processes require shielding gas to protect the molten metal from oxidation.
  • Only metals can be joined by TIG and MIG welding.
  • Both TIG and MIG welding use a filler material to build up the welding bead.

Welding safety For TIG and MIG

welding safetyWelding operation presents several hazards to the welder. So, before engaging in any type of welding activity make sure you have taken all safety precautions. You need proper PPE like leather Glover, rubber boots, flame resistant coverall, and welding helmet to protect yourself. As you know TIG welding is the most laborious and difficult type of welding. If you are into TIG welding then you need the best TIG welding helmet to fulfill this task. If you are into MIG welding and do not have a welding helmet that suits MIG welding then you will not be able to work efficiently.

Conclusion

TIG and MIG both are different processes and are used for different purposes. This article will help you to choose one process which suits to your requirements. MIG welding is a good option for fast welding at low cost. And TIG welding is best for a high-quality seal weld joint. The TIG process is slow and expensive. It is also difficult to learn. But where the seal welding joint is required no other than the TIG process can fulfill this task. If we come to the point there is no one process better than the other. Our selection between TIG vs MIG welding purely relies on job requirements.

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