The advantages and disadvantages of MIG Welding are typically determined by the kind of MIG welder and the nature of the job. Before discussing the advantages and disadvantages of MIG welding, it’s essential to first have a clear idea of which MIG welder to use and what it will be used to accomplish.
MIG welders come in a 1-Phase, combination 1 and 3-Phase, and 3-Phase. 1-Phase MIG welders have a typical 115 or 230 VAC and are used in home garages, body shops, farms and ranches, small maintenance work, general repairs, art work, and light fabrications.
The 1 & 3-Phase MIG welders provide a little more flexibility for welding. While they can accomplish the same things as a 1-Phase MIG welder, they are also used for light manufacturing and fabrication.
Once you know that you’ll be doing the kind of work that requires a MIG welder, you’ll be able to evaluate its advantages and disadvantages. Many welders would argue that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
MIG Welding Advantages
Many welders will enjoy higher productivity due to time saved by not having to constantly change rods or chip away slag, as well as not having to brush the weld repeatedly. They’re able to work faster and cleaner.
Simple to Learn
One of the top advantages of MIG welding is its simplicity. Welders can learn how to MIG weld in a few hours, and some instructors claim they can provide basic training in twenty minutes—with the majority of the time being spent on cleaning the weld.
TIG welding takes a long time to learn, and most welders working on home projects won’t want to invest the time into it. One instructor described MIG welding as a “point and shoot” process.
Simple and Great Welds
MIG provides better weld pool visibility. Add this to the simplicity of the process and better control offered by the auto-feed wire, and MIG makes it simple to produce a great looking weld.
Clean and Efficient
Since MIG uses a shielding gas to protect the arc, there is very little loss of alloying elements as the metal transfers across the arc. There is no slag to remove, which is typical for stick welding, and only minor weld spatter is produced. After a brief clean up, MIG welders will be back on the job in a fraction of the time thanks to the minimal clean up it requires.
MIG welding is extremely versatile and can weld a wide variety of metals and alloys, while operating at a variety of ways, such as semi and fully automatic. While MIG welding is useful for many home welding projects, it is also used by a large number of industries. MIG is used for the following metals: aluminum, copper, stainless steel, mild steel, magnesium, nickel, and many of their alloys, as well as iron and most of its alloys.
Faster Welding Speed
The continuously fed wire keeps both hands free for MIG welding, which improves the welding speed, quality of the weld, and overall control.
Disadvantages of MIG Welding
Welders will notice right away that MIG welding equipment is more complex and costly, while also sacrificing portability. In addition, shielding gas, electrodes, and replacement tips and nozzles for MIG welding can add up.
The fluidity of the welding puddle and the high heat input of a MIG welder rules it out for vertical or overhead welding. While some welders would never even think of welding in one of these positions, take this factor into consideration when deciding whether or not to purchase a MIG welder to make sure it can accomplish all of the jobs planned for it.
Unsuitable for Outdoor Welding
Besides not being portable, MIG welders are also unsuitable for working outside since they use a shielding gas to protect the purity of the weld. Wind will play havoc with the shielding gas and impact the quality of the weld. A MIG welder also can’t be hauled out into a field to repair a tractor, but works great in the garage for automotive work.
Fast Cooling Rates
The welded metal will cool at rates that are higher since they aren’t covered by slag when the weld is completed.
Unsuitable for Thick Metals
While MIG welding is suitable for thin metals, it does not deliver proper penetration for thicker steel that delivers a solid weld.
The bottle of shielding gas can take time to replace and can get in the way while welding.
Metal Preparation Time
Before welding with a MIG welder, the material has to be free of rust or dirt in order to get a good weld and for safety’s sake.
Additional Articles and Resources
Written exclusively for Bakers Gas and Welding by Ed Cyzewski