Metal inert gas (MIG) welding—also known as gas metal arc welding (GMAW)—is an arc welding technique that involves continuously feeding a solid wire electrode through the welding gun to join two pieces of metal together. For assembly applications that require a higher degree of precision and accuracy, industry professionals may employ the use of automated welding equipment.
Operations that employ the use of such machines are referred to as automated MIG welding or robotic MIG welding operations. Below is an overview of the MIG welding process, including outlining why it’s beneficial, what it’s used for, and how to determine whether it’s right for a given application.
Benefits of MIG Welding
Compared to other welding methods, MIG welding offers numerous advantages, including:
- Lower investment costs. MIG equipment generally comes at a lower price point than that of other welding methods. The skill requirements for operators are also smaller, allowing even less-experienced workers to perform the process correctly.
- Broader material suitability. The MIG or GMAW process is suitable for use on many different metals, including thin, thick, long, or dissimilar workpieces.
- Higher weld finish quality. Welds produced through MIG welding often require little to no post-production processing, resulting in a clean weld without having to invest more time and labor into achieving it.
- Faster welding speeds. The faster processing speeds offered by the MIG welding process stem from many factors, including easier setup and operation, greater deposition rates, and smaller need for additional finishing operations.
Applications of MIG Welding
MIG welding is appropriate for use in assembly applications involving both ferrous and non-ferrous materials. However, it is generally used for workpieces that are thick and large. While it can be employed in projects of any scale and size, it is best suited for small and low-volume work. Some examples of common applications include:
- Automobile assembly and maintenance
- General manufacturing
- Pipe welding and joining
- Railroad track laying
- Underwater structure construction
Which Welding Method Is Right for Your Project?
There are several welding methods available, each of which offers unique advantages and disadvantages that make it suitable for different projects. The four main types employed are metal inert gas (MIG), tungsten inert gas (TIG), stick, and arc welding.
When deciding between these four methods, the three key factors to consider are production material, production volume, and project budget. Here’s how the four welding methods measure up in regard to these considerations:
- MIG welding accommodates ferrous or non-ferrous and thick or thin materials. However, it is not suitable for welding aluminum, cast iron, or rusty or dirty metals. It comes with small equipment costs and labor requirements and fast processing speeds, all of which translate to lower production costs. As it uses continuous electrodes, it can easily handle small or large production volumes.
- TIG welding is better able to handle aluminum and steel, but not appropriate for use on thicker workpieces. It is the cleanest of the four welding methods, resulting in little to no need for post-production processing, which reduces overall production costs. For high-volume production runs, industry professionals generally employ automated TIG welders.
- Stick welding is ideal for welding thick materials, including cast iron. The equipment needed for the process is relatively cheap but comes with a higher learning curve. Additionally, the welds produced generally require finishing to achieve a more finished look.
- Arc welding—also known as fluxed-core welding—is used for thick and heavy materials. While it does not produce significant amounts of waste, it does produce slag, which requires removal in post-production operations to achieve a more aesthetically pleasing weld.
Tec-Option: The Automated Welding Experts
At Tec-Option, we have extensive experience supplying both welding equipment and services to customers in a diverse set of industries. In addition to our MIG welding offerings, we also offer robotic welding equipment, projection welding services, and spot welding services. For more information on our welding products and services, contact us today.