MIG Welding Pros And Cons – Is It Right For You?

MIG Welding Pros And Cons

In this article, we will cover some MIG welding pros and cons, and if this process will suit your current needs. It is generally the process that beginners lean toward, but MIG comes with its own set of struggles. This article should give you some insight on if MIG is the right process for you.

MIG Welding Pros And Cons
MIG Welding Isn’t Always Easy! : Wikimedia Commons

MIG Welding Cons

Machine Set-Up

MIG Welding can be very straightforward to learn, but setting up the machine can be very challenging for a first time user. Drive roll tension, wire speed, and gas flow can get frustrating for beginners. These settings take some time to learn, but once you dial in the sweet spot, it will help your beads immensely. If you can have an experienced welder show you their favorite settings, then you will shave off some serious learning time. Every MIG machine acts a little differently, so the setting recommendations are more of a general guideline. 

Tight Spaces

A MIG gun isn’t always the best choice for very tight joints and spaces. This is due to the fact that most MIG nozzles are wider and clunkier than a TIG cup or a Stick Electrode. Stick electrodes and TIG torches can generally get in just about any tight space that needs welding. For these reasons, MIG is usually best for more standard joint configurations without odd angles. 

Beginner Errors

MIG mechanisms are more prone to user error. Beginners may find that they are getting the wire jammed or that their nozzle is getting clogged. They may even have porosity issues due to their technique or gas flow. These issues can be troublesome when a new user is trying to figure out how to fix the problem.

Sparks And Spatter

Unlike TIG, MIG welding produces lots of smoke and sparks. As you increase your voltage, the arc just gets more and more intense. This is especially true for dual shield flux core, which is a heavy duty process most commonly used for structural welding.

For these reasons, it is always a good idea to clear your work area of any flammable materials or hazards. If you plan on setting up a garage space, it will require some thoughtful prep so you don’t start a fire. It is always a good idea to have a spotter nearby, who can watch for fire and sparks as your head is under the welding hood.

MIG Welding Pros

Ease Of Learning

In our opinion, MIG welding requires less dexterity than TIG or Stick Welding. With TIG, you have both hands occupied (torch and filler metal) and your foot is also working the amperage pedal. With Stick, your electrode is constantly getting shorter, so you must change your hands angles and maintain rod pressure as you are running a bead.

MIG welding is nice for beginners, because they can hold the gun at the same angle as the wire shoots out on its own. Once you have practiced your gun angle and travel speed, the rest comes fairly easily.

Deposition Rate

The MIG process is capable of depositing huge amounts of filler material into the weld in a quick manner. Even more so with dual shield flux core, new MIG welders can be shocked at how quickly they can make work of a project. This benefit comes in handy on large fabrication jobs or projects that require lots of weld beads. Structural welders and pipe welders enjoy these benefits because they can contribute to a more productive workflow in the shop. 

Fabrication

MIG is a top choice for fabrication shops who specialize in handrails, stairs, fences and gates. Once the project is fit up and tacked together, the welding portion goes quite fast. You don’t have to replace your filler very often because the wire spools are so large. Also, there are no used Stick electrode butts or leftover TIG wire laying around. This makes it easier to keep your work space clean throughout the work day. 

Versatility

MIG welding has an infinite number of settings and quite a few wire types as well. From spray transfer all the way to tiny, small scale work- MIG welding is useful for a ton of different applications. MIG wire comes in several different diameters and is even offered in heavier flux core wire. This makes it a great choice – even for large structural projects where strength is of the utmost importance. 

Economical

MIGs cost per weld can be very cost effective once you have your equipment in place. Buying the wire on large spools and having a large gas cylinder means you can weld a lot before you need a trip to the welding supply store. Larger gas cylinders mean less money spent per cubic foot, and larger MIG spools are more cost efficient than the tiny ones. 

Minor Prep

Hardwire MIG and flux core MIG are very tolerant of mill scale and oily coatings. Unlike TIG welding, you can feel confident using MIG without having to prep the metal much. With that being said, all welds are stronger if performed on prepped and clean metal.

Jobs that require extreme strength will really benefit from a clean surface. Also, many welding inspectors will have their own metal prep regimen. 

We hope you enjoyed our MIG Welding Pros and Cons article, and happy burning! Check out our MIG Welding Overview article for more MIG info.

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