Difference between TIG and MIG Welding: TIG vs MIG – Which Welding Process to Select?

You get a project in welding and puzzle which welder you need to buy, MIG or TIG?  I will assist you to decide step by step, the welder you need to shop. The task is complex and needs to know more about the welder and project.

Two unique welding processes, different techniques, and dissimilar welding results are available in the form of MIG and TIG welding. MIG is metal inert gas while TIG is tungsten inert gas welding. The strengths and limitations of both processes will help to decide which welder is useful for the project.

Solving this riddle to buy a welder is the task of this article where will discuss both processes in detail and know more about the difference between TIG and MIG welding.

MIG Welding

This is an exceptional process of welding where electricity melts and joins two metals together. Arc welding process where a metal wire electrode initiates an arc, strong enough to melt it into a molten pool. This filler material turns itself to a molten weld pool between the surfaces of two metal pieces.

mig welding machine

MIG uses short circuit welding. The cooling of a weld pool produces clean welding with no slag.

The gun itself supplies the wire electrode and shielding gas. The weld zone gets its protection from environmental impurities by the protective shielding gas. The wire electrode and shielding gas supplies continuously with the control on the wire feeder and the gun itself. 

They sometimes call this MIG welding process as ‘’Hot Glue Gun’’ as the name suggests the hot MIG gun helps to glue the metal together. MIG welding is commonly adopted in industries as this technique is faster and easy to master.

Applications, MIG Welding Process

  • The thicker and bigger pieces of metal demand this Mig welding process. This continuous filler wire from the spool will complete the process a little fast. The process here may need polishing and grinding for a better look at the weld piece. 
  •  Mig has better and flawless welding, as starting and stopping repeatedly is not done here.
  •  Larger and bigger production is the place that can be handled by the Mig welding process easily.
  •  It is suited better for bigger welding projects as it is an easier process and welders can work for long with little fatigue.
  • Mig operators have one hand free to tack or hold the material for better and faster results in welding.

TIG Welding

Non-consumable electrode tungsten has been used in this arc process of welding since 1940. The heat from the arc between tungsten and workpiece causes the metal to liquefy, the welder drops the filler material into the puddle and two metal pieces get to join.

tig welding machine

Tungsten electrode alloyed with active elements to make it more emissive. It now provides a stable, quick arc at the onset and long electrode life. 

TIG welding needs a trained welder as both the hands use here, one to hold the torch and others to drop the filler metal. Successful weld does not need any filler metal. Sometimes we use a foot pedal to control the amount of electricity for the torch. The TIG process does not splatter but produces a clean weld.

Applications TIG Welding Process

  • TIG is the choice of welding process for thin and small metal. The precision and aesthetic look of the ultimate project requires TIG welding only. We need no cleaning or polishing.
  • This process works for non-ferrous materials like aluminum, copper, and cadmium but not adequate for cast iron.
  • TIG is a delicate technique that requires strong coordination between hand-eye and foot-hand. This needs quite a lot of practice, patience, and experience to master the skill. The foot control can easily manage the required heat.
  • Using a foot pedal may not work for a smaller area with odd angles for the welder who uses the foot pedal in Tig welding. Fingertip control works very well for such odd angles in a small area.
  • TIG welding is best for Short-run technical weld while Longer-run will be expensive and difficult.
  • The TIG welding process is a better option for a sink, toolbox, and artwork. It is also a choice for an ornament design.

List of Dissimilarities between TIG vs MIG  

Both the welding processes are efficient equally. They have distinct advantages and disadvantages in a particular situation. You are to weigh and scrutinize your project minutely. The need for your project includes the budget, time to complete the project, experience of the welder, and final shape of the material. Now it is time to decide the choice of the welding process for your project. 

Ease of Control

MIG welding is known for its ease of use. We recommend it for novice welders and non-professionals. There is a continuous supply of electrode wire in MIG and makes it a semi automatic process. Whereas in the TIG welding, strict control of pressure, timing, and an electric current is essential. It is a tough process where both the hands of the welder are engaged. The TIG process is better suited to automated CNC machines as their non-consumable electrode makes its use.

The difference in Technique

MIG welding uses the electrode wire supply continuously from a wire spool. The TIG welder uses one hand holding the torch while the other hand supplies the filler material to complete the welding process. Here the welder needs to have experience in TIG welding.


The MIG welding is more diverse in its utility as it can weld mild steel, stainless steel, aluminum, but of higher thickness. The TIG is a limited application in the thin nonferrous metal.

Metal Thickness

The continuous filler supply in MIG welding is helpful for thicker metal welding. It completes this project faster than TIG welding. The choice for thinner metal is TIG welding as the tungsten electrode produces enough heat to join the metal with no filler material. It makes a clean weld.

Speed of Process

MIG is a faster welding process because of its continuous electrode wire supply. The bigger welding project is a possibility. The small, thin metal needs TIG welding which requires filler material deposition by his hand and makes it slower.

Size of Project

The larger project with thick metal needs the MIG welding process while TIG is the choice for thinner metal where the final article should look precise and clean.

The Appearance of Weld

I love TIG welding for its aesthetic, beautiful finish. The choice for ornaments and thin metal is TIG while TIG weld is not precise and beautiful as TIG.

Cost of Project

The TIG welding process is more expensive than the MIG welding process.

MIG Welding Machine Components 

Power Source – The constant voltage of DC is the power supply of the MIG welding machine.

Wire Feed System – The perfect welding can be achieved by a smooth moving wire feeder. The system has a push-pull & spool on-gun with pinch rolls. It moves by a motorized system.

MIG Torch – The MIG welding torch is designed such to transfer welding current through the electrode wire to produce an arc. It has a feature to provide shielding gases to protect the arc and weld pool from environmental contamination. Two types of MIG welding torches are air-cooled and water-cooled. Air-cooled torches are economical and used for lighter work while water-cooled are expensive and used for heavy MIG welding.

Electrode – Diameter size of the electrode wire is decided after a complete assessment of the project in hand.

Pipes & Ducts – The torch, and wire feeder have tubes and ducts for the passage of gases and wire electrodes. Better to keep the pipes short and straight for better feeding.

Shielding Gases – Protection of arc and weld pool is only possible with the shielding gases in the form of Co2 and Argon.

Filler Material – It helps to pass the current to the weld zone and reinforce the welding.

TIG Welding Machine Components

Power Source – AC or DC can be the source in the TIG welding machine. The AC source works better for metal aluminum. DC power gives a strong arc in the TIG welding process.

Torch – A big range of TIG welding torches available. Sometimes they have an on/off switch and control at the handle or maybe a foot pedal control. May they be water or air-cooled torches.

Electrode – Tungsten electrode tip creates an arc with a workpiece when the electric current passes. It is non-consumable and needs regular cleaning.

Shielding Gases – TIG torch incorporated with a system to pass and control the shielding gas. The nozzle of the torch has a gas lens for gas flow to protect the arc and weld pool. The nozzles are of many sizes for the gas cover. The gas is generally argon for the TIG welding process.

Backing Bars – The backing bars of copper or aluminum are clamped on the back of the welded piece. This will help the workpiece to cool faster. These backing bars sometimes are available with a water circulation unit to cool the piece at a faster pace.

Filler Metal – The material comes in many sizes and compositions. The filler material should match the metal we are welding. The welding size determines the size of the rods.

Foot Pedal – Foot pedal can control the electricity to the torch. More you press more the electricity and the hotter the arc. This will speed up the welding.

What are the Merits & Limitations of MIG and TIG Welding?

It is essential to discuss the pros and cons of the MIG and TIG welding before you make your mind to shop the welder of your need. Your decision to buy a welder should be made once you are aware of the merits and limitations of both welding processes. Now it is time to examine your project in hand, time of its completion, budget, and end products. 

I will explain to you the pros and cons of MIG and TIG welding one by one.

Merits of MIG Welding

Low Budget – MIG process is less expensive than the TIG welding and makes it more accessible.

Time – MIG welding process complete in lesser time than to TIG welding.

Ease and Accuracy – The MIG welding process is simple to perform with adequate accuracy.

Clean Weld – MIG weld is quite a clean process and needs a very little post welding maintenance.

Limitations of MIG Welding

Hazardous – The process emits heavy smoke & fumes. The spark of MIG may cause burning.

Environment – Use of shielding gases makes it unsuitable to work outdoors  for MIG welding

Thin Metal – The thin metal sheet will burn through and make it unsuitable.

Different Wires and Gases – MIG is suitable for different metals, but a limitation is that it needs different wire and shielding gases for every metal.

Feeble Strength – MIG weld is not as strong as TIG weld.

Weak Reliability – The MIG process is not a dependable and reliable process. There are variables like a weaker arc and burn back of electrode wire.

Rusting – It is a possibility with the MIG welding process while TIG is rust free.

Merits of TIG Welding

Accuracy & Precision – TIG welding is a very precise and good general quality of weld than MIG welding.

Better Control – The foot pedal makes it better to control the heat input.

No Filler Material – Non-consumable tungsten electrode works to create the arc. No, any filler metal requires.

Clean – TIG welding remains very clean on the completion of the process.

Low Maintenance – MIG process needs a continuous wire electrode to create the arc while non-consumable tungsten may need cleaning occasionally.

Limitations of TIG Welding

Expensive Process – The TIG welding process is more expensive than MIG welding as the deposition rate is very low. We measure the deposition rate as a pound /hour deposit at a particular weld current.

Difficult – You need an experienced welder to master the intricacy and complexity of TIG welding.

More Time – The process and preparation take a longer time than MIG welding.

Spotless Surface – This is the need for proper results in TIG welding.

How do I decide the use of MIG vs TIG Welding?

Your decision to use MIG/TIG welding depends largely on assessing your project, final outcome, budget, and time in hand. The quality, durability of the final product remains a matter of concern. A small effort to decide the welder will grant you a big reward in terms of your project results.

I am going to enumerate the applications of both the welding process.

MIG Welding Relevant Applications

  1. If your project includes thick and big metal pieces, then the MIG welding process is a better choice. Spool supplies the electrode wire continuously to fill the gap in a shorter time. This bigger weld requires some grinding or polishing at the completion of the process.
  2. The chance of defect is minimal as this is a continuous process where starting and stopping are not done repeatedly.
  3. The MIG gun is laced with a trigger that controls the entire operation of welding. The second hand of the user is free to tack or hold the metal at a certain angle to give you the best welding results.
  4. The difference between TIG and MIG welding is that Mig welding is fast and easy, so it can handle a big and longer production.
  5. The bigger project which needs faster delivery, the MIG welding process is ideal.

TIG Welding Relevant Applications

  1. If your project involves small and thin metals, then your choice needs to be TIG. The final product looks clean, precise, and beautiful and needs no cleaning.
  2. When your project includes ornaments, artwork, automotive parts, sink, and a toolbox then the Tig welding process is a preferred choice.
  3. The project involving short-run technical welds suits TIG welding. Longer runs are bound to be expensive and difficult.
  4. It can work great for many metals like aluminum, copper, and cadmium but not convenient to work on cast iron is the difference between MIG and TIG welding.
  5. A small weld area at an odd angle requires a fingertip control technique available with TIG welding.
  6. A delicate technique where current is controlled with a foot pedal.

FAQs: About Difference between TIG and MIG Welding

Which is hotter MIG or TIG?

The difference between MIG and TIG welding  is that electrical circuit on the positive side of MIG is at the torch and negative at the ground wire, makes MIG joint hotter and base metal cooler, and the reverse is the possibility at TIG welding.

Which type of welding is best?

MIG welding is versatile and easy to learn while TIG welding is clean and intricate.

What is the easiest welding to learn?

MIG welding is the easiest welding process to learn as the process is semiautomatic and one hand remains free for maneuvering.

Is TIG stronger than MIG?

Using the same filler material, same size of the weld, the same base metal produces the same strength in both the welding processes. We label TIG weld as a little stronger.

Can you weld aluminum to steel?

Welding aluminum to other metals is comparatively easy. To weld with steel special technique is required.  

Can you TIG weld without gas?

We know TIG welding for its looks as beautiful and clean. Argon 100% is the need otherwise you can burn the electrode, contaminate the weld, and bad penetration will be the result.

Can cast iron be TIG welded?

Option is expensive but possible to TIG weld cast iron. Use some special settings, wire, and gases.

Can you TIG weld with Co2?

No you can not as the oxygen in Co2 will oxidize the weld zone and make the fail welding.

What do you use a TIG welder for?

TIG is used to weld aluminum, copper, and titanium. The heat here is produced when electric current passes through an electrode between the metals needed to weld.

Can you TIG weld without a filler rod?

It is possible but you have to clean the material from oxidation and joint surface to make fit with each other.

What is the most hard metal to weld?

Aluminum is the metal as it has various physical and chemical properties in ore or alloy form to understand before welding.

Safe Welding Practices

Safety at the welding zone remains mandatory whether you are a renowned welder or a novice. Make a habit of using every possible safety precaution to secure yourself and the others nearby safe.

My overview for your protective equipment safety investment as follows:

Eyes – Avoid using a contact lens while welding otherwise the dust particles may impact under the lens to damage your eye. Instead, use goggles/helmets.

Face – Every exposed part needs fire-resistant coverings. A welding helmet can protect your eyes and face from the effects of sparks, radiations, burns, and bright lights.

Ears – Use of fire-resistant earplugs and earmuff help to prevent hearing loss due to the noise of the welding.

Hands & Feet – The fire-resistant gloves covering forearms and rubber boots will protect from electric shock and burns.

Skin – Completely cover the exposed part of your skin with a fire-resistant cloth. Always close your pocket and uncuff your pants as they can collect sparks. Pants should cover the top of your safety shoes to prevent hurt to your leg.

Big Noes – Jewelry, synthetic clothes as they are heat lovers and dangerous.

Check the five potential welding safety hazards to be avoided.

Which welder to buy for completing your project?

I have discussed with you every possible detail of MIG and TIG welding processes and the difference between TIG and MIG welding. Now it is time to examine your project in detail. The type of metals, size of metal, time available, budget, and end products. The look and feel of the final article need to be considered as well. The size of the project is again a consideration.

The big project of thicker, bigger metal that has a shorter time to complete needs a MIG welding machine. TIG welding machine is a choice when your project involves artwork, ornaments, and aesthetic looks with strength.

This is a broad conclusion but you are an ultimate authority to decide by your understanding, cognizance, and by your third eye as you are the only person who can judge the project completely. You are always welcome for any suggestions/discussion.

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