Welders are an important part of many industries, and choosing the right welding process is critical to ensuring a successful project. Welders use different welding processes to fuse two pieces of metal together.
The two most common welding processes are mig welding and arc welding. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages, so which process is right for you? Mig welding is great for welding thin metals, but for thick metals and cast iron, arc welding is the key.
Well, there are many more differences and facts to consider before choosing which welding method will be suitable for you. In this article, we will go over those and give you an in-depth review of these welding methods.
Mig vs Arc welding: Let’s take a look
If you are new to the welding industry, let me tell you that both the Mig and Arc welding methods are very popular. But, which one should you use? And why is it better?
The main difference between these two is what type of electrode and shielding gas they use. While Mig welding uses solid wire and it needs shielding gas to operate, Arc welding comes with a coated electrode that burns to produce the necessary shielding gas.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at mig welding and arc welding and help you decide which process is best for your needs. So head right down below:
Head To Head Comparison Table: Mig vs Arc Welding
Here’s a quick comparison table to begin with. This will give you the basic idea about different aspects of these welding methods.
|Criteria||MIG Welding||Arc welding|
|Wire Cost||Comparatively less||Comparatively high|
|Working surface||Metals that are bright white are best||Any metal is fine.|
|Wind||Indoor wind < 5mph||Outdoor wind <35mph|
|Bead Appearance||Zero slag, a bit spatter||Both slag and spatter|
|Needed clean up||Not much||Cleaning of slag and spatter|
|Thin stock||Almost 24 ga||thicker than 1/8|
|Thick stock||Given enough power||Up to 3 to 4 in.|
|Cast iron||Using cast iron the weld is weak||Stronger weld than MIG is possible using cast iron|
|Mobility||Harder to move because of the gas tank||Easier to move since there is no gas tank|
In-depth comparison: Mig vs. Arc Welding
Now that you have the idea about the basic differences of Mig vs Arc welding, it’s time to dig deeper. We will compare both of these amazing welding methods according to different criteria and help you find out which one will be the most suitable welding method for you.
When you are welding, reactive gasses like oxygen or carbon dioxide react with the metal that’s been molted. As a result, weld defects happen and obviously, you don’t want that to happen.
To solve this problem, Mig welding pumps inert gas. Usually, Argon is used as the inert gas and it is pumped from the tank. This gas flows through the Mig gun from the torch and covers the molten metal. It prevents the reactive gasses from causing any defect.
Some even use a mixture of carbon dioxide and argon. Though carbon dioxide is reactive, it doesn’t cause any trouble when used in a small amount.
Now in Arc welding, shielding gas is created by applying heat to the flux that’s externally applied around the Arc electrode. The slag that forms partially contains the gas as well. It makes the shielding gas mechanism different from the Mig shielding mechanism.
2. Indoor Vs. Outdoor Use
It’s quite tough to weld outside using a Mig welder, especially on a windy day. The Mig torch might struggle to flow shielding gasses to the weld section as the wind will blow away the gas before it covers the weld.
But you don’t have to go through that struggle if you use Arc welding. In this type of welding, the flux produces slag and it helps to keep the intern gasses away. So you can cover the weld easily even if you are working in a windy situation.
While a small breeze might cause troubles in using Mig welding, Arc welding can withstand up to 35MPH and weld efficiently. Don’t eliminate Mig welding out of the competition yet as there’s a solution to the problem.
You have to use a special type of flux-cored wire to weld outside without any problem. In this type of wire, the center is hollow and the empty space is filled with flux. If you use this type of wire, you don’t have to worry about the gas tanks as well. Though this will eventually turn the welding process to more of Flux-cored welding rather than a Mig welding.
Now, what if it rains? Well, in this case, no welding method works, rather it’s dangerous to weld outside in rain. Also, the equipment might get damaged.
When it comes to portability, without a doubt Arc welding is the winner. Why?
Because MIG welding requires a gas tank and it’s quite a hassle to move a gas tank. While on the other hand, an Arc welder is pretty easy to move from one place to another. Because you don’t have to worry about shifting a gas tank from one place to another.
4. Weld Quality
Rather than the welding method, weld quality depends more on the person who’s welding. Without a doubt, both of these welding methods produce quality welds.
Still, for the sake of comparison, it can be said that Mig welding produces cleaner welds. Because Arc welding produces spatter and slags. Which not only decreases the weld quality, but also needs necessary cleanup. But with Mig welding, you don’t have to worry about this.
On the other hand, you get better penetration with Arc welding and the byproduct is stronger welds.
5. Ease Of Use
Since both of these methods are pretty easy; you won’t have to struggle with them. But since wire needs to be fed using a spool and a gas tank is required in Mig welding, the setting up procedure becomes a bit complicated. On top of that, there are possibilities of Mig wire getting snagged and tangled. Once the setup is done, Mig welder is easier to use.
When it comes to an Arc welder, you don’t have much to worry about. The setting up procedure is pretty easy. And welding with Arc welding is nothing to worry about.
6. Cast Iron
No matter if you will weld cast iron or aluminum, both of these welding methods will work. Still, there’s quite a difference between them.
If you are to weld Cast Iron, I would suggest going for Arc welding. Because Arc welding will give you better welds when working with Cast Iron. On the other hand, even though it’s possible to weld cast iron with Mig welders, you will get a weaker weld.
Now, when it comes to Aluminum, the table turns. Mig welding will give you better welds. Arc electrodes needed to weld Aluminum are not easy to store. The air moisture makes the flux inside the wire moist.
But Mig welder has no flux and uses aluminum wire. That’s why there’s no problem with storing aluminum when you are using Mig welding. You will also get a cleaner weld with Mig welding with no slag and less spatter.
8. Thin Metal Stock
The main purpose of Mig welders is to weld thinner metals. Because Mig Welders give you more control over the weld settings. You can even weld super-thin metals like 24 gauge, or even thinner. That’s why Mig welding will be a better option in terms of thin metals.
You can weld thin metals with Arc welders as well, but not thinner than 1/8 inch.
9. Thick Metal Stock
As you already know, Arc welders provide better penetration, it can easily weld thick metals effortlessly compared to Mig welders. To be honest, there’s no competition between Mig and Arc welding in terms of welding thick metals.
10. Safety Issues
No matter if you are cooking at your house or welding in a big industry, you need to stay safe no matter what. And when it comes to welding, you need to be extra careful regardless of the welding method. Lack of carefulness might cause injuries or even death.
Don’t forget to ensure proper ventilation when you are using Arc welding. And to save your eyes and skin from the flying sparks, take proper precautions.
If you get electrocuted while using Arc welds, you can be severely injured. And when it comes to Mig welders, you need to be careful about the compressed gas. While shifting the gas tank you need to be extra careful so it doesn’t fall over you. On the other hand, a gas leak might cause different hazards.
Arc welding machines are comparatively cheaper than any other welding machine. The overall cost for Mig welding gets higher as you need to make arrangements for other things as well for Mig welders to operate. Like the gas tanks, wires, etc. As the setting up procedure is pretty complex, the price is higher as well.
Though there are some people who calculate welding cost per pound of the filler material. According to their calculations, Mig becomes a cheaper option. Then again according to some analysis, even in $/lb calculation, Arc welding is cheaper.
MIG Vs. Stick Welding – Which Is Better?
Now that you have gone through the complete comparison of Mig and Arc welding, you should be the one to answer this question. However, in my opinion, both are better than the other depending on the situation.
If you are going to weld outside, go for Arc welding. If you are to weld thin metals, go for Mig welding. Then again, Arc welding will give you better results in the case of thick metals and cast iron.
So, if i am being honest, which one is best between these two welding methods depends entirely on the purpose you are going to use it and you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is MIG welding easier than Arc welding?
MIG welding is rather difficult to set up compared to Arc welding. But once the setup is done, learning MIG welding or doing it is pretty easy. The process of MIG welding is pretty easy and all you have to do is pull the trigger and weld.
Is Arc welding stronger than Mig welding?
Both welding methods produce strong welds. But if we are talking about dirty metals and better penetration, Arc welding will surely give you better results.
Should I learn MIG or Arc welding?
Depending on where you will be welding, you need to decide which welding you want to learn. If you are going to weld indoors, learning Mig welding will be easier and more helpful. But if you want to weld outside, learning Arc welding is your only option.
What’s the difference between Arc and MIG welding?
The most significant difference between Arc and Mig welding is that Mig welding needs a gas tank to operate. Apart from that, there are many other differences present between these two welding methods.
What type of welding is strongest?
TIG welding is considered the strongest type since it produces extreme heat and cools down slowly. Which helps to achieve super tensile strength. MIG welding is also pretty strong.
Ultimately, what you choose between Mig vs Arc welding is entirely up to you. As you could see, both are situational, so it ends up being what you want to use it for. I hope this article helped you understand the difference between them profoundly. With this newfound knowledge, you will understand which one will be better for you.