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Welding types: TIG vs MIG vs Electrode vs Arc

Welding types: TIG vs MIG vs Electrode vs Arc

Today, due to technological advances, we can find many different types and welding processes. Although some of them are simple and can be carried out in any house, other welding processes are very complex and can only be carried out under very special conditions and situations.

Unfortunately,¬†there is no single welding process suitable for all applications, so let’s start with an overview of the basic processes and highlight the capabilities and advantages of each.

In addition, if we talk about the types of welding that can be carried out in any home or small workshop, we can distinguish four types of tig welder. Each process has its own benefits and limitations and is better suited to certain applications. There is no process that works for everything. These are the most common processes:

  • MIG / GMAW welding
  • TIG / GTAW welding
  • Welding with electrode / SMAW
  • Arc welding or molten flow

Other types of welding, but much more precise and not so common, are micro soldering, seam welding, ultrasonic welding, hermetic welding, projection welding, orbital welding, precision welding, and resistance welding. These types of welding are not used too much.

Therefore, in this small guide, we will analyze and compare the four most common processes, taking into account the advantages and disadvantages of each type of welding. Let us begin!

MIG welding

How does MIG welding work?

What is known as MIG, is metal arc welding with gas (GMAW) . The electrode forms an arc with the metal to be welded and thus melts, melting with the material.

The MIG welding process has a protective gas bubble, to protect the welding of the air components.

In addition, the pieces that are welded do not fuse, since the welding is fed with another material, and this makes it possible to weld different types of materials. Both the electrodes and the gas that is used have to be replaced as they are spent.

What is MIG welding used for?

MIG welding has various applications, and both thick and thin metals can be welded with this method.

But for this, a good MIG welding machine will be necessary, so that the power can be adjusted, so that very thin and thin materials can be welded, and at the same time also weld thick steel materials.

Advantages of MIG welding

The biggest advantages of MIG welding are the following:

  • Easy to use and control the machine, recommended for beginners, since it only has one gun to learn to control.
  • It can be used in¬†a wide range of thicknesses.
  • Aesthetically pleasing finishes.
  • It can also be used¬†for sculpture.

Disadvantages of MIG welding

However, it also has some disadvantages that must be taken into account:

  • The materials that can be welded are a bit limited: it is weak for cast iron and too strong for thin aluminum.¬†The same goes for material that is too thin or too thick.
  • It cannot be used on dirty or rusty materials, they have to be clean.
  • It cannot be used in wet conditions, as it is a somewhat delicate process.

If you think what you need is a MIG welding machine, we leave you the link to the buying guide below:

TIG welding

How does TIG welding work?

The¬†welding gas tungsten arc (GTAW), or TIG welding is a process that uses¬†an electrode non –¬†consumable tungsten to heat and melt the material.¬†In this way, the welding puddle is created.

This process does not use filler metal, and welding is done with a single metal. But if you want to provide a filler material you can add another rod, and so it can be welded in different materials.

As with MIG welding, a gas bubble is needed to protect the weld from contaminants. The difference is that while carbon dioxide is used for the former, helium or argon is used for TIG welding.

What is TIG welding used for?

TIG welding can be used in many materials since you can weld from steel to aluminum.

However, TIG welding has limitations in terms of the thicknesses of these materials, and although you can use it in many materials, they have to be thin to weld them through this process.

In this way, the tungsten rod that is used is also much thinner, since this makes the welding it performs also thinner, and much more precise.

Advantages of TIG welding

The main advantages of TIG welding are the following:

    • Precise and very aesthetic¬†welding, it is the most aesthetic welding of all
    • Welding suitable for car and motorcycle bodies, due to its thin and precise welding bead.
  • One of the cleanest welds that exist¬†does not produce any waste.

For these reasons, TIG welding is one of the favorite welding types of experienced welders.

Disadvantages of TIG welding

However, it also has some disadvantages that you should keep in mind:

  • It is not an easy welding type, it is not for beginners.

If after reading this, you have decided that what you need is a MIG welding machine, we leave you with our buying guide:

Welding with electrode / SMAW

How does electrode welding work?

Armored metal arc welding (SMAW) or electrode welding is one of the oldest types of welding.

Therefore, the operation of the process is very simple, but at the same time very effective, because the joints it creates are very strong and can be used to weld thicker materials.

The electrode, which provides most of the welding material, is heated and melted, and the two parts are welded with heat. This rod, being coated, protects the weld from contamination.

What is electrode welding used for?

The greatest use of electrode welding occurs in construction since it is a very resistant type of welding. And it is the welding process that must be used for materials such as cast iron or thick materials in general; which is impossible to weld with other welding processes.

Advantages of welding with electrode or SMAW

The main advantages of electrode welding are as follows:

  • Heavy welds can be achieved in thick materials, which is why it is the welding process used in construction.
  • It allows welding materials such as cast iron.
  • More¬†economical¬†equipment¬†than other welding processes.
  • It can be used¬†in humid environments and even in rain.

Disadvantages of welding with electrode or SMAW

After seeing the advantages of this type of welding, we will see the disadvantages:

  • It cannot be used in thin materials.
  • The finish is not as aesthetic¬†as other welding processes, leaves scum and requires cleaning to improve aesthetics a bit.
  • It is not so easy to learn¬†and requires a little experience to achieve good finishes and perform the arc.

Arc welding or molten flow

How does arc welding work?

Arc welding, or molten flow welding, is very similar to the MIG welding process. The two types use a cable that constantly feeds the weld but in a different way.

In this process, the cable has a flow core that generates a surrounding gas, while an external gas is necessary for MIG welding.

What is arc welding used for?

This type of welding is also used mainly for the different construction materials since it is a process for heavy and thick materials. This is why it is used for heavy steel and heavy machinery repairs.

Advantages of arc welding

The advantages of using this welding process are the following:

  • It is very efficient welding, and suitable for thick and heavy materials.
  • It creates little waste, so it doesn’t take much cleaning.

Disadvantages of arc welding

This process also has some disadvantages that must be taken into account:

  • This process¬†is good for materials with low thickness.
  • Although it doesn’t take much cleaning, you¬†have to do a cleaning¬†if you want an aesthetic finish.

Comparative table of MIG, TIG, electrode and arc processes

In this table we summarize each type of welding, to make it easier for you to make a decision:

MIG WELDING TIG WELDING
  • It is the easiest process to learn
  • High speed welding
  • Better control over thinner metals.
  • Cleaner welds can be made without slag to clean
  • The same equipment can be used for melt flow welding
  • High quality and precision welding
  • Fully aesthetic weld seams
  • Allows you to adjust the heat input during welding
WELDING WITH ELECTRODE / SMAW / MMA ARC WELDING
  • It works well in thick and heavy materials
  • It can be welded on dirtier and rusty material
  • Suitable for rainy and windy conditions
  • It works as well as electrode welding on dirty or rusty material
  • Deep penetration for welding thick sections.
  • More forgiving when welding on dirty or rusty metal.

Welding process suitable for each material

Let’s take a look at¬†the welding process that you can use for each type of metal.¬†In this way, it will be easier for you to make a decision based on the projects you have in mind or the use you are going to give the welder:

METAL / PROCESS MIG ELECTRODE / ARC TIG
Welding steel X X X
Stainless steel welding X X X
Welding Aluminum Alloys X X
Cast iron welding X
Chrome welding X
Copper welding X
Brass welding X
Welding of exotic metals (magnesium, titanium ..) X

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