MIG welding is an arc welding, or more specifically, a GMAW process that is among the most common welding processes used today. Many people like MIG welding because it is easy to learn and doesn’t take a ton of expensive equipment. However, like anything, there are advantages and disadvantages of MIG welding. We’ll go through the main pros and cons below and let you decide if this is the right welding method to pick up.
Advantages of MIG Welding
There are quite a few advantages of MIG welding, which is why it is one of the most popular and widely used processes. These MIG welding advantages include:
- Versatility – MIG welding can be used on a lot of different metals. It can also be performed automatically or semi-automatically.
- Fast production speed – Because of the continuously fed wire, a weld can continue until complete with very little stoppage.
- High quality welds – When you can see the whole weld pool and control the gun easily, it’s easier to create clean, high quality welds.
- Lower amounts of weld spatter – The shielding gas and level of control lead to lower amounts of spatter than other welding methods.
- Works on a wide variety of metals – MIG welding has more applications than other types of welding, which is why it’s the most widely used welding method.
- Easy to learn – Compared to TIG and more complex methods, MIG welding can be picked up very quickly, through hands-on instruction or even a simple welding book.
Disadvantages of MIG Welding
Of course, there are a few disadvantages of MIG welding, including:
- Challenge with thick materials – MIG welding can lead to incomplete fusion if the proper procedure is not used for the thickness of a metal that you are welding.
- Contaminants – Only handles low levels of surface contaminants (dust, paint, etc.) and can lead to porosity or weaker welds if there are high levels of these contaminants. MIG welding requires a clean workpiece before you start.
- Best used inside – The shielding gas can easily blow away with the slightest wind, so MIG welding is best used indoors with very low levels of air movement.
- Limited positions – since you are forming a weld puddle, it can’t be effectively used overhead.
- Complex equipment – it requires shielding gas bottles and a welding gun that aren’t completely portable for all jobs.
- Expensive – Equipment for MIG welding is somewhat costly, especially when considering shielding gas, wire, and replacement parts.
While the disadvantages of MIG welding can look a little big daunting, in most cases, they won’t really affect you. Compared to stick welding or flux-core welding, MIG welding is often seen as the most favorable, especially for beginners or DIYers. The ease of use, flexibility and control that you get with MIG welding will usually outweigh the drawbacks, but check out other welding methods for yourself and decide what’s best.