MIG is the short form of metal inert gas. Technically, it is known as gas metal arc welding or GMAW, whereas the slang is wire welding.
The process is commonly popular among artists, farmers, DIY welders, motor sportsmen, and ranchers. MIG welding is also easy to learn, so many people prefer to use this method for repair and maintenance.
Some people have compared MIG welding to working with a glue gun. Hence, you can see how simple the method is to apply.
Although this method may be a new concept for some people, this article explains everything in the simplest way possible for the benefit of all. We hope you enjoy learning about this incredible procedure!
What is MIG Welding?
This arc welding process inserts a solid wire electrode continuously into a welding gun and the weld pool to join them together. To prevent the welding gun and weld pool from contamination, a shielding gas is sent through them.
Industries prefer MIG welding over various other techniques due to its simplicity, speed, and versatility. Despite the method being used traditionally, it has shown compatibility with modern robotic technologies as well.
Furthermore, MIG welding is possible to work with multiple metals, such as magnesium, aluminum, copper, stainless steel, nickel, carbon steel, silicon bronze, and other alloys.
MIG Welding Equipment
You will need a few equipment to get started with MIG welding. The tools that you normally need are a MIG welder, a welding gun, ground clamp, MIG wire, and a gas tank.
The welder is the tool that houses the wire for MIG welding. If you’re just starting out, no need to get a fancy one, there are various budget MIG welders in the market that will suit your needs. You can go through Pro Welder Guide for more information regarding choosing the right MIG welder for you needs..
The welder stores the spool of electrode wire that is required to create the anode. Rollers are also available to push the electrode wires into the welding gun.
The outcome of the weld depends greatly on how you set and hold the welding gun. You can find different designs of a welding gun in the market. Some have a pistol-like grip, while others are quite ordinary.
The trigger controls the flow of electricity and the electrode wire feed. The convertible copper tip conducts the electrode wire.
Moreover, there is a protective layer over the copper tip made of ceramic or metal that guides the flow of inert gas and keeps the electrode wire safe.
The ground clamp clasps the metal workpiece or the metal welding table. The clamp should always be connected to the metal you will weld.
The wire is one of the most important components of the MIG welding process. According to the metal workpiece, you can use various types of wires. For example, you should use an ER5356 or ER4043 wire for welding aluminum, an ER70s-6 for carbon steel and an ER308L for stainless steel.
Usually, three types of gases are used in MIG welding- carbon dioxide, pure argon and a mix of the two. Carbon dioxide is used on steel and other ferrous materials.
It is cheaper and more popular than argon. However, there is one problem with this gas, and that is it can’t give a stable electric arc which causes splattering.
On the other hand, argon is used to work on aluminum and other ferrous metals. It has low thermal heat conductivity, hence it creates a narrow weld bead.
The third gas is a mixture of the two gases mentioned above. A combo of carbon dioxide and argon provides the more appropriate size of the electric arc and more stability.
The combo gas does not allow spattering, guarantees better penetration and it can weld all types of metals.
Advantages of MIG Welding
Here are all the advantages of MIG welding –
First of all, the process is easy to learn and apply. Second, it creates a good welding bead.
Third, you can get away with a minimum amount of splatter. Fourthly, it can weld in all positions. Finally, it can bring together a range of metals and thicknesses.
Disadvantages of MIG Welding
The disadvantages of MIG welding are as follows –
Firstly, it less controllable and sloppier than Tungsten Inert Gas Welding. Secondly, MIG welding can only be used on metals with thin to medium thickness.
Finally, the process is less portable than arc welding which doesn’t need external sources of shielding gas.
Safety Procedures of MIG Welding
MIG welding is not a dangerous procedure. But you still have to follow some basic safety procedures.
The light generated from arc welding can be super bright. Hence, if you don’t wear proper protective gear, the light can burn your eyes and skin.
You will need an auto-darkening welding mask. You can get yourself a manual mask, but it requires you to jerk your head so that the mask drops over your face. You can also use your hand to pull it down.
Additionally, use a welding screen to protect other people from getting harmed by the light. The light often attracts onlookers, so you should do your best to keep them safe.
Furthermore, in order to protect your hands, wear protective gloves to keep yourself safe from molten splattering metal. You can wear whatever you are comfortable in, as long as you have full control.
The gloves protect your skin from the UV light and heat produced from the welding. Therefore, even if you are going to be welding for a few minutes, put on your gloves!
You must put on the right outfit during MIG welding. Rayon and polyester can melt during the process, so at least wear cotton. The cotton may get some holes, but you won’t get burned.
Moreover, hot metal often falls down on your shoes and burn your feet. So wear leather shoes or boots during the welding process. Avoid wearing open-toed shoes and synthetic shoes.
It is very important to have the right welding apparel. You should wear a mask and goggles while having your entire body well-protected. Also, make sure to work in a well-ventilated area.
One last thing to remember when you are trying MIG welding for the first time. Don’t weld galvanized steel because it produces toxic and carcinogenic gas. The poisoning is severe and symptoms include flu!
Welding is a somewhat risky procedure as it involves heat and light. Melting objects can be dangerous when they fall anywhere on the body.
Other than getting a burn, you may also ingest gas that can hamper your wellbeing. Therefore, wear protective gear that covers you from top to bottom.
What is more, if the place you are working in is not tidy, objects lying around, such as plastic bags, paper and sawdust may catch fire. Since you will be too busy focusing on the job at work, you may be too late in preventing such accidents from happening.
Therefore, clean the place before getting to work. Also, have a fire extinguisher nearby just in case of emergencies. By no means though use a water extinguisher, as you will be surrounded by electric devices.