MIG welding

MIG Welding Applications: Advantages and Disadvantages

MIG welding is one of the most common and popular techniques for industrial and construction projects. It’s an arc welding process that involves feeding a continuous wire electrode through a welding gun into a weld pool. Shielding gas is required to prevent contamination as it joins two base materials.

MIG, also known as metal inert gas or gas metal arc welding (GMAW), is often considered an easy learning process and a standard method for intermediate and advanced welders. It’s one of the top welding techniques used for maintenance, repairs, and production operations. It’s also commonly used on building construction sites and manufacturing facilities.


What Industries and Applications Is MIG Welding Used In?


Gas metal arc welding is commonly used in body shops, farms, ranches, home garages, and for small maintenance work and repairs. The MIG welding process is also ideal for light fabrications and artwork due to its clean, precise finish.

It’s a versatile type of welding that allows for great flexibility and can be applied to many types of metals and varieties of thicknesses. When you consider MIG welding as an option for an upcoming home project or maintenance work, it’s essential to consider the advantages and drawbacks of this technique.


Advantages of MIG Welding


Many professional welders choose MIG welding over other welding techniques and machines. Metal inert gas welding is a process that can be applied either automatically or semi-automatic, and it’s a versatile technique that offers significant benefits for welders and various projects.


High Productivity in the Manufacturing Industry


MIG welding is a highly productive process perfect for the manufacturing industry, leading to higher profits, economic benefits, and less downtime due to efficiency. Shielded metal arc welding works quickly and consistently while providing smooth, clean welds that don’t require sanding or finishing to remove slag or debris. MIG welding also doesn’t require continuously changing rods, which keeps production steady and without unnecessary downtime.


Versatile With Different Metals and Materials


MIG welding equipment is versatile and works with various alloys and metals, including aluminum, mild steel, stainless steel, copper, magnesium, nickel, and iron. This type of welding is also available as semi-automatic or fully automatic robotic welding for fast, consistent results. It’s an excellent welding option for large manufacturing operations and small home welding projects and is ideal for many industries.


It’s a Clean and Efficient Welding Method


The arc welding process uses a shielding gas to protect the arc, which creates a clean transfer of metals, and little to no debris or slag, resulting in a clean finish. Unlike stick welding, there is no slag or spatter to remove, and clean-up between welding tasks is quick, reducing the time between operations. In cases where a MIG welding procedure leaves a bit of residue, it’s typically minimal and easy to clean without any interruption between projects.


Simple, Quality Welds


You’ll produce a better weld pool with clear visibility using a MIG welding technique. This process allows you to use the technique easily, with greater control, to create a more precise outcome. It’s not only more accurate but faster than most welding methods.


It Produces a Faster Welding Speed


The MIG welding process is fast, with a continuously fed wire, which allows you to create quality welds with two free hands. This advantage gives you greater control and the ability to use the welding gun more accurately, with better results.


Easy to Learn


It’s one of the most accessible welding techniques to learn due to the simplicity of the process. Beginners in the welding profession can learn how to use basic MIG welding within several hours, whereas new welders can understand the basics of this technique and how it works.

While MIG is similar in some ways to TIG welding, learning to use gas tungsten arc welding is challenging and requires significant training to use correctly. On the other hand, MIG welding is easy to learn, even for individuals with little or no welding knowledge.


Disadvantages of MIG Welding


Metal inert gas welding is one of the top choices for welding techniques across many industries. However, there are some drawbacks worth considering before choosing this method.


High Costs


While MIG welding is highly productive and efficient, with good economic results, it is an expensive process for setup, which can also be complex. There are many components to include, which can be costly, including shielding gas, replacement parts, nozzles, electrodes, and related tools. Personal protective equipment is also essential and can add to the cost, especially in extensive production facilities.

Despite the expenses and regular maintenance required, MIG welding’s efficiency is well worth the investment, though it can be challenging for smaller operations with a limited budget.


It’s Stationary


Once you set up a MIG station, it’s not portable, restricting its use to one location. For this reason, metal inert gas welding is best for manufacturing facilities or construction projects.


Not Ideal for Thick Metals


MIG welding is one of the most versatile techniques, though it’s not suited for very thick metals, such as steel, which require a more robust method to penetrate the material to create a solid weld.


Longer Preparation Time for Metal Materials


While MIG welding is easy to clean after a job or set up for a new task, the materials used in the process must be completely free of dirt or dust to produce a good quality weld. Any residue left on the metallic material can impact the weld’s quality and precision, so it takes longer to inspect the metals to ensure they are ready for the welding process. Working with clean metals also ensures better safety conditions.


Challenges With Shielding Gas


When you use shielding gas, the bottle can often appear to get in the way of the welding process, depending on the nature of the job and the site, which can be challenging. It’s also not easily replaceable and may take longer than expected due to high demands and availability.


Unsuitable for Various Welding Positions


Metal inert gas welding doesn’t provide the same flexibility for working in different positions, such as overhead or vertical welding, due to the high heat and the fluid nature of the welding puddle.


It’s Not Equipped for Outdoors


Since MIG welding requires a shielding gas, it cannot be used outdoors due to the changing temperatures and wind. It’s also more challenging to protect the weld's purity outdoors, as various elements can impact the welding process. It’s best to use MIG in a confined space, such as the interior of a newly constructed building, a manufacturing facility, or an automotive garage.


Where to Get MIG Welding Equipment


Sunbelt Rentals offers an extensive selection of welding equipment, including MIG or metal inert gas welders, plasma cutting equipment, stick welding, and machines for all your building and manufacturing projects. We offer expert service and support from knowledgeable staff to find the perfect welding equipment and technology for your next project. We’ll provide safety tips on setting up a new metal inert gas welding station, renting plasma arc welding equipment, or tungsten inert gas welding supplies.