Thread: TIG or MIG welder
Currently looking into buying a welder, TIG or MIG?
My current preference from watching Youtube videos is TIG, looks like it might be an easier technique to master for the novice.
Would like to hear some thoughts on your personal preferences and why you might prefer one over the other.
Last edited by IanS1; 22-11-2013 at 06:23 PM.
depends what you want it for, tigs more specialized aluminium/stainless etc.tigs fine for welding mild steel just not as practical to use as a mig if you have loads of steel to go at ,migs much faster,i also found tig harder to learn than mig.
I'm not a welder myself but I have done many searches with regard to welders for the types of material used in cnc builds such as steel box section, never envisaged welding aluminium, and the one most recommended was MIG with stick welding second. A 150 Amp model seemed to be the ideal size for all round work and my Brother in Law says he found the small gas bottles lasted no time so it was better to go for a full size bottle if using gas, though I have no idea what the price difference is or how easy they are to acquire.
Last edited by EddyCurrent; 22-11-2013 at 07:25 PM.
I own both, cheap DIY MIG set and a combination of bit's that allows me to do TIG. I got my TIG gear about 30 years ago after watching a pipe welder repair a three branch manifold off my Mini Cooper(got to get me one of these i said)
The amount of times it has pulled me out of the *hit it was money well spent, it is so versatile, you can see exactly what your doing and you know you have got penetration, and with Argon you will be able to weld Stainless & possibly Ally if you flash a bit extra on a decent inverter set. don't get your gas from BOC as the yearly rental is extortionate. and i had mine in my shed for years just to have it on hand for when something hits the fan. I have used the MIG set and i think with practice i could become competent, but still prefer TIG.
MIG is far easier to learn, especially for steel. It's also one of the quickest welding methods, and if you use gas, requires little post weld cleanup. It will also tolerate slight contamination (i.e. rust/scale), unlike TIG which will errupt at the slightest sign of contamination.
TIG is one of the harder welding methods to learn. Best way to think of it is essentialy gas welding, but with an arc, however due to the sheilding gas it allows a far wider range of materials to be welded. It is an inherently slow welding method, and is far more suited where MIG or Arc can't be used. It's also more expensive for the required gas. Last time I priced it, pure argon was nearly twice the price of argon/co2 mix used for MIG welding.
Alot of TIG boxes are also capable of Arc welding, and are far easier to use for Arc due to the well regulated DC source (the cheap buzz boxes can be a right PITA to get going). However Arc takes a bit more practise than MIG, as the flux hides what's actually happening at the weld point, so you have to rely more on knowing how fast you should be moving so you lay down enough metal, rather than eith a MIG where you can see how much metal you've put down.
The same comments also apply to gasless MIG, as it's essentially Arc welding but with a continuous feeding rod.
My first preference is always MIG.
Arc gets used where either I have to run of a 13A socket, I need to use Low Hydrogen rods (the saviour of repairing carbon steel!), or I'm welding something where more heat/penetration is needed.
TIG is usually used when I want to play, or on the occasion I need to deal with Stainless.
I've been fabricating for 22 years, so can shed some light on this much asked question. MIG is by far the easiest to learn and cheapest to run. It's ideal for mild steel down to 2mm - 3mm thick. Anything less than 2mm thick will be best welded with TIG, although MIG can be used if you "spot" weld to avoid burning through. Basically, use MIG if you're going to be building steel frames and welding thick(ish) materials and use TIG for anything like sheet metals, etc. TIG is also preferred for Stainless Steel and Aluminium, although MIG can also be used with the correct equipment and set up. Note that for Aluminium, you will need a welding set with an AC setting. These don't come cheap and will generally double the price of a standard machine. Buy decent quality kit. The Chinese welders on ebay aren't up to much I'm afraid. SIP and R-Tech are 'OK' brands...made in China but are of a decent standard and (more importantly) have UK based customer support, servicing and spare parts. For good machines, I recommend Oxford which are UK built. I've had my Oxford 180A MIG set for 20 years and it's never let me down despite heavy use.
TIG uses a LOT more gas than MIG and requires pure Argon which ain't cheap, so running costs are much greater vs MIG. For MIG, I've used CO2 "pub gas" for many years without any issues. Technically we are MAG welding because CO2 is an active gas and gives better penetration than Argon mixes. The only thing to be aware of is that you must get the fizzy drinks CO2 as it is pure, whereas the beer gases will have nitrogen, etc in them. At £10 a bottle, no deposit and a lifespan of several years, it's a no brainer. There's a bit of an urban myth going around that CO2 is crap but very few (if any) of the "welders" saying it have actually used CO2.
Last edited by birchy; 22-11-2013 at 08:31 PM.
I'll second Diesel's comment, although I wouldn't say CO2 is crap, it certainly is not as good as using an Argon mix, especially if you're working on thin metal.
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