Sometimes referred to as a hot glue gun’, MIG welding uses electricity to join together melted metal. As one of the easiest welding types to learn, this welding process can be used to join anything from heavy steel pipes to thin gauge sheets.
As the easiest form of welding, the MIG process can be used to join together:
- Stainless steel
- Carbon steel
- Silicon bronze and other alloys
MIG Welding Process Characteristics
When using this process, a consumable wire electrode feeds the spool to the metal pieces being joined. The overall weld bead is uniform, making slag-free welding easy especially for hobbyists. As a semi-automatic welding process, you get relieved off some inputs by the welder.
Using the MIG welding process, you can work at any position and with lesser skill. The arc is stabilized by the shielding gas, ensuring even all-around welds. Metal is smoothly transferred from your welding wire to molten weld spool.
This welding process allows you to work with more metal types of varying thickness. The most common welds you will be doing are edge joint, T-join, butt join, and lap joint. Depending on the material you’re working with, shielding gases are mixed to accommodate all properties.
FYI: MIG welding saves you a lot of time since you won’t have to stop and replace the brush, chip, or rod.
MIG Welding Equipment
To begin MIG welding, you will require:
- A gas regulator
- MIG gun
- Wire Feeder
- Ground Clamp and Hoses
Wire feeders are available in form of spool feed guns, suitcase wire feed system, or an add-on wire fed system. MIG welding is all about working the gun. Your choice of welding gun determines how easy and successful your welds will be. You can either settle for:
- Push Pull MIG Guns – These are a simple cable with remote wire connectivity. It is the most popular and works excellently for soft-filler metals such as aluminum
- Spool Feed MIG Guns – Though they are the best for aluminum welding, they are quite pricey. Among the three, it is the easiest to handle
- Standard MIG Guns – If you are working on stainless steel and other metal alloys and more-so in an industrial capacity, these guns provide the best support. The easy control makes them ideal for all users.
MIG Welding Gases
Shielding gases are useful in shielding the welding area from the atmosphere. To create an air-free zone, welders can use:
- Carbon Dioxide
Depending on the metals you are working with, the three gases are used as mixtures. The shielding gas must match both the base metal and electrode. When they are incompatible, the welds won’t hold. Your choice of welding gas also determines:
- Mechanical weld properties
- Welding arc characteristics
- The depth of penetration of the weld
Tip: Your local welding supply store should advise you on the best shielding gas to use with your welding wire.
TIG vs MIG welding
In TIG welding, a non-consumable tungsten electrode is used in running current through metals. The welder may or may not require a filling metal. A feeding metal is necessary for the MIG welding process since the two metals can’t melt and join firmly.
Ease of Control
For its ease-of-use, MIG welding is the preferred option for most beginners and even professional welders. It is more forgiving of mistakes than TIG welding which requires the highest levels of precision. First-timers can learn how to safely operate in less than an hour.
During TIG welding, one should strictly control the timing, electric current, and pressure. To get it right, most TIG welding professionals use automation through a computer-numerically-controlled welder (CNC). They can easily perform identical welds for the best outcome.
FYI: Whether you’re using MIG or TIG welding, getting the weld settings right avoids repetition of similar mistakes.
Which One Works Best?
This depends on the task at hand. If you frequently work with thicker and larger sheets of metal, MIG welding is the way to go since it uses filler metals. For the smaller metal pieces, TIG accomplishes amazing welds which last long, since the two metal join together directly, there’s no risk of the filler material failing.
With its use of robotic welding equipment, TIG welding is lower-maintenance as it doesn’t require frequent changing of parts. The welding process doesn’t constantly use the welding electrode. However, always polish and clean it between uses for the best performance (more so when joining stainless steel).
A TIG welder is the more versatile of the two, allowing you to weld many types of metal. It is, however, a slower process requiring utmost concentration.
Tip: For home welding needs, MIG welding is the easiest and the most productive method.
What is MIG Welder?
A MIG welder contains several rollers for pushing out the welding wire and a wire spool. As will happen from time to time, the wire feed may jam; opening up this part of your machine allows you to quickly fix this.
The large wire spool is held in place by tension nut; it should be conveniently tight to prevent the wire from unraveling. If it’s too tight, however, the rollers might pull it to the spool. Depending on the metal you are working with, the spool of wire can be changed. For instance, a copper colored wire is ideal for welding steel.
During your welding process, the welding gun commands the most attention; it’s responsible for firmly joining metals together. The gun’s trigger controls electricity flow and wire-feeding. The welding wire follows the guidance of a replaceable copper-tip, each welder has a unique tip.
Tips are available in different sizes to accommodate the wire diameter you’re working with; I found this already set up in the welders I reviewed. A metal or ceramic cup covers the exterior of the gun’s tip, directing gas flow and protecting the electrode.
The circuit running from the welder, welding gun, and your project is completed by the ground clamp. For safety and performance purposes, ensure the clamp is fixed onto the metal welding table or directly to the piece of metal you’re welding.
Tip: Grind off any paint or dust that may be preventing the welder from completing the connection.
Best MIG welder for beginner
Everlast Poweri MIG 140e MIG Welder
- Can take 4”, 6”, or even 8” spools
- Work great for DIY projects
- One of the lightest MIG welders I’ve ever come across
- No transformer buzz
- Handles standard tips and guns
- Isn’t compatible with miller-tips
- Doesn’t come with wire for running through
Weighing only 20 lbs, Everlast power is one of the lightest MIG welders on the market. With it, using the spool gun is easy and enhances your safety. The easy-to-understand controls make this welder ideal for starting nonprofessionals. Directions on how to feed the wire are clearly explained in the user manual.
Even in remote work sites, this MIG welder is light enough to be hand-carried by the user. Its versatility allows you to perform strong welds outdoors. Unlike transformer power MIG welders, this model offers you a better duty cycle, allowing you to handle more work successfully.
FYI: At 35% duty cycle, you get 140 amps of power.
Pure Environment for Perfect Welding
This unit is specially equipped with a spool gun and Tweco gun which synchronizes in operation. Flow-through argon attachments are strategically positioned to ensure that all is expelled around the weld for the best results.
These three components make your final weld highly professional, eliminating the need of having to weld again. When I used it, everything ran like clockwork without wasted effort. All the connections are industry certified and approved.
This MIG welder’s weight, fair price, and incredible performance are its selling points. You will get the hang of it within no time.
Lincoln Electric Easy MIG Welder 140
- Maximum output and conductivity due to the brass to brass-gun connectivity
- A fully adjustable drive ensuring lesser wire tangle and crushing
- Is quick to work with and provides minimal drive roll
- Tension indicators helps you avoid putting the machine in jeopardy
- As a 120V welder, it can readily be used in homes
- Its popularity sees it run out of stock quickly; placing an order works great!
As a powerhouse company, Lincoln didn’t disappoint with their latest MIG welder, the Easy-MIG 140. It uses your typical 120V power source, making it ideal for home use. Depending on your need and proficiency in using the welder, the wire feed system can run between 50 t 500 IPM. The drive system is user-friendly and fully adjustable.
Whether you’re working on the farm, a home project, or the welding shop, this welder is multi-purpose and will accomplish all. Its simple 2-knob control makes it easy for you to set shielding gas for steel, aluminum, and other thinner-gauge metals. It achieves deeper penetration through gasless flux core welding.
Whether you’re a newbie or a professional welder, this Lincoln welder has a simple and easy-to-operate design. Anyone can produce great results with this welder, placing it a class above its competitors. The calibration chart on its side makes it even easier to set up and operate.
You can trust the Lincoln Electric Easy MIG 140 to handle your home and professional welding with minimal fuss. After a couple of weeks using it, I understood why it runs out of stock so fast.
Klutch MIG 140si Inverter-Powered Wire Feed MIG
- Can operate with a shielding gas or without
- Increased power output through the inverter based system
- Absolute control over material with varying thickness
- Durable and high performance
- Reduces power input through less input Ampere
- Has arbitrary digits on its dial, this can be easily ignored
With an output power ranging between 30 and 140 Amp, this inverter-based system works excellently with 115V power. Though it is super light, it comes with increased power delivery, making your welds last longer without breaking apart.
Even when working with a smaller generator, the welder’s power output remained high. It weighs considerably lesser than traditional models, making it a perfect fit for a busy professional. For consistency, the inverter design handles power fluctuations, making for a better welding experience.
The welder’s ultimate control has a flexible amperage output range, allowing you to work with metals such as stainless steel, aluminum, and mild steel. Together with the welder’s infinite wire-feed setting, you have unlimited control over materials of different thickness. Being Spool gun compatible, welding aluminum is easier and faster.
Multitasking and High Performance
During weld, this unit allows you to run your grinder, lights, cutter, and radio simultaneously, its quality fit makes it incredibly strong. Its versatility made it capable of meeting all my welds, making the whole experience enjoyable.
In my hunt for a MIG welder, this particular model made my welding experiences enjoyable due to the simplicity of the operation process. My only qualm is with the pricing.
Lincoln Electric K2185-1 MIG Welder
- Neat welding
- Reduced slag
- Comes with several welding supplies
- 8 ft clamp cable
- Can plug to 115V household power
- Has wire assembly and the welding gun
- Adaptable and flexible (can weld both flux-cored and MIG)
- Replacement parts might be hard to access
- Doesn’t come with gas hose and regulator
With decades of excellent product manufacturing, Lincoln welding machines only keep getting better. Depending on the need at hand, the wire speed control can be adjusted between 0 to 300 IPM. It easily adapts to any small flux or MIG feed for all small home projects.
This feature, apart from being salient, is the simplest and most practical. Running on the only 110V, it deals with a wide range of metal thickness. More conveniently for users, you can now view your work without having to deal with all the slag.
Tip: As an enhanced contractor safety feature, the welding wire is kept electrically cold when not in operation.
Optimal Duty Cycle
The duty cycle describes the amount of time the welder has to cool off before being used again. While most welders in its category have a 10% duty cycle, Lincoln Electric K1285-1 has a commendable 20% cycle; some high-end models can’t match this.
The oxygen tank cart can be bought separately from the MIG welder; many people have made fully-functioning carts at home without incurring the extra expenditure.
With incredibly simple functionality and flexibility, this welder’s far-reaching performance made it possible for me to finish complex welds quite fast. It is ideal for handling medium and light welding tasks.
MIG Welder FAQs
Q: What Does Pre and Post Gas Flow Mean?
A: A fraction of a second before initiating the arc, pre-flow gas is expelled from your welding torch; all impurities are blown from the welding surface, assuring you a high-quality weld. Post-flow gas is crucial in protecting the weld as soon as you’re done.
Q: How Can A Contaminated Tungsten-Tip Be Fixed?
A: As you become better in MIG welding, grinding tungsten will become a second nature. The electrode easily dips into the weld many times; you don’t necessarily have to stop welding. When the electrode is contaminated, flip it to the uncontaminated side.
Q: Why Does Tungsten Contaminate Welds?
A: This happens when the user holds the welding torch too close to the welding surface or accidentally dips the tungsten in weld. Contaminated welds not only look distasteful but can also break down faster.
Q: Which Is The Ideal Shielding Gas?
A: Shielding gases should be used proportionately depending on the material you are working on. Argon, Helium, and Carbon Dioxide are all needed for wholesome welding. Normally, two of the gases will be mixed for most welding requirements.
Do you have any other questions or information you would like to share about MIG welding? Let us know. It’s our hope that this MIG welding guide has made it easier for you to pick the right welder fitting all your needs. Cheers!