Types of Welding Comparison | TIG vs. MIG vs. Stick vs. Arc

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Today, there are various welding processes with some that are relatively simple, and others that are somewhat complicated. 

There are 4 standard types of welding processes that all beginner welders need to know about.

In this post we will go through the main type of welding including, Arc welding vs MIG welding vs TIG welding vs Stick welding.

Each process comes with its own set of unique shortcomings and benefits, and it is important to understand that no single process will be suitable when it comes to all applications. 

For this reason, it becomes important to gain an understanding of the 4 different welding processes to find out which type matches up to your needs and for different types of applications.

In this article, we will help you to understand how each of these processes works, the applications of every process, along with the advantages and setbacks linked to each of these processes. (source)

This will help you to match your requirements for a specific type of process.

Types of Welding: Arc Welding vs MIG Welding vs TIG Welding vs Stick Welding

There are 4 main types of welding_ MIG, TIG, Stick and Arc

MIG Welding Overview And How Does It Work?

MIG which stands for Metal Inert Gas welding is a process that is relatively simple to learn.

See also:

It doesn’t take very long to learn and master these basic concepts.

In most cases, the only complex concept involved in MIG has to do with setting up the parameters associated with the welder along with selecting the correct shielding gas.

MIG utilizes a special gun that feeds electrode lines at a predetermined and constant speed.

These actions result in the formation of an arc that occurs between an electrode along with the metal you plan to weld.

This process melts wires and then fuses it with the base metal which results in a much stronger weld.

MIG which stands for Metal Inert Gas welding is a process that is relatively simple to learn.

It doesn’t take very long to learn and master these basic concepts.

In most cases, the only complex concept involved in MIG has to do with setting up the parameters associated with the welder along with selecting the correct shielding gas.

MIG utilizes a special gun that feeds electrode lines at a predetermined and constant speed.

These actions result in the formation of an arc that occurs between an electrode along with the metal you plan to weld.

This process melts wires and then fuses it with the base metal which results in a much stronger weld.

This process involves something known as shielding gas.

This gas offers protection to the welding area from the atmospheric contaminants that include Nitrogen and Oxygen that have the potential to damage welding metals, the arc or electrode should these come into direct contact.

It is also worth noting that you can get some really affordable MIG welders.

MIG Solidwire welding calculator

MIG solid wire

MIG Fluxcored Calculator

MIG flux core wire

MIG Welding Applications

MIG welding is a very straightforward process that is used for a variety of situations to weld thick and thin metal layers.

Many of the MIG welders use different power outputs that enable them to regulate power levels. This provides a method to work on the thinner metals without having to worry about a burn-through.

Similarly, it is also possible to increase the power levels to work on the thicker metals, which results in great looking and durable welds.

Advantages of MIG Welding

  • Wide range of purposes
  • It makes appealingly attractive welds and can therefore be used to make sculptures.
  • Easy to control weld gun and trigger. This is because you only need to use the trigger to start the feed and it will immediately stop when you stop.
  • The gun holds a lot of the material needed for the actual welding, wire welding.

Disadvantages of MIG Welding

  • It will not be powerful enough for some metals including cast iron and will give you a bad weld at best with these materials.
  • On the other hand, it is also overly strong for some materials such as aluminum
  • You need to use unsoiled materials.
  • It becomes exceedingly difficult to use if with wet or windy weather

TIG Welding: TIG Welding Overview And How Does It Work?

TIG welding calculator

TIG welding also goes by the name of GTAW (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding). This process of welding is a more sophisticated approach in comparison to MIG. 

See also: What is TIG Welding?

These welding processes involve a TIG gun or torch that features a non-consumable tungsten-electrode that heats the welding material which is what results in the weld.

The capacity to gain control over the torch with the correct operating speed and current make these processes physically demanding. 

The process requires the use of both hands along with a specialized foot pedal, that can be somewhat tricky. When performed correctly this process produces precise and accurate welds.

Similar to MIG, the weld areas have to be free from contaminants with the use of shielding gas. In most instances, argon is the gas that is used, and in some cases, filler metals will be used instead.

Because of these processes using a non-consumable electrode, there is no need for feeding, which means the electrode doesn’t require replacing. 

The gas tank will need refilling as a part of standard maintenance procedures.

TIG Welding Applications

TIG is often used for welding a range of materials, yet it will be limited to a specific thickness of materials. It works well on thinner metals, resulting in a precise weld that will require very little cleaning.

The tungsten electrode is also thinner when compared to the types used for other welding processes, which allows the user to arrive at precise and thin welds.

These processes work well on a variety of materials that include alloy steel, stainless steel, and the non-ferrous metals such as aluminum, copper, and magnesium. TIG welding is not suitable for cast iron.

TIG welding is the ideal and preferred choice for the short-run technical welds, while the long run projects are usually more costly and complicated. So if the activity involves something small such as a sink repair, TIG would be a better option. 

This is also a process that is preferable for many automotive projects, along with artwork that involves designing ornaments.

Pro Welder Guide has a great guide reviewing the best TIG welders.

Advantages of TIG Welding

  • It creates a very clean weld and also reduces splashing.
  • TIG welding can create very clean and good-looking weld beads.
  • You will often have a pedal which can mean precise control over heat.
  • The TIG process can give you much more accuracy in weld location.
  • It will often be used in auto construction or repair.

Disadvantages of TIG Welding

  • It is on the more difficult side of welding as It takes some time to get familiar with the process and then master it. This is why MIG welding is usually seen as the best way into welding rather than TIG; even though TIG welding can produce better results.

Stick Welding: Stick Welding Overview and How Does It Work?

Stick welding calculator

SMAW, which stands for Shielded Metal Arc Welding, more commonly known as Stick Welding has been in practice for several years and remains the more popular of the welding processes for home-related and workshop welding projects.

The process is relatively simple and involves a flux-coated, consumable electrode where a welding arc forms between the working material and the electrode. 

The supplied power causes the electrode to heat up which makes it melt. It is the intensity of the heat that works on joining every part together. 

This process will require replacing the electrode often during welding sessions.

The flux coating disintegrates into the surrounding weld area and acts as a barrier from contaminants, which eliminates the requirement for inert gas.

Many of the stick welders come in AC, DC, or AC/DC which will depend on the metal type that is being welded. 

Stick welding happens to be one of the more economical processes that are capable of producing strong welds and can be used effectively on dirty and rusty metals.

See also: Best Stick Welders

Stick Welding Applications

Stick welding is used widely across the construction industries due to its characteristic of producing strong and reliable welds. 

It works well on thicker materials, which includes the materials that are not possible with the other types of welding processes like cast iron.

It is also suitable for heavy-duty applications which include pipes, heavy steel construction, and heavy repairs. 

It also performs well on the majority of joints and alloys and is a technique that works well both outdoors and indoors. It can even be used in unfavorable conditions, such as strong winds.

Stick welding is the preferable choice for thicker materials and is capable of welding metals of 1/16″ or more. 

This makes it an excellent option for hobbyists and DIYer’s for different types of maintenance chores.

See also: Welding calculators

Advantages of Stick Welding

  • Stick welding is often used for materials that are denser.
  • It can create very strong welds.
  • Stick welding is not weather dependent.
  • Will be seen in heavy duty tasks that is more of an industrial nature.
  • While MIG welding is not powerful enough for cast iron, stick welding can be used.
  • Having to figure out shielding gas is not an issue.

Disadvantages of Stick Welding

  • As a result of its very high heat, stick welding is not appropriate for thin metal because it can just burn right through them.
  • Flux is needed liberally so you will need to make sure to clean the weld and your work area up afterwards.
  • Different electrodes are needed so when working on different gauges of metal, you might have to dedicate some time to switching them around. (Not a big deal, but something you need to consider nonetheless).
  • Can be messy with excess slag waste produced.

Arc Welding: Arc Welding Overview and How Does It Work?

Arc Welding also goes by the name of flux-core welding. This welding process is similar to MIG welding as both these processes use consumable electrodes and that they both require constant feeding of wires to produce welding arcs.

The 2 processes do differ, as arc welding makes use of a flux-core in order to produce shielding gas, while MIG uses a gas source from the outside (external).

The arc-welding uses dual-shielded welding that uses an outside (external) gas source that supplements the flux-core which creates a secondary shield.

Similar to the other processes which use consumable electrodes, it does require changing from time to time. 

You also won’t need to top up the gas when you only use the single shielding feature.

Arc Welding Applications

Arc welding is a process that generates a significant amount of heat. 

For this reason, it should only be used on heavy and thick materials that are able to withstand this type of heat without risking a burn-through.

This welding process is mainly used for heavy machinery and repairs along with other equipment that is similar, like heavy-steel construction.

See also: Best Arc Welders

Advantages of Arc Welding

  • Effective and clean weld.
  • Much more forgiving when doing out of position welding.

Disadvantages of Arc Welding

  • Similar to stick welding, the high heat might be too much for thinner materials.
    Again, to do with the high heat, you will find some left over slag that is an extra job to clean up.

What are the types of welding?

MIG - Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW)
TIG - Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW)
Stick - Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)
Flux-Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)
Energy Beam Welding (EBW)
Atomic Hydrogen Welding (AHW)
Gas Tungsten-Arc Welding.
Plasma Arc Welding.

What are the 4 types of welding?

There are several types of welding, but the main 4 that are most accessible, include:
MIG Welding
TIG Welding
Stick Welding
Arc Welding

Which type of welding is best?

This is not easy to answer as all welding types have their different uses. However, if you are looking to start out and/ or want to do small jobs around the house, then MIG welding is often recommended.


So which type of welding process should you use for your job?

Well hopefully this post has given you some ideas because as always with life, the answer is…it depends!

If you are just starting out and want an affordable machine, then MIG vs TIG welding is probably going to keep you in the game longer as a result of its more forgiving nature.
TIG welding will give you more beautiful results, but it has a steeper learning curve than MIG.

However, you should still consider learning TOG welding once you have reached a certain level of proficiency.

For really strong welded joints, arc and stick welding are both great options as a result of their much higher heats.

They are also less prone to weather conditions, i.e. wind or rain etc.

So, there you have it, our essential guide to the different types of welding available to consumers and professionals.

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