For anyone who wants to learn how to MIG weld, the most important first step is to learn a bit about what MIG welding is, what it is used for and some of the most common MIG welding techniques.
What Is MIG Welding
MIG stands for metal inert gas, and is a type of gas metal arc welding (GMAW). Although MIG welding is simply a type of GMAW, it is the most common process and you will very often see the two terms used interchangeably.
MIG welding is a type of arc welding which uses a consumable wire electrode and a shielding gas in order to create quick, strong welds. The consumable electrode acts not only as a source of the electric arc but also as the filler metal for your welds.
As the wire is fed through the welding rod it produces an electric arc which melts itself into a molten pool which allows you to weld as quickly as you’re skilled to and the wire is fed. Anyone who wants to learn how to MIG weld must become proficient in the speed of your weld – MIG welding too slowly will cause a buildup of the filler material on your joint while going too quickly will not leave enough metal to join your pieces.
One aspect of MIG welding is that is uses an inert or semi-inert gas to act as a shield for the weld. Without this shielding gas, contaminants such as nitrogen or oxygen from the atmosphere will get into the weld, weakening your joints. The two most common types of shielding gases used are argon and carbon dioxide, usually mixed.
If you’re not too familiar with how to MIG weld, or are unfamiliar with proper gas mixes, it is important to use a reference guide to ensure you’re using the proper mixture for your materials and MIG welding techniques.
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Applications For MIG Welding
MIG welding was originally designed for use in aluminum as the types of gases originally used were not strong or affordable enough to penetrate heavier metals. As carbon dioxide became commonplace in the welding industry, MIG welding began to be used effectively on steel which it is primarily used on today.
If you are looking for a career in welding, it is essential to learn how to MIG weld. MIG welding is used almost exclusively for spot welding, sheet metal fabrication, and in the automotive industry. Other, more advanced, applications for MIG welding include both underwater and in space.
MIG welding is the most common welding process employed in industrial settings, and it is imperative that anyone looking for a career in welding be knowledgeable and experienced in how to MIG weld and in a variety of MIG welding techniques.
MIG Welding Techniques
MIG welding techniques are fairly simple to learn compared to some of the other types of welding processes. Learning how to MIG weld is the easiest place to start for someone who is interested in arc welding processes.
MIG welding techniques require less skill than other welding processes because of the consumable wire electrode that is fed into the welding rod. Rather than having to feed wire separately, you’re welding machine will do this for you. That being said, it still takes a good amount of knowledge and practice to be efficient with MIG welding techniques.
The distance between your electrode tip and the pieces being welded is called the stick-out distance. It is important to have a proper stick-out distance for the work being done. Generally, your gap would be between 1/4th and 1/2th of an inch.
While this range may seem like a very small one, it is imperative to have a steady hand and keep the appropriate stick-out distance for your project. Holding the welding rod too close can put holes right through thinner surfaces, while poor MIG welding techniques can cause thicker materials not to be welded strongly.
If you are just learning how to MIG weld, it is advisable that you obtain reference cards on appropriate MIG welding techniques.