More About MIG Welding



Gas metal arc welding (GMAW), sometimes referred to by its subtypes metal inert gas (MIG) welding or metal active gas (MAG) welding,
is a semi-automatic or automatic arc welding process in which a continuous and consumable wire electrode and a shielding gas are fed through a welding gun.


The typical MIG welding gun has a number of key parts—a control switch, a contact tip, a power cable, a gas nozzle, an electrode conduit and liner,
and a gas hose. The control switch, or trigger, when pressed by the operator, initiates the wire feed, electric power, and the shielding gas flow, causing
an electric arc to be struck. The contact tip is connected to the welding power source through the power cable and transmits the electrical energy to the
electrode while directing it to the weld area. It must be firmly secured and properly sized, since it must allow the passage of the electrode while
maintaining an electrical contact. Before arriving at the contact tip, the wire is protected and guided by the electrode conduit and liner, which help prevent
buckling and maintain an uninterrupted wire feed. The gas nozzle is used to evenly direct the shielding gas into the welding zone—if the flow is inconsistent,
it may not provide adequate protection of the weld area. Larger nozzles provide greater shielding gas flow, which is useful for high current welding operations,
in which the size of the molten weld pool is increased. The gas is supplied to the nozzle through a gas hose, which is connected to the tanks of shielding
gas. Sometimes, a water hose is also built into the welding gun, cooling the gun in high heat operations.

The wire feed unit supplies the wire to the work, driving it through the conduit and on to the contact tip. Most models provide the wire at a constant feed rate,
but more advanced machines can vary the feed rate in response to the arc length and voltage. Shielding gases are necessary for gas metal arc welding
to protect the welding area from atmospheric gases, such as nitrogen and oxygen, which can cause fusion defects

MIG Welding can produce all kinds of joints and welds depending upon the type of work being carried out, the appropriate shielding gas and wire.
Two types of welding method are commonly used on MIG welding machines:

Globular Transfer and Spray Transfer

Globular metal transfer occurs at relatively low operating currents and voltages but these are still higher than those used in short circuiting transfer.
This metal transfer mode is characterised by a drop, two or three times larger in diameter than the wire, formed at the tip of the electrode. This droplet is
detached from the tip of the electrode by the effect of a pinch force and the transfer of the droplets in irregular form across the arc is aided by the effect of
the weak electromagnetic and strong gravity forces. As the droplets grow on the tip of the wire electrode they wobble around and disturb the arc plasma
stability. Consequently, the heat-affected zone in the work becomes narrow, penetration of the weld becomes small, and the weld deposit is irregular
and large amounts of spatter takes place

Spray Transfer occurs under an argon-rich shielding gas, increasing the current and voltage causes a new mode of metal transfer to appear: the tip
of the wire electrode is tapped, the sizes of the droplets become smaller and they are directed axially in a straight line from the wire to the weld pool.

See our range of MIG Welders here

Learn more using our Free How to do MIG Welding Guide

For additional help and information on the properties of aluminium when welding with the MIG process go to the
Aluminium Welding Information page



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