What qualifies as the “easiest” type of welding is ultimately subjective, but metal inert gas (MIG) welding is generally thought of as one of the easiest types of welding to learn for beginners.1
This welding process is sometimes referred to as the “hot glue gun” of the welding world because it uses a handheld gun and a nearly endless supply of welding wire fed from a machine.
See an introduction to MIG welding—plus some tips and tricks for getting it right—in this article.
Why Beginners Start with MIG Welding
Many different types of welding techniques are usually taught in a welding training program, such as SMAW, TIG, and flux-core welding. MIG is often the welding process expert welders suggest that beginners start with because it allows you to preset all of your controls on the welding machine, such as wire speed and shielding gas use.
MIG welding gives a clean weld with no slag and can be applied to a variety of metals with different thicknesses. It’s great for beginners because it requires a minimal amount of equipment, and you can still produce welds even if you are not yet skilled.
How MIG Welding Works
Sometimes referred to as “GMAW” or “gas metal arc welding,” MIG welding is different than “stick” welding.
Stick welding was the first type of electric welding process invented, and probably what many people think of when they think of welding. A welding stick (or electrode) is attached to an electric current. The process relies on a scratch start to get going, which can be frustrating for beginner welders.
MIG welding, on the other hand, can be very easy to start. All you need to do is pull the trigger on the handheld gun, and the machine will start to feed the consumable welding wire through the gun.
There are two types of wire to use: flux core or solid wire. Flux core has a protective coating inside the wire. Solid wire will require the use of a shielding gas, which accomplishes the same goal as flux core. Both methods purge the weld area of contaminants such as nitrogen or oxygen.2 Flux core is easier to start with for beginners.4
5 Benefits of MIG Welding for Beginners
Here are some more reasons why MIG welding is recommended for beginners:
- Once you get a MIG welding machine set up and tuned correctly, you can generally create strong, smooth welds consistently.2
- MIG welding can be used on nearly every type of metal and thickness, including stainless steel, carbon steel, aluminum, magnesium, copper, silver and other alloys.
- You can preset the wire speed and voltage so that you can concentrate on the weld and don’t need to think about how much filler, gas or heat to apply.3
- MIG welding produces minimal weld splatter and generally requires less cleanup than some other types of welding.
- Even if the welds are not perfectly beautiful when you start out, they will usually still be generally successful. Practice makes perfect!4
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10 MIG Welding Tips for Beginners
Welding school can be a great place to practice MIG welding with the help of an experienced welding instructor.
Whether you’re enrolled in welding classes or learning on your own, here are some tips to keep in mind when MIG welding:
- If you are investing in a MIG welding machine, buy one that offers both gas and flux- core wire. This can give you more flexibility as you increase your skill level.2
- Learn how to tune your MIG welder before you begin. Setting the wire speed and voltage correctly can make or break your welds.2
- Before beginning an important welding project, practice mastering different welding positions. In addition to the flat position, learn how to weld horizontally, vertically and overhead.2
- Practice welding fillet joints, corner joints, lap joints and T joints. Mastering these techniques before embarking on a big project can save you a lot of time, money and frustration.2
- Always wear a welding mask and all the appropriate safety gear. Make sure to wear fire-resistant clothes and boots, and earplugs or earmuffs.
- Use both hands on the welding gun whenever you can. This can allow for greater control and safety for beginners as you get used to the motion of welding. Until you are exceptionally comfortable with welding, two hands should be the rule.
- Shorten the distance between your welding gun and the metal you are welding. The closer you are, the more control you can have.6
- Maintain good posture and a stable position. You want to make sure you stay steady on your feet at all times so that you don’t accidentally slip and fall.
- Always make sure the surface you are about to weld is clean. A few good swipes with a wire brush should be adequate. A dirty surface could cause contamination and an unstable arc.5
- Hold the MIG gun at a 45-degree angle. Try to maintain a constant arc speed and length, as well as a consistent orientation of your body. This can help create a smooth, stable weld.5
Get Professional MIG Welding Training
MIG welding may be one of the easiest processes to learn, but professional welding training could help you master it faster. Plus ensure you’re practicing safely with the right equipment.
Chat with a representative for Tulsa Welding School today. Your start in MIG welding could be just a phone call away. Call 855-806-4921.