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What is the Process of MIG Welding?

MIG welding is a popular arc welding technique that uses a constant solid wire electrode heated and fed from a welding gun into the weld pool. Although MIG welding requires quality gas, equipment and lots of practice, the ease and speed of this welding method means that it is easy to learn for hobby-welders working on DIY home projects and those who need to use it across various professional industries.

In this blog, we take a look at the process of MIG welding, including the safety precautions you should take and how to prepare your equipment. We’ll also explore the range of MIG welding gas we offer at Adams Gas, highlighting which is best for different applications.

MIG Welding Safety

Welding safety should be taken seriously, and you should always make sure that the correct measures and equipment are in place to protect yourself and/or employees from welding hazards. 

Before beginning any welding project, you need to make sure you have the correct MIG welding supplies and safety equipment. The area you are working in should be free from any potential fire hazards, such as sparks, heat and combustible materials. 

You must wear the appropriate safety gear, including cuff-less full-length pants, a flame-resistant long-sleeve jacket, welding helmet, leather gloves and shoes (or boots) and industry-standard safety glasses or goggles. This equipment will protect you and others from sparks and spatter while welding.

We have a complete collection of welding safety equipment in our shop, including clothing, helmets and gloves. By investing in high-quality safety gear, proper training and certified equipment, you can help minimise the risks of welding injuries. 

For more information on welding safety and equipment, take a look at our blog, How to Choose your Welding Accessories

Metal Preparation

Solid MIG wire does not combat rust, dirt, oil or other contaminants very well. You should use a grinder or metal brush to clean down to bare metal before striking the arc. It’s essential that your clamp connects to clean metal as electrical impedance affects the wire feeding performance. Beveling the joint will give you a stronger weld, allowing it to fully penetrate the base metal (especially for butt joints).

Equipment Preparation 

When preparing welding equipment for MIG, you should always check cable connections are fray-free and tight-fitting. MIG requires DC electrode positive or reverse polarity, so you must select electrode polarity — you can find connections on the inside of the machine.

Next, you will set the gas flow by turning on your shielding gas at a flow rate of 20 to 25 cubic feet per hour. Your gas hose should be tight-fitting with no leaks, so if you suspect a leak, you should dispose of the old hose immediately and install a new one for safety and performance reasons.

Tension is also an important factor in MIG welding. Applying too much or little can affect the wire spool hub and drive rolls, resulting in a poor quality weld. Refer to manufacturers instructions on the equipment you are using to ensure you have adjusted the tension correctly. 

Wire Selection

There are two main wire types for welding steel, AWS classification ER70S-3 for all-purpose and ER70S-6 wire for when deoxidisers are required for rusty steel. As leading welding gas suppliers, we recommend a .030 inch wire diameter for general applications in both DIY and trade.

Thinner materials will require a reduced heat output, so .023-inch would be suitable, or for thicker materials, .035 to 0.045 inches will be within the output range.

MIG Welding Gas Selection

Here at Adams Gas, we stock a range of MIG welding gas, including argon, helium, CO2 and oxygen mixes. You must choose the correct gas for the desired application since each has specific benefits, such as better arc stability or a reduction in spatter.

Shielding gases have a distinct purpose in MIG welding to protect the weld area from oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and water vapour. The weld area needs this protection to prevent holes in the weld.

If you’re looking for an all-purpose shielding gas for carbon steel, we would recommend an argon / CO2 mix — it will help reduce the amount of spatter and give you the best bead appearance with less burn-through on thin metals. Our CO2 welding gas will increase the amount of spatter but is beneficial for deeper penetration.

If you have any questions about the products we stock, including MIG gas, TIG welding gas or beer gas, please reach out to our friendly team, who will be more than happy to advise you further.