MIG simply stands for “Metal Inert Gas”. MIG welding is also sometimes called “Gas Metal Arc Welding” (GMAW), or “Metal Active Gas Welding” (MAG). All of these terms pretty much refer to the same process. MIG Welding uses both a continuous-feed electrode wire as well as shielding gas in the metal welding process.
How Does “MIG” Welding Work?
MIG Welding basically employs a hand-held torch holding an electrode or “wire” through which electrical current passes that generates the arc which creates the heat necessary to melt metal. The hand-held torch contains an electrode wire which automatically feeds through the inside of the torch, melts upon exiting the torch and produces the weld. The electrode wire is fed into the torch continuously by a wire feed unit that pulls the continuous piece of electrode wire from an electrode source.
A power source connected to the torch sends high-voltage electricity through the electrode wire running through the middle of the torch. The power source is also connected to the piece of metal that is being worked on (the “workpiece”). This results in the high-voltage electrical current from the power source running through the electrode wire in the torch and jumping across to the workpiece. As the electrical current jumps across to the workpiece, it creates a spark or “arc” which generates heat. This heat melts the electrode wire and produces the weld.
Gas (called “Shielding Gas”) is also forced through the torch from a gas source (tank) that is connected to the torch. The gas blows across the area where the weld is being made to force other atmospheric impurities away from the weld area. This is necessary because these impurities could combine with the welded metal when it solidifies, and could weaken the resulting weld.
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