MIG welding is one of the most popular types of welding. It is a process that uses a continuous wire feed to join two pieces of metal together. MIG welding is often used for welding aluminum and steel, and it can be performed with or without shielding gas.
MIG welding was invented in the 1940s in the United States. MIG welding quickly became a mainstay due to its ease of use and versatility. Today, it is one of the most commonly used types of welding.
There are several welding methods used today but the electrode arc welding method remains the most common and popular. In this family, there are three sub-categories viz. Stick, MIG, and TIG.
In this guide, I will talk about MIG welding with a focus on the following topics:
- The history of MIG welding
- Best 220, 110 and Multi MIG welders
- And some other FAQs on the topic.
History of MIG Welding
MIG welding stands for Metal Inert Gas welding. It was first invented in 1948 and patented for use in the USA in 1949. The invention can be attributed to the Batelle Memorial Institute under the sponsorship of the Air Reduction Company.
Some experts believe that MIG welding came into existence so welders could weld aluminum cleaner and faster than stick welding and TIG welding.
Just like in arc welding, the heat for MIG welding is produced by an electric arc. The main difference between arc (stick) and MIG welding is that in place of a filler rod, a handpiece connected to the electrical source feeds a continuous wire of the same metal you are welding. Thus, it acts as both the electrode and the filler material.
The benefit of MIG welding is that the handpiece emits an inert gas that protects the molten metal from oxidation when it forms the weld. This gives rise to cleaner welds.
When Did MIG Welding Become Common?
MIG welding became especially popular in the 1950s. This was also a time when car manufacturers started using thin-gauge HSLA (high-strength low-alloy steel) sheets.
Carmakers insisted that the only way to weld together HSLA sheets with other thin gauge steel was using MIG welding. It was clear for everyone to see that the process created clean welds.
Here are some other properties and benefits of MIG welding that make it so widespread:
- Even a hobbyist or a DIY enthusiast can easily create a professional-looking seam with minimum training and practice.
- The localized heat ensures minimum panel distortion. Also, because of its limited heat buildup, it is ideal for filling unwanted holes in the body panels.
- MIG welding also duplicates the factory method of joining various body assemblies.
- Another big reason behind MIGs popularity is its speed. Thanks to the continuously fed wire electrode which does not need changing as frequently as does stick welding, you can get the job done a lot faster. This means that you can just continue welding without having to stop for changing the welding electrode.
- Last but not least is the minimum cleanup with MIG welding. The low amount of slag and splatter produced not only gives you a better welding experience but also a pleasant cleanup experience.
When Was Gas Metal Arc Welding Invented?
In the United States, MIG and MAG (metal active gas) welding are referred to as GMAW or Gas Metal Arc Welding.
The basic concept of Gas Metal Arc Welding or GMAW is the same. It involves the production of heat using a workpiece and a metal electrode. The heat produced by the electric arc creates a weld pool that fuses the joint. The entire process takes place in the presence of a shielding gas that prevents contaminants from getting into the weld.
The invention of Gas Metal Arc Welding can be attributed to C L. Coffin, who first demonstrated the process in 1890. However, it was only refined in the 1920s by HM Hobart and PK Devers, who used different shielding gases like helium and argon.
The process of GMAW or MIG welding only became commercially available in 1948.
Best 220 MIG Welders
Over the past few decades, several MIG welders have been available in the market. Some are great for hobbyists and home welders too. Their prices are also reasonable, but that actually makes the selection difficult.
Here are my top picks in 220 MIG welders:
#1. Winner – Lincoln Electric PowerMIG
Look no further than the Lincoln Electric PowerMIG if you want a versatile and easy-to-use model that lets you choose between MIG, Stick, or TIG welding. It is also versatile in its use of input voltage and can go from 115/230V.
I rate the Powermig 4.5 stars out of 5 for its ease of use. You can easily set it up without much training and start welding in minutes.
The machine is also four welders in one single unit. It has several capabilities and is versatile enough to stick and TIG weld. You simply have to change the torch and the digital control knob to the required setting. Similarly, for stick and MIG too, the setup is easy and intuitive.
The dual input of 115 to 230 V is convenient. Its power output ranges from 20 A to 220 A, which means you can easily tackle 5/16” stainless steel and 3/16” aluminum with this baby. For thick metals, you also have the flux-cored feature.
Here are the Lincoln Powermig’s features in brief:
- Pre-installed in-gun; Magnum pro 3m gun
- Ready to use easy digital display
- Gasless nozzle
- Lightweight and portable
- Easy to understand visual display
- Dual input voltage
- Short power lead
#2. Best Overall: Weldpro MIG220 Amp Inverter Multipurpose 3-in-1 Welder
Weldpro truly lives by its motto – “we want to make welding technology available to everyone!” The MIG200gdsv is a dual voltage synergic 3-in-1 welder equipped with IGBT inverter technology.
This reduces power consumption while improving the arc output. It is also easy to use and ideal for beginner welders and students.
I have this welder and really enjoy working with it. I primarily use the gasless flux-core shielded wire. It’s easy to set up and works as well as many of the more expensive models.
I also love the TIG setup on this Weldpro. Instead of using foot pedals to adjust amperage, which is the method on most TIG welders, the controls are made by hand on the Weldpro. I find this feature convenient and much more manageable.
And don’t underestimate the 200gdsv’s size- sure, it is compact and small, but it is capable of a 200A output.
Here are some of the features:
- 200 A
- Flux core MIG welding
- MIG welding wire diameter: .023 .030 .035
- Easy to read dual digital display
- Excellent tech support
- Easy to use for beginners
- Portable and compact
- No facility to turn off the automatic amperage adjustment
- The instruction manual is lacking.
#3. Best Budget: MICTEK 125 D MIG Welder
Are you looking for a hard-working and multipurpose 220 Mig welder for under $500? Then the MICTEK will surely impress you. It is especially great for beginners to welding and can be operated easily without hassles.
- Three modes: MIG gasless, Arc (stick) and lift TIG
- Dual voltage
- Uses 0.030/0.040 flux core wire
- 125 A output for easily welding ⅛ in steel plate
- Lightweight construction of about 22 lb.
- Great for beginners
- Ideal for outdoor use
- Affordable price
- Value for money
- No wire speed control.
- No reference chart.
Best 110 MIG Welders
Let us now enlist our top choices in 110 MIG welders.
Weighing just 25lb, this MIG welder from Everlast is affordable and lightweight. T e company also recently upgraded this welder so that you can expect some significant improvements. Its inverter-based design helps lower power consumption while increasing its arc performance.
Everlast Cyclone 140E comes with an easy-to-use design and familiar controls, so anyone not used to working with this particular model can also use it within minutes.
Thanks to its sturdy and dependable drive mechanism, it also promises years of use.
- Can be used with 4 and 8-inch spools
- Stepless control of wire speed and voltage
- Great entry-level welder
- With a separate spool gun, it can weld aluminum too
- Poor quality accessories
- Lack of customer support.
#2. Best Overall: YESWELDER Digital MIG 205DS 3-in-1 Welder
I have used other YesWelder units, and everyone who is a welder knows they’re known for their state-of-the-art welding machines, helmets, etc. Many of my friends who are passionate about welding swear by the 205DS 3-in-1 multi-tasking baby.
YesWelder MIG 205DS is a powerful helper for home and industry use. It has a built-in inverter and is very light in weight. This makes it convenient for outdoor use, such as car maintenance. It is also versatile and capable of stick and TIG welding.
- Weighs just 33 lb.
- Dimensions are compact – 18.5 × 14.2 × 7.9 in
- Voltage 110v/220v
- Output current – 30 to 60 A for MIG under 110V
- Can handle 2 and 10 lb rolls of wire
- Gas and gasless MIG
- Synergic control MIG function
- One-button selection design
- Can easily run stick electrodes too
- Lift TIG available
- Lightweight and portable
- Inadequate instruction manual.
#3. Best Budget Buy: VIVOHOME MIG 110V 130 Flux Core Wire Gasless Welder
VIVOHOME 110 MIG welder is made with the highest-quality stainless steel and powder-coated to prevent rusting and corrosion.
You can easily tackle all kinds of welding jobs with its 10-speed settings. V VOHOME’s flux-cored wire releases gas to prevent oxidation. This feature combined with its sturdy build, and portable design ensures that you can use it for any project.
- 4 level current flow setting
- 10-speed control
- Anti-skid pads
- Built-in storage
- Comes with an in-built cooling fan and overheat protective vent
- Powerful and efficient – ideal for mild steel and stainless steel welding
- No reaction welder – beginner-friendly, ideal for home projects
- Easy to use – ideal for beginners
- No user manual included
Best Multi MIG Welders
Multi welders are great for home users who do different kinds of welding jobs every now and then. They have multiple types of welding processes. Here is my selection in this category:
Co- Winners: Forney Easy Weld 140MP, and Weldpro MIG220
I couldn’t leave off my favorite, the Weldpro MIG 220, or my neighbors’ Forney’s Easy Weld. For under $500, Forney’s Easy Weld unit is undoubtedly value for money. However, after unpacking the units, you’ll notice you don’t have all the accessories you need to TIG weld.
In contrast, the Weldpro MIG 220 comes with all you need to start welding, except your consumables. Here’s a look at each:
As the name promises, it indeed has easy settings. The three-position switch lets you change from one process to another with ease. It is ideal for home users, hobbyists, students, and anyone who does light fabrication or maintenance jobs from time to time.
- Output voltage range of 12 – 23V. Rated output current range- 43 – 110A.
- Can handle 2 and 10 lb. wires
- Generator friendly
- Multi-purpose – MIG, stick, and DC TIG welding
- Gas and no-gas
- 1/4 in. and uses up to 1/8 in. welding rod.
- Lightweight and rugged
- Easy to use
- Some users reported excessive spattering
- Doesn’t include TIG accessories
The Weldpro MIG 220 is an excellent welder. With its many features, it can be used by beginners and experienced welders alike. I use mine on 220 voltage for projects requiring more power than my home circuit provides, but this machine also works well at 110 volts with no problem.
If you intend to do a lot of welding, I suggest using your welder in 220v mode. I didn’t have a 220 outlet located where I intended to set up my machine, so I installed one for about 200.00; this was money well spent.
As I mentioned in my review above, the Weldpro MIG 220 is a versatile and convenient welder.
Do You Have to Use Gas with MIG Welder?
The full form of MIG is Metal Inert Gas. So, technically, you need to use gas with MIG welders. However, many brands promise ‘gasless’ use.
In reality, there is no such thing as gasless MIG. The ones that claim to be gasless use the flux core. The flux core technology creates a shield and converts the flux into gas.
Also, it reduces power consumption while improving arc output.
What Is MIG Welding Used For?
MIG welding is versatile, convenient, and super fast. Its features find its many applications as follows:
¼ inch plates
Since the distortion of thin gauge sheet metal is kept to a minimum due to the lower current used, it is ideal for welding ¼ inch plates. They need less than 20V.
Students and beginners
Since the process is easy and safe to learn, it is ideal for beginners, hobbyists, students, and those who do light fabrication or maintenance work from time to time.
Filling in gaps
Gaps are easy to fill with MIG welding since one can make multiple welds, one on top of the other.
All types of metals with one wire
This is the most elegant aspect of MIG – you can weld multiple metals with one standard wire.
MIG welding can be used for overhead or vertical jobs with little spattering.
FAQs – MIG Welders
What are the disadvantages of MIG welders?
There are a few disadvantages of MIG welding:
-You need to have draught free conditions
-The cost of initial set up is high in industries
-Extra electronic components also mean higher maintenance costs
Which is the easiest DIY MIG welder?
MIG is an excellent process for beginners, and there are many great easy-to-learn MIG welders for the hobbyists: Hobart, Forney, Weldpro, Everlast, etc., all make great units.
What size of MIG welder do I need?
The ideal size of a MIG welder is 140 A at 115 V for ¼-inch thick steel. F r 2-inch thickness, go for 200 A and 220V.
There is little doubt that MIG welders have changed the welding scene. Whether you are a pro or a beginner, you need a MIG welder if you’re passionate about it.
Choose from Lincoln PowerMig or Forney, or WeldPro. They are efficient and reliable. You can also choose from the budget options like VIVOHOME and MICTEK.
I hope this guide helps you make an informed choice.