Metal inert gas (MIG) welding, first used in the 1940s, utilizes wire rods to fill the weld joint as it heats and melts. As with all welding, it is important to match the type of rod used for welding with the material welded to ensure bonding and a secure weld.
Almost all carbon steel welding uses a MIG welder. The result of a carbon steel MIG weld is practically flawless. The carbon steel wire used in the weld has the correct stiffness to flow through the wire feed without jamming.
Use a MIG welder when welding stainless steel because no additional equipment is needed beyond the basic MIG welder. There is a special technique needed to keep the wire feed from jamming as stainless steel wire is very stiff and does not pass through the liner easily. To avoid a lot of friction, keep the cord as straight as possible.
MIG welding aluminum is mostly found in a manufacturing setting with a high throughput of aluminum products and welding. Not all aluminum can be welded. Only very thick aluminum, more than 14 gauge, uses MIG welding. Depending on the type of aluminum, additional steps in the welding process may be needed. Remove any lubricants from the aluminum by using solvents. Remove oxides with a stainless steel brush.
Other metals welded with a MIG welder include silicon bronze, nickel, copper and magnesium. These metals and their alloys are light and easy to weld. Some metals, such as magnesium, can ignite at welding temperatures. Keep sand or foam nearby to smother any possible flames. Magnesium also oxidizes quickly when heated in the presence of air.
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