MIG/MAG is an acronym for Metal Inert Gas / Metal Active Gas. A process where an electric arc heats a “continuous” transferred wire that will melt down at a work piece, the molten metal fills the gap between the connecting parts or makes a string on them, after solidification the connection is made. The weld pool and the wire electrode are protected by an inert (MIG) or an active (MAG) gas. The wire electrode can be either solid of cored. The process is indicated in ISO 4063 as process number 131 (MIG), 135 (MAG) and 136 (MAG with cored wire)
How does it work?
In the MIG/MAG welding process an arc is created by way of a short circuit between the work piece and the wire electrode. The electrode is surrounded by an inert or active gas. The resulting plasma arc in the gas transfers heat to the work piece and also melts the wire electrode. At the same time part of the heat generation takes place as a result of the resistance of the thin wire electrode at the so-called ‘stick out’ part. The wire is continuously fed through during the welding process. The wire acts as an electrode and also as the additional material.
MIG welding uses the inert gases Argon or Helium, or a mixture of both, that also protects the weld charge and the molten wire electrode. MAG welding uses an active gas made from carbon dioxide or a mixture of Argon and/or Helium to which carbon dioxide, oxygen, hydrogen or nitrogen is added. These gases provide not only protection, but also the possibility to optimize the weld charge and the course of the process, although the choice does depend on the type of material to be welded.
Most important welding arc types
- Short circuit arc
- The short circuit arc is a combination of low voltage and low current with intermittent re-ignition of the arc.
- Spray arc
- With open arc welding the electrode material is transported to the work piece in a continuous current with the arc remaining present.
- Globular arc
- Falls between the short circuit arc and the spray arc.
- Pulsation arc
- An open or spray arc with an average low current is used with pulsation arc welding.
- Rotating arc
- Open arc welding with a rotating or modified arc.
Apart from the various arc types available, there is specific equipment per application for optimizing the processes. For higher melting and/or welding speeds the following can be used: Tandem and Twin arc welding, TIME, RapidArc, Rapid-melt, Plasma-MIG and Laser MIG/MAG Hybrid. For applications where a low heat contribution is desired, Cold-arc, SST and CMT provide solutions.
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