Metal Inert Gas Welding ( MIG )

Metal Inert Gas Welding ( MIG ):
           Gas metal arc welding (GMAW), sometimes referred to by its subtypesmetal inert gas (MIG) welding or metal active gas (MAG) welding, is a semi-automatic or automatic arc welding process in which a continuous and consumable wire electrode and a shielding gas are fed through a welding gun. A constant voltage, direct current power source is most commonly used with GMAW, but constant current systems, as well as alternating current, can be used. There are four primary methods of metal transfer in GMAW, called globular, short-circuiting, spray, and pulsed-spray, each of which has distinct properties and corresponding advantages and limitations.
         Originally developed for welding aluminum and other non-ferrous materials in the 1940s, GMAW was soon applied to steels because it allowed for lower welding time compared to other welding processes. The cost of inert gas limited its use in steels until several years later, when the use of semi-inert gases such as carbon dioxide became common. Further developments during the 1950s and 1960s gave the process more versatility and as a result, it became a highly used industrial process. Today, GMAW is the most common industrial welding process, preferred for its versatility, speed and the relative ease of adapting the process to robotic automation. The automobile industry in particular uses GMAW welding almost exclusively. Unlike welding processes that do not employ a shielding gas, such as shielded metal arc welding, it is rarely used outdoors or in other areas of air volatility. A related process, flux cored arc welding, often does not utilize a shielding gas, instead employing a hollow electrode wire that is filled with flux on the inside.
           For most of its applications gas metal arc welding is a fairly simple welding process to learn requiring no more than a week or two to master basic welding technique. Even when welding is performed by well-trained operators weld quality can fluctuate since it depends on a number of external factors. All GMAW is dangerous, though perhaps less so than some other welding methods, such as shielded metal arc welding.

Technique :

          The basic technique for GMAW is quite simple, since the electrode is fed automatically through the torch. By contrast, in gas tungsten arc welding, the welder must handle a welding torch in one hand and a separate filler wire in the other, and in shielded metal arc welding, the operator must frequently chip off slag and change welding electrodes. GMAW requires only that the operator guide the welding gun with proper position and orientation along the area being welded. Keeping a consistent contact tip-to-work distance (the stick out distance) is important, because a long stick-out distance can cause the electrode to overheat and will also waste shielding gas. Stick-out distance varies for different GMAW weld processes and applications.
            For short-circuit transfer, the stick-out is generally 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch, for spray transfer the stickout is generally 1/2 inch. The position of the end of the contact tip to the gas nozzle are related to the stickout distance and also varies with transfer type and application. The orientation of the gun is also important—it should be held so as to bisect the angle between the workpieces; that is, at 45 degrees for a fillet weld and 90 degrees for welding a flat surface. The travel angle, or lead angle, is the angle of the torch with respect to the direction of travel, and it should generally remain approximately vertical. However, the desirable angle changes somewhat depending on the type of shielding gas used—with pure inert gases, the bottom of the torch is often slightly in front of the upper section, while the opposite is true when the welding atmosphere is carbon dioxide.

Quality :

          Two of the most prevalent quality problems in GMAW are dross and porosity. If not controlled, they can lead to weaker, less ductile welds. Dross is an especially common problem in aluminum GMAW welds, normally coming from particles of aluminum oxide or aluminum nitride present in the electrode or base materials. Electrodes and workpieces must be brushed with a wire brush or chemically treated to remove oxides on the surface. Any oxygen in contact with the weld pool, whether from the atmosphere or the shielding gas, causes dross as well. As a result, sufficient flow of inert shielding gases is necessary, and welding in volatile air should be avoided.
          In GMAW the primary cause of porosity is gas entrapment in the weld pool, which occurs when the metal solidifies before the gas escapes. The gas can come from impurities in the shielding gas or on the workpiece, as well as from an excessively long or violent arc. Generally, the amount of gas entrapped is directly related to the cooling rate of the weld pool. Because of its higher thermal conductivity, aluminum welds are especially susceptible to greater cooling rates and thus additional porosity. To reduce it, the workpiece and electrode should be clean, the welding speed diminished and the current set high enough to provide sufficient heat input and stable metal transfer but low enough that the arc remains steady. Preheating can also help reduce the cooling rate in some cases by reducing the temperature gradient between the weld area and the base material.

ADVANTAGES:
1) Higher welding speeds.
2) Greater deposition rates.
3) Less post welding cleaning (e.g. no slag to chip off weld).
4) Better weld pool visibility.
5) No stub end losses or wasted man hours caused by changing electrodes.
6) Low skill factor required to operate M.I.G / M.A.G.S welding torch.
7) Positional welding offers no problems when compared to other processes. (Use dip or pulsed mode of transfer).
8) The process is easily automated.
9) No fluxes required in most cases.
10) Ultra low hydrogen process.

DISADVANTAGES:
1) Higher initial setup cost
2) Atmosphere surrounding the welding process has to be stable (hence the shielding gasses), therefore this process is limited to draught free conditions
3) Higher maintenance costs due to extra electronic components
4) The setting of plant variables requires a high skill level
5) Less efficient where high duty cycle requirements are necessary
6) Radiation effects are more severe

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