MIG Vs. MAG Welding Techniques : Differences, Uses, Advantages & Distadvantages

Updated: 3 Dec 2023


Welding is one of the essential processes in various industries that play a vital role in fabricating different structures and materials. Among other welding techniques, MIG (Metal Inert Gas) and MAG (Metal Active Gas) are commonly used methods. These methods have different uses in the welding field.

Although MIG and MAG welding acronyms may seem similar, they have slight differences that really matter in welding. In this blog post, we’ll explore these distinctions so you can make an intelligent choice based on your specific welding requirements.

Important Note:

Gas metal arc welding (GMAW) is a common term for MIG and MAG welding. So be clear when GMAW comes instead of MIG or MAG welding.

Understanding MIG Welding:

what is mig welding, MIG vs. MAG Welding
MIG Welding Technqiue
Source: https://weldguru.com/mig-vs-mag-welding/

MIG welding stands for Metal Inert Gas, which is preferred to join non-ferrous metals such as aluminum; the MIG welder uses inert gasses like argon, nitrogen, and helium or mixtures of them as a shielding gas on the weld pool. These gasses are commonly used when welding non-ferrous metals such as aluminum or magnesium.

MIG Welding Different shielding gases impact bead contour and penetration patterns
Different Shielding Gases Impact Bead Penetration
Source: https://weldguru.com/mig-vs-mag-welding/

Understanding MAG Welding:

MAG Welding stands for Metal Active Gas welding, which uses a mixture of active gasses such as oxygen and carbon dioxide, making it different from MIG welding. MAG welding is preferred to joining ferrous metals like stainless steel or mild steel. The shielding gasses are used to increase the penetration power and fluidity of the weld pool. They are widely used in welding alloys like thin sheet metal, thick sheet metals, and construction steels.

MIG Welding Uses:

MIG welding using 100% argon bead profile, MIG vs. MAG Welding
MIG Bead Profile Representation using 100% Argon
© weldingvilla.com – Image usage rights

In this type of welding, we use gases like argon and helium. It is famous for its ease of use and is suitable for welding projects like steel, aluminum, and stainless steel and automotive repair. Everything stays clean in this method. It effectively creates a strong weld and gives us high-quality results that work for a more extended period. And also, it is not reactive to the environment.

MAG Welding Uses:

In MAG welding, we use active gases like carbon dioxide or argon-oxygen. This welding is used for low-alloy and high-alloy materials. It is very suitable for welding titanium, copper, and aluminum. Heavy machinery factories often love to weld with MAG welders to have a strong weld.

Co2 MAG bead Profile
Bead Profile with Co2
© weldingvilla.com – Image usage rights
MIG Welding Advantages:

To understand MIG welding in detail, it is essential to determine its advantages. Let’s take a deep look at it.

  1. Require less time and provide high-quality work.
  2. This welding is easy to process within a few minutes, and you can do it anywhere.
  3. It produces a high-quality weld. As a result, it has shining and smooth welds.
  4. MIG welding allows the entire electrode wire to be fed continuously. This means no extra material is used, and there is no wastage; it saves money and time during welding.
  5. It is also compatible with different kinds of metals and alloys.
  6. MIG welding can reduce disruptions, providing the following benefits.
  • No need for frequent adjustments.
  • Smooth workflow.
  • No frequent electrode changes.
  • Efficiently work.
MAG Welding Advantages:

For comparison, we provide the advantages of MAG welding so you can make an informed decision while welding.

  1. Active Gas welding (MAG) provides durability.
  2. MAG welding is consistently of high quality.
  3. It allows projects to be done more swiftly.
  4. Active Gas welding is a valuable demand for industries that demand speed and high-quality work.
  5. It can work on heavier metals or thicker pieces of metal.It is a valuable asset for industries.
  6. MAG welder does not require any shielding gasses.
MIG Welding Disadvantage:

Everything has its benefits and drawbacks, so here are some disadvantages of MIG welding in the welding field.

  1. MIG welding has disadvantages, including the higher cost of setup and welding than other welding.
  2. MIG welding machines consistently provide output voltage, and that can lead to burning thin material.
  3. The constant output voltage in the MIG welding machine can lead to inconsistency in welding. It can cause deformities or even cracks during welding.
  4. It is not good to weld in windy conditions.
  5. The shielding gas demands a routine change. It contaminates the weld pool. So it requires frequently changing the gas.
  6. Compared with other welding machines, the MIG welder machine is more complex.
MAG Welding Disadvantages:

In the welding industry if we have advantages of MAG welding, we also have some advantages which are essential to consider.

  1. MAG welding requires specialized equipment, which is expensive and complicated for new or beginner users.
  2. It generates fumes that harm your health, which is essential to protect your health and prevent inhaling toxic gasses.
  3. The speed and capability demand a higher level of skill.
  4. In MAG welding, the wire feed process is slow. So, it means that it will extend the welding time. Therefore, it may not be suitable for handling large projects effectively.
  5. MAG welding requires specialized equipment like a wire feeder, power source, and welding torch, which are expensive for people.
  6. It is risky for welders who operate it because of the high temperature while welding.
  7. It can cause a fire while working with flammable substances.
  8. It is not suitable while working on aluminum or magnesium.

Basic Differences Between MIG and MAG Welding Techniques

Shielding gas typeInert gasActive gas
Gas costMore ExpensiveLess Expensive
Common applicationsNon-ferrous metals, thin metalsFerrous metals, thick metals
Shielding gassesArgon & HeliumCarbon Dioxide & Oxygen
Arc stabilityGoodExcellent
Gas interaction
Does not react with base metal
Reacts with base metal
Weld penetrationGoodExcellent
Gas costCostlyCheap
Weld appearanceSmooth and ShinyMatt and Textured

The Latest Trend in Welding:

The latest trend in welding is MIG welding. This process uses an electrode wire and inert gas (argon or helium) for welding. MIG welding has its advantages, like higher speed and better penetration. It is mainly used in car industries, body shops, homes, garages, and workplaces.

  • First and most important is to work in a dry place.
  • Avoid any gas leakage before using the welder machine.
  • Keep away yourself from burning substances while welding.
  • Keep a first aid kit nearby.
  • Use personal protective equipment like shoes, gloves, fire protective full shirt, pants, and helmet to protect you. Also, use welding glasses to protect your eyes.
  • It is also essential to have a fire extinguisher.
  • Use respiratory protectors while MAG welding to save you from fumes.
  • Use protectors for your skin and ears because the arc rays can burn them.
  • Remember, turn off your machine while repairing. If your device is on and you are improving it — it can give you current and damage you harshly.


Which is most commonly used, MIG or MAG?

MIG welding is more commonly used than MAG welding. Most welding applications favor using inert gasses like argon for cleaner and more controlled welding environments. MAG welding also has its applications in various welding industries.

What is the purpose of MIG and MAG Welding?

The purpose of MIG and MAG welding is to join metals through heat and a consumable wire electrode. MIG welding employs inert gasses like argon to shield the weld from atmospheric contamination, ensuring clean and high-quality welds.

On the other hand, MAG welding uses active gasses, usually a mixture of carbon dioxide and argon, to achieve deeper penetration, which is suitable for thick materials.

What is the gas flow rate in MIG welding?

The gas flow rate in MIG welding is between 15 to 25 CFH. But remember that there are different variables when selecting the flow rate for the MIG welder. The suggested flow rate for metals like stainless steel and aluminum has a specific gas they should be used with.

Final Thoughts:

Choosing between MIG and MAG welding depends on various factors, such as material type, thickness, cost considerations, and the desired weld quality. Both techniques offer unique advantages in the welding field.

Understanding their differences is essential for making an informed decision. If you want clean and versatile welding, MIG welding is necessary, or if you need cost-effective and penetration-focused welding, MAG welding is crucial.

If you need clarification about welding, you can contact us, and we will support you ASAP. You can share this article with your welding community if you like it. This will help others to improve their skills. Thank you for spending time with us.

Abu Bakar

Abu Bakar

Hello, Abu Bakar here, the Mastermind Behind Welding Villa. Test my years of experience through my well-written blogs, where I have covered the overall experience of welding materials and shown all the aspects of Welding, their types and equipment.

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