What is MIG Welding? Metal inert gas (MIG) welding is a hugely popular welding method that uses electricity to melt and join pieces of metal.
MIG welding works on the principle of creating a short circuit between an electrode wire and a parent metal by using large amounts of electricity.
This short causes the electrode wire to melt onto the metal.
Once the electricity is removed, the weld pool cools and solidifies, fusing the metals and completing the weld.
MIG welding is considered one of the easiest methods to learn and is popular among new welders.
There are two types of welders used for MIG welding:
Gas MIG welders and no gas MIG welders (also known as gasless). These welders are largely similar. However, each welder possesses unique advantages and disadvantages.
What’s the Score With No Gas Mig Welders?
Gasless MIG welders, also known as self-shielding flux core welders, do not require a gas cylinder to start welding, making them more accessible; you can start welding right out of the box!
Gasless MIG welders use a self-shielding flux core wire instead of shielding gas during the welding process. Gas MIG Welders feed gas from a tank or cylinder to the welding gun to shield the weld pool from contamination, whereas gasless MIG welders use the self-shielding flux core wire to produce vapors that protect the weld pool from contamination.
Advantages of Gasless MIG Welders
Gasless MIG Welders harbor unique intricacies that render them particularly useful and efficient in particular situations.
These intricacies include:
Suitability for outdoor use. The flux core wire in a no gas MIG welder uses compounds that create a protective vapor during the welding process. These vapors are not vulnerable to contamination from the wind, meaning the weld’s integrity is not compromised, even in outdoor settings.
Therefore, this makes Gasless favorable to Gas MIG Welders in outdoor settings. The wind pushes the sealing gas away from the welding pool, leading to a lower-quality weld containing air bubbles and imperfections.
Due to the advantage that gasless MIG welders hold, Gas MIG welders are usually reserved for indoor use.
Cost. Gasless MIG welding requires fewer materials, such as not needing gas. Overall, it is considered less expensive than gas MIG welding due to its higher productivity and efficiency.
Preparation. In Gas MIG Welding, the metal must undergo a thorough preparation before the welding begins. The metal must be free from any rust, dirt, paint, or imperfection that might compromise the quality of the weld.
This is not the case with gasless MIG welding, as the flux core wire allows for welding on unprepared metal, regardless of rust, paint, or any other imperfections.
This makes gasless MIG welding more convenient as the metal does not have to be in perfect condition before you can start welding. It is recommended that you still clean the metal before welding to ensure a higher quality weld.
However, it can dramatically reduce the cleaning and preparation time you have to commit to before welding.
Penetration. Gas MIG Welders are good for welding thinner materials, such as sheet metal. However, for thicker metals, Gasless MIG Welders can weld quicker and more efficiently.
Gasless MIG welders can weld metal that is 20 gauge (about 1/16″) up to 1″, whereas gas MIG welders can only weld metal that is 24 gauge (less than 1/16″) up to ½.”
Disadvantages of Gasless MIG Welders
Despite their numerous advantages, some shortcomings mean gasless MIG welders may not be the most sensible choice for certain situations, including:
Appearance. In gas MIG welding, the final weld is typically very neat and easy on the eye. It creates no splatter and requires post-welding cleanups, such as sanding or chipping.
Unfortunately, gasless MIG welding requires more cleanup, increasing the time required to finalize the weld. It creates more splatter as well as creating slag that can only be cleaned once the metal has cooled.
Furthermore, the increased splatter makes gasless MIG welding difficult for overhead and vertical positions.
Fumes. Gas MIG welding produces little to no smoke or fumes, unlike gasless MIG welding, which releases a substantial amount of fumes.
Some adverse short-term health effects can set in upon exposure to these fumes, like dizziness and nausea.
Prolonged exposure to these fumes over several months and years has been proven to lead to an increased risk of cancer.
Because of this, gasless MIG welding should only be done outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.
No Gas Mig Welders: Are They Worth My Money?
When it comes to deciding between gas and gasless MIG welders, your decision is going to be swayed by a vast number of different influences.
Both create strong, quality welds and are equally suited for home and industrial use. There is little difference in their accessibility. They are both among the easiest welding methods to learn.
Eventually, your decision will boil down to the particular niche of welding you are likely to be working with. It would help if you considered many factors such as the thickness of metal to be welded, where the welding will take place, and the desired appearance of the weld.
The type of metal to be welded should also be considered; gasless MIG welders are mostly used on steel, whereas gas MIG welders can weld steel, aluminum, and other metals.
Many welders are familiar with gas and gasless MIG welding, so if you are unsure which will best meet your needs, you might be better off with a multi-purpose (gas and gasless) welder.
This provides the best of both worlds; however, it will likely be heavier and less portable than a gasless MIG welder.
Gasless MIG welders are becoming more widely used due to their high productivity, efficiency, and lower equipment cost. The advantages in portability and outdoor usability make gasless MIG welders the perfect choice for outdoor use for welders of any experience level!