What Materials Can I MIG Weld? (Carbon Steel, Stainless Steel, Aluminum)

Large and thick materials are frequently joined using the MIG (metal inert gas) welding technique. It employs a consumable wire that serves as both the filler and the electrode. What materials can I MIG weld?

The MIG welding equipment can weld on various types of metals, including carbon steel, aluminum, copper, nickel, and others, with a variety of thicknesses. The welding of stainless steel frequently uses MIG welding equipment in particular. Let’s learn more about Welding FAQ below!

Why is stainless steel preferred in MIG welding?

The use of MIG welding machines in stainless steel welding provides more benefits than other forms of welding, such as leaving no weld marks on the finished product. The MIG welding machine’s welding speed is likewise faster, and it can weld continuously for a long time while using less welding material.

In comparison to stick welding with a traditional machine, employing a MIG welding equipment produces welds that are valued for their quality and aesthetics. The weld is concealed by its shiny surface, flatness, and lack of transparency. Additionally, the MIG welding machine incorporates Inverter technology to reduce energy usage, lowering electricity expenses.

What materials can I MIG weld?

Carbon steel, stainless steel, and aluminum are the best metals for MIG welding. The gases, welding wires, and current settings will vary slightly depending on the metal. Furthermore, various material thicknesses could necessitate a larger welder. The demand for a stronger welding equipment increases with the weight and thickness of the metal being welded.

Carbon Steel

You’ll probably weld on carbon steel for the majority of your projects. Most hobbyists and welders typically work with mild steel.

Mild steel is a low carbon steel, which means that carbon serves as the primary alloying element but only makes up 0.05% to 0.25% of the material (added to iron to make low carbon steel). High and medium carbon steels are also available.

You have the option of using the spray metal arc transmission technique or the short metal arc transmission mode while MIG welding mild steel. Argon and 5% oxygen may be used as a gas mixture if you are employing arc spray. A better arc will result from it.

Carbon Steel
Carbon Steel

Stainless Steel

Being a kind of steel, stainless steel is not as light as aluminum. However, it must be well cleaned before welding since, like with aluminum, welds are susceptible to contamination.

You will be using a gas combination that contains about 1-2% Oxygen and Argon while welding stainless steel, which is a little different from welding mild steel. The requirement for less than 5% carbon dioxide in your shielding gas is the most crucial aspect of gas. On your MIG welder, you’ll also use the Direct Current Reverse Polarity (DCRP) mode to weld.

It’s typical to weld stainless steel using the spray arc metal transfer technique. However, you should generally use a spare and copper strip if you are welding up to 1/16″. However, if you plan to weld thin stainless steel in an overhead or vertical position, you should use short arc metal transfer.

Stainless Steel
Stainless Steel

Aluminum

For MIG welding thicker aluminum (1″ to 2″), a 90% argon and 10% helium shielding gas mixture is commonly advised. For improved weld fusion, helium enables heat to pass through the metal. Aluminum always has oxides on it, and argon aids in removing them.

Due to its lesser weight than steel, aluminum cannot endure high temperatures for as long as steel. Additionally, because you will be melting both the base metal and the MIG wire with this technique, spray-arc metal transfer is better for thicker aluminum.

Use of a short arc metal transfer is recommended for MIG welding thinner aluminum. Due to the longer arc’s greater heat transmission and the need to prevent overheating the aluminum, a short arc is required. This is why welding aluminum in an oblique orientation is best done with short arcs.

It is recommended to utilize a mixture of pure argon gas (100% argon) while welding aluminum that is up to an inch thick to prevent difficulties with your weld from occurring due to an excessive heat input.

Aluminum
Aluminum

Use gas suitable for materials when welding  MIG

According on the type of welding material, such as iron, steel, stainless steel, or aluminum, a different shielding gas will be utilized with MIG welding machines, which often employ CO2 or Argon. Both work effectiveness and weld quality will be ensured. The weld will not be deep enough, will be pitted, and will not be attractive if the MIG welding machine employs the incorrect shielding gas while welding a certain material.

Gas for Carbon Steel welding

Use either argon + o2 gas or argon + co2 gas when MIG welding carbon steel.

  • Ar + Oxygen gas mixture (1–5%): This shielding gas mixture will assist protect the thinned area just after arc priming, making the weld more attractive and preventing border burning. This shielding gas mixture enables faster welding than pure argon gas.
  • Ar + Co2 gas mixture (3–10%): This shielding gas improves the dilution area, however it can only be used in horizontal and flat welding locations.

Gas for Stainless Steel welding

CO2, Argon, or mixed gases may be used while using a MIG welding machine to weld stainless steel (Ar and O2). However, when MIG stainless steel is welded with Co2 gas, the weld has a tendency to sink; when MIG stainless steel is welded with Argon gas, the weld has a tendency to protrude somewhat.

  • Ar + Oxygen gas mixture (1%), which will reduce edge burning while welding thick stainless steel details, would offer good protection.
  • Ar+O2 gas mixture (2%), which will improve weld protection even further and make stainless steel MIG welds more brilliant and attractive.

Because thinner stainless steel is difficult to weld and readily perforated, stainless steel MIG welding machines only produce good welds for stainless steel thicknesses of 0.6mm or greater.

Gas for Aluminum welding

It is recommended to use aluminum MIG welding equipment when combining Argon (Ar) or gas.

  • Argon gas (primarily): MIG aluminum welding with Ar gas can weld components as thick as 25 mm, producing attractive welds with high penetration.
  • Gas mixture 35% Argon + 65% Helium: Even on aluminum with a thickness between 25 and 76mm, this shielding gas can weld well. It specifically improves the molten metal’s dilution when welding on Al + Mg aluminum alloys.
  • Gas mixture 25% Argon + 75% Helium: can be used to successfully weld materials that are over 76 mm thick. This gas will increase the set of the weld, aid in penetration, and lessen the possibility of air bubbles.

Frequently asked questions (Weld FAQ)

Is welding aluminum harder than welding steel?

It is possible. Aluminum cannot tolerate intense heat for as long as steel can because it is much lighter than steel. Your wire speed should be quicker than steel if you plan to use this welding technique. Before you begin MIG welding aluminum, you need take into account a number of elements if you don’t want to produce a poor weld.

Always begin with clean metal, and then use an aluminum or stainless steel brush to remove any surface oxide. In order to prevent contaminating the grain, it is crucial to remove this oxide layer. After brushing, clean the joint to get rid of particles.

Which metal is the easiest to MIG weld?

Steel is preferred among the many various kinds of metals. There are several different kinds of steel, including carbon, alloy, stainless steel, and… Among these, carbon steel is the least expensive and easiest metal to MIG weld. It is also extremely flexible.

The best metal to learn MIG welding on is steel. You will need to change your welder’s wire speed and voltage in accordance with the thickness of the metal. Generally speaking, steel is a simple metal to MIG weld and is excellent for novices.

Wrapping up

MIG welding machines are now widely employed in mechanical manufacturing processes. From producing tables and chairs to welding and putting together the frames of bicycles and motorcycles to producing various mechanical goods… MIG welding machines are also used in automatic welding robots and automatic assembly machinery in the automation sector.

After reading this article, you probably no longer wonder What materials can I MIG weld? We have provided what we know about the materials and metals that are used in the MIG welding process. Hope this article helps you!

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