Off-roaders who modify their Jeeps and trucks with steel truck bumpers and other heavy-duty parts may occasionally need to have something welded. Performed correctly, welding typically provides a more secure attachment than bolts. There are two types of welding used in automotive applications: MIG welding and TIG welding. Although both methods can produce equally strong welds, they are used in different ways when installing steel bumpers and other off-road equipment.
How Is MIG Welding Done?
MIG or metal inert gas welding is done using a machine with a spool gun that continuously feeds metal wire that is melted to form the weld. As the spool gun feeds the wire, the wire passes over an electrical arc that heats it to the point of melting. The spool gun also releases gas that prevents atmospheric gas from interacting with the molten metal which allows it to heat and melt easier during application.
MIG welding is a fairly simple process since the spool gun works automatically once feed speed has been set. It can be done relatively quickly and produces strong metal joints; it has many automotive uses such as welding frames, steel truck bumpers, and making repairs. The main disadvantages to MIG welding are that the welds can be messy and MIG welders can easily burn through lighter material like sheet metal.
How Is TIG Welding Done?
TIG or tungsten inert gas welding is done in a similar way to MIG welding. The difference is that instead of working with a feed gun that automatically feeds metal wire, welders must hold and manually feed a metal rod under the welding gun. The tip of the rod is heated by the arc to make a molten pool of metal that is dragged along to create the weld. In comparison to MIG welding, TIG welding produces equally strong, but more finished looking welds. This makes it preferable in applications where the welds will be visible.
TIG welding is also a better option for joining thinner material like sheet metal or fine gauge metal tubing. The main disadvantages are that TIG welding is a more complicated process, requiring a more practiced technique. The process also takes longer to heat the metal to the point of melting and if not done properly, can result in a weakened joint.
Which Method Is Better?
When each technique is performed correctly, both MIG and TIG welding offer similar results. In either case, the welds are as strong as the feed material used to create the joints. MIG welding is generally more popular because it is easier to learn, easier to do, and faster.
On the other hand, TIG welding is more appropriate for certain uses that involve delicate welds and is used less for automotive modifications. There are fewer welders skilled with TIG welding, it takes longer, and usually costs more.
When installing steel truck bumpers on off-road trucks, some choose to have their bumper welded on for a more secure installation; some bumpers may require welding. In either case, it is important to understand the two different welding processes and know what to expect from each. Both MIG and TIG welding can both provide safe, secure joints when done properly. The main concern with TIG welding is finding a welder who is skilled with this technique and can provide the best results!