View Full Version : MIG, TIG or Arc whats best ?

01-20-2011, 06:27 PM

I have just finished my first project and used MIG to weld it all, i have been considering TIG for some time now and was wondering what is the best for these projects given the wall thickness and what is being welded together. What is the best method to use ? Any advice appreciated.



01-20-2011, 09:33 PM
If you have the dollars then go for a good tig set that can also do alluminium.
There is no doubt that tig is best.
But....as youve found out, mig works very well and so does stick.
What else will you be welding in the future? That should dictate your final choice.
If I had the cash I would spend it on a tig setup. (and a lathe)

01-21-2011, 02:19 AM
Hi only a beginner with a TIG [ but DC only so no Aluminium ]

TIG advantages

Less heat into a joint , neater welds , no splatter or joint cleaning required [ when you are good enough ! , I still dress them a little ] will probably weld thinner material than MIG , inverters will do ARC as well so that can take over from TIG when material gets thicker ? , no pesky wire feed to maintain [ my main reason for buying TIG [ bad experience with cheap MIG set ]]

TIG disadvantages probably harder to fill joint as less material is deposited [ so may require multiple passes ? ] , needs pure Argon bit harder to find in UK [ MIG can use CO2 or Argon/CO2 mix ] , slower than ARC of MIG.

Hope this helps Paul

01-21-2011, 04:02 AM
For me, TIG all the way. But that's a professionals choice. I was a prof welder for years, but life deals strange cards sometimes, so, the only welding I do atm is small stuff at work, and with a cheaper setup at home, only DC welding.

Main thing is the neater welding, the more precision possible and less heat affected zone.
But a quality AC/DC TIG welder is a lot more expensive than a small MIG welder, and the only thing you possibly can miss then, is the lack of aluminium Welding.

Oxy/Acy welding is another option, also useable for brazing or even silver-soldering ali.

Stick, albeit very cheap and as seen on the forum, perfectly capable of doing the job, has the disadvantages of being less nice to weld with, and leaving a messier weld and surroundings.

01-21-2011, 09:11 AM
The main reason for thinking about TIG was that i found MIG struggled a bit when welding the chromoly headtube to the main tube which was mild steel, alot of sparking spluttering and not really welding that well ? some of the welds were good but others not so ? Is this a limitation of MIG or poor welding skills poor equipment ? I read that TIG would weld this better. All the mild steel to mild steel welds with MIG were good and turned out well with good penetration and fairly neat looking.
I was using drilled out M5 nuts as cable guides and i struggled to weld these on well they were similar to the problems i had with the head tube ?
I will mainly be using it for similar jobs, mainly thin stuff less than 3mm.
Thanks for your help

Odd Man Out
01-21-2011, 09:21 AM
If you have the funds and the patience to learn, TIG is by far the most useful. Be prepared to spend a minimum of 1000 pounds to get it though. It is considered the hardest to learn (but if I can do it anyone can...).
Make sure that you get one that can go both AC and DC -- that way you will have the option to melt Aluminium.

Saying that MIG "struggled" when welding ChroMo is an understatement -- it is really not made to do that -- that is the province of TIG. Heck with TIG you can put pieces of Titanium together if you want. Go with TIG. You will never look back -- except to see less money in your bank account. :):punk::)

01-21-2011, 01:23 PM

I have a TIG inverter that cost around 400 [ uk pounds ] it came will everythink for ARC welding and TIG welding except the Argon it will not do aluminium but to be honest I thing being able to weld that aluminium is not really required for the type of bikes we build and it is a very treacherous metal not tolerating any flexing without wanting to fracture.

regards Paul

01-21-2011, 04:34 PM
I have to say i doubt i would want to do aluminium which will cut the cost quite a bit. I have been reading up on MIG welding chromoly and there seems to be split opinions on the subject, i take it that no one has had any real problems with welding to chromoly tubing with stick so i am guessing that with MIG i will be ok for this first project ?
I have seen some TIG welders for around 400 i just need to find out how much for a decent sized Argon bottle from someone like BOC.

01-21-2011, 10:14 PM

Sorry missed you were in Scotland so

Have you seen this site ?


My welder came from R-tech they are recommended as a good buy on the above site.


Watch ebay they have shop soiled ones on there same warranty etc but they may have been on display or out of the box for some reason.Mine is the 160 Amp one and cost me around 300.

As for gas the best way to get it is find a supplier who does bottle purchase and no rental.[ look on first webs site for suppliers ]
Mine was 50 bottle purchase and 25 for gas , but they expect you doing a couple of refills a year or they may make a maintenance charge [ still better than rental ]

regards Paul

01-22-2011, 07:28 AM

That is the site i was looking at for TIG welders, seems to be the best around especially for aftersales repairs. I have looked about and cant find anyone near me that does the non rental option for bottles there was one on the internet but it was 125 for the first bottle and not really that clear how much it would be for a refill i think it was around 50 which would make things far too expensive. I would have thought even a rental from BOC would have been cheaper than that. I am guessing these throw away bottles will work out too expensive especially when trying to learn TIG. I am using them for the MIG and they last quite a long time, only used one for the tomahawk build. But at 10 l/min flow rate on a TIG set that would only give me around 11 minutes of welding and as it is slower than MIG is probably not alot of welding...

01-22-2011, 02:19 PM

Have you searched this thread for Scottish suppliers ?


For some reason it is not a sticky ?

regards Paul

01-22-2011, 02:36 PM
I pay 24 for a "10 liter 200 bar bottle", containing 2m argon, and a monthly 6 rental .
The reason I use a rental bottle, and not a bought one, is rather simple. Now I drive to my supplier, exchange the empty one for a full one, and drive back home. With an "owned" bottle, I would drive to the supplier, and have to come back for my refilled bottle after a week.

And, it's about 2 years before I pay more for the rent, than a new bottle.

Pity it's in Belgium.

01-23-2011, 03:58 PM

Found a possible supplier close to me from the link you posted, i will give them a phone tomorrow and see what their charges are.
Thanks for the link


01-24-2011, 02:54 AM

Found a possible supplier close to me from the link you posted, i will give them a phone tomorrow and see what their charges are.
Thanks for the link



let us know how you get on.


01-24-2011, 08:34 AM
Phoned the gas supplier, very helpful people, 32 for Argon size x bottle and 5 a month rental, or 17 for Co2 Argon for MIG, i can just rent the months i need which is perfect for me as there will be months i wont need it. By far the best deal i can find.
Thanks again for the link Paul

01-30-2011, 04:56 AM
I've seen about a million of these threads. A lot of people ask this question and the truth is there are virtues to every type of welding. MIG is by far more simple, easy to learn and for many welders, faster. Some welders claim to be as fast at TIG as the fastest MIG, I can believe it but I wouldn't fall into that category, not without 20 years of solid experience. I am a TIG welder myself, TIG has fantastic versatility and excellent control. If you get yourself an inverter TIG, you'll find yourself with all kinds of neat bells and whistles like pulse, square-wave, frequency and so on. Personally, I think a lot of that is a bunch of blah for someone who is just going to assemble one or two frames. If I were you, I would go with arc or flux core MIG welding. It's cheaper, much more simple and easy to learn. You won't lay beautiful beads or stacks of dimes with any style of welding unless you've got many hours behind a hood. If you are using gas MIG welding, than I'd just stick with that. If you aren't already burning through, than you should be fine. If you are burning through, turn down the amps, lower the spool speed and increase the rate that your drag.

A lot of people think Aluminum is good for bicycle building. Nay I say. As far as I can tell, when it comes to bicycles the only upside it has is it's corrosive resistance. Pound for pound, steel and aluminum have basically zero strength difference. What does that mean? If you had a piece of steel to support somethings weight, you'd need a piece of aluminum three times thicker to get the same strength. I think that if rust is a concern for anyone regaurding a steel frame bicycle, I suggest painting the outside of the frame and use a primer in the process, as well as coating the inside of the frame with some grease or oil. I think the greatest culprit to corrosion comes from having various types of metals in close proximity of one another. http://www.roofhelp.com/galvanicscale.htm If you are ever concerned about rust, do some research on the galvanic scale. In my opinion, aluminum is not better for bicycle frame construction, all it does it make things more expensive. Welding aluminum is hard, and welding it to support weight can be pretty tricky indeed.

Odd Man Out
01-30-2011, 01:03 PM
A lot of people think Aluminum is good for bicycle building. Nay I say. As far as I can tell, when it comes to bicycles the only upside it has is it's corrosive resistance. In my opinion, aluminum is not better for bicycle frame construction, all it does it make things more expensive. Welding aluminum is hard, and welding it to support weight can be pretty tricky indeed.

Welcome to the forum -- looking forward to seeing your welded masterpieces in the future.
I build out of aluminum because I enjoy the way I can cut shape and bend it so much easier than other metals. Yes I use twice the thickness of steel for my builds but they still come out lighter than steel -- for instance, the average weight of a steel DeltaWolf is around 52 pounds. My ali wolves come in around 43.6 pounds. I find welding aluminum to be easier than weldiing ChroMo (but I learned to weld on aluminum) and a good aluminum weld -- AFTER heat treating -- has no problems with supporting the stresses that a bike can input.

For examples of my work in aluminum, search my posts when I was the infamous
"ODD MAN OUT", the bane of the admin's existance!!!:punk::jester::punk:

02-03-2011, 03:34 PM
Remember, your skill will be a lot more important than the type of welder you choose. Any type of manual welding will work for bicycle building. Also, TIG is not the only way to weld aluminum. It can also be welded with MIG or oxy-acetylene.

The best thing you can do to choose is get a bit of experience with everything and figure out what appeals to you. Taking a welding class is a good way to do this even if you already know the basics of how to weld with MIG. Switching from one type of welding to another, like from MIG to TIG, will probably make you feel like a beginner all over again, so it's probably worth taking a class anyway.

02-04-2011, 01:54 PM
Yes that is exactly what i did i had 2 shots with a TIG machine and was completely sold on it, i started out welding with gas many years ago and MIG was always strange to me although i did get the hang of it but always liked the precision of gas for welding up small parts TIG was just like gas to me but only better... so i have bought a small TIG machine and a decent sized bottle of Argon and am totally sold on TIG as the way to go. I spoke to a few welders and they all said that TIG was the way to go. I am going to keep the MIG for some jobs like tacking up and car repairs but TIG really has opened up other possibilities for me and i am looking forward to many projects with my new TIG machine.
Thanks for all the advice it was really appreciated.