Common MIG Welding Applications [GMAW]

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MIG welding was patented in 1949, and it is one of the most widely used and most common processes today. Why? Because it is cost-efficient, easy to use, and master. Therefore, you can quickly achieve decent weld quality or join different material types.

Even though MIG welding is popular among hobbyists and welding enthusiasts, it has found its way into today’s manufacturing industry. 

Featured image for the Common MIG Welding Applications article

This article will explain some of the most common MIG welding applications today so that you can learn more about job opportunities.

MIG (Metal Inert Gas) Welding In a Nutshell

To explain the applications, we will first illustrate the base concept of MIG welding. Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), acknowledged as MIG welding is an arc welding process.

A continuous solid wire electrode (filler metal) is fed through the MIG welding gun, and when it touches the surface, the electrode comprises an electric arc.

MIG Metal Inert Gas Welding In a Nutshell

Arc produces heat, which leads to melting the base metal. Molten metal finally makes a perfect welding joint. The MIG gun also supplies shielding gas, protecting the welding bead from defects. Therefore, you can efficiently utilize it to join dissimilar metals, and the weld pool is not contaminated by interacting with the air in the atmosphere.

This simple explanation may serve you as a reminder, but if you want to learn about the MIG welding process in detail, feel free to check out our extensive how-to article.

MIG Welding Machines

Today, the welding market is overflowed by MIG welders due to low prices and high versatility. You can buy a cheap MIG welder for a couple of hundred bucks or opt for an industrial-grade machine suitable for heavy-duty use.

Before you make a purchase, you should make your goals straight. Hobart and YesWelder assemble one of the best for money MIG welders, and you won’t have to break a bank. Handler 140 and MIG 250DS are among the best MIG welders for hobbyists.

On the other hand, Miller and Lincoln machines will do their part if you look for a real workhorse. However, you will have to be ready to pay more than quite a few bucks for Millermatic 211 or Lincoln Pro MIG. Our best MIG welder article can assist you in choosing the suitable machine for you.

Common GMAW or MIG Welding Applications

Even though MIG welding takes part in countless industries, it thrives in several branches. It is most commonly used in automotive, construction, and high production manufacturing.

Automotive Industry and MIG Welding

When GMAW was discovered in the 1950s, its primary purpose was aluminum welding. Since most vehicles are made of aluminum and thin metals, MIG welding is a logical choice. 

That’s why MIG welding became an essential part of the manufacturing, construction, auto, motorcycle, van, and SUV repair industry. GMAW also ensures strong welds when working with thin materials, making it ideal for auto body or interior restoration and repair.

image of a MIG welding process using a CO2 gas in automotive industry

In addition, results are satisfying since the weld is almost invisible and long-lasting. Some companies, such as Eastwood, even design their machines for auto-body repair and maintenance.

Welders are designed to provide the right amount of heat to stop the thin metal from bending and changing properties. Therefore, you can see the relation between MIG welding and the automotive industry.

There is no doubt this bond will last, but technology advances significantly. As a result, some manufacturers today use a hybrid process called laser MIG welding. These two processes result in enhanced welding possibilities, weldability, and welding reliability for many different materials and constructions. However, the automotive industry is still unimaginable without MIG welding.

Construction and MIG Welding

Steel plays a crucial role in constructing buildings, homes, bridges, and edifices.

Even though MIG welding was mainly developed for aluminum welding, it is more widespread in joining structural steel. Therefore, MIG welding found its way into the construction industry.

The welding career in construction has its perks. For example, robots take over mass assembly lines in factories, while construction jobs usually include manual welding.

New Project

In addition, the US government invests money in infrastructure repairs, meaning job opportunities will continue to rise. So if you are considering a welding career, construction might be the right choice.

Mass Production Manufacturing and Metal Inert Gas (MIG) Welding

High production manufacturing includes mass production of computer components, auto parts, ship parts, and many other items.

Since MIG welding is cost-efficient and quick, it eventually became essential for high production manufacturing.

In addition, most jobs include joining dissimilar metals, and yes, that’s where MIG welding prospers.

Manufacturing MIG welding manual 2

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that machine manufacturing employs the highest number of welders 5.530. Next on the list is motor vehicle parts manufacturing with 4.900.

Particular MIG welding tasks may include working with fabricated metal products, mining machinery and agricultural products, and many more.

Robotics and MIG Welding

Due to low prices and high productivity, MIG welding is often used in assembly lines. In addition, companies have found it cheaper to install robots in recent years than training and employing MIG welders.

MIG welding robots are capable of welding in all-position, adding flexibility to the welding system. Some of the advantages that companies see following MIG welding automation are: safety from dangerous fumes, higher quality welds, and more efficient processes are just

MIG welding robots are economical and easy to incorporate into an assembly line. That’s the reason why they found their way into the automated automotive and manufacturing industry.

Nonetheless, they only justify the cost if the MIG welding is fully compatible with the industry goals. On the other hand, complex applications require complex solutions, and the MIG welding robots might be left out. you can read more about robotic welding in this article.

Railroad Repair

MIG welding might not perform well in harsh or windy conditions when working outside.

This is because the wind or draft can easily blow away the shielding gas, which will result in poor welds.

In addition, MIG welding is not suitable for joining highly thick materials and can be hard to work with a welding torch and other equipment in cramped spaces.

Railroad Repair with MIG welding

Those are some of the drawbacks which will make you think it doesn’t work well in the pipeline or railroad repair.

Yes, you cannot use MIG welding to join railways, but you can use it to deal with defects that negatively impact the integrity of the rail track. Most commonly, those are wear of metal, broken plates, broken bolts, wheel burns, and rail end batter.

As a matter of fact, railroad rolling stock manufacturing holds the highest concentration of employment in welding. Welders take 2.5% of industry employment.

Pipeline MIG Welding

Early pipelines in the United States were installed in the 19th century, but the industry starter growing after the 1920s.

First pipeline joining methods were resistance and seam welding and soon submerged arc welding emerged.

However, things are a bit different today.

Pipeline MIG Welding

Despite Stick welding (Shielded Metal Arc Welding) being the most common pipeline welding process, MIG welding is often used due to higher productivity. You can work much quicker than SMAW, and GMAW beads are cleaner.

So, you can do it faster, there is less spatter, but the job is usually prefabricated in indoor conditions.  Due to cleanliness, MIG welding is used to join sewage or water system pipes. That’s why you can drink the water safely.

In the past, many welders were worried about the strength of the MIG welds, especially when dealing with thicker metals. Stick welds were drastically stronger back then, and you didn’t have to carry bulky equipment around.

However, technical advancement increased the strength to match SMAW electrodes, so now MIG wire has a tensile strength of 55.000-70.000 PSI. Despite various technical improvements, many believe GMAW operator skills can easily impact the quality of the weld. That’s why some still prefer Stick welding over inert gas MIG welding in a large-scale pipeline systems.

Which Industries Use MIG Welding?

MIG welding is one of the most straightforward welding methods, making it perfect for beginners. However, advantages such as low prices and high productivity made it suitable for industrial service.

Today, MIG welding is an essential part of the automotive, construction, manufacturing, and some industries with mass production. The ability to weld metal of variable thickness and type (carbon steel, stainless steel, aluminum, etc.) makes it suitable for different applications.

On the other hand, MIG welding comes short when working in windy outside conditions and dealing with extra thick metals. Flux-cored arc welding takes its part there.

Some prefer TIG welding when dealing with aluminum, and MIG and tig welding are the most popular methods. However, MIG welding is easier to learn compared to Tungsten Inert Gas welding. TIG welding includes non-consumable tungsten electrodes, but you still buy filler material just like MIG wire welding.


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Adam Mason

Welder by trade for a decade and more. Now also a web designer and a blog owner. Doing product reviews and writing blogs about welding trade and perks and minuses of being a welder.

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