How Does A MIG Welder Work?

how mig welders work

MIG welding is a form of arc welding involving metal and inactive gases used to join two separate steel or aluminum pieces together using the transfer of heat. MIG stands for Metal Inert Gas. The process is sometimes referred to as GMAW in some circles, which stands for Gas Metal Arc Welding.

There are three things that need to be present for a weld to be considered MIG:

  1. An electrode to fill the joint between the two pieces of steel or aluminum to be connected.
  2. A source of power, typically a relatively stable and high-voltage power source to run a welding device.
  3. A shielding gas that works to protect the welds from getting into contact with airborne contaminants and dust.

Let’s take a deeper look into how MIG welders work, to better understand the mechanisms being manipulated and modified to join two pieces of metal into one uniform weld.

How MIG Welders Work

The processes of MIG welding is regarded as a semi-automatic process, as the outcome of a weld relies partially on the skillset of the operator to regulate the amount of welding being performed. This doesn’t mean that an unskilled welder is incapable of operating a MIG welder. After all, the process is relatively simple as far as ensuring the right settings: Set the voltage and use the right electrode. The skill level truly comes in with the quality of the weld. This is where the professionals are separated from the amateurs.

A MIG welder works by transferring the metal wire being used to the joint between the two pieces of metal (aluminum or steel). There are four ways to accomplish this process: globular, pulsed spray, short circuit, and spray:

  • In globular transfers, the welding material transfers across the arc weld in larger droplets. Generally, these droplets are larger than the diameter of the electrode being used in the MIG welding process.
  • In pulsed spray transfers, the power supply cycles between high spray transfer currents and lower background currents. This allows for super-cooling of weld pools in the background cycle.
  • In short circuit transfers, the electrode touches the metal and short circuits. This causes the metal to transfer as a result of the short. This typically occurs between 20 and 200 times per second.
  • In spray transfers, tiny molten droplets of super heated metal are sprayed across the arc. This works similar to the spray that comes out of a garden hose when the opening has been restricted.


how mig welder works

Let’s dive a little bit deeper into the three requirements necessary to form a MIG weld as outlined above:

MIG Welding: The Electrode Wire

Electrode wires used in MIG welding depend on the types of materials to join. While some welds come with the wire and flux fused together, others require feeding of the wires through a nozzle as you pull the trigger through the process. This is basically how a MIG welder spits molten metal out to weld two pieces of steel or aluminum together.

Setting up this electrode requires that the user begins anĀ  arc by clamping it to the welding project, though. The metal is then held inside the welder itself, as MIG welding is classified as wire-feed type welding. Then, MIG welders allow users to adjust feed rates of wires. For this reason, users should first perform a test bead on a scrap piece of metal. This allows fine tuning of feed rates for the strongest results in the final weld. The most common electrode thicknesses for MIG welding work ranges between 0.023″ and 0.045″. However, some are thicker than this, especially if being utilized for heavy-duty or industrial applications.

MIG Welding: The Shielding Gas

There are two possible shielding gas sources in MIG welding:

  • The shielding gas can originate from chemical reactions in flux, or
  • The gas could come from a tank connected to the welder

The main source of the shielding gas in a MIG welder is the connected gas tank, which also contains mixtures of two inert gases: argon and carbon dioxide. This gases come from manufacturers. Yet, the main reason for using inert gases is so the gas doesn’t react with the metal, causing contaminants to compromise the structure and integrity of the weld.

When a user pulls the trigger on their welder, the gases are pumped through the welding cable, coming out the same nozzle where the welding wire is actively fed. Nevertheless, with this, the inert gas combination creates a type of shield, protecting the arc weld.

MIG Welding: The Power Source

MIG welders use DC (direct current) power sources to produce heat. However, how MIG welders work is dependent on the heat settings chosen. Yet, several voltage selections exist for users to select the option that will produce the best weld based on their needs. If a user selects a heat setting that is too high, they might find themselves with a burnt or unusable weld. This shouldn’t discourage these users, though. Even the most seasoned welding professionals make mistakes. Finally, these adjustments in heat rates for MIG welding power sources are made through modification of voltage rates to meet specific welding needs.

Looking to compare MIG welders? We feature six of the highest rated and best power-to-dollar ratio MIG welders on the market:

Hobart Handler 190 Review

hobart handler 190 review

Hobart welders have been top-of-the-line consistent for years. They develop and manufacture high-quality steel and aluminum welding products. The Hobart Handler 190 MIG welder is no exception to this quality aspect. There are many reasons Tool Guides Hub considers the Hobart Handler 190 one of the best MIG welders.

To start, the Hobart Handler has a wide range of output power, ranging from 25 amps to 190 amps. The welder also has a thirty percent duty cycle at 130 amps. Additionally, Hobart models are durable, with forged parts and good attention to detail. Our review of the Hobart Handler 190 uncovers more reasons to buy. We believe this information will be beneficial to readers.

Read on for our full Hobart Handler 190 MIG welder review. See if it fits your needs, see if it fits your price range, and see why it is on our list of the best MIG welders.

hobart 190 review

Our Hobart Handler 190 Review

The Hobart Handler 190 is a solid piece of welding equipment. It works well with metal thicknesses between 24 gauge and 5/16-inch. The machine weighs in at a nice low 68 pounds. It also measures in at a little over a foot high, about ten inches wide, and around 19.5 inches deep.

Past reviews online for the Hobart Handler 190 refer to it as very portable. The dimensions and weight above reflect this. If the weight of the machine compared to the size concerns you, note that there is an inbuilt gas cylinder. This means welders will have one less piece of external equipment to lug around from work site to work site.

The Hobart Handler 190 works very well with aluminum and steel (mild, flux core, and stainless). For mild steel and stainless steel welding, the wire thickness varies. The suggested wire thickness for these steel types is 0.6 to 0.9 millimeters. For flux core steel, the suggested wire thickness is 0.8 to 1.2 millimeters. For aluminum, the Hobart Handler 190 works best with wire thicknesses between 0.8 and 0.9 millimeters.

Hobart Handler 190: Product Ease of Use

The Hobart Handler 190 has simplistic controls. These controls allow anyone from novices to experts to manipulate welding settings. The controls are well marked, and the amperage and voltage knobs are well labeled. This labeling ensures confusion and accidents don’t occur at all skill levels.

This product has seven various output voltage settings. This makes the Hobart Handler 190 one of the most versatile MIG welders on the market. Operation of the Hobart Handler 190 from a generator requires 7000 watts of output power. For more powerful, professional results, plug the machine into a 230 volt wall jack.

Adjusting amperage on the Hobart Handler 190 is a breeze, and is straightforward. This contributes to its quick and painless setup process when working mobile. One review of the Hobart Handler 190 attests to this setup ease. They note that the connections are a snap, and they can plug in and start working in minutes.

hobart handler 190 review

Hobart Handler 190: Equipment Features

One of the most outstanding aspects of the Hobart Handler 190 is its inbuilt spool gun circuitry. This welder features a SpoolRunner 100, serving to regulate the wire floor.

According to one review of this Hobart model, this is a vital feature that should be standard in all welders. The direct connection between the machine and SpoolRunner 100 assists in reducing problems. Aluminum wire MIG welding is a careful and dangerous game. The SpoolRunner 100 in the Hobart Handler 190 ensures safety in all aspects.

The built-in contactor is yet another wonderful feature present in the Hobart 190. This contactor serves to “ground” the machine, enhancing safety and reducing injury risk.

Also, the Hobard Handler 190 features an automatic thermal overload protection element. The element shuts off the equipment when it gets too hot. Then, it turns back on immediately once the welder has cooled down.

The seven separate selections for voltage enhance the Handler 190’s versatility. It also enhances the flexibility of the welder. According to one review, different voltages are selectable depending on the power source. This does not compromise the quality of performance.


Hobart Handler 190: Pros and Cons

One of the many advantages of the Hobart Handler 190 MIG welder is the skill level needed. One does not need to be a MIG welding professional to get started with the Hobart Handler. This makes it suitable for novices and beginners alike.

Additionally, the Hobart Handler 190 offers great flexibility. It has seven different voltage selections for welders to choose from. The quality of this welder is unquestionable. Hobart Welders have been in operational condition for over 100 years.

The Hobart models are also priced well, considering their warranty, durability, and quality. The range of material thicknesses workable are quite generous. This explains even more about the Hobart Handler 190’s versatility.

The only disadvantage of the welder is that it requires a 220V power outlet. The price has also been a major issue among many users who compare it with alternative brands from China.

hobart handler 190


Hobart Handler 190: Wrapping Things Up

The Hobart Handler 190 is a great welder for beginners looking for smaller projects. It also has strong appeal to seasoned MIG welders as well. If you consider the flexibility offered, you’ll see what a dollar per dollar champion the 190 is. Plus, the welder offers a solid set of features, such as the regulated wire feed reviewed above.

The quality promise and dedicated service from Hobart is a given. The ease of use and strong feature set is an added bonus of the Hobart Handler 190. Starting MIG welding has never been easier. Advanced welders having a solid portable option is a snap. And the price point makes the Handler 190 too good to pass up. What are you waiting for?