The Timeline and Development of Metal Inert Gas Welding

The Timeline and Development of Metal Inert Gas Welding

Metal Inert Gas or “MIG” welding has been in development for ages. It’s a fabrication or sculptural process that joins metals or thermoplastics together using a welding gun. A gas is sent through the gun during the process to shield the weld from outside contamination.

Otherwise, known as Gas Metal Arc Welding wire welding MIG welding systems enable the common hobbyist or DIY welder to do projects inexpensively with a little know-how assuming the material is within their working range.

The ease of use is another in its popularity. Understanding safety, metal prep and general operational procedures are all that’s needed to get yourself going. While this can be a bit much to learn for some, many craftsmen are able to take well to it. All these thanks to one man’s discovery in 1800.

The beginning of welding tech

In 1800, Humphry Davy discovered the electric arc. This lead to people developing new ways to utilize this discovery which lead to the invention of carbon electrodes. By the late 1800s metal electrodes had been invented by C.L. Coffin and N.G. Slavianoff.

An early predecessor of gas metal arc welding was invented in 1920 by P.O. Nobel while working for the General Electric company. His invention regulated the feed rate by utilizing a bare electrode wire and direct current. It was revolutionary for its time but lacked a shielding gas.

The true start of MIG welding

In 1948, gas metal arc welding was legitimately developed by the Battelle Memorial Institute. To make it work they utilized a smaller diameter electrode with a constant voltage source. The prior had recently been developed by H.E. Kennedy.

Argon gas was used to shield and an aluminium electrode was continuously fed making it all possible. All of this created a process of axial spray transfer in which molten metal droplets are sprayed through the nozzle onto the work. This was true metal inert gas welding.

There was a major drawback, however. This system had high costs of use so it definitely wasn’t a consumer-friendly item.

An era of increasing efficiency and cost-effectiveness

In 1953, the utilization of carbon dioxide as a welding atmosphere made stealing welding more economically feasible. Based on the work of Novoshilov and Lyubavshkii, It gained instant popularity. The drawback was the greater heat generated which discouraged its use.

1958 saw the release of a short-arc variation of gas metal arc welding that increased versatility and made working with thin materials possible. This system relied on smaller electrode wires and power supplies more advanced than the previous generations’. It’s dexterity and lower heat requirements made it the most popular at the time.

There were improvements made throughout the next couple decades, but major improvements came when computerized circuits and software were added to systems. The previous research on power sources and what’s required to control the arc for specific jobs enabled these advancements in the 1990’s.

Lincolm Electric developes Surface Tension Transfer or “STT”. This system’s power source reacts to what’s required cutting the requirement for constant current or voltage. This is huge for efficiency and cost effectiveness. This brought MIG welding into the modern ages and made it possible for the common consumer.

For potential hobbyists

If you’re considering getting into welding make sure to do your research. Knowing history is one thing. Understanding the proper skills needed to safely work is something entirely different. If you’re looking for a MIG welder be sure to check out They have tons of information and reviews on a variety of systems.

Before you start a project be sure to pick the right tool for the job. Consider the materials your working with, the size of the project and whether it might be more feasible to have a professional do it. All of these factors will affect not only the type of welder you need but whether you need a welder at all.

Finally, if you do get into welding, just remember to have fun and be patient. It can be the hardest part of the job, especially if you’re a perfectionist. So just remember that skill comes with time.