Welding sticks give off a range of gases, which depend on the flux and chemicals surrounding the project metal. If the metal is not clean, anything from lead paint to fuel residue can vaporize into a gas. Carbon dioxide is another common gas and can be fatal if left to build-up in an unventilated area. 3M™ has a lot of experience on this issue, and their welding helmets are some of the best in the world.
The heat and hot sparks from welding sticks can cause nasty burns to the skin and eyes. And intense ultraviolet light will cause Arc Eye. Arc Eye is the burning of the retina and leaves permanent blind spots.
Ultra-Violet and Infra-Red radiation can lead to cataracts, common when using poor protection. The sparks that fly-off the welds can reach 2,500 Fahrenheit (1,370 C). Anyone ever burnt by one of these sparks knows exactly how hot that is.
UV — links to skin cancer
Blinking is not a form of protection, and neither is putting your hand in front of your face as you start to weld. UV radiation has links to skin-cancer on people with long-term exposure to welding. So, if you want to ensure your longevity — wear adequate fire-retardant clothing!
3M™ headbands are adjustable, as with all welding masks, with a girth tightener covered with a soft sweatband to prevent it from slipping down. And the height to the top of the head is also adjustable so that everything sits where it should.
The headbands also have quick release switches, so that the face mask is easy to remove when you want to inspect an area before and after welding. This headband has a slider for varying the distance of the visor to the face when flipped down.
3M Speedglas™ Welding Helmet
- 1.73 x 3.66 in. viewing area
- Excellent optical quality
- Sensitivity adjustment that allows use with all Stick, MIG and TIG welding processes
- Optical quality gives worker a good view of the work area
- Classic black helmet
The most basic form of welding protection starts from the 3M Speedglas™ Welding Helmet 100, with a 100V filter. 3M™ welding helmets are completely adjustable for comfort. The eye-shield has an Auto-Darkening Filter that activates the moment the arcing begins. This shield is also adjustable for shade levels, sensitivity, and the delay-time for the shield to back to clear.
3M™ claims that their ADF has a truer transmission of colors than competing brands. The objects are brighter before welding, and the welding puddles are easier to focus on. And the clarity of the ADF helps with achieving a better weld.
Sight and Skin
These automatic shields are suitable for MMA, MIG, TIG, and Mag welding. And seeing is easier with the magnifying lens holder. The holder will secure a 3M™ lens, which go up to 3-times magnification.
3M™ welding helmets come in a range of colors and skins to give them that personalized touch. 3M’s G5-01VC welding filter has 3 color modes, where the wearer can alter the colors and help to enhance their joining.
Being able to flip the visor up to take a better look, or performing some touch-up grinding, is vital. Taking off the visor to put on some clear goggles, is painful, and means re-adjustments each time. 3M’s 9100FX offers an internal clear visor — you can keep the head and neck protection of the helmet and still have a clear view.
Welding and chemical vaporization go together, like fire and smoke. Even with a clean piece of metal, the dust from the flux is thick with soot. High-Efficiency particulate filters are essential to professional welders that breathe in these fumes.
HE filters take out the larger dust particles, which will rest in the lungs, and will still supply the wearer with adequate breathing air. With the G5 -01, airflow comes from the waist pack’s Adflow™ powered HE air-purifier.
Adflow™ forces clean air into the helmet, making it a positive pressure environment. This positive pressure means that the user does not need to insert the respirator into their mouth. And the pressure of this blower compensates for altitudes of up to 10,000 feet (3 km) above sea-level. The air, from the Adflow™, travels a pipe to the rear of the helmet and passes through to a range of vents.
The vents, located at the cheeks and above the eyebrows, point in towards the nose. The eyebrow vent is adjustable and changes from blowing on the visor to towards the face, or a variation of both. There is another lever to change the balance of air coming from the brow and cheek vents.
Adflow™ belt uses a bespoke rechargeable lithium-ion battery that has enough power to last up to 12 hours. And when used with the neck-cowling, which offers excellent protection from hazardous fumes.
The temptation to go to other brands is to do with the price of 3M™ welding helmets. Is it possible to justify spending 3–4 times more on a brand over an unbranded cheap welding helmet? There are many manufacturers that make an automatic welding shield and even with the choice of varying the colors and reaction times.
Other labels will promise the same features as 3M™ masks. But, the first compromise will be the reduction in the viewing area, as this makes up a good part of the cost of the helmet.
Ventilation is crucial in preventing the screen from fogging. When welding in a hot environment, the visor needs good airflow, and few other manufacturers add this feature.
Good peripheral vision on a construction site can save your life or somebody else’s. Many welding visors limit the vision to the small area in front of the face. 3M™ has added shaded side-windows so that the user can stay aware of what coming at them from the sides.
It costs money to make a superior product, whatever it is. You know that if you buy a more expensive welder that you are getting something that will last longer and made more manageable. 3M’s welding masks follow the same logic.
Materials used to construct the headband are stronger and more comfortable than many competing masks. The complete head protection of the mask is better, and 3M™ offers more ways to adjust the visor.
Speedglas™ offers super-quick opacity.
Most important of all, the automatic light filter has better optics and allows for more light of true colors to enter when inactive. Activation needs to be immediate, and 3M’s powered Speedglas™ offers super-quick opacity when the welding arcs begin to take flight.
3M™ Speedglas™ Welding Helmet 9100MP