When the torch hits the metal, you’ll want some cover from the harmful radiation emitted by the welding arc. A good welding helmet is designed to provide you with sufficient protection and more. The rewards of working in the welding world come with their own set of dangers. The hot metal slag and sparks from your workstation could splatter onto your face, giving you severe burns or injury and potentially blinding you. Furthermore, the bright sparks will degrade your vision over time until you’re no longer able to see clearly. These factors are why a welding helmet is highly essential.
It is vital to consider what features you’ll likely use in your work when you’re choosing a good welding helmet. Are you a weekend warrior looking to weld for fun? Or a professional feature savvy aiming for maximum safety and improved quality of work? In any case, you’ll want protection that thoroughly covers all bases, from TIG welding to flux core welding. Weld without worry with the right equipment, such as the 3M Speedglas welding helmet.
3M has always been a pioneer when it comes to safety products. Nowadays, we’re all familiar with the 3M brand due to the high demand for their N95 face masks, but the company is also an industry leader in the welding world. Their 9100 series especially is a premium line of auto-darkening helmets that offer top-notch protection with patented comfort features. These cutting-edge qualities help you weld longer and better.
What’s unique about 3M welding helmets is that every unit is customizable. Buyers can add features based on their preference. You can buy auto-darkening filters individually, mostly differing in viewport size, and powered 3M air respirators that help purify the air going in and out of the helmet. The helmet is basically a blank canvas for 3M’s top-of-the-line safety features and innovations.
The 9100 FX was designed for high-volume and demanding work environments. If you want to invest in optimal respiratory protection with respectable viewing capabilities, the 9100FX might be the right pick for you.
Some hobbyists may find some of the specifications far too advanced for their weekend activities. 3M designed the 9100FX with all the bare essentials of a welding helmet plus more, so you can scale its use from minor to major operations should your projects get more complicated.
Auto-darkening features are available in most modern welding helmets. If you’re only looking to work on a singular metal, you can cut costs by going for a fixed, passive shade helmet which 3M also offers. For welders looking to work on a wide range of metals, a helmet with an auto-darkening feature would be more suitable as it allows you to choose a variety of shade settings, depending on what the welding process requires. MIG, TIG, and Stick welding often require shade numbers ranging from 8 to 13. Compared to older models like the 3M Speedglas 9000 welding helmet, the 9100FX costs more but packs a lot more value for serious professionals.
The 9100 series auto-darkening filters come in three different sizes (9100V, 9100X, 9100XX), with the 9100XX boasting the largest view of 4.20” x 2.80”, 30% higher than other Speedglas filters. You must also consider that a larger auto-darkening filter will consume more power, pegging your battery life at about 2000 hours of regular use.
The 9100fx’s viewing area is greatly enhanced with the side windows. Side windows provide a peripheral vision for users in what otherwise would be a tunnel-like vision in most helmets with an exclusively frontal viewing area. The added peripheral vision helps watch out for hoses, chairs, or other tripping hazards that may endanger you and your work. This also provides more excellent visual acuity when welding in tight spaces like the under-chassis of automobiles.
The welding process produces many noxious fumes invisible to the human eye. Prolonged exposure and inhalation of these toxic gases could lead to chronic complications like lung, larynx, urinary tract cancer, as well as messing up your nervous system and kidneys. Workers doing high volume welding are most susceptible to these possibilities.
It takes an average of 2 days for the usual fume particle measuring 0.5 micrometers to settle on the floor when dropped from a height of 1.5 meters. When you take those numbers into serious consideration, you’ll realize how long welding particles stay suspended in your working area. The premium 9100 series are readily equipped with 3M’s groundbreaking respiratory protective equipment such as the Adflo Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) or the 3M fresh-air III supplied-air regulators. These add-ons provide efficient respiratory protection and comfort so welders can operate with increasing productivity and safety, even in the most demanding environments.
3M’s solution to this widespread hazard is its groundbreaking respiratory protective equipment, which you equip to your 3M Speedglas 9100FX.
The main difference between the 9100FX and the 9100 is its flip-up visor. When welders lift off their helmets to grind the weld clearly or perform non-welding tasks, the positive pressure seal provided by the 3M Speedglas 9100x fx Adflo air-fed welding helmet is broken. This action allows suspended particles to enter your breathing area and compromise your respiratory health. With the 3M Speedglas flip-up welding helmet 9100xx FX adjustable visor, welding operators no longer need to remove their helmet as the visor provides complete clarity and uninhibited view, maintaining the pressure seal and respiratory protection effectively.
This feature is meant to motivate welders to have their helmets on at all times when in the workplace. The fumes spread beyond your workstation, so you are still exposed when you walk around the area. Lastly, with a helmet always on, you are protected from high-velocity hazards or projectiles that are very much possible in working environments that operate heavy-duty equipment.
The optical clarity of this Speedglas welding helmet offers an impressive 1/1/1/2 rating, meaning it has a first-class rating in all first three, which includes distortion level, blurriness, and uniform shade. The last one, shade consistency at an angle, has a second class rating, meaning there is a possibility of having varying colors of the lens when you’re not welding in a frontal, straight-angle manner.
With a switching speed of 1/10000 of a second or 0.1 milliseconds, the auto-darkening should instantly transition from a light to a dark state in a mere fraction of a second, a timeframe some users won’t even notice. This feature will protect you from sudden arc flashes.
The 9100FX’s comfort features provide all the much-needed support required for long-hour weldings. The 9100 series head suspension conforms to your head with its various adjustable accessories, like the unique 2-strap crown adjustment designed to increase stability and decrease uncomfortable pressure on the top of your head. The suspension on the back of the helmet has a smooth ratchet mechanism that lets you manually tighten the helmet to your preference, accommodating extrusions like hair ponytails. It also helps that the helmet weighs as little as 1.4 lbs. allowing your neck and shoulders much respite and relief.
The helmet is equipped with a headcover to protect you from sparks and spatter that may come from above or the side, a handy feature, especially if you have workmates doing plenty of grinding and welding.
Another unique comfort feature is the front and side air exhaust vents, which prevent your breath from fogging and steaming up your helmet’s lenses, allowing enhanced clarity and a cooler inside temperature.
The grab-and-go feature was designed so you could pick up your helmet straight from the bench and immediately start working. This feature allows you to pre-select the desired setting for a specific work process at the click of a button, removing the need to manually input your desired sensitivity, delay, or shade setting. The helmet also has external controls, which are all easily accessible even with welding gloves on, so you can quickly switch between grind modes and other memory modes.
Battery performance is very efficient with a pair of CR2030 3V lithium batteries that power the auto-darkening features of the helmet. With the largest auto-darkening filter, as in the 9100XX, you can expect a lower battery life of 2000 hours, while the smaller 9100V auto-darkening filter will give you a more robust life expectancy of 2800 hours.
While helmet custom designs are certainly a rising trend, especially in millennial welders looking to wear a helmet with a hint of creativity, some would prefer a functional, no-frills helmet. The Speedglas 9100 welding helmet series is as basic as it gets when it comes to design.
The FX flip-up visor is not only perfect for grinding, but it also plays a huge role when it comes to the welder’s respiratory health, mobility, and protection from surrounding hazards and projectiles. The 9100FX is one of 3M’s most premium models, affording you an array of top-notch features like fixed-shade side windows and attachable air-purifying filters. The 9100FX is perfect for serious work, designed to handle even the most demanding workloads. If you’re looking to weld mostly as a hobby, some of the features are a bit overboard, and you may end up overpaying for specifications you won’t be utilizing.