Wearing a welding helmet today offers a more specialized experience than in the past. Before, welding helmets simply incorporated polarized lenses for eye protection but lacked protection against UV rays. Now, technology has made it possible to apply advanced features such as auto-darkening filters and adjustable controls.
Moreover, you can find plenty of fashionable welding helmet designs in the market, adding more to the excitement of having to wear one. However, the best welding helmet should balance visual appeal and safety. You don't need a cool-looking helmet that doesn't keep you safe during the welding process.
So to help you find a cool and, at the same time, purposeful welding helmet, we’ve outlined some necessary points for discussion below.
The Role of Welding Helmets
How does a welding helmet work? Welding helmets are primarily designed to protect your face, particularly your eyes, from harmful welding lights: UV rays, visible light radiation, and infrared. It's a major requirement of welding safety gear, so make sure you don't overlook this item.
Basic Parts of a Welding Helmet
The variety of welding helmets in the market might confuse you at first. That said, it is best to know every helmet's parts to give you a good start in selection. Here are the basic components you should know:
Lens and Shade
The lens is located at the rectangular and colored screen on the center of the welding helmet. It is designed to protect your eyes from direct arc lights or welding spatter. Without a lens, you won't complete the welding process due to the arc reaction.
On the other hand, the shade is either in front, behind, or embedded inside the helmet's lens. Shades serve as eye shields to avoid momentary blindness caused by violent arc reactions.
The strap of a welding helmet holds on to your head for comfort and easy use. It is usually located within the helmet's shell and adjustable to fit the head size. Most straps are made of tight rubber, so it expands well. You need this to avoid fretting over the helmet falling off or getting loose no matter what kind of movements you make.
The battery supplies the power required for the helmet's features to work. Welding helmets come with either replaceable or solar-charged batteries, depending on your preference. When changing batteries, make sure that they do need replacement. In addition, the battery is located underneath a plastic piece, so you have to cut out those plastic parts.
The shell is the protective cover where all the other essential parts such as lenses and knobs are installed. Before, these shells used to be made of metal until manufacturers switched to thermoplastic materials reinforced with glass fiber. As a result, the helmet becomes resistant to heat and mechanical forces.
These are basic parts that have been present since the older version of welding helmets. The latest helmets then incorporated some additional features like auto-darkening filters (ADF), ADF knobs, sensitivity filters, and more.
Types of Welding Helmets
There are two main types of welding helmets. Familiarize yourself with the differences to know which of them is more suitable for your welding project.
Passive Welding Helmet
Passive welding helmets come with fixed settings to consistently provide effective protection. The shade lenses are inbuilt and usually have a number 10 fixed shade (may vary according to the manufacturer). Additionally, the lenses contain standard glass, which protects you from UV emissions and infrared.
These kinds of helmets have fewer parts, making them a more budget-friendly option. However, you have to manually and simultaneously move it up and down to adjust the torch—it can be difficult to use and cause neck discomfort.
Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet
This type of welding helmet incorporates an auto-darkening filter lens and multiple arc sensors (3‒6). The sensors are located at the sides of the helmet and detect light to identify the required filter shade—shades automatically adjust whenever you start or stop using the helmet. As a result, the protection level of these helmets is exceptional.
These features allow you to observe the welding process clearly and make the job easy by eliminating manual helmet adjustments. However, advanced features come with higher costs. It's more expensive than traditional helmets, needs a constant battery supply, and the replacement parts are quite pricey.
Cool With a Purpose: What Makes Great Helmets for Welding?
It's essential to have a grasp of the basic components of a welding helmet design. Now that you understand them, let's discuss welding helmet design ideas. With such a competitive market, it isn't easy to choose from a bunch of cool designs. What's worse is that you might purchase a helmet with an incredible look but doesn't offer safety and good performance.
Here's a guide on how to hit two birds with one stone:
ADF vs. Traditional
The battle between passive auto-darkening welding helmets is still on. Some welders (mostly pros) choose traditional helmets because of their robust and affordable quality. However, for beginners or less-experienced users, it would be best to select an ADF helmet instead. It is primarily designed to increase work efficiency and make the job easier and safer.
Sure, it does come at a more expensive cost, but anything that guarantees safety and productivity is worth a purchase. For example, you won't have to manually lift the helmet when examining the weld or switching to a different position with ADF helmets. As a result, it prevents you from developing a neck strain or having poor weld results.
Welding helmets undergo a laboratory test from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to ensure they're fit to function properly. The latest standard is the ANSI Z87.1, so make sure to look for it when selecting a welding helmet. This test checks the item's capability for face and eye protection, speed switching, darkness shade settings, and other related helmet functions.
Be mindful of the details when looking at the helmet packaging. Make sure you spot labels such as ANSI Z87.1-2003 or Z87+ as it states the latest ANSI approval. Avoid the "ANSI Approved" print as much as possible since there's no assurance that it actually passed the newest ANSI standard.
Sensitivity filters are found in the newer manufactured helmets only. Passive helmets don't have this as they come with a fixed lens—this can serve as a core point to differentiate between the two helmet types. A sensitivity filter identifies the proper speed of the darkening lens to protect your sight from violent arc light.
When the filter is high, it means it reacts quicker against the arc light and vice versa. Helmets incorporate sensitivity filters in either LED button panels or knobs for better monitoring and use of the setting.
Neck Guard and Weight
The neck guard is a feature you will less likely find in cheaper welding helmets. It is designed to protect the lower part of your face and neck area against potential damage. These hazards could be metal spatter, neck strain, UV rays, scratches, and bruises you might get while welding.
Weight counts as an essential factor in choosing a helmet design, too. A helmet might look cool but causes discomfort because it's too heavy. Some welders might prefer passive helmets because they're lighter (they don't have many parts installed). However, some brands today manufacture lightweight helmets, too. Most of these models have shells that weigh around 13‒21 ounces only.
The shade range of a welding helmet helps you with eye comfort and avoids the risk of flash burns. Different shade levels are required for various welding applications, such as changes in machine voltage, wire feed speed, welding processes, or material thickness.
The range provided should accommodate these adjustments when necessary. For example, the recommended shade range for a good helmet design is between 9‒13, but some premium helmets have a 5‒13 range. The basic rule here is that a higher number indicates a darker shade.
Finally, welding helmets don't have to be strictly cold when it comes to the shell design. Today's products allow you to choose from a crazy variety of colors and graphics! For some, welding might only be some common job, but to others, it's a career where you can also sport cool fashion.
In fact, some brands would even include stickers in the package for you to customize your welding helmet! If you want a pattern of flames, lightning, skulls, or classic cartoon characters on your helmet, there are many options in the market waiting for you!
What makes a cool welding helmet design? A helmet that looks visually appealing, keeps you safe, and makes your work more efficient. We understand that you might look up "welding helmets near me" for convenience or "welding helmets for sale" for the money. However, welding equipment should be considered based on a couple more factors.
Convenience and budget are two of these, but you need to explore more. These include ensuring that some basic components and features add to the quality performance of the welding gear. It might be a long, exhausting task at first, but it's the best way to go in the long run. By doing so, you'll end up with an item that you'll be happy with. We hope this article guides you to your cool and purposeful welding helmet!