The 80’s Revolutionary Welding Helmet: Auto-Darkening Attributes You Should Know

welder setting up plasma cutter

Welding Buddy Experts

September 24, 2021
welding helmet auto darkening set

Suppose you want to create a fine art sculpture for a welding enthusiast whose birthday is coming in a few weeks. You're planning to make something as good as Stuart Peterman's work (hopefully) or something similar, so you start drafting some ideas.

You start gathering the necessary equipment: the welding machine, wire feeder, torch or gun, ground clamps, welding jacket, gloves, and a passive welding helmet. During the process, you realized it wasn't easy.

More than anything, you had a hard time with the welding helmet. You had to keep flipping it up and down, causing you to stare into the darkness and lose the right angles. Because of that, the welding gun also strays away from the intended direction.

As a result, it leaves a crooked pattern and affects the overall quality of your workpiece. But is there a way to avoid this kind of problem in the future? The answer is to get an auto-darkening helmet. Thanks to its revolutionary technology, these new welding helmets make the welder's job easier and more efficient.

This article discusses welding helmets: the auto-darkening edition. Read about the history and components that make these helmets a safer and more efficient welding tool!

How Auto-Darkening Welding Helmets Came to Life: An Overview

The Holy Grail of welding helmets began in the 1980s. Speedglas designed the first auto-darkening helmet to date after analyzing the situation of welders in Swedish shipyards. It's called the 3M Speedglas Welding Helmet, which incorporates automated technology, enabling welders to weld safely and efficiently.

This innovation brought drastic changes to the overall construction of welding helmets in the industry. People liked the aesthetic and mobility of the Speedglas 9000 Series. Hence, manufacturers reconstructed the welding helmets' shape, weight, size, and lens view to keep up with the standard.

Speedglas helmets continued expansion throughout the years with the Speedglas 9100 FX, the Speedglas G5-01 Flip-Up, and the Speedglas 9002NC. Today, Speedglas remains a leading brand of welding equipment and one of the best auto-darkening welding helmet choices of pro welders.

Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet: Parts and Features

Now that you know the history of auto-darkening welding helmets, it's time to look into the components that make them the best choice for welding. From basic parts to the best features that offer exceptional safety and efficiency, we have everything covered!

Parts and Features for Safety

Here are the auto-darkening welding helmet attributes designed to increase the welder's safety during the process.

UV/IR Filter, Polarization Filter, and Liquid Crystal Cells (LCC)

The UV/IR filter, polarization filter, and LCC integrate for protection against harmful visible lights of the arc.

  • The UV/IR incorporates a thin glass layer with metallic layers to protect you from ultraviolet rays (UV) and infra-red (IR). Protecting the LCD from damage caused by heat is also one of its functions.
  • Polarization filters are placed next to the UV/IR filter and the LCC. They help darken the arc's visible lights. Their level of darkness varies depending on the position.
  • The LCC bends or turns the light. When stimulated with electricity, you can even manipulate how far it can twist the light.

Lens Reaction Speed

When the reaction time is slow, it causes eye fatigue or other severe damages. Suppose you're welding for long periods and on thicker materials that require higher shades. In that case, you need a helmet with a reaction speed of 1/20,000 a second.

Auto-darkening helmets offer a quick lens adjustment with that speed for better protection. This will keep you comfortable and safe throughout the welding process.

Shade Type

Auto-darkening welding helmets have two shade types: fixed and variable. A fixed shade automatically switches the lens on either a clear or fixed #10 lens. This one is ideal if you're welding using the same process and thickness of the material. A variable shade offers a range (typically #9‒#13) and is good for multiple welding processes and material thicknesses.

Sensitivity Settings

Automatic adjustment is a core benefit of an auto-darkening welding helmet. However, every welder adjusts differently to light intensities, so easily accessible sensitivity controls are a must-have. An auto-darkening helmet incorporates this setting to help you personalize and maximize your comfort level.

Delay Settings

Delay controls allow you to set how long or short the lens must stay dark once the arc stops. This gives you enough time to rest your eyes and prevent suffering from the bright light's glare. Controls are installed in or out of the helmet—choose which placement gives you easier access to these settings.

Weight and Convenience

Most auto-darkening helmets are made lightweight to ensure you're comfortable and safe from neck pain when welding. You need solid concentration and endurance to produce a good weld. Therefore, you must use a light helmet that doesn't fall off when moving or switching positions.

welding helmet auto darkening welder at work

Parts and Features for Efficiency

Here are the attributes of an auto-darkening helmet that enhance your work efficiency and help you make the best welds!

Arc Sensors

When the arc gets stuck or produces intense lights, the sensors automatically detect them and adjust the lens accordingly. Once the sensors are triggered, a signal transmits to activate the LCC, which performs the shade level adjustment. The well-performing auto-darkening helmets usually have four sensors, but you only get two for entry levels.

Viewing Area

A good viewing area helps increase productivity, ease of use, and comfort in welding. High-quality welding helmets come in different viewing panel sizes, so don't mistake the smaller ones for poor quality.

For example, choosing between the Miller Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet Infinity (13.4 sq. in.) or the Blue Design Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet from Harbor Freight (6.78 sq. in.) depends on your preferences and needs.

Power Source

Auto-darkening helmets have different power sources, namely: rechargeable, replaceable, lithium-powered, and solar-powered batteries. Some helmets even combine both battery and solar power sources.

Your choice depends on your preferred lifespan and maintenance. Generally, a solar-powered helmet lasts the longest. However, unlike the others, you still have to place it under the sun prior to the welding process.

Final Thoughts

Some welders today might still be using passive welding helmets, but there's no reason to hesitate on an auto-darkening helmet. It's designed to make modern-day welding easier, safer, and more productive than in past decades. However, not all welding helmets are the same, so choose your item carefully.

If you're trying to weld a Stuart Peterman-inspired workpiece, this helmet is a good choice. Thanks to the helmet's sensors, you can say goodbye to manual up and down flipping. Moreover, you can rely on the fast lens reaction time and avoid losing the right position of your welding gun.

As a result, you have less time to worry about convenience and fully concentrate on producing the best workpiece you can be proud of.

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