Today’s guest post about welding helmets is by Nick Peterson, Welding Engineer/Curriculum Developer, Miller Electric Mfg. Co.
Keeping welders protected and comfortable results in a safer and more productive work environment. That’s why equipment manufacturers are designing products to keep welders safe, while also enhancing comfort and making it easier to do their jobs.
A Look at What’s New in Welding Helmets
A new advancement in helmet technology allows the lens to track “arc-on time.” This allows a welding engineer to better determine costs as well as improve efficiency in the welding operation. Some of the newest helmets also feature a digital clock display, along with the ability to set an alarm or timer.
Another recent advancement in auto-darkening helmet technology involves the ability to electromagnetically detect the welding arc. Historically, welding helmets relied on optical sensors that picked up the light of the arc.
By adding magnetic sensors that pick up on the magnetic field of the arc, helmets can better respond more consistently in tight access or bright light situations. The technology improves performance when welding outside, enabling the lens to turn to the welding shade when the arc is struck regardless of exposure to light. This eliminates random and uncontrollable lens darkening issues experienced with electronic welding helmets.
Premium auto-darkening helmets feature the ability to respond to the welding arc and darken within 1/20,000 of a second for optimal protection. The speed at which the lens can respond provides more comfort to a welder in applications where a significant amount of arc strikes are made throughout the day. Regardless of whether or not the electronic lens darkens, a welder’s eyes are still protected from Ultraviolet Radiation through polarization in the electronic lens. When the lens does not darken, a welder’s eyes are trying to adjust to the brightness, which leads to eyestrain, not flash burn.
Even with advancements such as larger LCD panels; customizable settings and delay controls and timers, today’s helmets often weigh less than passive helmets. A lighter weight helmet minimizes strain on the neck, reducing fatigue and increasing comfort. Added padding and improved balance within the design make helmets more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time.
To improve efficiency when a welder is required to grind using a face shield, new helmet models feature ANSI-approved integrated grinding shields. This feature provides maximum protection and versatility — allowing welders to switch between welding and grinding with no downtime. Without this feature, welders have to stop working, remove their welding helmet, put on a grinding shield and then begin grinding.
These recent advancements help to protect welders from lost-time and injury, but also can increase productivity by increasing comfort. Regardless of the type of head protection a welder chooses, it is critical to make sure that the helmet or other protection is properly suited for the welding application at hand and provides the appropriate level of protection.
Welding distributors and helmet manufacturers are both good resources for assisting in the best selection and fit.