A welding helmet is among the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) used by welders to protect the face, head, eyes and neck from harmful ultraviolet lights, molten particles, sparks, infrared light and high temperatures. This helmet is used during the process of bonding metals together through the use of a filler material known as welding.
Types of Welding Helmet
There are two welding helmet types, the passive welding helmet and the auto-darkening welding helmet. Discussed below are the different features each type offers as well as their advantages and disadvantages.
Passive Welding Helmet
This type is known as the standard or traditional welding helmet. It offers a fixed shade, usually the #10 shade, which do not allow the user to see the welding area without the presence of a live welding arc.
When using the passive welding helmet, you must manually move the lens upwards in order to be able to see the area where you will position the torch or electrode. When you’re done positioning, the lens can easily snap back downwards and cover your face again with a quick nod.
- The lens is tinted to a dark shade with ultraviolet and infrared coatings to protect your eyes.
- This type of helmet offers an inexpensive, yet still effective option for protecting yourself.
- The helmet is usually made from plastic moldings. This is why it can be sold at a low price.
- This can be an cost efficient option for hobbyists or occasional welders who only use a single type of material like aluminum or stainless steel.
- Less inexperienced welders may have some difficulty positioning the electrode or torch once the lens is snapped back in place. This poor weld start can result to some welding defects.
- The need to repeatedly flip the lens up and down can result in neck discomfort and fatigue.
- Performing numerous short welds can also be quite a hassle since the lens must be flipped repeatedly.
- A delay in properly positioning the lens to cover your eyes in time before striking the arc can cause you to experience accidental arc flashes may lead to temporary injury of the eyes. These injuries sometimes for days, and can even cause a blackout.
Auto-darkening Welding Helmet
This is a more advanced type of welding helmet that features a light reactive lens that automatically brightens or dims the shade of the lens. This feature is made possible by an electronic filter lens made from a special type of liquid crystal display (LCD) equipped with several light sensors near the lens that automatically detects the welding arc and adjust the shade accordingly.
This type also offers three options for its power source: batteries, solar power and a combination of both.
- When the lens are inactive, the LCD filter automatically adjusts the shade to a #3 or #4 which makes it possible for the user to see through the lens much like how one sees through a pair of sunglasses. This makes positioning the electrode or torch easier even with the lens covering your eyes.
- Depending on the settings, the sensors on the helmet can darken the shade of the lens to a #9 to #13 instantaneously upon initiation of the arc.
- The lens is also applied with ultraviolet and infrared coatings to protect your eyes.
- With the automatic adjustability feature of the lens, the helmet stays down regardless if you are welding or not. Since there is no need to flip the lens or the helmet up and down to cover your eyes and face, you are always protected from injury and other harmful effects caused by damaging rays.
- Welding work can be carried out easily without neck discomfort and other disturbances.
- Since this type of welding helmet offers several features and a more modern approach to welding, it costs more than the traditional welding helmet. The materials used in making this helmet contribute to its price tag.
- There is always the possibility of damaging the helmet if it is not handled carefully. Sensors can be damaged, the LCD display and damage to other digital components can all affect the overall performance of the helmet.
- Electronic components can wear out over time.
- Some auto-darkening welding helmets are battery-operated. This means you will have to pay for new batteries every time you run out. For this reason, you are also required to always have spare batteries with you.
The type of welding helmet you need will depend on purpose and personal preference, choosing one that fits your budget is also important to consider. Whether you opt for the traditional or the modern type, it is imperative that you make sure that you are properly protected with a reliable helmet when welding.