How to choose a welding helmet

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In this article we will tell you everything about the types and types of welding helmets. We will describe in detail the most popular “chameleon” masks with an active light filter, and you will learn how to navigate in them. From the article you will also learn what to look for when choosing a mask for welding..

Working with welding is not without reason considered one of the most harmful. To exclude accidents and occupational diseases, the welder must be reliably protected from all adverse factors. No part of the body can remain open. To do this, use special suits, shoes, gloves, respirators, headphones and, of course, masks..

Like other products, the mask protects a person from the following factors:

  • splash of molten metal;
  • high voltage with leaks;
  • high temperature;
  • sound pressure;
  • smoke, gases, dust;
  • scale and metal particles;
  • ultraviolet as well as infrared radiation.

Design of welding helmets

The welding helmet is the most significant and most technologically advanced piece of equipment. The more convenient and functional it is, the higher operator safety and process productivity will be. There are several solutions.

Protective glasses

To begin with, these protective equipment are not suitable for any type of electric arc welding. Glasses can also filter out harmful rays, but not as intense, they are designed exclusively for gas and laser welding and cutting. The only place where they can be useful to us is during preparatory and finishing work, when you need to cut blanks with a grinder, remove rust or clean the welded seams from slag.

How to choose a welding helmet

Shield

This is already a primitive, but a mask, which is designed just for electric welding. Unlike glasses, the shield reliably protects the welder’s sight from powerful radiation with its light filter, allows him to see the working area during ignition and maintenance of the welding arc. In addition, it protects the entire face and neck of a person..

How to choose a welding helmet

The welding shield is made, as a rule, of fiber, sometimes of heat-resistant plastic. Note that it is not flat, it has a flange – that is, it goes around the head. A handle is attached to it from below, by which the shield is held. The light filter of the shields is made of tinted glass or plastic, which does not change the degree of shading.

The main disadvantage of the protective shield is that one hand is always occupied by the welder. However, there are still fans of this type of protection, since the flap is very easy to manipulate (especially if you need to frequently change operations), it is more pleasant for them to work in the heat (compared to helmets), it is very cheap.

Permanently darkened filter mask

Such a mask, in fact, is the same shield, only fixed on the head, which allows freeing the welder’s hands. Sometimes the mask itself is fixed, and the block with light filters is movable. Before lighting the arc, you just need to nod your head, and in order to examine the seam or prepare something in the usual mode, the mask / filter is lifted by hand. In any case, the same materials are used here, the level of protection is no different from a similar manual shield.

How to choose a welding helmet

It is impossible to perform auxiliary operations in fully lifting masks; during welding, you constantly need to be distracted by raising / lowering the protection. But the biggest problem of the passive filter (both the shield and the mask) is the lack of visual control of the working area at the time the arc is ignited. In addition, when the mask is raised, the foreman is deprived of protection, for example, if another welder is working nearby..

Mask with an active light filter (“chameleon”)

This type of protection, although more expensive than other options, is devoid of the main disadvantages of its competitors. “Chameleon” is rightfully recognized as the most convenient and effective. The “highlight” of these masks is a high-tech liquid crystal light filter, which automatically, using sensors, recognizes the presence of an arc and is dimmed. In the normal state, the filter of the active mask is transparent – it allows the welder to see everything. Moreover, the active filter protects against UV and IR radiation even without darkening.

How to choose a welding helmet

In this case, there was no need to make the mask free-moving, half-open. Now she can completely cover her head, including the back of her head. That is why “chameleons” are often called “active helmets” by manufacturers themselves, respirators and headphones can be used under them..

The closed shape of the helmet made it possible to create protective devices that can be cooked with in confined spaces, in toxic environments, and even under water. It uses forced air systems in the mask. It is pumped from the outside or cleaned by filtration elements located on the worker’s belt. Depending on the level of oxygen and harmful aerosols in the surrounding space, filters with different technical characteristics (aerodynamic resistance, dust holding capacity, performance, etc.) are used..

Criteria for selecting a mask with an active filter

Any chameleon mask is made of impact-resistant polymer. It must withstand severe mechanical stress, as well as splash and continuous heating..

All models are tested for electrical conductivity in order to exclude a person’s electric shock in case of touching conductive elements. Without fail, the design of the mask is checked for the permeability of various radiation.

What type of welding is the mask intended for?

If you do not take into account helmets for special purposes, in which forced air supply is implemented, the origins of the specification lie solely in the characteristics of the light filters. All ESD protective masks are suitable for MMA welding with stick electrodes. This is the most common MMA welding. However, if you also plan to cook with a semiautomatic device in protective gases (MAG or MIG), then not every chameleon mask will be quite effective and convenient..

How to choose a welding helmet

The most demanding mask for the filter is welding with a tungsten electrode in argon (TIG), here you may need all the available adjustments of the liquid crystal window and the best optics (preferably 1/1/1/1 or 1/1/1/2). It can be said unequivocally that a helmet suitable for TIG TIG welding is universal, it can easily cope with MMA and MIG / MAG work.

Filter Specifications

The light filter is the main component of the welding helmet. This is such a complex device that not all mask manufacturers make it themselves, but order them from companies specializing in this. Sometimes the same mask comes with different displays.

Optical performance

In this case, the characteristics are taken into account, which are responsible for the ability of the light filter to adequately transmit the image. This is very important, otherwise the user’s eyes get tired quickly, and the quality of work drops significantly:

  1. Optical class – indicates the possibility of distorting the shape of objects, as well as clarity and focus.
  2. Light scattering – the ability of filter crystals to transmit light to give a transparent image without clouding effect.
  3. Homogeneity – refers to how uniformly the filter shades when viewed from the front.
  4. Angle Shade – shows how uniformly and to what extent the filter darkens when viewed from a given angle.

The level of compliance of the filter with the requirements is indicated by four points (the assessment is carried out by numbers from 1 to 3), for example, 1/1/1/1 or 1/2/1/3. The lower the number – the better the filter, the better the materials used, the better it is assembled.

Filter shade range

Depending on the brightness of the welding arc, select the degree of darkening of the automatic light filter. Active chameleon filters allow the user to independently set the degree of shade, including directly during welding (if the regulator is outside). There are light filters that automatically choose how much to darken. As a rule, a shade range of 9-13DIN is sufficient even for a professional welder. But for welding at low currents, good transparency is required, so it makes sense to choose a filter that can work in the 5-9DIN shade range. The most comfortable masks are recognized in which this adjustment is carried out smoothly.

How to choose a welding helmet

It is also important to consider how transparent the filter is in its original, fully clarified state. The lighter, the better the visibility. 3DIN is considered normal for a filter with a maximum of 13DIN.

Response speed

Of course, the faster the filter dims when an arc is detected, the better, since less radiation gets into the eyes during ignition. For not too intensive household use, a dimming speed of about 100 microseconds is suitable, but professionals choose masks with a speed of 50 microseconds.

Filter clarification rate

In this case, the opposite is true. It is better for the welder that the filter does not return to its original transparent state immediately after the arc is extinguished, since the weld pool is still glowing for some time. Good active masks allow the master to set the delay necessary for comfortable work (up to 1 second).

Sensitivity of sensors

The main thing is that the light filter sensors can be adjusted in sensitivity. This will avoid false, “unnecessary” darkening with some glare, or if there are still welders working on the site.

Some chameleon manufacturers even offer a special “grinding” or “cutting” function, when the sensitivity is set to a minimum and the sensors do not react to sparks – you can safely work with the grinder without removing the mask. TIG welding requires maximum sensitivity.

Number of sensors

Usually 2 sensors are used, but if you work in cramped conditions, then the enclosing structures and various objects can overlap the glow of the arc, and the light filter will automatically open – it will brighten. Some models are equipped with four sensors, which eliminates accidental filter clarification.

It is also important how wide the coverage angle of the sensors is. So that they do not trigger on the glow of the arc of neighboring welders, sometimes the angle of coverage can be adjusted, for example, from 120 degrees to 60.

Supply system

The liquid crystal filter must be powered. For this, built-in replaceable elements are used – lithium battery-tablets, finger batteries. Solar panels, which can differ in their area and, accordingly, in efficiency, help significantly extend the operating time from some batteries..

How to choose a welding helmet

Availability of additional functions

Some of the auxiliary options can greatly simplify the welder’s life, while others will remain unclaimed. Manufacturers can offer: self-testing, light indication of modes, welding time counter, LED lighting of the working area, etc..

Ergonomics and mask layout

When choosing a welding mask, of course, you should evaluate the convenience and reliability of its fixation on the head, the ability to adjust the coverage by size.

Pay attention to the breadth of the view. The large visible area allows for better “contact” with the work area. We are talking about the area of ​​the viewing window – the light filter. The larger it is, the more comfortable the mask..

It is important to know where the filter controls are located. If the handles are on the inside of the filter itself, adjustments can only be made when the helmet is removed. It may not be very convenient, but all switches are well protected from possible mechanical damage. If you want to control the characteristics of the light filter directly during operation, then you should give preference to the configuration in which the handles are brought out to the surface of the mask.

Be sure to ask how easy it is to change the filter. Sometimes the mask can be completed with filters of only a specific manufacturer, which usually causes some difficulties in finding components and a significant overpayment.

Some welders are very sensitive to the choice of mask color, as it is known that shiny and white products heat up less than, for example, black ones..

Comparative table of universal welding helmets with active filter:

Model TIG welding Optical filter class Shade level, DIN Number of sensors, pcs. Cost, rub.
TECMEN ADF-700S (China) Yes 1/1/1/2 9-13 2 3500
SVAROG AS-4001-F (Russia) Yes 1/1/1/2 9-13 4 3200
OTOS ACE-W i45gw (South Korea) Yes 1/1/1/2 5-9 9-13 4 10500
OPTREL e680 (Switzerland) Yes 1/1/1/2 5-9 9-13 2 21000

Welding helmets with active light filters are gradually becoming cheaper and replacing traditional passive masks. At the same time, the quality and functionality of products of domestic and Chinese companies is constantly growing. Probably, the time is not far off when manufacturers of welding machines will complete their units not with useless paper models, but with simple ones, but with “chameleons”.

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