Welding helmets come in many shapes and sizes. Selecting the right one for your needs becomes a serious task for professional welders. They have to consider many different aspects of the job at hand – from welding type and the environment they work in the longevity of the project and the scale of the objects. Amateur and hobby welders are not so demanding, but still, they need to know the basics of the job to choose the right helmet.
We can classify helmets according to the way they stop UV radiation, the number of sensors they have, the size of the protective glass and so on. Keep reading to find out what are the most common types of helmets you can find on the market and how to choose one for your own, special needs.
Welding helmets have to comply with the ANSI Z87.1-2003 standard. It means they have passed independent testing procedures and proven to satisfy the requirements of the regulation. Helmets have to provide 100% protection against both infrared and UV radiation; they have to withstand high-speed impact from flying objects and meet specified switching speeds and darkness shades. All this in temperatures ranging from 23 to 131 Fahrenheit.
Welding helmets come in two basic types: passive and auto-darkening lens helmets. Passive helmets are the ones welders place into position when they nod their head just about they are going to start welding. They have tinted glass with special coating for protection against ultra-violet and infrared radiation. This glass comes with a fixed shade value. Just before the welder is about to strike an electric arc, he flips the helmet into the right position.
These helmets are cheap, simple, economical and durable. But, they have some disadvantages. Most common problem for beginner users is the fact they have to position the helmet just at the right moment, and this often presents a challenge which can lead to weld defects and bad welds. Furthermore, these helmets are not that suitable for tack welding and making short welds; they can lead to neck fatigue and accidental arc flashes.
Auto-darkening helmets can alleviate these problems. They come with a special sensor to darken the lens automatically, as soon as the welding starts. They bring up the shade from the normal 3 or 4 grade to grade 10 or 13. And this happens very quickly, in about 1/20.000 of a second for industrial grade helmets.
This feature allows the welder to set up his helmet and start welding without having to worry about accidentally exposing his eyes to the bright light of the electric arc. It also reduces the chances of bad welds, easier welding and not room for neck strain.