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How to choose a self-darkening welding helmet

Safety and Style: Tips for choosing the correct auto-darkening welding helmet reviews.

The welding mask is one of the most important components of a welder’s personal protective equipment (PPE). A good welding mask protects the eyes and skin not only from welding spatter but also from any damage from ultraviolet and infrared rays emitted by the arc.

The welding mask is one of the most visible elements of what is used for safety and gives the opportunity to the welder to add their own personal touch to their welding clothing. Welding helmets are currently available in a wide range of designs in various colors and graphics. Each welder should consider safety, comfort and aesthetics when choosing the right welding helmet for his needs.

The right mask must be able to be worn comfortably throughout the day, allow for easy adjustment and protect eyes and face from welding spatter and heat sources.Soldering helmets are much more functional nowadays than they were 10-15 years ago. They are designed for each specific use and need of the welder. All, including the cheapest, must meet the most stringent safety standards. In the United States the ANSI Z87.1 standards, in Canada the CAN / CSA Z94.3 standards and in Europe the EN379 – EN166-EN175 standards. These standards indicate the requirements of the light transmission factor and the construction specifications of the eye and face protection equipment during welding and related processes.

Traditional masks

Some welders, especially many professional pipeline welders, still prefer to wear traditional solder masks with traditional fixed-black glass screens, which remain black all the time. These masks provide solid and affordable safety protection but have some drawbacks.Fixed darkening welding helmets can be more difficult to use because the welder has to lift the mask every time he has to look at the weld and the joint. This repetitive movement, after a full day of work, can cause neck contractures and fatigue. Also, in confined spaces, it can be difficult to move the mask up and down.Also, for less experienced welders, it can be difficult to hold the MIG torch, TIG torch or electrode in the correct position to begin welding after the mask is lowered. An incorrect start can cause weld defects, something every welder obviously wants to avoid.

Self-Darkening Masks

Serious professionals should consider more using self-darkening masks with variable dimming level control that automatically adjust dimming from dark to bright and vice versa. These masks protect against harmful light emissions at all times and darken in the pre-selected shade in milliseconds, thanks to the rapid change of the liquid crystal display (LCD technology – Liquid Crystal Display). The self-darkening mask cartridge contains two sensors to detect the light from the welding arc, causing the lens to darken to a predetermined degree.

With auto-darkening masks, welders can see clearly while the mask is already in the down position, so that welding setup can be done with the mask already in place. These masks allow continuous work, reducing unnecessary interruptions due to the welder’s need to lower the mask and adjust it back to the necessary position.

Choice parameters

What are the factors to consider when choosing a mask that is safe, comfortable and functional? Safety. Comfort. Convenience. Style. There are a number of general considerations that will help welders choose the mask that best suits their needs, such as the fact that it should be worn comfortably for a full day’s work.

When evaluating your welding helmet, choose a model that has full splash coverage and shock resistance. The width of the solder mask’s field of view is another important factor to consider. The no. of out-of-position welds to be performed can affect the required field of view in the welding helmet. Some models of welding helmets have very wide fields of view (97×62 mm or even wider) which allow to obtain, thanks also to the LCD technology, a clear and natural vision.

Also, take into account the number of arc sensors on the mask. The basic models of self-darkening masks have one or two sensors, while the best models are generally equipped with four arc sensors. With a larger number of sensors, the chance of the mask not darkening is significantly reduced. 

In addition, the self-darkening masks have both external and internal controls for controlling the level of shade or the grind mode. External controls allow the welder to make some adjustments while still wearing the mask. On the other hand, external controls require additional wiring and can be more exposed to impact or damage as they are located on the outside of the mask. The internal controls located on the cartridge are more protected and do not require external wiring. However, almost every adjustment requires that the mask be removed to change the settings.  

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