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    What's New — Welding Tips

    Care and Maintenance: Welding Helmets

    You only have one pair of eyes and one set of lungs. A welding helmet with suitable respiratory protection for your specific application will go a long way in protecting these valuable organs. But, is buying a welding helmet and respirator system all you need to do and what steps can you take to protect the equipment that protects you? 

    Most auto welding helmets have cover lenses to protect the inside and outside of the auto-darkening lens. You will notice a purple coating on almost all auto-darkening lenses. This purple coating is a UV and IR filter which means it blocks Ultra Violet and Infra Red light from reaching your eyes. The only light that passes through this filter is visible light that can be controlled by way of variable shade selection. Therefore, if the purple coating is damaged or scratched in anyway it takes away that UV/IR protection and this will allow harmful light to pass through which will lead to arc eye and many other painful conditions. Damaging the coating on the auto darkening welding lens through misuse will also void your warranty with many welding helmet suppliers. Therefore it's important to always monitor the condition of your inside and outside cover lenses - keeping them clean and changing them regularly.

    Welding powered air respirator systems also need a regular consumable change program in place. Most of these welding respirator systems will come with a particle filter and pre-filter as well as gas filters if required. It is essential to monitor the load on these filters regularly to maintain the desired level of protection. Many systems come with particle filter indicators which is a good place to start but nothing beats opening up the system and doing a manual check. If you see break through in the particle filter - change it immediately. Not only will breakthrough ruin the powered air respirator it can cause serious issues for the welder if left unprotected from particles and fume. What kind of issues? Here's just a quick list of diseases or ailments linked to welding fume (if you want more info on this - click on the relevant blog tag):

    • Bronchitis, asthma and pneumonia
    • Emphysema and siderosis
    • Ulcers & kidney damage
    • Heart and skin disease
    • Damage to the central nervous system 
    • Brain damage  

    The pre-filter on your powered air respirator system should be changed regularly to maintain the life of the particle filter. In basic terms: replace the cheap bit to prolong the life of the more expensive bit. The pre-filter will pick up the particles that could lead to breakthrough in your particle filter. Both pre-filter and particle filter must be used at all times in most systems.  


    Here we have created a suggested change frequency guide for the Speedglas 9100 welding helmet product series that we feature and supply on this site. Now every welder's application is different and trying to put something like this together is like asking how long is a piece of string. But as an example, a welder who welds 4 hours a day should be looking at replacing his or her gear at the suggested time intervals below. Again, it could be more frequent or less frequent, really depends on you. Our advice would be to use this as a guide and tinker where required.


    If you have any questions or would like a change frequency guide for one of our other products - let us know!!  



    Outside Cover Lenses Part Number Change
    OUTER COVER LENS STD 9100 PK=10 526000 Once-twice a week
    OUTER COVER LENS HC 9100 PK=10 527000 Once a fortnight
    OUTER COVER LENS HT 9100 PK=10 527070 Once-twice a week
    VISOR PLATE 9100 FX PK=5 523000 Once a month (occasional grinding), Once a fortnight (daily grinding)
    VISOR PLATE ANTI-FOG 9100 FX PK=5 523001 Once a month (occasional grinding), Once a fortnight (daily grinding)
    Inside Cover Lenses
    INNER COVER LENS 9100V PK=5 528005 Once a month
    INNER COVER LENS 9100X PK=5 528015 Once a month
    INNER COVER LENS 9100XX PK=5 528025 Once a month
    SWEATBAND 9100 MP PK=2 168010 Once a month
    Adflo PAPR System
    PRE-FILTER ADFLO PK=5 836010 Once-twice a week
    PARTICLE FILTER ADFLO 837010 Once a month
    OUTER COVER LENS STD 9100 PK=10 526000 Once-twice a week
    OUTER COVER LENS HC 9100 PK=10 527000 Once a fortnight
    OUTER COVER LENS HT 9100 PK=10 527070 Once-twice a week
    VISOR PLATE 9100 FX PK=5 523000 Once a month (occasional grinding), Once a fortnight (daily grinding)
    VISOR PLATE ANTI-FOG 9100 FX PK=5 523001 Once a month (occasional grinding), Once a fortnight (daily grinding)
    Inside Cover Lenses
    INNER COVER LENS 9100V PK=5 528005 Once a month
    INNER COVER LENS 9100X PK=5 528015 Once a month
    INNER COVER LENS 9100XX PK=5 528025 Once a month
    SWEATBAND 9100 MP PK=2 168010 Once a month
    Adflo PAPR System
    PRE-FILTER ADFLO PK=5 836010 Once-twice a week
    PARTICLE FILTER ADFLO 837010 Once a month

    Welding Respiratory Protection Guide

    We've dug up this welding respiratory protection guide and thought it might come in handy!! Simply identify the material to be welded and the welding process that will be undertaken. The concentration level of the pollutants are affected by the ventilation conditions in the workplace. Choose the appropriate description of the working environment to determine the most suitable type of respiratory protection.

    • P = Powered Air
    • A = Powered Air with a Gas Filter
    • S = Supplied AIr



    Helmet Welding: A common misconception

    Do five wheels make a car go faster??? 

    If having more wheels made a car faster, safer or handle better, then one could reasonably expect that every car would come standard with five, six or even ten wheels. In reality though, we all know that a car only requires four wheels to perform at its best.


    The positioning of the four wheels on a car is also extremely important. For example, if a car manufacturer positioned all four wheels on one side, it wouldn’t do much good would it?


    Photo sensors on a welding helmet are much like wheels on a car.

    More does not necessarily equal better.


    Photo sensors detect the light from the arc and trigger the lens to darken. In circumstances or applications where the arc emits less light and becomes more stable (eg. TIG welding) the need for more sensitive sensor technology becomes increasingly important. Having more sensors does not make a welding lens more sensitive in the same way as having five wheels on a car does not make it any faster. So how do you determine how sensitive a welding lens is? All auto-darkening welding helmets have a sensitivity rating - the 3M Speedglas Welding Helmet 9100 has the best rating possible (rated for use down to 1 Amp).

    Position is extremely important.


    If a photo sensor is obstructed from viewing the arc it will not react. So maybe having more is better i.e. less chance of all sensors being obstructed? Incorrect. Like all four wheels being on the same side of a car, position is everything.


    Have a look at the welding lens below:  








    Through the lens you can see that the welder is TIG welding, which as you know requires both hands. Now, if you look at the Speedglas welding helmet 9100 below and take note of where the photo sensors are positioned you will see that when TIG welding, both side sensors may well be blocked and only the centre sensor will be left clear to view the arc.

    So it wouldn’t matter if you had ten sensors on the side of the lens, the important factor is that you have one in the centre.


    Therefore, the question isn’t "how many sensors does a welding helmet have"?


    The questions should be:


    How sensitive are the photo sensors (eg. rated down to 1 Amp)?

    Where are the photo sensors positioned?


    Understanding Welding Fume

    WITH the correct PPE, arc welding mild steel in an outside area, or in a well ventilated workshop, is not a problem, but when welding more exotic materials that's when fabricators and co-workers should take special care.

    Arc welding fumes contain very small particles from the consumables base metal and base metal coating.

    The substances in the fumes change depending on what is in the electrode and the base metal including any coatings.

    The most common compounds in the fumes when welding mild steel, for example, are complex oxides of iron, manganese and silicon.

    The short term effects of these compounds, if inhaled, are temporary and include burning eyes and skin, dizziness, nausea and fever.

    However long term exposure to these fumes can lead to silicosis (iron deposits of the lungs), bronchitis, and even lung fibrosis has been reported.

    And if the compounds found in the welding fumes includes Barium, symptoms may include severe stomach pains, slow pulse rate, convulsions, muscular spasms and even death.

    Welding equipment manufacturers and industry organisations highlight the need for fabricators, and their co-workers, to be especially careful when working with new metals and materials, particularly when welding heavy metals such as magnesium and chromium. 

    Welding professionals should understand that it all depends on the base material and the consumable the welder is using and if the metal is coated. It is not uncommon for welders to be overcome with paint fumes when welding painted metal.

    Thankfully, most welders are aware of the dangers of welding fumes, and the short term and long term respiratory problems they can cause.

    For example the vast majority of welding machines and consumables in Australia have warning labels on them regarding welding fumes.

    However, welders should be especially aware of working with exotic materials such as cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, fluorides, manganese, nickel, silica and zinc, even stainless steel.

    Fumes from the following metals can cause:

    CADMIUM requires extra precautions, especially as it is often found on steel and steel fasteners as a plating or in silver solder. Cadmium fumes can be fatal, even after brief over-exposure.

    CHROMIUM poses a cancer risk. Stainless steel and other hard coatings contains chromium and can cause lung cancer and asthma.

    COBALT may cause respiratory diseases and pulmonary sensitising, and in metallic form it has been know to cause lung damage.

    COPPER may cause metal fume fever, skin irritation and discolouration of the skin and hair.

    MAGNESIUM may affect the central nervous system, difficulty in speaking, and arm and leg tremors, often non-reversible.

    NICKEL may cause cancer.

    SILICA may cause silicosis.

    ZINC, found in galvanising, may cause fume fever.

    Sasanka Sinha, Technical Manager with WTIA (Welding Technology Institute of Australia) says most welders are aware of the need to wear some form of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) when welding, "but it's not always obvious how dangerous these fumes actually are when welding different materials.

    "Problems can arise when welders take on a new job or a new material to be welded. Sometimes they are not aware what the fumes contain, especially with Stainless Steel.

    "Galvanised or coated materials can also cause problems, it depends on the thickness of the zinc used when galvanising.

    "If the thickness of the galvanising changes from thin to thick, without the welder being aware, that can cause problems," Sinha told Manufacturers' Monthly.

    Protection from fumes

    Sinha's advice for welders is to use their common sense.

    In Australia, welders are very good, they know their job and are aware of the dangers of welding fumes. They know what PPEs they must use.

    "It's the responsibility of management to make sure they wear the correct PPE.

    "Some welding helmets, for example, have their own extractor, so the dangerous welding fumes can be extracted right at the welding arc.

    "And if the welder is operating inside a confined space such as in a tank, boiler, or pressure vessel, it is the responsibility of the supervisor to provide fresh air and extraction.

    "It is also mandatory the welder has a 'fire-watcher' outside to ensure the welder is not overcome by fumes," Sinha said.

    However, most welders know that wherever they are they should wear PPEs such as breather masks and use some form of ventilation.

    The first option is to ventilate the whole environment. This could take the form of open windows and doors in the workshop so they get cross ventilation.

    Then there are fans and suction devices that manufacturers can use, through to fume extraction arms and hoods, and downdraft tables through to fully engineered systems.

    The key is to get the point of extraction as close as possible to where the welder is operating.

    The goal is for the welder not to breathe any welding fumes at all, so manufacturers should remove as many of the fumes from the workplace as possible. 

    There are a wide range of options available, depending on the location and the metals being welded.

    Alan Johnson, Manufacturers Monthly 01/03/2013

    This Article has been reproduced with permission of Alan Johnson of Manufacturers Monthly.

    To view the Speedglas Adflo powered air welding helmet respirator range - click here

    New Speedglas Mobile App and Youtube Channel

    3M Speedglas have just launched a mobile phone product selector app! 






    All you need to do is answer 10 easy questions and the app does the rest. Instantly the app will present the welding helmets best suited to your individual needs and requirements. The Speedglas welding helmet mobile app also allows you to "Sort by Feature" within the Speedglas portfolio of welding helmets and features a "Product Overview" section. The Speedglas mobile phone app only works on mobile devices (iOS 5 and higher (Apple) & Android 2.3 and higher). Visit - or scan the QR code above (not in the app store) - on your mobile to use the app and discover which Speedglas welding helmet is best suited to your needs!! Then simply type the part number into the Eweld product search (top right of every page) to buy the helmet you are after.

     Already a proud Speedglas welding helmet owner?

    Speedglas have also just launched their very own Youtube channel where you can watch videos on everything from Speedglas welding helmet features and benefits to welding helmet care and maintenance to welding tips and tricks. The Speedglas Youtube channel has tutorials on how to change a Speedglas face seal, how to change a Speedglas battery and how to add a Speedglas head cover - really useful resource. The Speedglas Youtube channel can be found at - Some of our favoutrites are below: