Knowing the basics of welding applications also predetermines the knowledge of the history of its equipment. Each professional involved in arc welding or even salesmen should know what welding helmets, in particular, stand for, their upgrade steps since introduction to the market, alongside their numerous pros and cons.
This review of the history of welding helmets may briefly guide you through it and occasionally help you understand who has been first involved in producing this protective headwear, which now saves welders from many risks.
First Appearance of Helmets
First off, let’s start by saying that welding itself is a dangerous occupation that needs much caution. In the early days, welders weren’t equipped with solid helmets and have been constantly exposed to such risks as radiation and sparks, which caused scars as well as toxic fumes, which could literally destroy one’s breathing system.
To prevent the onset of such risks or at least minimize them, welders used to wear goggles alongside ordinary face masks. Such protective measures were mostly observed by the 1930s, a year which coincided with the industrial revolution when welders became in-demand workers.
If you take a look at this magazine page, you may learn how the first helmet looked like. It basically shows a one-piece helmet aimed to protect welders of those times.
When speaking of its protection level, it was kind of doubtful, though the material involved, vulcanized fiber, was solid enough. It also had a deep-cut structure that protected the head and ears.
This helmet was believed to be produced by Willson Products, the company which was focused on producing aviator goggles as well as high altitude oxygen masks for military men.
That first helmet was recognized as an innovation, as it could promote air circulation necessary enough to proceed with minimum stops during welding applications. To be more specific, welders didn’t need to get ready to start welding and then nodding their heads to lower the shield down their face anymore. So, the time spent on adjusting was limited.
The Era of Auto-Darkening Filter
Followed by the introduction of the first welding helmets, more and more manufacturers competed to create something extra-protective. It led to the introduction of auto-darkening filters; hence, auto-darkening welding helmets in the 1980s.
In 1981, his company introduced this innovation in full, and interestingly to know, it was under the brand name of Speedglas, a well-known producer of welding headwear today. Those helmets had impressive features, especially their lens shades that helped helmets detect arc and automatically darken the glass to avoid negative radiation impact.
In the 1990s, there was the introduction of the Speedglas 9000 series of welding helmets. By now, it’s still considered one of the most revolutionary shields on the market, as it combined the perfect size, shape, and weight of the shield to proceed with easier arc applications.
It was kind of a mix of everything every welder might need to work with more productively and safely. Nevertheless, the producer didn’t mean to stop on that model.
Further on, they introduced new models that could satisfy the welders involved in different arc welding, including Stick, MIG, TIG, plasma cutting, and grinding. Beyond that, the brand was a complete fit for both welding students, pro welders, and DIYers. Check out the major dates of welding helmet launches by the Speedglas brand.
In 2008, the Speedglas presented the 9100 series, which was majorly known for its large viewing area. Looking ahead, this series is now produced and distributed with such features as True-View technology and Auto On/OFF, among others.
In 2001, Speedglas introduced the 9100 FX model, most well-known for its high-impact grinding visor and ergonomic design of the shield, which could naturally shape the head without any adjustments. Basically, a welder minimizes the time spent on adjustment; however, there is a knob for prep and parking pivot positions, which is comfortable to use even while wearing gloves.
Finally, the new era of welding helmets is linked to 2019, when Speedglas welcomed the G5-01 Flip-Up model with Heavy-Duty Adflo PAPR. It’s recognized for HUGE grinding lenses, adjustment of airflow, and compatibility with smartphones if you want to manually manage the lens settings. It’s a helmet that welcomes all kinds of customization.
It’s worth mentioning that starting from 2004, Speedglas was acquired by 3M corporation, and since then, it distributes lots of auto-darkening welding helmets for any taste, comfort, and protection levels.
Modern History of Welding Helmets
Today, there are unlimited choices when it comes to head protection during welding applications. Every welder knows about the industry-standard called ANSI Z87.1 that actually certifies helmets for being valid to protect welders against all possible risks involved in arc welding, including UV/IR radiation and toxic fumes, among others.
Beyond that, the certification confirms that a welding helmet may resist thermal and electrical hazards.
What about new features available on the market? First off, it’s again all about the shade ranges. Depending on what welding works you’re involved in daily the most, the manufacturers allow you to get shade ranges powerful to protect your eyes.
Secondly, modern welding helmets have sensitivity and delay control. Thirdly, you can opt for light-weight shields, which are the most comfortable to wear, as well as fit for work in tight spaces.
Let us also mention the quality approach to producing welding helmets today. The manufacturers try to ensure the shields are pleasant to wear, so the most obvious choice falls for nylon material.
Last but not least to mention about the welding helmet industry is that alongside Speedglas, there are Antra, YESWELDER, Monster Master, Miller, Lincoln, Jackson companies. So, you have many options to go for when choosing the perfect welding helmets.