Welding Helmets and Spares

Choosing the right welding mask or welding helmet is critical not only for adequate protection of the welder from many harmful rays from the welding process, but ultimately protection from welding fumes. The comfort of the welder is also a very important especially when welding for long periods of time. Please see below some recent advice and guidance which we feel you will find helpful when making this decision in finding the correct welding mask for your application, and whether an air fed welding mask should be a priority.

Why should I consider purchasing an air fed welding mask?

In February 2019 the HSE issued Bulletin Number: STSU1 – 2019. In this bulletin they outlay the serious dangers of exposure to welding fumes. The result is a change in HSE enforcement expectations in relation to the control of exposure of welding fume, including that from mild steel welding. Consequently, if you are looking to purchase a welding mask or an auto-darkening welding helmet, then we strongly advise that you should consider an air fed version.

Should I still use an air fed welding mask if I have LEV already in place?

The HSE state in their bulletin Number STSU1 – 2019 “Where LEV alone does not adequately control exposure, it should be supplemented by adequate and suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE) to protect against the residual fume.” In reality LEV (Local Exhaust Ventilation) units such as mobile welding fume extractors are often not adequate to remove enough welding fume due to access restrictions, and the fact that they constantly need repositioning so as to function correctly if you are doing long welds, or if the fabrication process involves constantly moving location of the welding process. In these situations, air fed welding masks with an adequate filtration system are the most suitable form of RPE available to offer the level of protection required.

Is it cheaper to buy disposable face masks?

Disposable face masks can be used, but they must be professionally fitted. This often results in a variety of masks having to be used to cater to all requirements. Also, despite the fact that they are relatively cheap to buy initially, the on-going consumable cost are much higher to that of an Air Fed Welding Mask.

What level of respiratory protection should I consider when choosing an Air Fed Welding Helmet?

When choosing an air fed welding mask it is important that the correct filtration efficiency is chosen offering you the level of protection required. The all-new Max-Arc MK11 and MK12 PAPR units offer in excess of 99.8% filtration efficiency, making this air fed welding mask a safe choice for your welding environment.

What type of welding lens is best for my application?

Passive welding lenses

Many welders still prefer a passive welding lens, although as auto-darkening welding lens technology has advanced, more and more welders can see the benefit of this more recent technology, and have moved on, especially as the price of this technology has reduced significantly.

Auto Darkening Lenses

Auto Darkening lenses are known to be the best, if more expensive option for Welding Masks. Auto Darkening Welding Helmets are as the name suggests- the lens will automatically change the tint as soon as the arc is struck and the bright light hits the sensors near the lens. This happens in milliseconds so there isn't any damage to the eye.

When the Helmet is not in use, lens will be at a shade roughly similar to sunglasses, so easily usable when not welding. This of course removes the need to flip the helmet up/down and means that the weld can be set up and other tasks accomplished while the helmet is down.

Auto Darkening Lenses come with either Fixed or Variable Shade lenses. Fixed shade lenses are usually best for one kind of use (Welding Process, Metal being welded etc.) as the shade doesn't vary. Variable Shade lenses are good for varying tasks that create different degrees of brightness in the arc. The user can adjust the shade level to the application on the fly. Variable Shade Lenses also help cater for those with particularly high or low bright light tolerance.

Switching Speed (Also known as Lens Reaction Time) is important too. Basic lenses often are rated at 1/3,600 of a second switching speed- superior ones and those for the professional can switch at far faster speeds- 1/16,000 or more.

A faster switching lens is more comfortable and leads to less stress & fatigue for the users' eyes. This will help at the end of the day, when the task is over- otherwise the welders' eyes can feel dry and sore.

It's generally best to look for a high quality helmet that has a response darkening time of 4/10ths of a millisecond or more. Less than a millisecond is not perceivable by the human eye and will provide the most comfort, but of course will be more costly.

More features to look for:

A lightweight helmet is always preferable, especially for long periods of use. High Quality Welding Helmets usually utilise low weight materials that are usually stronger also.

A helmet featuring a sensor bar is also very useful. With this feature, it will limit the field of response so the helmet won't be triggered by anyone welding next to the user, this feature isn't necessarily needed if the user is in a single welding bay or is doing it on his own. However, for large workshops, it is recommended.

A clear spatter shield over the optics will provide the best optical clarity so you can see what you are welding and will protect the helmet from damage. In addition, a helmet that is fully adjustable is usually a good idea- this means that the user can adjust how close the helmet is to the face- which is very useful for someone with glasses but isn't required.

Auto-darkening helmets often have the ability to adjust how much brightness will trigger the lens to darken in response. Sensitivity Control is useful when welding at low amperages — especially with a process such as TIG, when the arc isn't as bright as it is with other welding processes- think about your needs as a user and whether you require this.

Last, but not least, look for a reputable (Not off-brand or knock off) manufacturer that offers a warranty and replacement parts- AES offer reliable and well-known brands, Such as Miller, ESAB, 3M Speedglas, and are fully equipped to services these brands- you can see live stock levels right here on the site for important spare parts, lenses, and so on.

In addition to the above we now have added many other quality brands of welding helmets and air fed welding masks such as Balder, Fronius, Max-Arc and many others.

All welding helmets can be caused damage- cracks can compromise the protection from ultraviolet and infrared rays- this is usually greatly relieved with a quality manufacturer.

The range of welding helmets available from AES are extensive, if you need help and technical advice on the best welding helmet for you, why not call us now on 0800 975 9710. We can advise you on what helmets feature the above, the best value for money, and can utilise 20+ years of direct, hands on experience in the trade.

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Company number: 07988136 Registered Office: Olympic House Collett, Southmead Park, Didcot, Oxon, England, OX11 7WB

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