There are many opportunities to save money, get creative, and have fun while doing it in the architectural design and home renovations world that involve welding. Welding, however, is a very dangerous undertaking if you try to do it without the right kind of protective equipment.
Here we want to focus just on helmets, and on the value of one particular type of welding helmet – the auto-darkening helmet. This is the most effective helmet-type for preventing flash burns and other serious injuries while welding, and it’s well worth paying a little extra to avoid that kind of serious injury or even death.
Whether you’re welding metal furniture, improving the structural integrity of a building, or just making “nick nack” in your garage, welding safety must always be the number one priority. Here are 3 key ways that an auto-darkening helmet keeps you safer:
1. Split-Second Auto-Shading
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The welding helmet most people envision when they hear the word is still the passive lens helmet. That’s the type where you have one set shading level (ranging from #8 to #13, with higher numbers meaning greater shading.)
A passive shade will work, of course, and is less expensive than it auto-darkening counterpart, but it’s not nearly as safe should a sudden high-intensity flare or spark shoot out. If that flare up is a bit more intense than the fixed shade level of the passive helmet can handle, you could suffer from a flash burn to your eyes, which is very painful and may even do permanent damage.
Auto-darkening hoods eliminate that safety hazard. They automatically adjust, in thousandths of a second, to darken the lens to guard against such flares.
2. Versatility in Welding
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Auto-darkening helmets begin no more shaded than a pair of sunglasses, but they adjust to the situation as you weld. That means you don’t have to have separate helmets with differing fixed shade levels for doing different types of welding jobs.
Your one helmet can handle it all. It offers the ultimate in versatility and is just as safe to use in one job as the next.
3. Saves You Neck Strain
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With auto-darkening lenses on your helmet, you don’t have to keep raising and lowering the helmet or your head as you weld. This is especially important with shorter welds and tack welds, but it applies to all welds.
You won’t get the same amount of neck pain from using an auto-darkening helmet as from an otherwise equivalent passive lens helmet. It’s as simple as that.
How Does Auto-Darkening Technology Work?
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You may be curious as to how auto-darkening is even possible. Well, for one thing, there are 2 to 4 sensors embedded into the helmet’s lens that send the signal to change shading levels. Also, the power source is either batteries, built-in solar energy, or a combination of the two.
But what about the lens design itself? It consists of three types of layers (filters):
- The UV & IR interference filter. This layer filters out Ultraviolet and Infrared rays. It works even when the auto-darken “switch” is turned off. The multi-layer UV-IR filters reflect or absorb over 99% of harmful UV and infrared light rays.
- The polarization filter. This layer works in conjunction with the UV-IR layer. But there are two polarization filters that are set at different orientations and can be shifted in orientation. When shifted to a 90 degree orientation, light is most shaded in the lens, while when aligned, light is only slightly shaded.
- The Liquid Crystal (LC) Cells. This is the layer of the auto-darkening lens that can twist the light, so as to change its orientation based on electrical impulses. This is what makes the whole system work.
It’s very complex how an auto-darkening helmet works, but all you really need to know for welding purposes is: they automatically adjust shading to a safe level in a split second. They are the safest type of welding helmet in existence today.