When you’re working with an enormously hot and bright flame, it makes sense to want adequate protection.
Protecting yourself from getting burned is a good start, but there’s more to it than that.
You don’t want your protection to get in the way of your work. Neither do you want to come home with your eyes feeling dead tired.
In other words, you want protection that’s scalable to different tasks, whether you’re doing flux core welding, TIG welding, or anything between.
3M Speedglas Welding Helmet 9100
When you’re doing amateur work for a couple of minutes at a time, you probably don’t need anything more than an old-school, standard welding helmet.
But for people working professionally and welding constantly throughout the day, it’s more important that your equipment can help you without hindrance.
It would be an exaggeration to say the best 3M Speedglas welding helmets makes it feel like you’re not wearing a welding helmet at all.
But that’s a general idea. The headband is made to fit heads 19.5” to 25.5” in diameter.
Once you’ve got it on, it moves up and down with a pretty smooth pivot action and allows you to lock the front shield in the upper position.
Moreover, 3M uses some smartly placed exhaust vents that help reduce humidity, heat and fogging of the filter.
Build & Design
As far as appearances go, the 3M Speedlas is fairly non-distinct. The plain gray and black body looks neat and professional. Generic looking equipment is exactly what many people are looking for, though there’s something to be said for customizing your gear.
The 9100 Series was made with a 1.8 x 3.7-inch display, which provides a viewing area of about six square inches. It’s a fairly wide field of view intended to provide maximum protection with minimal obstruction to your vision.
The screen is built around a pair of three sensors, which are used to activate an auto-darkening filter in response to bright light. That automatic filtration supports variable lens control between 5-13, which helps you maintain almost perfect clarity without having to swap your helmet.
The lens can switch from light to dark in a tenth of a millisecond, which is 1/10,000th of a second. The filter will return to light in about a quarter of a second, an almost unnoticeable response time. That also ensures the helmet can respond to flares in an instant.
The included battery is supposed to operate for 2,800 hours. That translates into more than an entire year of 40-hour workweeks spent with a welding torch in your hand.
If that sounds longer than you’d otherwise expect, it’s because the helmet operates with a pair of CR2030 batteries instead of using a single battery cell. When it does run out, it’s worth noting these batteries are relatively inexpensive and easy to find.
This helmet does not include side windows. Though you can get a magnifying lens, a lens is not included. You do, however, receive a helmet bag, and the clips necessary to attach your own magnifier lens.
Who Should Choose the 3M Speedglas Welding Helmet?
As long as you end up with a properly sized helmet, this is the kind of equipment that could easily convert someone into becoming a lifelong fan. It reduces tunnel vision, and the venting ensures you don’t feel like you’re stuffed inside of an oven.
It’s got switching speeds sufficient for protecting your eyes from fatigue and safety hazards. From spot welding on through, the filtration is intended to be suitable for almost anything you could throw at it.
Though it’s not the prettiest welding helmet on the market, it can take some strain off your neck without interfering with the quality of your work. And that’s easy to fall in love with.