Why do welders wear masks?
The welding helmet is usually worn when the welder needs to perform arc weldings, such as gas-shielded arc welding, tungsten arc welding, and metal-shielded metal arc welding. To prevent an unpleasant condition called "arc eye," in which the cornea becomes inflamed, it is necessary to wear welding masks.
Helmets also ensure that your retina does not get burned, which can lead to a temporary or permanent loss of vision. Both arc eye and blindness result from exposure to highly concentrated infrared (IR) and UV rays from the welding arc.
You should also be aware that UV radiation can harm your skin if you don't wear appropriate clothing. This will cause your skin to look like it has been sunburned, and you will notice this after a short welding period. Radiation isn't the only thing you should be concerned about, as gasses and splashes can also harm your eyes and skin.
What should I look for when choosing a welding helmet?
There are many other options for choosing an auto-darkening welding helmet. Many of them look the same but have different features, and it can be hard to tell the price differently. Factors such as field of view size, sensors, and optical class must be considered.
Helmet's weight and comfort
If you wear your welding helmet for several hours, the helmet's weight will be an essential factor. Heavier welding helmets put more strain on the neck and can be pretty painful, even if they don't feel heavy when you first put them on. Lighter helmets can also reduce the chance of stress injuries over time if you wear a helmet for very long periods. Here, as a rule, it is worth considering comfort. If you get a lightweight padded helmet, you will likely enjoy welding more because of your convenience. Look for one that sits securely on your head. A helmet that you cannot fit tightly will move and distract you when welding and will need to be adjusted.
The size of the field of view can be critical if you are regularly welding in a non-working position or need visibility over a larger area. Some helmets have a more extended field of view, and some have a wider field of view; anything close to 4′′ by three ′′ would be considered a large field of view, and 3.5′′ by 1.75′′ would be regarded as a small field of view.
The number of arc sensors in an auto-darkening welding helmet is something to consider when choosing a helmet. Sensors detect flashes during operation and darken the helmet in a fraction of a second to protect your eyes. Typically, less expensive models will have two or fewer sensors, while more advanced models will have three or four. Having two sensors may work fine, but it increases the risk of not catching a second if you are welding in the wrong position. Having four sensors helps reduce the risk of the helmet not picking up flash, which can result from sensors being blocked by objects like pipes.
Helmet power supply
Solar energy, lithium batteries, or both power welding helmets. Generally, a combination of the two is the best option, as it extends the battery life of your welding helmet and means that if one power source runs out, you can still rely on the other.
If your welding helmet uses batteries, the main thing to consider is whether the power supply is replaceable. Welding helmets that only use replaceable batteries are great because you can attach the batteries and use the mask immediately. However, it would help if you always carried spare battery packs with you. If your welding helmet uses solar power, this can be cost-effective, as you don't have to worry about changing batteries. A helpful feature you get on most good auto-dimming helmets is called auto-off. It helps to turn off the power automatically to save battery power.
Most auto-darkening welding helmets allow you to set the minimum brightness value at which the dimming occurs. This manual mode is helpful if you are welding at low amperage and may need more sensitivity. It's also good if you're working in an environment with other welders and lots of arcs. Here you can increase the sensitivity so that other people's angles do not work.
Why is it important to watch what you do?
UV rays damage and destroy cellular tissue. To protect your eyes, welding helmets have specially tinted glass that filters out harmful visible light, IR, and UV rays. The filter glass is rated by a number that indicates the degree of its obscuration. The higher the number, the darker the shade, and the higher the protection.
Some helmets have a glass with one level of tint. Although the protection is good, usually above shade level 10, it can be not easy to see unless you are welding. This can make it difficult to quickly light the arc without lifting the hood to look. The problem is that you can "flash" your eyes if you accidentally start a turn while lining up a rod or wire when the hood is up.
That's why automatic darkening filters were invented. They react to the bright arc flash by instantly darkening. You'll be able to level the job without lifting the hood and still be protected by the helmet when the arc flashes this way. Passive welding helmets also do a great job. However, they work with a lens with a fixed tint, usually 9 or 10.