Welding Helmets, Shields and Masks
Below are some questions that are often asked regarding the choice of a welding helmet, shield or mask:
What shade lens should I use for a particular type of welding?
All properly designed quality welding lenses, have a screen that filters out 100 percent of the harmful ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) wavelengths and provides protection to the eyes. The shade number just denotes the amount of darkness provided by that particular lens and should be used by operators as a guide to select the one that is most comfortable and yet provides good visibility for the particular application.
There are some suggested lens shade numbers that you can use as a guide, if you are unsure what to select for your particular application. These correspond with the amperage being welded. Always select a shade that allows you to see the weld puddle clearest and that most aids your welding ability.
Should I get fixed or variable shade welding helmet?
If you are only arc welding with one process, whether it be Stick(SMAW), TIG(GTAW) or MIG (GMAW), then a fixed shade welding shield may be adequate, however if, like most welders, you use a variety of welding processes, then it is better to get a variable shade welding helmet where the shade can be adjusted to the correct level for the type of welding you are doing.
Is it better to use an auto darkening welding helmet?
Welding with an auto darkening welding helmet can be convenient and helpful as it eliminates the necessity of continually raising your shield. Some better quality auto darkening welding helmets also have a grinding mode, which enables you to see clearly with your shield down, while grinding and still be protected.
Can the delay while using an auto darkening welding helmet hurt my eyes?
When arc welding, the arc emitted contains both IR and UV wavelengths of light. Unprotected from this light, serious eye damage and discomfort can occur. Since high-quality auto-darkening helmets provide UV and IR protection even when the helmet is not activated, you are should be always protected. However, for maximum comfort, you should get a high quality helmet that has a response darkening time of 4/10ths of a millisecond. Less than a millisecond is not perceivable by the human eye and will provide the most comfort.