3M brand products are everywhere. They also carry a product line of high quality welding helmets. Actually, 3M Speedglas 9100 series welding helmets are probably one of the most talked about welding helmets among welding communities. If you are looking for an upgrade from your old shields with a fixed shade, this could be your best bet.
Its filter glass is specially coated to block harmful UV and IR light radiation at all times with or without the unit on. It works for most stick, MIG (Metal Inert Gas) and TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding applications. The filter can be adjusted for different shades based on the welding amperage. When it detects an arc, the lens immediately switches from light to dark shade in approximately 0.1 milliseconds. When complete, the filter automatically returns to the light state (shade 3) with a time delay in the range of tens or hundreds of milliseconds. With that, it both protects your eye when the arc strikes and gives you an optimal view for torch position and weld puddle to allow immediate inspection of the weld pool and preparation for the next step.
Standard size 9100V model has a 1.8 inches high by 3.7 inches wide viewing size while the extra large 9100XX model almost double the viewing size. It weighs around 19 ounces. Apparently, helmets with standard view(9100V model) would weigh less than the models with extra large view(9100XX model). 19 ounces is just an average weight of different models of Speedglas 9100 series.
There are three independent sensors that are placed at eye level. One in middle and two on sides to detect welding arcs.
Speedglas helmets feature side windows of shade 5 filters to increase peripheral field of view. Those side windows are kind of a novelty. Some like it since you can spot things out of the corner of your eyes while welding. But, others think that it is a pain when work close to shiny surfaces or other welders. If you work in a shop doing all tig aluminum, you might expect your co-worker flash you in those windows while weld besides you. Good news? It does come with covers to black out side windows. Depending on the situation you are in, you can opt not to use them.
Shade setting 5 and 8 are usually for grinding and torch cutting modes, setting 9 to 13 are for welding. You can also lock in the light state shade 3.
That is the amount of time delay before the lens go into pre-set dark state after the arc is detected. It is about 0.1ms. That is reasonable fast. When the weld is complete, the filter automatically returns to light state shade 3 with a delay of approximately in the range of tens or hundreds of ms.
The headband (they call it ergonomically designed head suspension system) of the 3M speedglas helmet is very comfortable. It does take some time to adjust right to fit you best. But, it should be worth it. It uses two CR2030 3V lithium batteries. Its battery life is about 2,500+ hours. That is a lot. The Speedglas also have an auto-off feature that automatically turns off the filter after 60 minutes of inactivity.
According to other reviews, people love this series of helmets. Lots of customers think that this is the best welding helmet they have used so far. This is the reason why the Speedglas 9100 series receive such a great review on Amazon. If you go to various welding discussion board, you will see lots of people recommend 3M Speedglas 9100 helmets. Having said that, the helmet is a bit big though. Remember the highly adjustable designed head suspension system (headband) we talked about? It makes helmets super comfortable to wear and very bulky in the meantime.
3M Speedglas 9100 series is one of the best in class auto darkening filter (ADF) helmets in the market. If you do not work in tight spaces a lot, this helmet could be the best welding helmet for your next project. It makes your welding so much easier.