3M Speedglas 9100 FX Welding Helmet Review
The switching time on this helmet is really impressive. At just 0.1 milliseconds, it really protects your eyes from sparks and flashes, so you’ll never be blinded with a burned retina. After welding, you can inspect your work straight away, because the lens automatically switches back to a light 3 shade. The delay is between 40 and 250 milliseconds – so fast that you probably won’t even notice the delay, which is perfect as it allows professional welders to carry on working immediately.
This helmet offers more protection than just the auto-darkening lens. Flip this up and you’ll find a clear visor underneath, which is brilliant for allowing you to have crystal clear vision while still keeping your face covered. This massive clear viewing window measures 8″ x 4.25″, giving you an unobstructed view of whatever you’re working on. As if that wasn’t enough, this helmet is fitted with a headcover to guard against sparks, splashes and debris. Quite clearly, this helmet protects much more than just the eyes and face.
In order to ensure a good fit, this helmet has been ergonomically designed with two adjustable straps which sit around the crown of your head. These spread the weight of the helmet evenly, leaving it feeling stable and steady, even after wearing it all day. The headband is padded at the front, which makes it comfortable to wear for hours at a time.
No two welders are the same, so having a helmet that’s adjustable is really important. This welding helmet doesn’t just come with adjustable straps – the whole thing can be adjusted to sit at one of nine different angles. Whatever your individual face shape, extra equipment, or personal preference, chances are that this helmet can be adapted to suit. Instead of needing delicate movements to make these adjustments, Speedglas have made it super simple – you can even do it with your gloves on. The large, exterior knobs make it easy to change the settings so that this helmet always fits well.
Large viewing window
The auto-darkening viewing window is huge, giving you a clear, unobstructed view of your work. It measures 2.1″ high by 4.2″ wide, making this the second largest viewing area that Speedglas have made within this series of helmets. Being able to see your weld pool clearly doesn’t just make working easier, but it’s more comfortable, too.
Increased peripheral vision
Rather than just being limited to whatever you can see straight ahead of you, through the normal viewing window, this helmet also allows you to use your peripheral vision. It comes fitted with side windows which are set to shade 5 filters – pale enough that they can let light in when you’re not working, but dark enough that they still offer an adequate level of protection from sparks and flashes.
The impressively fast auto-darkening lens is one of the most appealing features of this helmet, but it might not be suitable for everyone. If that’s the case for you, this helmet also comes with the possibility of ‘locking in’ any one of the darkness shades, instead of leaving it to adjust automatically. Having this flexibility is exactly what you’d expect from a professional welding helmet from such a reputable brand.
Efficient ventilation for easy breathing
Fogging, humidity and hot air are all things that you don’t really have to worry about with this helmet. It’s been made with aerodynamic exhaust vents which draw any hot air and smoke out and away from the helmet, keeping your face as fresh and cool as possible. This air-conditioning technology is just another way that Speedlas have tried to make this helmet as comfortable as possible.
Suitable for all welding
When you’re paying a lot of money to invest in a high tec piece of equipment, you want it to have a broad range of uses in order to ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth. With this helmet, you won’t have to spend out on getting separate helmets for different jobs, because it’s suitable for all types of welding. Whether you’re a stick, MIG or TIG welder, you can keep wearing this helmet throughout all your jobs, meaning that you’re getting excellent value for your money.
Can be worn with respirators
The adjustable nature of this helmet means that you can adapt it to be worn over a respirator for even easier breathing. This includes specially made disposable respirators, designed for use where metal fumes might be in the surrounding air. Having the option to use one of these respirators is great, because Speedglas have taken the initiative to offer even more protection than comes as standard.
The size of this helmet means that it’s impossible to wear with over-the-ear ear defenders, which is a real shame if that’s your chosen method of protecting your hearing. All is not lost: you can wear it with in-ear earplugs instead, in order to maintain high levels of protection.
Just the housing
Something which perhaps isn’t made clear is that this helmet does not come with an air filter cartridge – it is just the housing for said filter. Nevertheless, as Speedglas is such a well-known name, it isn’t difficult to pick one of these up separately for a reasonable price.
Not for the casual welder
If you’re a beginner to the world of welding or if you prefer to enjoy it as a hobby, then this helmet is probably too big and sophisticated for your needs. Although it’s excellent quality, it just wouldn’t be suited to the job. However, it is aimed at professionals who do a lot of heavy-duty welding, so if that’s your game, this is a great buy!
Sitting at the top end of the market budget-wise, you can’t ignore the fact that this is a fairly expensive helmet. It’s likely to be out of reach for most beginners or casual welders, but if it’s within your means then this helmet is worth every dime.
- Switching time: 0.1 milliseconds (at 23°C)
- UV and Infrared radiation protection
- Dark shades 8-13
- Side windows with shade 5 filters
- Arc sensors: 3
- Power supply: two replacable Cr2030 3V lithium batteries
- Battery life: 2,500 hours
Overall, this is a fantastic welding helmet that doesn’t really have many drawbacks. The negatives which have been mentioned are all trivial when you compare them to this helmet’s extensive list of seriously impressive advantages. It might be expensive, but for professional and heavy-duty welders you couldn’t really ask for much more! As a result, this is a very worthy investment and you can be sure that your money is being well spent!