Buying a Welding Mask

Buying a Welding Mask

1/. Air Fed welding masks

With the Health & Safety Executive issuing a bulletin, in Febraury 2019, linking welding fume to lung cancer, it is clear that LEV(local exhaust ventilation) alone is not enough to protect operators.

Welders will be expected to wear RPE(Respiratory Personal Equipment) to ensure they are protected from residual fume. In essence, HSE's directive has changed the welding helmet landscape for ever, as there is no known safe level of exposure to welding fume.

We have a couple of great air fed welding mask options:

-The Adflo 9100xxi FX air fed welding respirator covers all bases with it's large true-view lens, FX grinding headtop, super comfy headband & long life PAPR blower unit. The Adflo PAPR unit is designed to provide welders with a constant air flow rate of 170 litres per minute regardless of the battery's charge or the particle loading of the filter. It's difficult to argue with it's lightweight lithium-ion battery, fast switching between welding & grinding & instant on mode. It has all the pedigree a blue chip manufacturer such as 3M has to offer and has the high NPF(nominal protection factor) of 500. It is also classified as TH3.

-A suitable alternative is the Foster Industrial Prem-Air welding respirator. The Prem-Air PAPR blower unit boasts smartsensor technology, offering constant airflow regardless of filter condition and a user interface which displays battery capacity, air flow level, filter status & temprature. This links to the Foster Grind-Plus headtop which incorporates True-view lens technology. This helmet carries a TH2 approval.

The difference between TH2 & TH3 approval.

TH2 rated respirator systems have a nominal protection factor of 50, meaning that when the respirator is used correctly, the wearer exposure should be reduced by 1/50th. With a TH3 rated respirator the nominal protection factor is 500, reducing the exposure to 1/500th.

Foster Industrial Prem-Air

*The Foster Industrial Prem-Air Welding Helmet

2/. Auto darkening masks

Most welders are now choosing masks with the very latest 'True-view' welding filter technology.

'True-view' is an innovation that offers the welder enhanced vision around the work peice when welding. A clearer view of the job when the lens is in it's light state offers a further benefit. This means you don't need to lift the headtop to inspect your work. 

We have two welding helmets that incorporate 'Trueview', so think about a budget before making your welding mask choice

Within our own brand premium products range sits the Foster Grind-Plus. The Grind-Plus incorporates 'True-view', has a grind only option and two year warranty-Coming in at under £100, it's more than a great value purchase.

Speedglas 9100xxi

*Speedglas 9100xxi lens with True-view.

The bluechip version of 'Trueview' comes in the form of 3M's Speedglas 9100xxi, which not only incorporates 'True-view', but a number of other defining features such as an external button to facilitate quicker switching between welding & grinding and the ability to programme two preset modes.

The 9100xxi's new instant-on feature which returns you to the last welding mode the minute you lays your hands on the helmet has also proved a hit. This head top allows you to fit a magnifying lens, if you're a spectacle wearer and you can MIG, plasma cut and TIG weld to very low amps to your heart's content..

Giving the Speedglas 9100xxi a run for it's money is the Miller Digital Infinity. With a deeper helmet shell, the Infinity is a great choice for heavy duty MIG welding and it has the largest welding filter lens on the market to boot. The recent introduction of it's information centre, in the form of Info track, allows the operator to record arc time. A multi language help menu is a great addition too!

In order to draw a comparison between the Speedglas 9100xxi & the Miller Infinity we've listed their benefits side by side:

  • Warranty: Infinity: 3 years, 9100xxi; 2 years.
  • Shell size: The Miller Infinity has a deeper shell & covers for more of the face. Better for MIG. The Speedglas 9100 was designed predominately as a TIG welding helmet.
  • Viewing area: The Infinity currently has the largest viewing area recorded at 13.4 square inches.
  • Battery life in hours: Infinity; 3000, 9100xxi; 2000.
  • Sidewindows; Infinity; No. 9100xxi; Yes.
  • TIG rating; Infinity; 5 amps, 9100xx; 1 amp.
  • Weight in grams; Infinity; 650 , 9100xxi; 545.
  • Headgear; The Speedglas is beautifully designed & has numerous adjustments. Difficult to beat! 
  • Trueview technology: Infinity: No, 9100xxi: Yes


For more assistance on choosing a welding mask, read our blog.