Lens reaction time critical for welding helmets

WITH light travelling at around 299,792 kilometres a second, the reaction speed of the lens in a welder’s helmet is critical when a welding arc is struck.  

Today, welders rely heavily on their auto-darkening welding helmets to protect their eyes from the painful and often debilitating effect of welder’s flash burn or ‘arc eye’. 

Professional welders understand that flash burns are like sunburn in the eye and if not treated, an infection may start which can lead to vision loss. 

That is why Robert Clarke, senior metal fabricator with champion V8 Supercar constructor Triple Eight Race Engineering, insists on fast auto darkening welding helmets for himself and his fellow welders.  

"Our welders’ health is very important to the company, that’s why we use Miller auto-darkening helmets here in the workshop," Clarke said. 

"Importantly, the lenses are quick to darken, plus they have a very large viewing area which means we can see clearly when we are welding." 

However, Clarke said one of the most important features of the Digital Elite Miller welding helmets is the X-Mode, which can impact the team’s productivity, weld quality and operator comfort.  

"Often we have two or more welders working on the same vehicle, which with other welding helmets could cause false activations.  

"By adjusting the sensitivity of the X-Mode, our welders are able to continue welding without incessant false activations," said Clarke. 

Research shows that the quality of finished welds can be seriously reduced as a result of false activations.   

Constant flickering can put the operator’s focus on the performance of the helmet instead of the job at hand.  The result is substantially more time taken to complete the job and lost productivity.   

Reduced operator comfort is another side effect of false activations.   

Fatigue and headaches can result from the increased need to blink frequently while welding when subjected to constantly changing or inadequate light conditions causing false activations.    

However, with the introduction of the latest digital lens technology, featured in Miller’s Digital Elite Auto-Darkening helmets, false activations are all but eliminated.   

Without compromising the fast switching speeds (lens darkening reaction time is 1/20,000 sec) and reliability, Miller has created an auto-darkening helmet that offers the market a set of benefits appreciated by welders.    

When in X-Mode, the lens operates through electromagnetic arc sensing technology.  The detection of welding current, as opposed to reliance on light intensity, is used to trigger the operation of the lens.  

The result is improved operational reliability of the lens.  The major advantage of this feature is that external light conditions, physical barriers or adjacent operator activity does not negatively impact the operation of the lens, enabling it to switch on and off with absolute precision.  

When in X-Mode, the sensors react to electromagnetic fields, enabling the sensors to engage regardless of sunlight interference or obstructed sensors due to position.