20 years in the making: how the world’s first curved auto-darkening welding lens was made!

New Product Launch

20 years in the making: how the world’s first curved auto-darkening welding lens was made!

As with past 3M™ Speedglas™ welding helmets, the concept for the new Speedglas™ G5-02 originated from the input of professional welders. When it came to designing a helmet specifically for TIG welding, the feedback from TIG welders was unanimous: a wide view rated significantly higher than a taller view.

The only way to achieve these exponentially wider views without the compromise of making the helmet wider was to invent a curved welding filter: as such, you could say the G5-02 lens was quite literally shaped by welders’ feedback. However, the task of creating the world’s first curved auto-darkening lens was far from easy – here’s the story of how history was made!

So how did 3M™ Speedglas™ Curved Glass Technology come together?

According to 3M™ Welding Eye & Face Product Manager Stefan Henriksson, his team were “working on a curved lens for more than two decades”. This included the meticulous and time-consuming process of testing various materials to see which was most compatible:

“We tested – and rejected – curved lenses made with plastic substrates. We have found that plastic has low heat resistance and is permeable, absorbing contaminants that reduce filter visibility and longevity. Of all the materials we tested, curved glass outperformed them all."

Stefan Henrikkson, 3M Welding Eye & Face Product Manager

Once curved glass was selected as the primary component, the Speedglas G5-02 lens was manufactured in Sweden under clean room conditions using one-of-a-kind, custom engineered machines. The result is the finest Speedglas optics ever, courtesy of a “glass pack” that is one third as thick as the thinnest Speedglas flat lens. This in turn contributes to the G5-02 helmet’s super lightweight feel and brings the lens closer to the welder’s face for better overall weight distribution.

Book a test drive of the Speedglas G5-02 here

How was the curved lens tested?

The thinner profile of the curved lens naturally raises questions about its durability: can it hold up to the same wear and tear weathered by a flat Speedglas lens? To dismiss any concerns of it being more fragile, the G5-02 curved glass lens has been certified using the same standardized impact resistance tests used for traditional flat welding lenses. Both the lens and its outer protection plate (part no. 626000) are fully compliant with AS/NZS1337.1 with a medium impact rating.

The glass in the G5-02 lens also boasts unparalleled flexibility*. Curved glass has been around for years (notably used for TV’s), but never at so tight a radius to be effectively accommodated inside a welding helmet. Tests undertaken by 3M developers found that this flexibility made the curved lens more durable at certain angles than a flat lens.

After more than 20 years, and with no stone left unturned, a solution has finally been found to revolutionise precision viewing for high-performance welders!

Learn more about the Speedglas G5-02 here

Ready to experience the curved lens?

To be one of the first to experience 3M Speedglas Curved Glass Technology, you can now order your own complete G5-02 welding helmet - including curved lens, headband, cleaning wipe and storage bag!

Order the Speedglas G5-02 Curved Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet here


* Incidentally this flexibility is also present in the helmet shell itself, which when necessary can bend to absorb and cushion a possible impact

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