External grind mode or flip-up? Which welding helmet is best?

Article By: Team AWS

‘Which welding helmet is best for me: external grind mode or a flip-up helmet?’ This is one of the most common questions we hear from Australian welders.

Selecting which welding helmet suits you best can be a struggle... So many features across the Speedglas 9100 welding helmet models can sometimes make it difficult to choose. Is a flip-up Speedglas helmet better than a non-flip front?

In truth, both external grind and flip-up visor models offer a range of benefits. However, there are a few key considerations that can help you understand which Speedglas 9100 welding helmet will suit you best. Let’s take a look!



Speedglas 9100 FX Air flip-up

Flip-front helmet

In terms of versatility, a helmet which incorporates a welding lens with a flip-up grinding visor is going to be hard to beat. The Speedglas 9100 FX flip-up helmet (pictured above) flips up to reveal a huge clear, curved grinding visor, perfect for grinding as well as set-up and inspecting just-completed welds.

A flip-front helmet is also a very important safety consideration as it allows the welder to keep their high-impact protection in place at all times, without the need to flip up their welding helmet. This can help to minimize the risks of injuries caused by foreign bodies travelling at high velocity, which can often be generated by others working around you.

Another benefit offered by the Speedglas 9100 FX Air welding helmet with Adflo PAPR is the ability for welders to walk around with perfect vision while keeping their respiratory protection in place. This means welders can maintain their positive pressure seal and desired level of respiratory protection.

The benefits of a flip-front welding helmet are also offered by the Speedglas 9100 MP Air with Adflo PAPR, which boasts an additional integrated safety helmet. Given that many large sites require welders to have head protection and respiratory protection in place at all times, the clear grinding visor allows welders to move around their job site with uninhibited views while still adhering to safety policy.



Speedglas 9100 with external grind

External grind and memory mode

The alternatives to the feature-packed Speedglas 9100 FX, FX Air and MP Air are the Speedglas 9100XXi and 9100XXi Air (pictured above). These helmets are often referred to as ‘fixed-front’ helmets as they are conventional and do not have flip-up functionality.

They DO however still have a swag of features – including a new external grind mode. With the push of an external button, you can easily switch from welding to a shade 3 grind mode (and back again) as needed. This gives you the ability to grind without having the added weight of a built-in grinding visor.

The external grind button has another intelligent feature – memory mode. Just like the radio stations in your car, the external button also allows you to switch between two pre-set welding modes that you can dial in before putting your helmet on.

Much like the flip-up function, the external grind button also allows welders using the Speedglas 9100 Air with Adflo PAPR to keep their respiratory protection in place while carrying out non-welding tasks. Although it should be noted that the view will be through a locked-in shade 3, as opposed to a clear grind visor on the Speedglas 9100 FX models.



The verdict

Both helmet styles are feature-packed and offer the same auto-darkening lens (the Speedglas 9100XXi lens with True-View technology) along with the option of respiratory protection with the Adflo powered air respirator.

As for the choice of headtop?

If your tasks involve consistent, regular grinding the flip-up Speedglas 9100 FX and 9100 FX Air would be most suitable as they give you greater clarity through the clear grinding visor as opposed to a shade 3 grind mode. The added bonus of the flip-up clear grinding visor is a wider 100 x 170mm viewing area as opposed to the 73 x 107mm view through the auto-darkening welding lens.

Alternately, if you spend the majority of your time welding, the Speedglas 9100 and 9100 Air models are an excellent choice as the external grind and memory mode button really comes in handy! You will also benefit from a slightly lighter headtop (although the 9100 FX helmets also have a well-balanced head harness, so pressure and weight on the neck are minimised anyway).      

In our opinion, the Speedglas 9100 FX helmets come out slightly on top, due to the ability to keep high impact protection in place at all times with a clear view like no other. There’s a reason the Speedglas 9100XXi FX Air with Adflo PAPR is so popular across many large sites and small companies around Australia and New Zealand!

Explore the Speedglas 9100 Series with Adflo PAPR

See the range of Speedglas 9100 non-respiratory helmets

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