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Intro: Why Choose 3M Speedglas Welding Helmets
If you’re in need of a top-quality welding helmet, look no further than 3M Speedglas. Back in 1981, 3M pioneered the self-darkening light welding helmet and has been producing state-of-the-art helmets ever since. Maybe you’ve tried cheaper welding helmets in the past, but now you’re ready to invest in the best. With Speedglas, you’ll experience superior viewing quality and utmost safety. In this article, we’ll break down the top 3M Speedglas welding options for you.
In a Rush? Here Are Our Top 3 Picks
If you’re in a hurry and want a quick overview of our top recommendations based on your budget, here they are:
Best Choice: 3M Speedglas 9100 FX
This helmet is designed for professionals and leaves no room for compromise. It features side windows, auto-dimming, a flip-up visor, and the ability to fit a hard hat or respirator.
Best Value: 3M Speedglas 9100 XX
The 9100 XX offers large side windows and the largest viewing area in the Speedglas range. It includes all the features of the 9100 FX, except for the flip-up visor.
Best Budget: 3M Speedglas 9100 V
The 9100 V is equipped with side windows, comes at a lower cost than the XX and FX models, and has a smaller viewport. However, the smaller glass area extends the battery life due to additional solar panels.
Detailed Reviews of the Best 3M Speedglas Welding Helmets
1. 3M Speedglas 9100 FX Welding Helmet
- Dual crown straps ensure better weight distribution.
- Padded front headband reduces pressure on the forehead.
- Swivel Ergonomic Helmet allows for nine different available helmet angles.
- Maximum hat size it can fit is 8.
- Ready and park pivots are easily adjustable.
- Four optional amplification boards available.
- Flip-Up Grinding Hood.
- Controls are easy to operate even with gloves on.
- Includes full headgear.
- The flap lid adds extra weight to the front.
- Replacing lens caps can be expensive.
- It’s easy to accidentally lift the front cover.
The “FX” in the name refers to the clamshell front cover, which allows you to raise the front visor while still maintaining protection during sanding. Functionally, this helmet is the same as the Speedglas 9100 XX, boasting the largest and highest-quality filter glass in the 9100 series. Some users have reported minor issues with the flip-up visor, such as accidentally raising it or triggering the auto-dimming feature while trying to lift it. While seemingly trivial, these issues can impact productivity. Another complaint from some users is glare on the curved front glass, which is a common occurrence. However, this doesn’t bother all welders. The Speedglas 9100 FX also features a hood that deflects sparks from above or the side, providing additional protection. This is particularly beneficial for welders working in shop environments where grinding and welding are frequent. Accessories include a hard hat adapter for use with both passive and powered 3M respirators.
2. 3M Speedglas 9100 XX Welding Helmet
- Padded headband evenly distributes pressure on the head.
- Side windows enhance peripheral vision.
- Auto Darken filter adjustment from shades 8 to 13.
- Equipped with three Arc Flash Sensors.
- Offers a generous 12.5 square inches of filter glass.
- Designed to fit most 3M respirators.
- Lightweight and comfortable for all-day use.
- Shadow and sensitivity controls are easy to operate.
- Locking headband adjustment.
- Tack Mode Dimmed Intermittently.
- Temporary fogging of the lens due to breath.
- The included tote bag is of low quality.
- Some users report the hood lowering too easily.
The 9100 XX provides three sensitivity levels suitable for MIG, TIG, or stick welding. Its digital sanding controls are glove-friendly, and the auto-dimming feature can be adjusted between shades 8 and 13. The “XX” designation signifies that it offers twice the viewable area compared to the 9100X, providing a spacious 12.5 square inch viewport. With sunshade class 5 side windows, this helmet not only helps prevent accidents but also ensures you don’t lose sight while working on lengthy projects like car frames. Battery life is rated up to 2000 hours. While professional welders mostly appreciate this helmet, a few consistent complaints have surfaced. Some users have had issues with the swivel not supporting the hood adequately, causing it to swivel unexpectedly, which can affect productivity. Another minor complaint is that exhaled breath can briefly fog up the lenses, although this issue seems to resolve within a few seconds. If breath fogging is a concern for you, consider the 9100 FX, which incorporates better vents to mitigate this problem.
3. 3M Speedglas 9100 V Welder Helmet
- Offers a 6.6 square inch viewport.
- Hood pivot with locking swivel.
- Adjustable filter sensitivity for MIG, TIG, and welding rods.
- Shade class 5 side windows.
- Height-adjustable headgear.
- Users love its all-day comfort.
- Spacious interior enables easy breathing.
- High-quality auto-dimming function.
- Controls are easy to operate.
- Automatic shutdown ensures battery power saving.
- The lightest grind mode sets to shade level 5.
- Requires a button to freeze filter in grind mode.
- Viewport area is relatively small.
Every helmet reviewed here is designed for professionals. The 3M 9100 Series stands out due to its modular system. The same basic helmet shell allows for upgrades with better helmets, larger or superior filter glass, hard hat mounting, or respirator fittings. The 9100 V is the most basic model, offering a smaller viewport. However, this design maximizes space for solar panels, extending battery life. If you’re not keen on spending a significant amount right away, you can gradually upgrade the 9100 V to larger X or XX filter glasses. The only component that cannot be upgraded is the flip front cover featured on the FX model, as it has a distinct shell. By installing the other upgrades over time, you can eventually purchase the FX enclosure and transfer all components to it. The 9100 V includes the same side windows as its pricier sibling, featuring a shade rating of 5. As with the rest of the range, the auto-darkening filter glass is suitable for MIG, TIG, and welding rods, with sensitivity settings as low as 1 amp.
4. Speedglas 9100 X Helmet
- Equipped with three arc sensors for reliable automatic dimming.
- Every piece is upgradable.
- Large knob on the headgear is easy to use even with gloves.
- Spacious and ergonomic design.
- Comes with a storage bag, welder’s hat, and starter kit.
- Various helmet angles to choose from.
- Stays in place on the head when lifted.
- Ideal for Miller LPR-100 respirators.
- Spacious interior keeps you cool for longer.
- Speedglas helmets are highly durable according to owners.
- Lens caps can be expensive.
- Silver cover may get burned.
- Top straps are of inexpensive quality.
- Many users find it too heavy.
The Speedglas 9100 X welding helmet has a slightly smaller glass than its pricier XX and FX counterparts. However, it still offers 30% more viewing area than the 9100 V. This size is still sufficient to accommodate a solar panel on the front, a feature absent in the XX and FX models. While professional welders appreciate the clear optics and high-quality auto-darkening functionality, some find it too heavy for extended use. On the other hand, others claim that the comfortable headgear offsets the weight. The 9100 X provides variable sensitivity down to 1 Amp for reliable auto-darkening, even during TIG welding. Additionally, the shadow level on the master lens can be adjusted between 8 and 13 shades. Some welders raised concerns about the amount of external light entering the helmet, but this seems to be a minor issue. All Speedglas helmets have a reputation for durability, with many welders reporting using their Speedglas helmets for a decade or more. The 9100 X upholds this tradition while offering a modular upgrade path for larger filter glass, improved headgear, and additional breathers.
5. 3M Speedglas 100 Trojan Warrior Welding Helmet
- Excellent optical quality.
- Adjustable auto-dimming suitable for MIG, TIG, and Stick welding.
- Graphics for easy helmet identification.
- Offers good coverage for the neck and face.
- Selectable shades ranging from 8 to 12.
- Users appreciate its comfort.
- Easy lens replacement.
- Simple and user-friendly controls.
- Relatively lightweight.
- Difficulty seeing in overhead positions.
- Auto-dimming must be manually turned on before use.
- The headwear included may not be long-lasting.
The Speedglas 100 goes beyond the uncompromising nature of the 9100 Series while still delivering professional quality and features. Its adjustable auto-dimming can handle up to 10 amps, making it suitable for various welding types, though it is less responsive at 1 amp compared to the 9100 series. This cost-saving measure helps keep the prices down. Users of the Speedglas 100 appreciate its optical clarity, comfort, and lightweight, which is similar to the 9100 XX. However, some difficulties arise when performing overhead welding due to the nature of the design. One significant drawback is the lack of an auto-on feature when picking up the helmet. Therefore, one must manually remember to turn it on before starting the welding process; otherwise, a flash may occur. The Speedglas 100 welding helmet upholds 3M’s reputation for durability and longevity. Its impact-resistant casing can withstand intense use. Being lightweight and offering great filtration quality, it is a first-rate helmet suitable for all-day wear.
When it comes to welding helmets, 3M Speedglas is synonymous with quality and reliability. Our detailed reviews of the top 3M Speedglas helmets—Speedglas 9100 FX, 9100 XX, 9100 V, 9100 X, and Speedglas 100 Trojan Warrior—provide you with insights into their features, benefits, and potential drawbacks. Whether you’re a professional welder or an enthusiastic DIYer, 3M Speedglas has the perfect helmet for your needs. Remember to consider your budget, specific requirements, and desired features when choosing the most suitable helmet for your welding projects. Invest in a 3M Speedglas welding helmet today for enhanced safety and a clearer view of your work!