The Future of Welding Helmets is Here!
Optrel the innovator of the first reactalite welding helmet and Fronius a world leader in welding equipment technology have joined forces to produce the first Bluetooth connected welding helmet. Now the man and machine are joined offering many potential features in the future.
A LITTLE HISTORY
In 1986, three professionals in the electronics sector came together to found their welding mask manufacturing company Optrel in Wattwil, in the Swiss canton of Saint Gallen. They produced world-leading optoelectronic welding mask offering welders for the first time the advantages of speed and comfort compared to the normal nod down glass welding helmet.
Optrel has quickly gained back its reputation as the world leader in optoelectronic welding masks.
Fronius and OPTREL have been partners for over two decades. They mutually support each other by bringing their technologies together, combining them into a single unit and constantly developing them to produce further enhancements. This allows them to create real added value for their customers when it comes to comprehensive protection, unique comfort, and efficiency while working.
"We want to not only meet our customers’ expectations but do everything we can to exceed them". Dr Eicher
Fronius Vizor Helmets have taken Optrels expertise and added the Fronius twist to provide the new Fronius Vizor Connect, the worlds first Bluetooth enabled welding helmet.
The idea was for the welding machine and the helmet to "talk" to each other and be connected. The power source then sends a signal to the welding helmet via Bluetooth as soon as the user presses the On button on the welding torch.
This means the helmet is dark a fraction earlier than the arc reducing the flash phenomenon. Reactalite helmets no matter how fast they are still allow a burst of the arc to enter the eye prior to the shade darkening.
This slight flash or glare isn't dangerous but for some people with sensitive eyes, it can cause tiredness and an ache in the eyes over the length of a work shift.
Optoelectronic helmets can also cause a problem for "older" welders in the fact that this slight flash does, in fact, cause the Iris to open as it tries to control the bright light hitting the retina. The Iris is a muscle and over time as we age it becomes slower at returning causing longer times to refocus. This can be caused by Presbyopia which is the term for the lens in the eye becoming less flexible.
Hence when an older welder arcs up he is welding slightly out of focus for a lot longer than a younger welder. I've noticed this more when doing weld testing on car body repair technicians during BS EN 4872 weld testing. Older people tend to have difficulty seeing the root of the fillet weld.
Therefore this new development for the Fronius Vizor Connect helmet is an added bonus as it reduces the effect of eye fatigue on the welder.
The other innovative addition to the Fronius Vizor Connect Is the "autopilot" function. It's an ingenious sensor system which constantly measures the intensity of the arc during welding and automatically adapts the helmet’s level of darkening to suit. This provides an enormous increase in comfort, meaning the welder tires less easily and can, therefore, increase their productivity and quality of work.
This is the latest innovation and as far as I'm concerned its a must-have feature. The ability to see the weld in its true colours sends welding control to a new level.
I'm getting on in years and have had to resort to a magnify lens in my welding helmet so that I could focus on the weld pool. Getting hold of the Vizor Connect and being able to see the weld pool clearly without a magnifying lens was eye-opening. I could see the blues and oranges clearly enabling me to produce some really tight beads using TIG on stainless.
I also like the fact that the lens sits closer to you due to the nose cut out in the helmet. Fronius/Optrel call this panorama view. This apparently gives you 6X larger field of view compared to other weld and grinding helmets. This in connection with the 2.5 brightness level – as well as the detailed colour rendering – makes it possible for the welder to experience an entirely new visual dimension in grinding mode. I always felt this was only "okay" on other types of welding helmets as it was like you were grinding through a letterbox and a slightly dark one at that!
Panorama view and the 2.5 shade get rid of this feeling giving you more control.
I think in the future more features will be added connecting both man and machine together. Heads up displays of welding parameters I would have thought would be of particular use and no doubt these two leading companies are working towards this goal. It might be nice if they added a radio too!