Fibre-Metal by Honeywell has produced the first real improvements in ADF lenses since their inception more than 30 years ago.
As the welding industry recovers, companies are looking to technology to help increase productivity to make them more competitive. While most of the focus is on processes and equipment, a recent technological breakthrough in auto darkening filters (ADF) by Honeywell will contribute to increased welder productivity on a par with any other advancement.
Unlike other PPE, a welding helmet is considered a tool of the trade. A welder cannot work without it and must wear it all shift long. The impact a welders helmet has on productivity cannot be over stated yet is frequently overlooked.
When ADF’s were introduced to the trade, they improved protection by allowing a welding helmet to remain in the “down” position throughout the stages of the welding process. But their real value was the ways they helped a welder reduce downtime and increase productivity. For the first time, at start up, welders had both hands free to position the work piece and place electrodes in the crucial start position. Precision was improved resulting in more good welds, less grinding and increased productivity.
However, once the ADF switched to its “dark shade” and welding commenced, welders had the same limited, often murky view of their work they had with passive filter lenses. Poor electronics in some ADF’s added numerous optical flaws, and an inherent characteristic of the liquid crystals in the lenses resulted in “angle dependency” which was uneven shading and a halo of light or light spots at the periphery of the lens. Welders were often distracted or hindered by the optical flaws which offset the productivity improvements at start up.
Early supplier marketing campaigns focused on switching speed, how fast the ADF switched from its light to dark state to draw attention away from the optical flaws of their lenses. But switching speed occurs instantaneously as the arc is struck. It plays no role whatsoever in a welders productivity. Subsequent entrants into the ADF market focused on cheapening the lens which just made the optical quality worse and adding gimmicks to their helmets like graphics, “3 in 1”, side view panels, CO2 valves, none of which improved welder productivity in any way.
Now the Fibre-Metal by Honeywell brand has introduced the first real technological advancement in ADF lenses since their inception. Their patented advancements drastically improve the optical quality of the lens to give a welder a bigger, more consistent, clearer view of his work. The FIBRE-METAL TIGERHOOD FUTURA XXL provides a full 10.2 square inch field of vision which is 40% bigger than most other lenses. Most importantly, the expanded viewing area provides consistent shading over the entire surface area. The patented ADC (Angle Dependency Compensation) Plus and proprietary new, high-tech liquid crystal technology built into the lens eliminates angle dependency. A welder can assume any work position necessary without adversely affecting his view of his work.
The optical clarity of the XXL ADF with ADC Plus lens is extraordinary. A welder sees a clear, distortion free view of his work with brighter color definition and in near natural color. A bigger field of vision with better visibility allows a welder to stay on the job longer and produce more and better welds with less downtime.
Other ADF brands have introduced “extra-large” ADF lenses but with less than satisfactory results. Some may even have a slightly larger physical lens size. But those that had angle dependency in their smaller lenses have it even worse in their large lenses which greatly reduces the functional size of their lenses. Brands that have optical flaws in their smaller ADF’s have them to a greater degree in their larger lenses. Only the Fibre-Metal by Honeywell TIGERHOOD FUTURA XXL ADF provides a greater viewing area, with improved optical quality and no angle dependency. The fact that the XXL ADF is installed in the traditional top quality FIBRE-METAL TIGERHOOD FUTURA welding helmet with its welder preferred classic 3-C headgear makes it a perfect blend of tradition and innovation.
But our role is not to promote any brand over any other. Our role is to provide information, keep you informed of what is new, and give you our opinion of it. The Fibre-Metal by Honeywell TIGERHOOD FUTURA XXL is a truly remarkable advancement in ADF welding helmets. To borrow from Fox News, “we report, you decide”. Don’t take our word for it, try a FIBRE-METAL TIGERHOOD FUTURA XXL on your job, under your working conditions. Compare it with what you are using or what you may be considering using. If you like something better, by all means buy it.
In closing, just a word about brand comparison. Like many other products, there is a glut of ADF brands on the market today. You cannot compare them all so it is wise to narrow the field down to a “choice set” of brands from which you will make your choice. In the ADF market today, in our opinion, the “big boy” ADF brands for serious production welders who weld for a living are Fibre-Metal by Honeywell, Jackson by Kimberly Clark, SPEEDGLAS by 3M and Sellstrom Manufacturing. These brands were the pioneers in ADF technology and they have been the leading welding helmet manufacturers, producing every significant advancement in welding helmets for decades. If you compare and make your selection from among these brands, you will be sure of a quality product.
Eliminate the ADF welding helmets sold by welding machine manufacturers. They are the leading producers of quality welding machines but they import helmets and ADF’s from China or Taiwan, cover them in graphics, and try to superimpose the brand equity from their machine brands to the helmets. It doesn’t work. Also eliminate distributor “store” brands. They too are by and large imports from China or Taiwan and do not compare with the top brands. Finally, ignore the multitude of ADF brands from China that are available on the Internet or through direct resellers. The quality, service life and support simply are not there.
Do your homework. Only consider the best and most reliable brands. Make a wise ADF buying decision and you will see your welding productivity increase by 30% to 50%.