Auto darkening filter (ADF) transitions from light to dark shade in approximately .1 milliseconds after welding arc is detected

Helmet helps provide protection from ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) radiation

Flip-up feature combines auto darkening welding helmet with a protective visor

Ergonomically designed head suspension offers comfortable wear and fit

Side windows with dark shade 5 filters increase peripheral field of view


Welding is a profession that requires proper protection for your face and head from ultra violet rays and other flying particles on the welding site. This means that you need to identify a stable and reputable product that will enable you attain this level of occupational safety.

One of the most respected and trusted names in the world of welding helmets is 3M Speedglas 9100 FX welding helmet, from 3M. That is why this article is one of the best auto darkening welding helmet reviews that lucidly outline all that you need to know about this helmet in terms of pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision.

What We Like About The 3m Speedglas 9100 FX

As one of the best auto darkening welding helmet reviews, this masterpiece delves deep into what we like about the most outstanding pros and features of this helmet.
  • Light weight: The helmet is also available in a lightweight version for those welders who do not like to carry heavy weights.
  • Absolute protection: This helmet offers you total protection against injurious elements such as infra-red radiations, flying dust particles and ultra violet rays.
  • Comfort and convenience of usage and wearing: It is also vey comfortable to wear the helmet and hence you get to enjoy your job more. This is because the helmet’s headband has sufficient cushioning that ensures that you enjoy utmost convenience as you weld.
  • Ease of adjustment: Another beautiful feature of this helmet is that it is adjustable. It can be easily be adjusted to suit a variety of factors such as personal shape and preferences. Additionally, it comes with straps that are easy to adjust and also you can make every necessary adjustment without needing to get off your gloves.
  • Sufficient ventilation and unhindered respiration: Another beautiful pro that we like about this 3M helmet is that your breathing is well taken care of while you weld. It is designed to work well in spite of humid and foggy conditions due to it superb air-conditioning technology and capabilities.
  • A larger viewing window: Its auto darkening viewing window allows you to view your working area easily.

What We Didn't Like About The 3m Speedglas 9100 FX

Despite the many pros that we like about the helmet, below are some features that we dislike about this helmet.
  • It has a limited user scope: It is ideally designed for professional welders who engage in heavy duty welding. It offers nothing or very little for the amateur welder.
  • It is expensive: This is one of the most outstanding features that we don’t like about the helmet.

Our Verdict

This being one of the best auto darkening welding helmet reviews, we shall endeavor to make an objective verdict on this product based on what we like and dislike about it. A closer look at just some of its salient features clearly indicates that it is a great helmet worth every professional welder’s consideration and money. The scanty dislikes that we have listed above are not a “vote of no-confidence” in the helmet but rather genuine concerns that 3M can actually look into and resolve.

The 9100 FX In Detail

This welding helmet is ideal for applications where you will be doing some welding and also finish operations, so let's go over this and a little bit of detail to see if it is the best auto darkening welding helmet for you.

This helmet comes as shown here with the 9100xx, there is also a 9100x and a 9100v which are smaller window sizes.

This Auto Darkening Filter (ADF) also has for shade ranges of shade 5 and 8 through to 13 which allows you to do grinding, cutting, and welding applications without having to change to different helmets or masks.

The other thing that is nice with this welding helmet is that it has got a built-in top head protector, this helps keep grinding dust, and grinding swarf from the top of your head. Lots of times eye injuries occur from grinding dust settling in your hair, or top of your head, and then migrating down towards your eyes as you are taking your welding helmet off and putting on your grinding shield and vice versa.

This helmet comes as standard with the grinding shield built into the welding helmet itself, this allows a very clear and wide view through a clear grinding visor. This also meets the standards of a face shield as per the ANSI standard which is 300 ft per second.

Additionally there are side windows on this helmet, those may be either open or blocked. If they are left open you've got great peripheral vision, so that you can see where you're going on your weld when you're coming towards the end of the weld. And/or if there are any safety and/or trip hazards such as hoses along the ground when you are moving about your shop.

Another thing that sets this auto darkening welding helmet apart from the rivals is the headgear. 3M revolutionized the welding headgear in 2008 with the 9100 headgear.

This headgear in particular is unique due to the two crown straps, which give you a more secure fit on top of your head. It also straddles the soft pressure spot on top of your head. The single straps usually sits right on that pressure spot which can ache after a while.

It has full adjustability to move the helmet forwards or backwards, so that you can get the helmet to fit properly and not have as much weight overhanging your neck.

The other thing that is very unique, is the way the strap is designed to sit across your forehead. Most of the straps are single straps on rival helmets, but this has small individual pads that allow blood to continuously flow through your forehead region, which often gets blocked by headgear. That just simply wraps straight around that forehead region making it easier to wear for longer periods.

On this model, the pivot locations and the strap location has been moved so that it straddles the pressure point in the temple region, and there is an articulating ratchet on the back which is very strong, so it doesn’t slip when you tighten it. The other nice feature with the strap is that it does come off and is removable,but can also be twisted 180° very simply, to better fit baseball caps, ponytails, or just fit the back of the head better. There is also an adjustment for small, medium, and large if you cannot get the ratchet to fit appropriately, you can adjust the front band to increase the circumference of the headgear itself.

Lastly, there are 9 steps on the fan stop, that allow the tilt to be positioned accordingly as per your view. The right hand knob tightens the friction as you raise and lower the head gear. The left hand knob actually controls the force of the detent of the full up parking position of the welding helmet, giving all the welders a lot of versatility and adjustment in this headgear.

The 9100 series auto darkening filters are available in three sizes the standard V size, the large X size that has a 30% larger viewing area than the V, and the newest model the XX is even 30% larger in viewing area than our previous largest X model.

The V and X models come standard with solar assist to help increase the battery life. Due to the large viewing area, the double X does not have room for the solar assist, but continues to maintain a respectable battery life of 2000 hours.

Each model now has three independent sensors that are placed at eye level and in the centre of the filter to detect welding arcs during almost any welding process or position.

The 9100 series auto darkening filters are constructed of a purple coloured UV IR filter on the outside, followed by a series of liquid crystal cells and polarizers that are laminated together to either pass or block light according to the welding conditions.

The outside purple UV IR filter is a specially coated glass the blocks harmful UV and IR light radiation at all times with or without power. Because the speedglas auto darkening filter is completely manufactured in the own facility, they are able to control the quality of the components, and are able to meet the highest optical class in three of the four categories as rated by the European Standard EN379.

All 9100 series auto darkening filters come standard with shade 3 in the white state, shade 5 for gas cutting and brazing, and shade 8 through 13 for plasma cutting and most stick, MIG and TIG welding processes.

The auto darkening filters also have a red low battery LED indicator and an auto off feature that automatically turns the filter off after 60 minutes of non-use.

The sensitivity settings are controlled by the light grey sense button. This button controls the amount of amplification to the electronics used to detect a welding arc. As the sensitivity increases in number, the electronics become increasingly sensitive to smaller amounts of light causing the auto darkening filter to darken, especially in cases of lower amperage welding processes. The light green rectangle on the far left is used for performing grinding operations. The dark green rectangle on the far-right is used to lock in any dark shade. This is especially helpful while performing gas cutting and brazing operations.

The delay settings are controlled by the black delay button. This button varies the amount of time the auto darkening filter stays in the dark state after the welding arc stops, in an effort to reduce eye strain as the welding pool cools. As the delay increases in number, the time increases in length. This time can be adjusted from 60 milliseconds up to 1.3 seconds.

On the far left of the delay settings, there are three dots, this is pattern comfort mode for use while performing tack welding. In this mode the auto darkening filter passes for 2 seconds and an intermediate darkshade 5 before fully returning to the normal white state of shade 3.

This pause allows a user to see to reposition the torch but also helps reduce eye fatigue during frequent transitions from dark to light states that occur during tack welding.