Welding Helmet Project [PROCESS THREAD]

Hi everyone,

This quarter our studio is working on differing forms of head protection equipment, ranging from medical related (epileptics, brain surgery patients etc.) to construction hard hats and fire fighter helmets.

I am focusing on a welding helmet as my project. I was impressed by the depth of Julius’ project thread from last quarter so I figured this would be a good way to keep myself on task for the next 6 weeks.

Research Process so far:

So far I have conducted 4 in person interviews, 3 with professional welders, 1 with a novice welder. The main take aways from these interviews were:

  • Slippage on head (usually countered by wearing a backwards baseball cap, welders cap, or bandanna)

  • Inadequate ear protection. Heard some nasty stories of sparks flying in ears and burning out eardrums

  • Fogging of lens

  • Dislike of overly styled helmets with crazy graphics that drive price up needlessly.

  • Headaches after extended usage due to pressure of head band.

I have also started a thread on Welding Web, a heavily trafficked welding forum. So far the response has been phenomenal, lot’s of great insights from a lot of novice, intermediate, and professional welders.


Highlights from the conversations over on the Welding Web:

  • Intrigued by the concept of an integrated cap/helmet solution

  • Would like LEDs embedded in the helmet for more visibility before welding. This was something I had done with my personal helmet, and I wasn’t sure if it was something that was desired BUT several people on Welding Web mentioned it’s something they have wanter, so something they have retrofitted to their helmets.

The following were submitted to the thread by welding web member turbocad6

  • Growing concern of the secondary risks of UV, IR and toxic fume exposure. The helmet is more than a guard from sparks and splatter

  • Dislike of products that use proprietary lenses and specialty replacement parts. Want generic flat lenses.

  • Preference towards helmets that have controls on the interior of the helmet to guard against splatter damage for MIG and stick welding.

  • Better accommodation for secondary PPE like goggles, ear muffs, and respirators.

Will have more ideation and exploration work in the next couple of days, here is some of my initial sketch exploration from last week. Going to really get cranking on it this week, I feel like I’ve been dancing around a bit the last week.

I am also in the process of hacking apart some LEDs and hot gluing them on mule welding helmets to test what the ideal placement and number is.

Thanks in advance for any input throughout this process!



very nice start, will be very much looking forward to see more as the process progresses.

one question, is this a self initiated project or is it for some customer?


Have you seen the 3M Speedglass designed by Ergonomidesign? It’s a project everyone involved seems to love to show off as innovation case study, perhaps you might want to check it out (even if might not appear special 2011, I don’t know). I’ve seen some process sketches, the inspiration for the aesthetic came from old knights’ helmets.


Ginrod: Thanks, will have some more updates later on tonight. There is no sponsor so this studio.

Engio: Yes, the Speedglas is the standard that I’m trying to shooting for. Thanks for the link, I was trying to track down the company that did the design work! Great sketches the Speedglas project as well!

Sounds like a fun project. I weld a bit and am interested in your results. Good luck.

One mention, you do not have to have a single, one-size-fits-all solution. You could make it into a product line with different price points. For example, a helmet with LEDs and one without. I would find it more interesting to see a line of related but different products. It will be more work but think of it as extra credit. :wink:

Ditto. Think of what a welder gets paid. In many cases the employer doesn’t pay for or reimburse the cost of a welding mask (or ther tools). A range would appeal because you’ve done more than develop a $900 mask.

I just posted this. Similar idea but I opted for a retro fit rather than a helmet. First Semester Projects

hey man, don’t co-opt another guy’s thread without at least giving some feedback!

Nice ideation sketches Matt… would love to see some more functional breadboardy mockups hacked together though as a first step.

Sorry. That wasn’t my intention. Just thought he might like to see a related idea. Choto I’m looking forward to seeing what you end up with, it is an idea many including myself would love to have when welding.


Sketches are looking great for the helmet feel. I have been working in clay this week on two helmets. I find industrial modeling clay to be perfect for developing a helmet. I highly suggest it if not already part of your design process.

If you need any input in this area I’m happy to help.

Great project, nice sketches and organization-your target crowd is going to be hard to please-little details are whats going to make or break this helmet-but it looks like there are plenty of unmet needs in the industry, and if you can pick one or two major differentiators (lighting/ventilation as an example) this project would be a success. So when customers ask “Whats so great about this helmet” you have a strong reply.

Also- You can get much better feedback if you number your sketches-makes it easier to crit and discuss. You can get a feel for what people are gravitating toward assuming you like the sketches you post.

Thanks for all the responses everyone. Sorry for the late response been busy on a couple other projects that just wrapped up.

NURB: Definitely not going to try to do a do-all helmet, I might try to do several versions that solve unique needs for my portfolio, but for this quarter only do one physical model.

Nagelkirk: Cool project! Glad to see a different approach to the same problem!

Yo: Thanks, definitely cranking on some mockups this weekend!

Nxakt: I would love to model it in clay, I might do small scale mockups, depending on time. I would definitely like to pick your brain on the topic a little more. When you work in clay do you model the full helmet or just do half and mirror it?

MasterBlaster: Yes, I definitely need to focus in on the functional benefits, I don’t want to turn this into a simple style exercise.

Some more development work, trying to separate out the concepts and begin mocking up and testing the functional elements

Concept 1: LED lighting
I did a couple quick card board mockups with different lighting configurations. Will be doing some more tests later on today with my real welding helmets and mounting some LEDS on it.

Concept 2: Passive Ventilation and Flip up Visor
Features a two part shell, the shell with the lenses flips up to reveal a grinding shield for secondary grinding procedures and features ventilation to reduce fogging and over heating.

Concept 3: Active cooling system
Incorporating a small fan cooling system that directs a cooling breeze to the back of the neck, the temples and the front of the face. Keeps user cool and maintains positive airflow in the helmet. I am trying to track down a small laptop or computer cooling fan that I can hack apart to mock this up.

Sorry if I have missed this… But maybe they are pretty much standard now?? But you are incorporating the auto tint visor right? Where you can see perfectly until the welding begins it darkens?

Hey Hoodzy.
Yes I’m doing an auto-tint. The problem with auto-tint is they are not perfectly clear before you weld, they still have a significant tint, like a pair of sunglasses so if you’re working conditions are not well lit it can be difficult to see where you are setting up your weld and end up flipping up your helmet anyways (which undoes the benefit of an auto-tint in the first place).

Good stuff, dude! Sketches are awesome, awesome models. When’ll you get a chance to test these with real users?

Thanks Julius, in the process of getting feedback as we speak.

I’ve been looking into mocking up the cooling helmet and doing some research into non-fan cooling. I’m a little weary of using a small fan in an environment with debris and particulate that would probably require regular cleaning.


I stumbled across Thermoelectric cooling/Peltier cooling. It’s the same technology they use in the USB beverage coolers, and also in some medical/personal cooling devices. Has anyone ever worked with this technology before? I’m going to pick up a couple from Inventables for testing, unfortunately they don’t have any tech specs on the site


interesting project choto :slight_smile:
I dont know about the efficiency in the application but you can consider using passive heatsink cooling and it doesnt require any electric. the downside is it doesn’t provide air circulation kind of cooling system.

We model the full shape to be able to get the feel of it in the round. Some people work with half and a mirror, but that approach does not feel right to me, I like to work across the centerline.

The right and left side of most helmet models however are usually two slightly different explorations of the shape, with mirroring done in Photoshop, and by looking at it from one side, the mind, even of non modelers, does a good job of assuming symmetry for evaluation.