3M™ Speedglas™ Welding Helmets are at the cutting edge of design, comfort and safety. Industrial designer Oskar Juhlin and his team are tasked with making sure things stay that way.
Oskar Juhlin is an industrial designer and partner at Veryday, a design and innovation consultancy that has collaborated on every 3M™ Speedglas™ Welding Shield since 1982. Juhlin has been designing 3M™ Speedglas™ Welding Helmets for 20 years. His initial instructions was to secure the continuation of the 3M™ Speedglas™ Welding Helmet Series 9000 through more daring design.
“At the time, welding helmets were quite generic and looked like postboxes,” he says. “They turned welders into frightening cartoon characters.”
Juhlin and his team wanted to turn the helmet into a more natural extension of the welder by making them appear more human looking. “This is a mask as well so the identity and expression are very important and have weighed heavily on the design process,” he says.
The team, with direction from 3M, also introduced a host of practical functions such as increasing peripheral view through side windows, a larger viewing area and more comfortable ergonomics.
The series scooped a number of design prizes, including the Excellent Swedish Design award, the European Design Prize, and Germany’s Industrie Forum Design and Red Dot awards.
More awards poured in with the launch of the 3M™ Speedglas™ Welding Helmet 9100 in 2008. The 9100 welding helmet gave a more intelligent, professional and concentrated look to the welder’s mask. It also shifted the welder’s gaze, with improved downward vision allowing the welder to focus more fully on the job at hand.
Veryday has taken inspiration from Western and Eastern ergonomics and even consulted an acupuncturist for advice on helmet design. “The acupuncturist was thrilled to be able to help us make the helmets more ergonomic,” Juhlin says. “She pointed out sensitive spots to avoid putting pressure on.”
The acupuncturist’s recommendations were also taken into account when considering the forehead and a headband was designed to convey the feeling of fingers applying gentle pressure.
A lot of research goes into a Speedglas welding helmet and that complicates the production process, Juhlin says. Veryday spends a lot of time studying welders in their work environment before brainstorming and sketching. The designers then start moulding new welding helmets in clay.
Throughout the process there is close contact with the 3M Speedglas team to ensure all aspects are being considered. “Everything has to work,” Juhlin says. “There are very advanced settings that need to go into the design and we have to be sure that everything fits and is designed for a reason. This is a highly technical product.”
Juhlin’s favourite helmet is the 3M™ Speedglas™ Welding Helmet 9100 FX, which was launched in 2011. “I’m pleased with all of our helmets, but what I really like about the FX is that it looks robust and tough. Sometimes designers make things that are so beautiful that you’re afraid to dirty them, but that’s not the case with this helmet,” he says.
The industrial designer works on products as diverse as industrial tools and baby carriers. He appreciates designs that become increasingly attractive with age. “I like traditional form that lasts a long time and looks great, but unfortunately this thinking isn’t so common,” he says. “I’m happy to report, however, that the 3M Speedglas project is like that. These are helmets that age well!”
The ergonomic advantages of the 9100 series
More than 35 years ago, we went to the shipyards of Sweden to study welders working conditions. We found skilled craftsmen blindly striking arcs as they continually nodded their shields down.
From that point on, we committed ourselves to developing tools that would forever improve the world of the welder. Your thoughts and opinions are the bottom line in our continuous search for innovation. Please feel free to address any questions or comments you might have.
Local information can be found at www.speedglas.com.