Speedglas veteran Stefan Henriksson is continuously on the lookout for new solutions that improve welder safety. When he started working with the innovator of Speedglas auto-darkening technology in 1982, he was the company’s fifth employee.
“We were working out of the innovator’s house on the first auto-darkening welding filters, and we only produced two models,” he says. Initially, the technology was greeted with scepticism. Henriksson, now Global Product Manager at the 3M Welding Centre of Excellence, recalls:
“Welders asked us, ‘Will it really get dark fast enough to protect my eyes?’ and ‘Is it fragile?’
It took a while to get sales going.” Fast-forward three decades and hundreds of thousands of welders all over the world rely on their Speedglas welding helmets. “It has been an amazing journey,” Henriksson says.
The Welding Centre of Excellence in Sweden employs 150 people and is today a vital part of 3M’s welding business, conducting research into tomorrow’s state-of-the-art welding solutions. A world leader in welding technology and safety, 3M’s success is built on its long-standing relationship with welders. For example, the 3M™ Speedglas™ 9100 series of welding helmets was developed through interviews with hundreds of welders and modelled on their feedback.
“It is very satisfying to travel around the world visiting workshops and talking to welders,” Henriksson says. “And then bringing that input back to the laboratory and seeing how the product can be improved.” Henriksson says manual welding is unlikely to disappear any time soon and that there is a need to attract and train a new generation of skilled craftsmen.
One way of doing this is for welding supervisors to review the working environment to make sure they attract young talent. Henriksson says 3M is there to help. “It is our mission to provide welders with the best equipment in terms of their safety, comfort and long-term health.”
Speedglas welding helmet milestones
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.