What is Grind Mode on a Welding Helmet?

Grinding mode refers to welding helmets that have an external grind control option. This option allows the welder to put the helmet into grind mode with a flip of a switch or a push of a button. Grind mode has proven to be important in improving the safety and productivity of the welding helmet.

How Does It Work?

Today, some welding helmets can flip up the auto-darkening lens, and at the same time, keep the rest of the shield down. A transparent shield then opens from beneath the auto-darkening lens.

The shield provides the welder with a clear view of the grinding surface. It is important to note that even if the clear grind shield is on, safety glasses should also be underneath the welding helmet.

Auto-darkening welding helmets already have either variable shade options or fixed shades. Helmets with a fixed shade option usually darken to a specific pre-set shade. It is particularly a good option in applications where the welder is repeating a particular weld.

On the other hand, helmets with varying shades have a grind mode that allows the welder to select the preferred grinding mode; this is especially good for variable applications.

Most recent auto-darkening helmets have the grind mode and are exceptional in performance and capability. When purchasing a welding helmet for grinding, ensure that you choose one with the ANSI Z87.1+ mark. The + mark indicates that the welding helmet is certified and can protect you against high impact.

What Is the Best Grind Mode Feature?

Because there are push-button and switch options for the grind mode, the best option is to have a welding helmet that allows you to flip the grind mode lens on or off. Because this alters the shape of the welding helmet, you are less likely to start welding after forgetting that you’ve turned off the ADF.

The best solution, however, is an auto-darkening helmet that will respond to the light of a weld, even if you’ve left it in grinding mode.

Most of the time, the flash is going to be bright enough to remind you that the grind mode is on, so you’ll restore the ADF. Most welding helmets today offer UV protection, even when switched off, but they may not provide protection against bright, visible light in that mode.

No matter what type of ADF helmet you own, it is a good idea to always check your settings, switches, or knobs to ensure that your personal protective equipment is able to give you the protection you require.

Look for a darkening speed of 1/20,000th of a second for consistent results in this category.

What If My Helmet Has a Cutting Mode?

Although cutting and grinding are sometimes used interchangeably from a marketing perspective, they are different modes for a welding helmet.

If you have a grind mode, then your welding helmet is at shade 3. If your helmet is equipped with a cutting mode, then you have shades 5 thru 8 in which to work.

At shade 5, you have an effective level of protection for cutting with oxyfuels. For plasma cutting, which is an option with some of today’s best 3-in-1 welders, you’ll want a helmet that provides you with shade 8 protection.

Then there is the X mode to consider on some helmets. This mode, when activated, will detect the electromagnetic field which is generated from your welding activities. This gives you an extra layer of protection against receiving a flash.

With a grind mode, you can transition quickly from welding to grinding without the hesitation of downtime in the past. As long as you remember to restore your shading when you go back to welding, this feature is one that is worth the investment.

When Should One Use Grind Mode?

If you are using a welding helmet with grind mode, it means your helmet is at shade 3. Some helmets have more shades, making them suitable for cutting mode when set at shades 5 through 8. Grinding mode allows you to switch to the grind application within seconds with a flip or button. Any professional or experienced welder only uses grinding mode when grinding.

After grinding, you use the same flip or button to turn it off without taking the helmet off. Even though these helmets have an automated operation system, switching grind mode (on and off) ensures that the welder is wholly protected as they perform different tasks.

The type of ADF welding helmet that you own does not matter. We advise our clients to always confirm the settings on the helmet to be safe.

Alternatively, another solution would be to purchase an auto-darkening welding helmet that automatically responds to the arcs produced during welding even when it is on grind mode. The helmet’s design automatically adjusts itself when exposed to different conditions and activities such as welding and grinding.

Different Types of Grind Mode

1. Flip-Up Mode

Grind Mode on a Welding Helmet

There are helmets on the market that allow you to flip the auto-darkening lens up and only keep the grinding lens which has full visibility. The clear visible shield gets exposed once the auto-darkening lens is lifted.

This is one of the best grind mode methods because you have clear visibility and because this will keep you aware of the fact that the grind mode is engaged. You can’t make a mistake and start an arc without the proper UV protection.

Keep in mind that even if you are using a clear grinding visor, (because you are, once the welding lens is off, you are basically left with a visor) you will still need to wear safety glasses underneath it.

2. External Grind Control

This is the second-best grind mode feature in my opinion. You don’t get maximum visibility as with a clear lens when you activate the grind mode but you get a fixed shade at DIN3 which offers a lot of visibility. Some hoods may offer DIN 4 or DIN 5 as well.

The external grind mode button is VERY useful because you don’t want to be taken off and get the mask on every time you have to grind. As any welder knows, your grinder is likely to be used even more than the welder itself so it would be a serious pain to lift up the hood every time you need it.

Example of an external grind mode on a Lincoln Electric hood.

But here is the kicker. What if you forget that you are in grind mode and start laying a bead? You get arc flashed. That’s not good and it can ruin your day.

Most auto-darkening welding helmets have UV and IR protection even when ADF is off. But the visible light can still hurt you. Luckily, all quality welding helmets will have a flashing light inside the hood that will let you know that you are in grinding mode.

Most of the time, the external grind control as described here is what you get. You will just have to practice situational awareness when you activate grind mode.

3. Internal Mode

In these welding helmets, the button is placed inside of your welding helmet. This can be frustrating most of the time especially if you are not a hobbyist welder.

You will have to either put your hand underneath the helmet and try to click the button or lift up the hood and try to turn on the grind mode and if that doesn’t work then you will simply have to remove the helmet, turn on the mode and put it back on.

That’s a lot of work. Some helmets are better designed in this manner but generally speaking, its always better to have an external grinding mode on your welding helmet.

Advantages of Grind Mode on a Welding Helmet

Auto-darkening welding helmets are arguably the best helmets in the market due to their unique features, such as grind. Here are some of the benefits of having grind mode on a welding helmet:

  • Grinding mode ensures that welders are always fully protected.
  • Grinding mode is easy to use; you turn it on and off with a flip or button within seconds.
  • Grind mode has several features.
  • You cannot forget that you are in grind mode because the helmet alters’ shape when turned on.
  • You do not have to take your helmet off with grind mode before changing from one mode to another.
  • Grind mode uses advanced technological developments.
  • Grind mode allows you to switch modes within 3 seconds.

Disadvantages of Grind Mode on a Helmet

As much as grind mode is gaining popularity, it also has some downsides. Here are some disadvantages of flipping or pressing that button to activate grind mode:

  • Grind mode buttons are prone to jamming, leaving welders exposed to grinding dangers.
  • Grind mode cannot operate minus battery or solar energy because the helmet has an electronic system.