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3M Speedglas vs Miller Digital Performance

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  • 3M Speedglas vs Miller Digital Performance

    This is something that has been covered but here is my attempt at my thoughts on the two helmets.

    Iíve been on the forums a lot as part of supplementing my college welding program. The different topics on MIG, TIG, SMAW as well as equipment I found to really aid in my technique and equipment choices. For that I am extremely grateful. This is my attempt at adding to the forum, as a thank you and to share some of my experiences on selecting a welding hood. My experience in welding is approximately 1 year in a college program, compared to most on these forums my knowledge is limited so I would say this review is not comprehensive and should be read with my background in consideration.
    The first welding hood I purchased was a Miller Digital Performance. The reason for purchasing this hood at the time was itís from a well known and reputable company, the lens size, auto darkening adjustability features and the user friendly LCD interface. The second welding hood I purchased was the 3M Speedglas 9100xx. The primary reason for this purchase was due to having a hard time achieving a comfortable fit with the Miller Digital Performance which will be discussed in further detail.

    Although not a major contributing factor in any decision, I think the accessory options that come with a purchased can be considered ďperksĒ. The following is a table that gives a side by side view of what I received with each purchase.

    Accessories 3M Miller
    Manual Y Y
    Stickers Y Y
    Helmet Bag Y Y
    Replacement Outer Lens Y Y
    Replacement Inner Lens Y Y
    Extra Sweatband Y N
    Welding Cap Y N

    Provided with each welding hood came the usual standard stuff. Manual, company stickers, replacement lenses. The helmet bag from Miller I prefer just because of the size and material it is made of, it has a softer liner on the inside. The 3M bag is extremely large and the material feels similar to that of wind breaker. Where 3M pulled ahead is providing the welding cap, which is moderately heavy weight material with a mesh inner lining, the additional sweatband I found to be a nice touch just because I tend to sweat a lot and having to save a few bucks here and there on a headband is just kind of icing on the cake. Here is a picture of the helmet bags side by side.

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    Specification Comparison:
    Specs 3M Miller
    Solar Panel N Y
    Battery 2 x CR2032 (Lithium 3V) 2 x CR2450 lithium
    Battery Life 2000hrs N/A
    Lens Size 4.27" x 2.87" 3.81" x 1.85"
    Weight 19.22oz 17oz
    Sensors 3 3
    Dark Shades 5, 8-13 5, 8-13
    Light Shade 3 3
    Sensitivity 5 settings 0-10
    Cheater Lens Compatibility Y Y
    Warranty 2yrs 3yrs
    Note: The 3M 9100XX lens size is more comparable to the Miller Digital Elite Series lens which is
    3.81Ē x 2.62Ē


    Figure 1 shows the makeup of the miller headgear as a whole unit, while figure 2 shows the 3M.
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    Both headgear have two supporting straps which are adjusted fairly easily and feel very secure with the retaining tabs feeling very sturdy Fig 3 and fig 5 show the tabs on the Miller.
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  • #2

    Fig 4 and Fig 6 show the retaining tabs on the 3M. I find the Miller retaining tabs to actually feel more secure then the 3M variant.
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    Figure 7 shows the slide on the Miller that allows the helmet to shift closer or farther away from the lens. Figure 8 shows the same feature on the 3M. The Miller helmet has more adjustment points at a total of six with the 3M having only three. However I found the 3M version to provide better fit overall in this area, even with the six adjustments on the Miller I could never found a comfortable spacing between my face and the lens.
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    The Miller helmet band is extremely flexible compared to the 3M and itís something that really irritates me.
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    I also have an extremely small head at roughly 6 3/8, and no matter how many times I adjusted the digital performance I just couldnít get a secure fit and after and about 9-10 nods to flip the shield down the hood would shift/ fall off my head. After a few hours I was able to find a really nice consistent fit with the speedglas.


    • #3

      Both helmets have an angular adjustment for where the helmet will sit in the down position both function perfectly and I found no difference in either variant in performance.


      I found the 3M lens to provide a clearer picture of the puddle; I also found that in each hoods light state that the 3M appeared to be a lighter shade of green which is shown in the pictures to follow. The one downside to the 9100 is that depending on the angle you look out of the helmet in the light state you get color distortion, almost like when you see oil residue on water. I havenít noticed this while under welding conditions. The cd provided with the 9100 did state something regarding this and I donít really mind it at all.
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      • #4

        This is something that is hard to find comparisons of online since itís hard to find side by side profiles which I think play a major part in deciding on a hood. This is I hope will help those making a decision that donít have access to both hoods at their local LWS.

        Fig 11 and 12 are front profiles, Fig 13 and Fig 14 are side profiles, Fig 15 and Fig16 are both hoods in the up position. (ignore the ugly mug) All in and all I find the 3M better balanced and less strain on the neck in the up position, I also find I donít bump it into things as much due to its lower profile. Mileage in this area may very . Also supplied is a photo of the two hoods together on the floor.
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        • #5
          last one

          Profile in the up position:
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          Both interfaces are very simple, easy to use and user friendly. The Miller buttons are large but sit flush on the control panel. I have never had issues changing shade or modes with gauntlet style gloves on. The large LCD screen makes it almost impossible to not know your shade, sensitivity and delay settings. The Miller helmet also has a flashing light when in grind mode which is hard to miss and has reminded me a few times to change back to weld mode. The 3M controls are slightly raised which is nice if you want a textile feel to locate the buttons with gloves on. The delay and sensitivity settings use both the same light indicators so you have to pay a little more attention to what your settings are. The indicator lights do not stay lit to indicate your lens shade, sensitivity or delay and I find myself on the odd occasion double checking. For grinding with the 3M you just lock it in the light mode by pressing the sensitivity button until you reach that mode. There is no indicator to go ďHey stupid, change me back!!Ē after grinding.

          Thank you for your time and all the help this forum and it's members have provided myself to this date. If this series of posts is to large or needs to be deleted sorry to the mods, I just wasn't sure how else to supply all the pictures.

          Regards Mitchell


          • #6
            Nice review. I like how you did pictures (same pose) for comparison with the helmets. Shows me the 3M looks to have better protection coverage from spatter.

            I will definitely be looking at 3M in the future, along with the Jackson AD helmets.


            • #7
              Glad you liked the side profile shots. I find the 3M a little better for protection from spatter. I also find it a lot roomier because of a wider profile. I didn't add pictures of it originally since the thread is very wordy and picture heavy but here they are to show the difference in width.

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              • #8

                Great comparison. Thanks so much for sharing/posting.
                It came in a great time since I am out shopping for a new helmet and narrowed it down to the Miller Performance and Speedglas 9100x. So, now my mind is made up after reading your review (and others). Thanks again..