Cool Blue Welding Lenses

AO Safety used to make a glass welding lens called the Weld Cool filter plate. Most people call it a “Cool Blue” when they talk about it. This lens is greatly prized by anyone who has ever looked through one when they were welding. It has achieved almost mythical characteristics and if you are lucky enough to find one in useable condition, you can expect to pay upwards of four or five hundred dollars for it!

The Legendary Cool Blue Welding Lens

Cool Blue Welding Lens“Why is that ?” , you might ask. Well it’s because when you are welding the contact arc from your heat source makes a very bright yellowish flare and even with the darkness of the filter lens, that flare can obscure your view of the actual weld as it is taking place. With the Cool Blue Lens, that yellow flare is removed and you can clearly see what is taking place in real time as you are working.

“Well why did they stop making it if it was so good?”,  you might continue. There are dozens of theories, opinions and after work bull stories about why they stopped making the lens. The truth of the matter is that AO made a business decision back in 1990 and dropped the lens from its product line.  Here is a quote from an email written by a scientist that worked for AO  I was the Product Line Director of this product back around 1990 when I discontinued this filter plate…The reason for discontinuation was a combination of economics and a problem in the manufacturing and processing of the blue base glass.  The blue glass used in the glass Weld-Cool filter plate was a specialized type of cobalt glass … not just plain cobalt glass.  I could go into copious detail about both the economic and the blue base glass issues but it would serve no purpose.” 

We make welding filter plates here at Phillips Safety Products. Now reading this response, and from what I’ve been told over the years, my take is that something came up that was going to require AO to reformulate the base glass. This is a very expensive proposition And they made a business decision that it was not worth the outlay. Remember this was in 1990. The auto darkening lens first introduced in 1981 had been improving and more and more welders were using these and less and less were using traditional ‘passive’ filter lenses.

Time moves on. When was the last time you used a typewriter? Notice how many fewer ‘standard’ light bulbs there are? You could make a list a mile long of things that have become obsolete, or replaced by more efficient, less costly or safer variations. Have you looked at dart sets they sell for family use lately? I hope you see where I am going there are substitutes for the Cool Blue. While some are not quite as good. I believe that we make one that in many aspects is actually much better.

As I said we make welding lenses. We make a Cobalt Blue lens for furnace observation, torching and brazing. This is NOT the same as the Cool Blue lens. These lenses simply DO NOT provide a safe amount of protection from the IR levels produced by main line welding. Like the AO scientist said, the cool blue was not regular cobalt glass.

All of our lenses are made of glass. Glass is optically far superior to plastic so when you look through the lens, everything is clearer. Our standard green shades performance blows away any plastic lens on the market. The same lens with a Gold Mirror applied has been compared to many as approaching the visual quality of the Cool Blue. And it only costs  $ 20! Finally we have started to make, by special order, Alloweld lenses in darker shades suitable for main line welding operations.

The Alloweld is the lens that I believe outperforms the Cool Blue. The color may not be the same. But it doesn’t just change the color of the work, it completely eliminates the yellow/orange flare of the arc. I have sampled all three lenses. And with the Alloweld, you see the weld puddle as it is being formed, you see the electrode being worn down, and you see your work as you are working it. Welders who have tested them for us did not want to give them back to us and kept them all. And it’s safe. It gives you 100% IR and UV protection. So it you can use it in the long run and not worry about your vision.

Shop Alloweld Welding Lenses

What about the future? Time marches on. There may come a day when you will no longer be able to get glass welding lenses. So to that end we are working on special materials and formulations to make non-glass lens that will have similar optical characteristics to the glass lenses still available today. And you can help. If anyone out there has a damaged, unusable Cool Blue lens they would want to let us use for development of a replacement lens. Please get in touch with us. We do not want to take a workable one out of use. It would be a waste. We could use a broken one, pitted over, and scratched through. Just as long there is enough of it for us to analyze and duplicate it’s characteristics.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch with me at bbrown@phillips-safety.com. Thank You and God Bless.

17 Responses to Cool Blue Welding Lenses
  1. Tony Culbreth
    March 18, 2014 | 3:11 pm

    I am a welding engineer, CWI and a UA welding instructor. I would appreciate some info on the cool blue lens you offer. I would like, if possible, to purchase some in shade 10. I believe my students and also the welders on my project would benefit very much from your product.
    I look foward to hearing from you.

    Thanks,
    Tony C.

    • Bill Brown
      April 9, 2014 | 9:15 pm

      Hey Tony,
      Thanks for the post. Actually what we have to offer is a complete answer to welding flare reduction. Starting with the gold mirrored lenses, then our two drop in lenses and finally the top of the line all glass Alloweld.Many have compared these to the AO Cool Blue. In fact some that have both actually tell me that they like the Alloweld even a little better ! Feel free to call me direct at 732) 722-1640 I will be happy to go into detail about all of our lenses.

  2. Colby
    March 16, 2014 | 12:08 am

    Wens lens has a cool blue lens that everyone compares to the AO LENS

    • Bill Brown
      April 9, 2014 | 9:11 pm

      Colby,

      Yes that is true. Wens sells a lens that they compare to the AO Cool Blue. Welders have been calling here looking for these for years and we have been working very hard to make a whole series of flare reducing lenses that will take the place of the original AO lens. If you read the blog post above I described our first two answers and now we have introduced two new drop in lenses that you can use with your existing shade, or add to one of our gold mirrored lenses. All of these have been getting great reviews from the customers that purchased them, and I encourage you to take a look for yourself http://www.phillips-safety.com/welding-safety/welding-lenses.html We have a 30 day return policy for resaleable items.So if you don’t like how the lens performs, you can send it back. No one has sent one back yet! Please feel free to call me at my direct number if you have any questions. Bill Brown 732) 722-1640

  3. Jarrod Rebert
    March 11, 2014 | 9:42 am

    Ive used the same cool blue lense for 24 yrs that my Dad gave me in 1990 . And my Uncle JC used it before that we’re Union welders out of local 195 . Wish I could get my hands on some more . But it still in Great shape. I’ve tried all kinds of lenses . Auto darking to all colors but they just don’t compare to the Cool Blue Lense !!!

    • Kieran Hunt
      March 17, 2014 | 2:43 pm

      Hi Jarrod,

      The cool blue definitely offers great vision. The reason they’ve been mostly phased off the market is because the blue doesn’t protect your eyes from UV and IR the way that green does. If you need protection from welding, I suggest you go with a green lens to ensure that your eyes are protected from permanent, debilitating retinal damage.

      Best,
      Kieran Hunt
      Phillips Safety Products, Inc.

    • Bill Brown
      March 17, 2014 | 5:29 pm

      Yes the cool blue was a great lens. But it’s time is gone. We have been working for years to make lenses that match it.
      What I have been recommending is to combine one of the new super blue drop ins witb one of our gold mirrored shades like a #10. This combo comes extremely close.
      If you would like to talk about it you can call me direct at 732-722-1640

  4. Jose Navarro
    February 27, 2014 | 5:42 am

    I am a union ironworker I weld 7018 smaw and 232 flux core on full penetration production welds on I beams is the alloweld around shade 11 suited for that kind of welding

    • Bill Brown
      March 3, 2014 | 10:59 pm

      The Alloweld lenses can be ordered in darker shades. They are ideal for any type of welding that produces a string yellow or yellow-orange flare, as the special filter component of the Alloweld lens completely eliminates those colors.

    • johnny
      March 21, 2014 | 5:00 am

      I am a union ironworker, i been using these phillips safety welding lenses both athermal and athermal w/ gold mirror. Works like a champ, for smaw and fcaw processes where amperages are high. I kick up my lincoln vantage machine to 160 with shade 10. Some may use 11 for anything over 150. No down fall about them just make sure you have a soft tight gasket locking in your lenses as so the weak edges dont chipp. It is glass, so cautiin, but ideal for optical view.

  5. Bill Brown
    January 22, 2014 | 10:12 pm

    You can order the Alloweld in the darker shadeds by calling me at 732-722-1640 or emailing me at bbrown@phillips-safety.com.

  6. luke price
    January 17, 2014 | 11:48 pm

    how do i order a blue. im a union pipewelder and had a originally American optical (blue lense) it took me 4 years of begging the old man that taught me how to weld to get it and one year to have it stolen locked up in my company truck please let me know i know many welders that would kill for one

  7. ishman hunter jr
    January 10, 2014 | 3:56 am

    I am a 66yr old welder
    and have two original true blue American op
    lens #12 I am in the process to open a training center
    and want my students to use the true blue lens that is close to the original experience please send me info
    ishman hunter jr

  8. Bill Brown
    December 2, 2013 | 10:58 pm

    Thank you for your response. Currently the Alloweld is only available as a special order in the shades above 8. The Alloweld run about 1/3 of a shade lighter than a standard lens. So a Shade 9 would actually be around a Shade 8.70. You can email me or call my direct number at 732) 722-1640 I will be glad to answer any questions or to take your order for the lenses. – Bill Brown

  9. Dustin
    November 22, 2013 | 4:15 am

    I use the gold plate shade 10 did not know you could get alloweld in diff shades do you just call 888 # is someone in particular you must talk to for a special order alloweld in a10

    • Bill Brown
      December 2, 2013 | 10:56 pm

      Thank you for your response. Currently the Alloweld is only available as a special order in the shades above 8. We are working on incorporating them into the product line and for the time being they need to be ordered manually. You can email me or call my direct number at 732) 722-1640 I will be glad to answer any questions or to take your order for the lenses. – Bil Brown

  10. robertpena661@gmail.com
    November 16, 2013 | 5:42 am

    Can you please send me info on how to order a cool blue shade 9 lens thank you

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