Myth-Busting Welding Screens and Curtains

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In this post we will attempt to shed some light on welding screens and curtains because their use is often misunderstood. And to such an extent that they are used:

  • for the wrong application
  • for the wrong reasons
  • at the wrong places, or
  • a combination of “wrongs”

PVC strip curtains, if used correctly, offers a quick return on investment. Conversely if you use them the wrong way, they could amount to wasteful expenditure.

We often get calls which go something like this:

Strip Curtain Solutions: Good morning. Fakile* calling: Good morning. Strip Curtain Solutions: How can we help you? Fakile: I’m looking for welding curtains. You know … those yellow welding curtain. Strip Curtain Solutions: Do you have a welding booth in your factory or engineering shop? Or do you only do cutting and grinding? Fakile: Yes, absolutely. We use it to partition the welding bay from the rest of the factory. We don’t want the other workers to suffer from arc eyes.

* name changed to protect the innocent

welding screens and curtains
Limited PPE while cutting steel
yellow welding curtain
Mobile yellow welding curtain

And this is just where the picture is wrong. Let us warn you in advance, not everyone is going to like us for saying this, but there is a major misconception (actually myth) around this. Not all welding screens and curtains are created equally.

Welding strip curtains vs Yellow welding screens

Without going too deep into the safety requirements of PVC welding curtain, how each element of the specification is defined, measured, etc, let’s look at what a welding screen should do.

CriteriaWelding curtain stripSpark arrester
(light green or red)(yellow welding screen)
Safety standard *1ISO 25980None
Filtration *2YesNot specified
UV reflection *3< 10 %Not specified
UV stability *4YesNot specified
Flame retardant *5Self extinguishYes, probably
Mechanical strength *6≥ 7 kgNot specified
Markings *7Manufacturer/ISO 25980
Month/year/Approval marking
None

Notes:

  1. ISO 25980:2014 Health and safety in welding and allied processes – Transparent welding curtains, strips and screens for arc welding processes.
  2. Filtration means elimination or near elimination of certain hazardous electromagnetic spectrum.
  3. UV reflection back from the welding curtain protects the welder self.
  4. UV stability means retention of optical properties even when exposed to UV rays.
  5. Flame retardant means welding curtain strip must self extinguish in ≤ 3 seconds, max flame height < 150 mm.
  6. Mechanical strength required is 7 kg when suspended from eyelids.
  7. Approved welding curtain strips must reflect name of manufacturer (and registration number), ISO 25980, month and year of manufacture, and approval marking.

Yellow welding screens and curtains

The above-mentioned table illustrates the quality difference between welding curtain strips and, what we call, “spark arresters”. Yes, those welding screens which are often sold as yellow welding curtain … is actually just a spark arrester. They can be used as a barrier where grinding and cutting is performed. As such, a “spark arrester” will restrict grinding sparks to the work area and protect the eyes of co-workers from tiny metal parts, but it does not reduce the effects of UV radiation.

Certified welding curtains

Are designed and manufactured to protect:

  • people not directly involved with the welding activity
  • them against hazardous radiation, risk of fire and welding spatter (burns), and
  • the welder from the reflection of UV rays

Certified welding curtains:

  • meet stringent fire retardant specifications
  • suitable for grinding and cutting areas
  • technically far superior
welding curtain strips
Transparent welding curtains
PVC welding curtain
Certified welding curtain

Limitations of welding curtains

The health and safety specs apply to welding curtains during arc welding, not laser welding. In addition, strip curtains and screens can’t replace filters for intentionally watching arc welding.

welding screeen
Note comprehensive PPE
welding curtains
Intentional viewing of arc welding

Summary

Strip Curtain Solutions is a welding curtains supplier. Whereas the yellow spark arrester costs less than certified welding strips they are like chalk and cheese. Last but not least, our tips for you:

​► ​If you want to partition your grinding and cutting bay, buy a spark arrester (aka yellow welding screen).

► If you require a barrier for arc welding, then ISO 25980 certified welding curtain strips is your product of choice. Moreover, they also act as a partitioning screen when grinding.

Please recycle your PVC welding curtain when it reach its end of life (EOL). Welding curtains is a technical product, but they retain many of the features of strip curtains and benefits PVC strip curtains.