Post: Beyond Protection: Cool Blue Welding Lenses and Their Impact

Beyond Protection: Cool Blue Welding Lenses and Their Impact

In the world of welding, few tools have garnered the legendary status of the Cool Blue lens, once produced by AO Safety. Renowned for its unparalleled clarity and ability to cut through the blinding glare of welding arcs, the Cool Blue lens transformed the welding experience for those lucky enough to possess one. However, as time marched on, production ceased, leaving welders in search of alternatives. At Phillips Safety Products, we delve into the rich history of the Cool Blue lens and unveil the journey from its iconic status to the development of superior alternatives. Join us as we explore the evolution of welding lens technology and the quest for clarity in the face of changing times.

The Legendary Cool Blue Welding Lens

AO Safety formerly produced a glass welding lens known as the Weld Cool filter plate, colloquially referred to as “Cool Blue.” Welders universally cherish this lens for its remarkable attributes. Peering through it while welding unveils a near-mythical clarity, transforming the welding experience. Its scarcity has escalated its value, with functional units fetching prices upwards of four or five hundred dollars.

But why the acclaim? The answer lies in the lens’s unique ability to mitigate the blinding yellow flare emitted by the welding arc. Even amidst the darkness of the filter, this flare often obscures the welder’s view. However, the Cool Blue Lens eradicates this hindrance, providing a crystal-clear perspective of the welding process in real-time.

Yet, if it’s so exceptional, why did production cease? Speculation abounds, but the truth lies in a business decision made by AO back in 1990. A former AO scientist, reflecting on the discontinuation, explained that it was driven by a mix of economic factors and manufacturing challenges related to the specialized cobalt glass used in the lens. Despite numerous theories circulating, the exact details remain elusive, encapsulated in the scientist’s email: “The reason for discontinuation was a combination of economics and a problem in the manufacturing and processing of the blue base glass… I could go into copious detail about both the economic and the blue base glass issues but it would serve no purpose.”

From Cool Blue to Superior Alternatives

At Phillips Safety Products, crafting welding filter plates is our specialty. Reflecting on the situation at AO and drawing from years of industry insights, it appears that AO faced a significant challenge necessitating the reformulation of their base glass—a costly endeavor. Ultimately, they opted against this investment, a pragmatic business move made in 1990. This decision coincided with the rise of auto-darkening lenses introduced in 1981, gradually supplanting traditional ‘passive’ filter lenses as welders sought more efficient and safer alternatives.

As time progresses, so does technology. Consider the antiquated typewriter or the diminishing presence of standard light bulbs—examples abound of obsolete items replaced by superior, cost-effective, or safer alternatives. The landscape of dart sets for family use is another telling illustration of this evolution.

Although the Cool Blue lens is no longer in production, alternatives exist. While some may not match its quality, we pride ourselves on offering a viable substitute, if not an improvement. Our Cobalt Blue lens, tailored for furnace observation, torching, and brazing, differs from the Cool Blue but excels in its own right. However, these lenses aren’t suitable for providing adequate protection against the infrared levels typical of mainline welding, as emphasized by the AO scientist.

All our lenses boast superior optical clarity, being crafted from glass rather than plastic. Our standard green shades outperform plastic counterparts, with the addition of a Gold Mirror finish elevating visual quality comparable to the Cool Blue at a fraction of the cost.

Moreover, responding to demand, we now offer Alloweld lenses in darker shades suitable for mainline welding operations. The Alloweld surpasses the Cool Blue in performance. While the color may differ, its transformative effect lies in completely eliminating the yellow/orange arc flare. Having tested all three lenses, we can attest that the Alloweld provides unparalleled clarity, enabling welders to observe the weld puddle formation, electrode wear, and overall work progress with remarkable precision. Testimonials from welders who’ve trialed these lenses echo this sentiment—they’ve been reluctant to part with them, opting to keep them for their continued use and safety assurance, providing 100% IR and UV protection for peace of mind regarding long-term vision health.

Looking Ahead: Advancements in Welding Lens Materials

Looking towards the future, as time inevitably progresses, there may come a day when obtaining glass welding lenses becomes increasingly challenging. In anticipation of this, we are actively engaged in research and development to create non-glass lenses with optical characteristics akin to those of contemporary glass lenses. Your assistance in this endeavor would be invaluable. If you possess a damaged or unusable Cool Blue lens that you would be willing to provide for the development of a replacement, please reach out to us. We are committed to ensuring that no functional lens is taken out of use unnecessarily, as every piece contributes to our analysis and replication of its unique characteristics. Whether it’s broken, pitted, or scratched, as long as there’s enough material for us to study and emulate its properties, your contribution would be greatly appreciated.

If you still aren’t sure which welding lens is right for you, it’s a good idea to give us a call at 1-866-575-1307 or talk to us through our chat or e-mail us at

Our experts will be able to tell you what you need for your application.