If you search for a welding blanket, the first thing you will notice is that there are a lot of different materials used. Most welding blankets are made of fiberglass. But even then, there's a wide variation of coatings. Which welding blanket do you need? And what makes a blanket the right fit for your job? In this article we will discuss the applications of a welding blanket, the different materials used, coatings and other useful details if you want to buy a welding blanket.
For what applications can I use a welding blanket?
For welding, obviously!
Welding blankets are originally made for the purpose of welding. Since it's heat resistant, it can work as a shield to protect other material against sparks and splatter. Like the bodywork of a car, a wooden floor, a carpet, ... Of course, it also comes in handy while grinding, cutting and every other activity that creates heat. When welding, it's important to know if the blanket can be used on both vertical as horizontal surfaces. Keep in mind that welding blankets on horizontal surfaces, need to sustain a lot more heat.
But also a lot of other applications.
Since welding blankets serve as an excellent shield against heat and fire, it can also be used for many other applications. For example, a fire blanket is basically a light welding blanket and helps to prevent fires. Many people also buy a welding blanket to insulate their grill during cold weather. That way their grill keeps and stabilizes the heat longer and burns less fuel or pellets.
We also heard people using a welding blanket to protect their wood deck or lawn from a the fire pit or grill. You can even make a bonfire on a good welding blanket, the lawn underneath will be protected.
It has so many different applications, the possibilities are endless. But it's very important to know which welding blanket you need for what purpose.
What you must know about the materials of a welding blanket.
In the past, welding blankets were made of woven asbestos. For safety reasons, this production has been stopped worldwide in the early nineties. Other, more safe materials are being used now. Usually the blankets are made of a basic material. Fiberglass blankets normally are also coated depending on the wanted features. Make sure you always choose a welding blanket that is sewn with Kevlar thread. This thread is very strong and when getting in touch with high heat, it doesn't melt, but disintegrates. Making it more safe to use.
What are the differences in welding blanket materials?
Most welding blankets are made from fiberglass. But you can also find leather and felt blankets, each with their own characteristics.
Fiberglass welding blanket
Fiberglass is made of the same components to make glass. Those are mixed together, heated up and from that threads are spun. Those threads are woven and that's how a fiberglass blanket is made. Since fiberglass has a high melting temperature, it's an excellent tool for us. The downside is that fiberglass loses small sheds that irritates the skin. To avoid this, and to increase other features like heat resistance, fiberglass fabric gets a coating.
- Very heat resistant
- Strong and durable
- Sheds when not coated, irritates skin
The different coatings are discussed further in this article.
Leather welding blanket
Leather is a natural product that is fire resistant on its own. For that reason, many welding apparel (like welding aprons, welding sleeves, welding jackets etc.) is made of leather, more specific split cow leather. Leather blankets are nicer to work with than fiberglass, but it's also much more expensive and heavier. Normally a leather blanket doesn't have any grommets, so they work perfectly as a cover to protect car bodies against sparks and splatter.
- Feels smooth on skin, no coating needed
- Strong and durable
- Very expensive
- Heavy, less useful to work with
Felt welding blanket
Felt is a sort of textile that is not woven, but by pressing the fibers together. To make a felt welding blanket, carbon is used for the heat resistant character. Carbon felt has a temperature resistance of 1800 degrees Fahrenheit (about 1000 degrees Celsius), which is incredibly higher than fiberglass and leather. Felt also feels soft and won't irritate your skin. The downside is that it's not as strong as fiberglass and leather, and it won't last as long either.
- Resistant against very high temperatures
- Feels soft on skin
- Not durable, not for using in the long term
Different fiberglass coatings, what is important to know?
There are very much different coatings, each with their own specifics. We will discuss the most used. It happens often that multiple coatings are combined, with the purpose to add multiple specifics.
Heat treated coating
The cheapest welding blankets are heat treated. With this treatment, fiberglass sheds less and has a higher heat resistance. Fire blankets are usually heat treated. This type of welding blanket is for light duty welding work. Even with the heat treatment, the fiberglass still sheds a lot and should be used wearing gloves.
Silicon and acrylic coating
Silicon and acryl are a heat resistant materials that feel soft. These characteristics make it excellent to use as a coating for fiberglass. The downside is that they are not resistant against high temperatures. They are great for light duty welding work.
If you need a welding blanket that doesn't irritate your skin and has a great heat resistance, vermiculite coated welding blanket could be the right choice. Vermiculite is a safe coating that increases all the wanted requirements of a welding blanket: it can resist a high temperature and it doesn't irritate the skin. Vermiculite welding blankets are the best choice for both light as heavy duty welding.
Other things you should know if you buy a welding blanket.
If you're buying a welding blanket, don't forget to check if it has grommets. So you can hang the welding blanket if needed.
Also check if the welding blanket is suitable for what you need. For example the temperature of plasma cutting is much higher than normal welding.
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