Review: Trend’s Airshield Pro
Any woodturner should concern themselves with dust and do everything possible to prevent inhaling it. Respirators are one of the best way to achieve this and some come with the added protection of a facemask. The Trend Pro-shield has proven to be popular and I got the opportunity to put it through its paces. Apart from one concern regarding the weight of it I was impressed.
For a wood turner a power respirator would have to be put in the category of a necessary evil; necessary because the issue of dust is a serious health one, an evil because they are often uncomfortable and cumbersome to wear. However they not only offer face protection but also clean air to breath for particularly those that wear glasses or have too much facial hair to make a dust mask a feasible option.
I have tried a number of powered respirators in the past but have not been tempted to buy one (until recently) because none have been completely satisfactory. They have either been too heavy or poorly made, too claustrophobic or rely on a power pack and fan unit that is strapped around the waist, or too expensive. I have hoped, for some time a company would produce a light, well made, comfortable to wear, all-in-one, powered respirator that was reasonably priced (under $500) to fill this important gap in the market so I was looking forward to receiving the Trend Airshield Pro to see if it was the one to do the filling.
My first impression of the unit, straight out of the box was favourable; a very well made unit that also looked to be well designed. Components that are meant to go together snap into place crisply and without any fiddling needed. Attention has been paid to many details of construction to ensure high quality. An easy to understand instruction booklet is always a relief to find and this is the type supplied with this unit..
The Airshield Pro has two, replaceable clothe filters, positioned at the top right and left of the helmet. They are easily accessed if they need cleaning or replacing. The maximum airflow when the battery is fully charged and the filters clean is (according to the tech data) 210 l/min. What this means, in a practical sense is that there is plenty of air flowing over your face.
The battery uses Ni-MH (nickel metal hydride) technology which, from my research is a good alternative to the choice of rechargeable batteries. It can be re-charged while in its compartment at the back of the unit or a separate cradle (an optional extra) can be used. It has a genuine 8 hour life and an audible alarm beeps when the battery charge is getting low. I consider this a good feature because without it the first warning you might get of a low battery is the visor starting to fog or things getting a bit warm and clammy within the cavity between the visor and face.
Anyone machining mdf should definitely consider a unit like this one.
Another feature that has been very well considered is the brow band, in particular the adjustment mechanism. This is operated by a unique system that enables a perfect fit to any head size which contributes significantly to the comfort of the unit. The apron that creates the seal around the face is also well made and has a tab at the bottom to grab when putting the unit on. The size of the visor is such that peripheral vision isn’t interrupted and visor overlays can be purchased and attached to help protect the clear surface of the visor.
My biggest concern about the unit is its weight. On my scales it weighed in at 1.2 kg. I was hoping for something lighter particularly because, as a full time turner, it is something I could potentially be wearing all day. Not only was it too heavy for my liking but the distribution of the weight is such that when I went to work at the lathe I found my head being thrown forward by the bulk of the weight which is positioned towards the back of the unit. It is quite noticeable and was the first thing others commented on after putting the unit on for the first time.
To be fair, the average user perhaps wouldn’t be wearing a respirator all day. Perhaps the weight is something you could get use to. It also should be said that the unit was not specifically designed for wood turners and is something other woodworkers could find advantageous. I found it useful at my table saw, but could see those using routers or sanders finding value in this respirator. And the fact it has the ability to accommodate ear muffs means it could be a good alternative to the protection otherwise worn. Anyone machining mdf should definitely consider a unit like this one.
The Airsheild Pro is certainly a very well made unit and does what it is designed to do efficiently and effectively but not as comfortably as I hoped. If you are in the market for such a unit consider this one but, as with all powered respirators, I would insist on trying it on before you commit to the purchase.