Photo: Derek Baker, Technical Service Specialist
Derek Baker and Todd Miska lost a friend in 2011 when a Chinook military helicopter carrying him and 37 others was shot down in Afghanistan. Derek and Todd honored their friend, and all fallen warriors, in an unexpected way – they developed the Tribute Welding Helmet.
Derek and Todd had previously worked together to create a series of welding helmet designs, including Razor Dragon, Future Combatant and Aces High.
The story began when Derek visited shops as a 3M tech-service specialist. He saw welders with decals and hand-painted graphics on their helmets. They told Derek it was their best option to show personal flair. Welders want to reflect their often edgy style – and show their love of muscle cars, poker or their country.
When Derek’s 3M team jumped into creating personalized welding helmets, he tracked down Todd Miska. Derek knew that Todd was behind the graphics for a goalie helmet rocked by a friend’s son.
It was the perfect partnership – Todd had ideas for design and Derek had ideas from welders. “The original designs we had from another company just weren’t tough enough,” Derek says.
The first round designed with Todd featured graphics of skulls, flames and metallic dragons.
For the next design round, they saturated the helmets with color and created a new line for women. Women welders often use Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding. The Wild-N-Pink artwork reflects the finesse and detailing that goes with that style of welding.