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Any experience with laser welders?


#1

Hi,

I have been curious about using a laser welder vs. soldering with a
torch (which I currently use).

Would love to know what the advantages are? and what you love and
hate about working with it? I hear it’s good for repairs, what about
design?

Last time I looked into this, they were so expensive, have they come
down in price?

Is there a good basic brand/model that is reasonably priced?

Thanks in advance for sharing your experience.
Laurie Chapman


#2

The laser welder we use at TAFE is 1/2 the size of this :-

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/x3

A soldering torch can fit in a plastic shopping bag, and you can
carry around the 9kg propane cylinder in your other hand (well if you
use a German precision torch that is :wink: ).

Thus far we use this laser welder to tack, or spot weld metal
temporarily, until we are ready to use a conventional soldering
torch, but I’ve read it’s more versatile a tool than that.

They are still fairly expensive though.

If you do buy your own, that would be pretty cool, in that you’d
adjust it for your eyes only. The one we share at TAFE has the
eyepieces adjusted all the time.

Regards Charles A.


#3

I use a laser regularly, and I’ve posted about them before. It might
be worth checking the archives for longer posts, but in short,
lasers are an amazing tool, but they aren’t a replacement for
anything. For certain types of joint, where the the joint is not
under stress, then the laser can be used to gradually fill a groove
with metal - the benefit here being that you can use the same alloy
to fill as you did to make the item; no solder alloys are needed.
But, this doesn’t work so well with silver, and works best with
platinum. This would be ideal for the back of a thick shank, but
absolutely useless a knife-edge shank attached to a setting.When you
have to solder, the laser allows you to tack the components together,
and solder complex items in a single sitting; you can even tack the
solder onto each join. This is a pretty awesome ability, and nothing
else can match it.

Lasers are particularly effective for unusual repairs. For example,
this= afternoon I had to repair several hollow 9ct beads that had
been overheated and partially melted around their holes. With the
laser, I was able to carefully deposit metal onto the melted edges,
eventually filling up the space, and leaving enough metal that I was
able to file the exterior back to a curved surface - but this is
something that comes with practice. If you are doing repair work or
producing multiples, then the laser will pay for itself quickly. If
you are making one-off items to your own design, and/or using very
traditional techniques, you might find that the laser is
unnecessary. If possible, try to use one before investing. Also
consider the power levels, as some of the cheap benchtop models won’t
have the energy to work with silver, and some of the larger
industrial models will be able to obliterate your work in a few
shots.

Jamie Hall
http://primitive.ganoksin.com