Can I use a zap welder work with silver

I am considering buyinga low end laser welder. I see some very affordable models, but they seem to be just for closing jump or chain. I would like a laser that I can use for different parts of fabrication with silver.

Can you tell us what welder you are thinking of buying so we can look at the specs and do a better job of answering your question?

One thing to consider is that the precision micro tig welders by Orion and PUK generally have better welding penetration on silver than a low power laser welder.

I don’t know if you’ve used a laser or a micro tig welder before, but I’m a big believer in physically experiencing this technology before purchasing it. That probably means going to a jewelry trade show. Laser and precision micro tig welders do amazing things, but they have a lot of limitations. For most everyone there is a learning curve to sort out what the technologies can do and can’t do that you can only get with hands-on experience.

I bought a PUK 5.1 four years ago and I am still learning on silver. It works well on gold and steel, but the reflectivity and heat conductivity of silver are both a problem. If his website is still up, Jeffrey Herman offered some really great suggestions about using a pulse arc welder on silver. Unfortunately, he died last year and is missed…Rob

I work on both the Orion and the PUK and have successfully welded silver, gold, and palladium for years. The reflectivity shouldn’t be a problem–the PUK has the greenish light view through the microscope. Perhaps it’s the angle. Also–from the auto settings that pop up for the function and metal, try lowering them a bit, they may be too high for the gauge metal you’re zapping.

Wendyjonew…Thanks for the advice. My problem is opportunity. I just need to take the time to figure it out. I have used it to tack weld pieces together to make sure that they fit and then go back and solder. I do this with small findings and bezels by keeping the stone in the bezel and tacking the bezel to the back plate. Once this is done, I carefully remove the stone and finish soldering the bezel. It also works well to form balled ends on rivets that can then be forged to the final shape. I have done lots of jump rings and chain links, but I have yet to solder a joint that doesn’t pop open or that I can finish. I have a lot of Jeffery Herman’s filler wire, it’s just figuring it all out…Rob

The single most useful hint for working silver with a pulse arc welder is to slightly dull the electrode. Judy H

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Judy…I have done that and it helps. I just need to keep at it…Rob

thank you for all the info. I was looking at the zap welder by Sunstone and the helix, Both marketed as a jumping closer. What I would like to do is to be able to close bezels, and tack them down. also close jump rings, and tack down components before soldering. So I’m really not sure what the right type of laser for me is I have $2000 to spend. I would like to be able to tack components together before soldering. I work with silver and Rob’s comments about working with silver were a little unnerving. I consider him a very knowledgeable guy. Also, I am not real good at spending hours and hours to get a piece of equipment to work for me. Again, thank you for all the information.

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Thanks for the kind words regarding my knowledge. While deep in some areas, I am new to using my pulse arc welder. I don’t regret buying it, but I still have a lot to learn. Please look at Jeff Herman’s site if it is still up. His comments will be in the context of the higher end PUK line, but I think that they will represent high end pulse arc welders in general. I am not sure about the less expensive units. Others will have to offer their comments. Good luck…Rob

Following is a website for Jeffery Herman’s PUK resource information…Rob

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Rob, this topic has been covered before, but Robert, the head of PUK in the USA explained to me that because silver is so conductive it requires extra attention. Most folk’s intuition (including mine) is that more power is necessary when welding sterling, but Robert said that lengthening the duration of the weld is more helpful.

I’ve got a PUK 5.1 and an Orion 200i3. I look at them like Macs and PC’s. They both do the same things, but have different interfaces and different components. In PUK you adjust time and with the Orion you adjust length.

Orion suggests blunting the tip of the electrode with silver. I haven’t found that to be very helpful, but a lot of folks say it really helps.

I think the Orion owner’s manual is downloadable. Their owner’s manual has a thorough explanation (way more info than PUK’s) of why silver is harder to weld and what to do about it. There is also lots of other fantastic info that’s not in the PUK owner’s manual.

Jeffrey Herman strongly suggests using palladium silver as a bridge metal with when welding sterling silver. I’ve definitely found that to be true. Roberts also says that. Palladium silver welding wire has become harder to find (I’m glad I bought an ounce way back when!)

This past summer, but I bought some from PUK palladium silver from Gesswein for where I work. I’m not sure why PUK’s palladium silver is better than what I have, but I definitely like it better.

Finally, there is the wave form. The way the welding energy modulates. Orion strongly suggest using negative agitation with welding sterling silver. Adjusting the way the energy modulates is different on a PUK than on an Orion. You’ve got to dig into the settings a bit, but you can find it.

Robert from PUK is a super nice guy, who really knows all about PUK’s. Robert told me that anyone from Orchid can reach out to him. If you’re interested in talking to him, send me an individual message and I’ll give you his contact info.



My reality for pulse arc welders -

  1. they are expensive (4k to 5k$) if you need to do more than close a jump ring
  2. they take a fair amount of time to get good with them - a good jeweler friend bought a high function welder and after a week of doing exercises, experiments as well as keeping her shop together, she called for help. This is not a simple tool - but its capability is stunning.
  3. using a welder to close a bezel is possible - but - probably difficult with a jump ring closer.
  4. sacrificial metal is a basic construct - some metal goes away apparently - but not really - is kind of the thought process in using the high end machines. - so if you can think ok with this - …
    judy h