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Day to day use of lasers in a repair shop

Hello All, I am interested in any books, manuals or papers you might
suggest on the day to day use of lasers in a repair shop. A shop I
contract to has recently purchased a bench top unit and I have been
asked to develop a training manual/reading list. Thank you in
advance for your help. Jme

Steve Satow has a DVD and some books on it. See link

David S. Geller

I’d also be interested if anyone can suggest manuals or how-to
guides for the laser, but, one Jamie to another, I wonder if it’s
something that can be put into a manual. The laser does a limited
number of things, and the key is doing them over and over again. I
expect that your device comes with abasic outline of what power
settings to use, otherwise it’s just trying all the different
variations - you’ll quickly move beyond the presets as you get a
grasp of individual alloys and the dimensions of the objects that
you’re working with. I’ve done a couple of hundred hours on the
laser, I dare say that there are people here who’ve done a thousand
over their career.

Broadly speaking:

Silver doesn’t like lasers, gold is OK, and platinum loves it, but
alloys do vary. Solder wants a lower setting than the alloy that
you’re attaching it to. Don’t use the laser as a replacement to
solder, although you’ll learn over time when it’s appropriate.
It’shard to remove porosity from metal, so take care when filling
casting defects, as you could just spread the pores over a larger
area if you use the wrong settings. I’ve been told to anneal items
after they’ve been fused with the laser - this obviously doesn’t
apply if you’ve tack-welded and then soldered them. The greatest
benefit of the laser is tack-welding - you really can assemble a
dozen components and solder them in one pass, and do it in minutes.
Generally, use a tight pulse focus to do the work, and a diffuse
pulse focus to smooth the surface afterwards. You can use the laser
to fill gaps, if you use a filler wire or strip, but it’s very hard
to build up edges (unlike a tig welder, which does that really well)
Be super-careful with base metals, as many of these alloys require
incredibly small power levels, or they can literally vaporise. Invest
in some 0.2mm welding wire in the alloys you work with; otherwise
you’ll only spend time rolling/drawing strip and wire. Er…that’s
it.Of course there is loads more that I could say, this is just what
I could think of, off the top of my head. You can only rely on your
own experience - every job needs a slightly different setting, and
the voltage, focus and length of pulse all make a major difference to
the way it effects the metal. Get some silver to practice with,
because that’s particularly troublesome, and if you buy in gold for
scrap, take the time to play with it, building up surfaces, blasting
holes through it, smoothing out imperfections and so on. If in doubt,
start with a low voltage and work your way up - you don’t want to
learn the hard way when it’s a customers ring that you’re destroying!

Jamie Hall

I would love to read a book on using the laser myself, but in my
experience that would simply give you ideas for starting places for
various jobs. Hands on experience is going to be your best friend,
and each machine, and each metal will require you to think and

I have a little over 800 hours on the machine I use now, a Bright
Star 1000, and I am sure I probably had at least that many hours,
maybe far more, on my previous employer’s Laser Star machine.

I found the two day class that Crafford Industries offered in their
RI facilities was very helpful, but I was lucky, and took advantage
of the chance to go there 2 times. First, before we purchased my
last employer’s machine from them I went to RI and “test drove” a
couple of their machines for an entire 1/2 day, which gave me a lot
of info which proved valuable in house later. Then a couple of years
later when they started offering the 2day class, and I had a few
hundred hoiurs behind me on a machine, I returned and learned a lot
more. Prior experience on a laser sure made that 2day class more
effective than going in as a novice would have!

I can not remember the last time I used a preset. I bundle my jobs
(mostly a wide variety of repair work, platinum, gold, silver, eye
glasses and even pewter/pot metal) by metal type, and do my
adjustments on the fly. To me every job is different, and I start
out each one with a bit of caution, starting with setting just a bit
lower than I think are appropriate for the metal, and watch the

Hello Jamie,

I realize you’re talking about laser welders. For those of you
reading this and contemplating the purchase of a laser or PUK, go
for the PUK if you spend most of your time working with silver. The
biggest difference between a laser and a PUK is that the PUK’s
latest models - the PUK Professional and Professional Plus - were
specifically developed to work with silver using the same alloy
filler wire. Welding results when working with gold using a laser
and PUK are almost identical.

Jeff Herman

I forgot to mention:

As Jamie just suggested, I find a lot of times that the laser is the
perfect tool to preset components, prior to using the torch.

Often a small, hot “tack”, allows you to place your components, then
make minor adjustments in their alignments, even breaking them back
aparteasily, to realign them if you are not satisfied. After tacking
and making your adjustment, no clamps are required, and parts do no
tend to swim apart as the solder flows, as can happen especially in
doing repairs where you have no idea who was there before you.