What application did you have in mind for sintering (low temperature
fusing), Charles? I got imaginative and studied the pictures of
projects at http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep7zw6
(I have no vested
interest in the company - this is arms length). Here is an
application I thought of. First the laser could be used at a higher
temperature to engrave the metal or stone. The laser etched grooves
and pits of the art work could then be filled with powders for
sintering ("powder metallurgy" as it is sometimes called) and a lower
temperature stage of laser could then be applied to sinter the
powder. Is that what you had in mind? Sintering could also be used
to bond pieces in a large stone or metal sculpting.
If so, I think this might be like kiln enamelling without the kiln.
You could be sintering in all sorts of enamels for artistic purposes
as well as simple structural joining. I have no experience with this
so I was hoping others on Orchid do and might share their experiences
with laser technologies. One plus for sintering is that it might
preserve the integrity of the granite, marble etc. whereas the kiln
would destroy it which means a lot of jewelry applications.
The bigger picture here is that I have to wonder if laser will win
out over grinding and water-jet CNC (Computer Numerical Control)
applications. All seem amazing capable of surpassing human visual
discrimination for precision work. All can be used for cutting and
shaping material. But the laser has a big plus - an amazing
temperature range. Affordable desk top lasers are now on the market.
CAM (Computer Assisted Machine) with laser peripheral/end effector
might become standard, everyday jewelry equipment in the near future.
What do you think?