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Laser welder comparison


#1

Has anyone done a comparison of laser welders? I am going to
purchase one and need some experienced opinions.

thanks
Duane Baysinger
www.studiobjeweler.com


#2

Here at Stuller we have done a comparison of the different laser
welders. It included the durability, power, service, ergonomics, and
MP3 player capabilities.

We found that you would want a welder with at least 80 joules of
energy to work at a steady pace. The lower joule machines will work,
but they take a longer time to recharge. I have heard many jewelers
complain about their speed and how they could work faster if they
had more power. The faster you get the jobs done, the closer it is to
beer-thirty.

Get a stand-up unit instead of a desktop model for the same reason.
Making the machine smaller makes the power supply and cooling system
smaller and less likely to keep up with you. Some of desktop machines
shut down for a few minutes to cool down which gives you time to get
a cup of coffee, so that may be a plus!

As for features and add-ons, most welders have the same basic design
and features. I recommend getting a welder with pulse shaping
feature, though many people do not use it, I have found it very
useful. Having the ability to hook up compressed air to cool down the
piece is nice if you will be working constantly on the welder like we
do here, but it may be overkill in your situation. Since Rofin has
been making lasers for over 30 years, they have some patents that
others do not. This includes the laser being aligned with the
crosshair even if it is not in focus and “Sweet spot” that has
something to do with ‘thermal lensing’ in the laser cavity. My eyes
glaze over when people talk about ‘thermal lensing’ and I start to
think about sharks with lasers on their heads, but it has to do with
the beam power staying constant for each shot fired.

We found Rofin (German built) to be the most durable. We use our
welders over ten hours a day five days a week, more around Christmas
time. We have not ‘retired’ a welder and sent it off to live in a
farm. One department said they even have the very first Rofin welder
sold in the United States from when another company that now makes
their own welder used to sell them and that was over 13 years ago.

In short, we did our homework and found the Rofin laser welder to be
best for us. More importantly, get a welder whichever brand it is!
Sadly, no laser welders are MP3 ready and will not play your favorite
songs while you are welding.

John Vandergriff II
Stuller, Inc.


#3

Hi John,

Enjoyed your post, but I will point something out regarding the
thermal lensing for clarification.

This includes the laser being aligned with the crosshair even if it
is not in focus and "Sweet spot" that has something to do with
'thermal lensing' in the laser cavity. My eyes glaze over when
people talk about 'thermal lensing' 

Thermal lensing is not a feature, it is for the sake of argument an
inherent problem that YAG lasers have when the crystal is heated.
During Q switching or pulsing, heat is generated thus creating a
lens effect through thermal profiling.

What this does, is widen the focus, and in turn, reduces the power
density which of course changes the potential welding performance.
Therefore to combat this, Rofin developed the Sweet Spot Resonator.

Best Regards.
Neil George


#4

Not a comparison but something I’d like to see in a laser…

Sometimes the material will ‘blast’ You’re doing a row of welds all
on one piece all on one power setting and its going nice but for some
reason a few spots will spatter badly and you have to stop, adjust
the settings lower and reweld to smooth it out, which is a pain
because not only does it break your stride you may also drop your
filler wire or lose orientation of the work. An additional form of
aperture control might be nice, like another foot pedal or an elbow
switch or something.

yeah I got finicky in my old age.


#5

There are as many misconceptions on laser welders as there
opinionated sales peoples. Of course Stuller loved their "full sized"
Rofin’s, they sell also them and as you guessed, they do not offer a
desktop model. I hope some actual laser owners feel inclined to voice
their opinion.

One comment I have is never buy a laser welder based on the maximum
joule output alone. When you bought you last car did you walk into
the lot saying just give me anything with 200 hp and that will be
fine? There are many All laser welding for jewelry requires less than
30 joules!

The Desktop Laser Welding Revolution!

The iWeld Series from LaserStar offers equal performance to “Full
Sized” machines. Yes, some other imported desktop welders do have
very low pulse frequency, shot limits and often need to cool down
during heavy usage, but not an iWeld from LaserStar. The iWeld packs
more punch than most “Full Sized” machines in their class and cost
thousands less. This is rated in kW’s (kilowatts) or peak energy of
the machine. The higher the peak energy the more force the laser has.
The more force, the deeper penetrating the weld can be with less
power. Always check the specification on the manufacturers brochures.

Of course, higher joule machines come with higher wattage power
supplies. The higher wattage will give you more pulse frequency, but
not necessarily more penetrating power. This again goes back to the
peak energy. For Example, the iWeld 80J offers a 50W power supply
with 10 kW of peak energy. Others 80J machines offers 50W but only
has 6.0kW of peak energy. Joules and Peak Energy are the two main
factors when deciding on the machines performance, it like horsepower
and torque in your car.

For features, yes pulse shaping is imperative especially for new
users learning their machines. All LaserStar machines offer a
jewelers preset pulse shape embedded into the software and
programming. Our competitors lasers often arrive with no preset
jewelers programs or preset pulse shapes embedded into its memory.
Guess what, most never learn how to use the technology. Why do they
not preset the programming, well it is because they were not sure
what industry the laser was going to be installed in when it was
built in Europe.

Compressed air can be a nuisance with the loud compressor, but all
LaserStar can be ordered with it also. In 4 years, I have not sold
one compressed air option and most customers enjoy the additional
argon port instead to pinpoint a cover gas when the main diffused
cannot reach the point of weld.

Sweet Spot is more of a marketing term and we offer the similar
solution, Soft Touch. Again, in 4 years, I only sell the Soft Touch
option for special industries such as aerospace, tool and die and
medical devices. We you build machines to order, you can custom
tailor the machine and beam profiles to the customers exact needs
instead of making one machine for all. Jewelry metals are highly
reflective and the higher peak energy the better the laser beam
couples the material instead of reflecting off the piece.

LaserStar is proudly built in the USA and is the only laser built to
order based. Machine durability is relative to how one maintains
their machine. There are basic requirements and yes, machines will
last a very long time when properly maintained.

Do not forget the most important aspect of buying a laser, the
training provided by knowledgeable and highly skilled experts.
LaserStar offers a 2 day formal training course where you will learn
so much more then how to turn on your new laser. These are just a few
of my thoughts!

Best Regards,

Andre Friedmann
Sales Manager
LaserStar Technologies Corporation
laserstar.net