Laser welder tips-n-tricks?

Howdy all,

Congrats to Julia in Pa. on her new Crafford laser. Mine just came in
yesterday and I’m pretty sure Doug Zaruba is getting/got his any
minute now. The training was really good and the rep had me doing
some kick-ass stuff the first time out of the gate. It’s costing me
an effort of will not to run into the shop right now to be with my
high tech toy instead of writing this but I would like to open a
discussion with those who have laser experience.

I would very much appreciate it if anyone would care to share advice,
settings, tweaking for the machines. I’m sure there will be very cool
uses I might not come up with on my own for months, not to mention
handy techniques and jigs for working inside the chamber. I have to
say I was very amused to find yet ANOTHER use for Sharpie markers
yesterday. It seems silver has a reflectivity problem that tends to
steal the potency of the beam, so a quick run over with a sharpie
dulls things out enough to get proper action on your metal.

Anyone have anything to share?

Jane Armstrong
Bernie Robbins Jewelers

Jane, Try holding small parts like tips for prongs with beeswax (I,
like many stone setters, use a beeswax tip on an old mandrel for
picking up stones.) REDI-PRONGS are great for tipping this way. Once
you tack the tip on the old prong, begin to “landslide” the metal down
the back and sides of the prong. 30 gauge wire is great for filler.
I buy it coiled in the different metals and colors I need. Also, you
probably have found out that you must have good penetration on thicker
pieces of material or you will only be putting a “band-aid” on the
surface. Try using a separating disc and cut @ 1/2 to 3/4 the way
through the joint (say, on the ring shank) and then cave the side
walls in on the center and lay your 30 ga wire in the trough and fill
to the top. You can widen the beam and/or shoot at an angle and
ellipse the joint to spread out and blend the material for a nice
seam. Careful on edges that need to be crisp, you can easily round
them with the laser pulse. Keep “playing”!!! P.S. If you are not
sure, always start with less power and increase. Congrats to you and
all of those who have this incredible technology!!!

Bob Staley
B.Staley, Goldsmiths
Precision Laser Welding
toll free 877.535.9938 or 770.382.8268

Jane,We have a competing laser, but they all are very similar. One
thing we have done is make a little gadget to store and dispense the
30 gauge wire used in welding. We need 14KW, 14KY, 18KY, and platinum
wire to weld with. Rather than having the wire all balled up or
trying to fit it thru the hand hole and getting it all kinked up,
this is what we did. We cut a 4 mm brass tube about 3 inches long for
each wire. We drilled a hole just slightly bigger than the diameter
of the wire about an inch from one end and another hole right at the
other end. We then stick the end of the wire in the hole that is an
inch from one end and spool it on, working toward the drill hole at
the other end. When we get to the other end we thread it through the
hole and leave a couple inches hanging out. We can get about six feet
of wire on each of these little jigs. We then hand engrave a label on
the end of each to avoid any confusion as to Karat etc. We made a
little wooden stand to put on the laser. It works great as a
dispenser. A little trick is to leave about two feet of wire in
reserve. In a bag with a note that says, when this is used reorder or
pull more wire. That way you are never short.

Also as for as the silver and sharpie. We really don’t do much with
silver but, if we have a broken silver earring for instance, with
heat sensitive stones, we will sometimes join the break by lasering
with white gold wire. As long as the repair is tiny it is not visible
and works perfectly. Otherwise silver is a pain that I try to avoid,
it just doesn’t laser well. Mark in WI