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Laser welding high carbon steel


#1

I have a friend who is wondering whether high carbon steel could be
laser welded to gold or pt. He is giving me a piece of his material
and I am supplying the gold and platinum, but I thought I would ask
the members of this forum first. Normally I would just give it a try
(I have a friend with a laser, but she is unfamiliar with working
with anything other than gold and pt) however, we are thinking about
welding on a bezel and I am not willing to put an expensive stone in
jeopardy. As well, could this type of steel be welded to itself, as
in a sizing seam. Any help would be appreciated.

Larry Seiger


#2

I have a friend who is wondering whether high carbon steel could be
laser welded to gold or pt)

Larry, at a laser demonstration at a show the salesman showed the
strength of the weld by welding the heads of two screws together. I’m
guessing the screws were steel, they were “silver-colored”. The laser
mfr may also have info on success of welding various materials. Your
friend could practice with some of the high carbon steel and sterling,
if successful, try it with gold or plat from your scrap box in order
to keep the experimental stage low-cost. Just some ideas I thought I’d
share. Sharon


#3

Hi Larry; High carbon steel, at least when it’s applied to decorative
uses, isn’t much different than mild steel (common structural
material). It just has the capacity to be tempered to a greater
hardness. If you are concerned about it’s usefulness as an edge tool
or as part of a machine, then it matters what kind of welding you use
and to some degree, depending on the alloy, what the atmosphere is
when it’s welded. You can use silver or gold solders on high carbon
steel and mild steel. You are better off using a white paste flux,
since the steel will oxidize much easier than non-ferrous metals and
needs the protection of the heavier flux. I can’t see any problems
laser welding it, although I haven’t tried it myself. Remember, high
carbon steel gets hardened when it cools quickly, so don’t quench it,
let it air harden. This is the opposite of how non-ferrous metals
behave when heated and quenched (relatively speaking). Certainly, you
can solder high carbon steel to itself. You can even arc weld,
tig-weld, mig-weld (ask a welder about these terms) and not have a
visible seam at all. You can weld it to itself using a torch in much
the same way as you would weld platinum, leaving a “V” to fill and
feeding in a wire or fine rod of either mild steel or even more high
carbon steel (provided it’s not an exotic alloy with vanadium,
chromium, etc., in significant amounts). Get some scrap pieces and
practice. Steel is cheap relative to the materials we’re used to
using.

David L. Huffman


#4

Hi Larry; One more note on welding high carbon steel with a laser. If
you are truly welding (equal to fusing with non-ferrous), you’ll be
well above the temperature at which conventional fluxes are effective.
If you are going to laser weld any steel, and this is more true with
the high carbon types, you’ll need to do it in a neutral gas
atmosphere, whether you fill the containment area with the gas or bath
the area in a continuous stream as in mig-welding. Torch welding with
oxy-acetaline depends on a neutral flame, and the metal does get
carbonized at the weld. Arc welding uses rods with heavy, high
temperature flux coatings, and mig and tig use sheilding gases.

David L. Huffman


#5

Larry, We just purchased a laser welder and according to the research
I’ve done any steel that has a carbon content of more than .02% the
weld will be weak at best. However, that is only for steel to steel
welds, I believe you should’nt have a problem with gold to steel. I’ll
let you know tonight if it works.

Dean D Amick


#6

The answer is maybe, providing you can use a shield gas such as Argon
in quanity to minimze oxidation. The part that makes this a maybe is
the carbon in the steel cannot be too high, lower is better. This is
due to the carbon making the weld brittle with the Pt and lesser so
with the Au. Pt can get contaminated and become brittle with carbon
present, hence you weld Pt with a Hydrogen or Natural Gas torch as
opposed to Mapp Gas and O2. Just think of what works when assembling
findings and this is what will work best with the laser. There are a
few exceptions such as Ti welding and Pt welding which require high
heat and a lot of it quickly in a small area. This is whatthe laser
does well. So all I can say is try some small test samples, but I
figure that the weld will be brittle and may fail. You will be able to
bond the 3 together, but I think the Steel to Pt weld may have
problems.

Good Luck
John Markowski III
Mfg. Engineer/Laser Specialist/Jeweler
Jemcubed Designs LLC.


#7

Just got back from the shop, I tried welding 18K gold to carbon steel,
it worked, however when I tried inlaying the gold into the steel, it
alloyed with the steel. Maybe if I get time to fiddle with the
settings I might be able to get satisfactory results. Will let you
know.

Dean D Amick