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(New DADO) Laser v arc welding

Hi all. Thanks for reading.

I am working for a small production house as a bench jeweler, finishing a lot of CAD castings and mostly doing a lot of repair work. Their 15-year-old laser welder has apparently finally bit the dust, so we’re exploring options for what to do going forward.

They are reluctant to make the investment in a new laser welder at a cost of 18-20,000USD, so have asked me if I can do what I need to do on an arc welder. I have never used an arc welder for jewelry purposes, so I’m looking for opinions from someone who has enough experience to know the differences, particularly if you are a repair jeweler as that is my primary function in this position.

I have a lot of tasks that I cannot put a torch to because of sensitive stones or enamel, etc, and also do a lot of delicate chain repair, for instance, but also do antique restoration from time to time, for which I have used the laser welder to build up areas worn away by time and retip prongs… all the usual things. Mostly “fine jewelry,” as in, needs to be highly finished. I’ve found a laser welder to be excellent for this as cleanup is nearly nothing for simple things, like closing jump rings. I’m told I may not get such clean welds with an arc welder, but again, I have zero experience with an arc welder.

Another thing I’d love to hear about is if you have experience with the newer (cheaper) DADO laser welder as opposed to a more expensive machine. The 4000USD price tag would be much more palatable, as that’s less than the arc welder they are considering. The inability to change the pulse from 1/sec seems annoying but not a deal-breaker to me. Impressions from anyone who has used one would be appreciated!

TIA! Laura

I have an orion 150s2. But I bought extra screen which to me is more flexible than a microscope. I work mostly in sterling and some gold. At this point i pretty much tack everything together with my welder they solder all at once. I can to re tipping I just have not done that. I can ball up the end of wire nicely. I spent about close to $5000 with everything. There is a learning curve. Vince

My experience has been on LaserStar products, my personal one now in my 1 man shop now is a Bright star.
I do love the laser.

Having said that, a few years ago I attended a Stuller Bench Jeweler’s Conference, and I did a half day seminar on a PulseArc Welder. With the guidance of reps for the company that makes the laser Stuller sells, I deliberately “pushed the envelope”, and tried to rechannel a Sterling Silver ring inlaid with Opal.
I am completely convinced after that half day class, workshop, that there are very, very few jobs that I now use the laser for, that could not be accomplished using a pulsearc welder.

With training, and experience.

The one leg up that the laser will always have over any other tool, in my experience and opinion, is the ability to weld and fill deep inside recesses, and hollow areas. If I can see it, I can weld it, using a laser.

If I were today to find myself without a laser, I would seriously look into pulse arc.

I prefer the laser for many reasons, but do not overlook the far less costly PulseArc if you are looking for less costly alternatives.

I have an Orion 200i3. I work with gold, sterling, bronze, brass, mild steel and stainless. I don’t have any real laser experience but I’ve worked with pulse arc welding for maybe 6 years.

I think that a micro tig - pulse arc —welder may give a deeper weld (more penetration) than a laser might. As already mentioned in another response, a laser can get down into crannies that can be difficult to navigate with the probe of the pulse arc welder. The laser is a line-of-site proposition.

With a laser you are also free of the grounding wire and clip. This can be a bit of a pain when it comes unclipped just as you are ready to weld.

The pulse arc does not require a cabinet so larger items can be worked on. You can even remove the stylus and work independently. I just completed a 15”x15” wall mounted piece and the welder was critical.

Also, I’m not sure if a laser always requires argon. The pulse arc welder does. My Orion can really drink it up. My friends with PUKs say that their’s sip argon. Argon costs can add up.

Hope that helps!!!

Andy

Please excuse any typos-- curse my clumsy digits…

When I bought my Orion I opted for the puck argon regulator that works better than the one Orion has. Vince

Yeah, I went through several regulators and finally settled on the PUK (Lambert). Still think the machine uses more than PUK.

Thanks for the input, all! I spoke with a tech today who strongly recommended NOT the Dado machine—too unreliable. But the other less $$$ option, a 20J machine from Neutec at $7500, might be an option for us. I’ll check back with a review if we do end up going this route. Since it’s a new tool, there aren’t many users and no reviews that I found online, so I’ll try to do my part to remedy that if we get one in house.

That 20 Joule Neutec looks interesting. At less than 1/3 of what my Laser Star, BrightStar cost, it is definitely worth looking into.
I’m assuming you can arrange to visit Rio and try the machine, prior to purchase.
That is how we originally settled on the first Laser Star machine we purchased in the late 90’s. We took several projects with us, to see what the machines could do, and spent a day learning the basics.