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PUK 3 Vs. PUK 2


#1

If anyone out there has had a PUK2 before using a PUK 3 I would like
to know what your experience has been with the new

Version compared to the old one. I use the PUK2 every day but it
hasn’t lived up to the hype. I have found that flashing near a

Stone has damaged stones, especially CZ. I have to resharpen the
electrode much more often than the instructions suggest. I

Found it useless for retipping. Basically I use the machine for
tacking parts before soldering and for this purpose I could hardly do

Without it. Happy to hear anyones experience with the new machine.


#2

We have many customers who believed that a tack welders were just
like a laser at 1/3 the price. In the end, many were plainly
disappointed, frustrated and finally graduated to a laser welder.
They realized that hype of the tack welders is just that, hype!

I know most people do no have the budget for a laser, but with
prices starting at $15,880 and leased for around $380 a month for 60
months with a $1 buyout, its hard to resist the temptation to
seriously consider a laser welder. Break that down, it costs only $15
a day to own a machine and do things you never thought possible. What
is your time worth…

Of course, if all you want to do is tack parts and solder them, then
tack welders are a great choice. If you want to do professional work
in less time and with greater precision, look to the personal laser
welders available today. www.laserstar.net.

Best Regards,

Andre Friedmann
Technical Sales Representative
LaserStar Technologies Corp.
http://www.laserstar.net


#3

Andre

At least you had the courtesy to tell us you are a laser salesman.
How many hours do you have using a pulse arc welder? That is what
the PUK is, not a tack welder. They do many more jobs than just
positioning work for soldering but that is probably what they are
most used for. The original poster was asking for on the
difference between two models of pulse arc welder not whether they
are equivalent to a laser. And here you come saying that pulse arc
welder are children’s toys by talking about customers who “graduated
to a laser welder” and then implied that those who do not use a laser
are not professionals. The rest of your post is trying to sell a
stripped down table top laser that will not do all the wonderful
things that the larger floor models do. And it sells for 2 to 3 times
the price of a PUK 2 or PUK 3.

I have been using the PUK 2 for several years. It is not a laser and
cannot do all the things a good high power floor model laser does.
But it does a wonderful job on welding many of the things I need it
to weld both tacking and full final welds. In many ways it is not as
easy to use as a laser and it takes time to develop the skills of
using it but it is not “hype” to say it will do many of the jobs a
laser does as well as a laser.

Certainly I would love to have a high end laser with the power and
control to do the jobs that lasers excel at but it is not 15K but
more like 30K for such a tool. When I look at my business needs, the
economy and what I would use the laser for, it just doesn’t make
sense right now for me to buy one. So please give the people on this
list a little respect and understand that we just might have made
decisions on the tools we are buying and using with more than a
little understanding of our own businesses needs and capital funds.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#4

Hi Robert:

I haven’t used a Mk2, but I have the Mk3Pro. (the high powered one.)

I use it mainly for reactive metals, which it does beautifully. In
point of fact, it’s much better at welding niobium than the Rofin
Starweld (the $30,000 one…) I used previously. (So, no, it’s not a
tack welder, and it’s not a toy.)

That being said, it does take a bit of getting used to, and it has
some issues with silver. (Yes, the 3Pro has enough power to weld
silver. Getting a decent bead is a trick I have yet to master, but
silver’s no treat with a laser either.) I hate to admit it, but I do
use it a lot for tacking things down before soldering, but it
seems silly to have the blinking thing and not use it for whatever I
can. I don’t do repairs generally, so I’ve never tried it with
retipping, or anything like that.

The one thing I really miss from a laser is the ability to open the
beam out and ‘smooth’ the weld. No such trick for the PUKs.

If you’re looking at buying one, get the pro, and get their
microscope. I already had a spare binocular microscope, so I decided
to save some money and just get a shutter to fit my existing scope.
Major pain, and I’m still not entirely happy with the results.
(entirely my own stupid fault. Get their scope. Trust me.) The pro
has more power than the standard Mk3. Definitely useful, both for
deeper welds, and faster cycle time between shots.

As far as the electrodes go, yeah, you chew them up. The good news
is that it’s possible to buy.020" Ceriated tig electrodes, and use
those. Much cheaper. I have a little jig I use to get a decent grind
on them on my power-hone. I normally sharpen up a whole batch of
them (say 20 or so) blow through both ends of all of them, and then
resharpen in one batch. Seems to save time. The good news, (such as
there is any) about the electrode points is that the duller the
point gets, the broader the weld bead becomes. (you loose depth)
there are some situations where a wide bead is more useful, so it’s
not entirely a bad thing. (And for some things, like tacking, you
just don’t care, so it’s a non-issue.)

FWIW
Brian.


#5

Well said James.

I’ve been using a PUK2 for about two years and am very pleased with
it. There is no way I can afford either the money or the space for a
laser, but the PUK2 does nearly everything that I would use a laser
for: tacking, of course, but repairs that would otherwise be
impossible. It’s child’s play to weld jump rings on a charm bracelet,
and there’s no clean-up required either.

The PUK3 is able to be used on thinner material than the PUK2, which
would be useful for some of the repairs I do, but overall, the PUK2
is a very useful tool - once the skill curve has been climbed. The
microscope is almost essential though.

Regards, Gary Wooding


#6

James, I was is no way implying that the PUK or other tack welders
were bad choices. They do exactly what they are designed to do. I
have never been a bench jeweler, but I have heard all the honest
stories from my customers.

What I am implying is that the salespeople who sell them often
overstate their functions. They advertise them to be 95% like a laser
and that is far from the truth. I have had more customers who were so
frustrated by them. Keeping honesty in sales is an important part of
my philosophy and I apologize to those posters who were looking for
specific on the PUK’s only.

In regards to your comment on the smaller “personal” welders, well I
am here to tell you that you can do everything with the $15K-$19K
iWeld lasers than you can with the $25-$30K LaserStar’s. What you
sacrifice is the shot frequency on silver. Not all laser machines
are built like ours and their small models cannot do silver. Ours
can! Most people want the larger lasers and that is up to their
personal budgets. With our welders, you only need about 20-25 joules
to weld thick silver regardless of the machines as ours have high
peak power rated in kW’s. Sure if you worked on 25% or more in silver
everyday, then you should get the cooling capacity of the larger
$25K+ models.

Contrary to belief, the 60J iWeld and the 80J LaserStar are our top
sellers. When looking for a laser the #1 rule is stick to a budget.
If anyone has specific questions on laser welding, drop me an email.

Thanx for the input…

Andre Friedmann
LaserStar Technologies


#7

Andre,

What I am implying is that the salespeople who sell them often
overstate their functions. They advertise them to be 95% like a
laser and that is far from the truth. I have had more customers who
were so frustrated by them. 

One might gently point out that your view of PUK customers may be
slightly skewed simply because you’re seeing that portion of the
customes who indeed aren’t happy with the PUKs and are looking for a
laser. What you have no way of knowing is whether that bunch of
clearly unhappy PUK users represents a larger percentage of the PUK
purchasers, or whether it’s a tiny fraction of an otherwise happy
population. Likewise, you can’t really know whether those PUK
salespeople who overstate things are a real rarity, or more common,
since of course the evidence you have to judge from is precisly that
population who may have been led to believe the PUKs could do more
than they do.

And for those considering a smaller laser who wonder whether that
decrease in shot frequency that Andre mentions would be a major
problem, I can attest that it’s less a problem than you might think.
I use a Rofin machine at work that can maintain most of it’s speed
even at full power. That’s nice. But with silver, you’re often
pumping so much heat into the metal that working at too high a hertz
setting will mean the piece gets too hot to hold. Working slower can
be a bit easier on the fingers. The laser I have in my own shop is an
antique, almost. A 1997 vintage Siro Alphalaser, which is the same as
the BD machines. It, like the current smaller lasers, slows way down
at higher power settings. Takes longer to do a silver job, but often,
that’s just fine anyway. Frankly, the biggest limitation I see with
silver is simply that some pieces are hard to get a good weld with,
due to a tendancy for the welds in silver to be unusually brittle.
Using a hard or IT silver solder for the feed wire helps with this,
but then there’s a slight color mismatch. This limitation to silver,
by the way, also seems to apply to other methods of welding silver.
Don’t know about PUK welders, but I know sterling posts attached to
sterling silver with a sparkie welder have a higher rate of failure
due to the post cracking off, than do other combinations of metals.
Those welds just tend to be brittle. So it’s more in the nature of
silver, I think, than in the exact technology used to do the welding.
I’d expect the PUK to also have some of the same limits when welding
silver, though I don’t know for sure.

Peter Rowe


#8
Don't know about PUK welders, but I know sterling posts attached
to sterling silver with a sparkie welder have a higher rate of
failure due to the post cracking off, than do other combinations of
metals. Those welds just tend to be brittle. So it's more in the
nature of silver, I think, than in the exact technology used to do
the welding. I'd expect the PUK to also have some of the same limits
when welding silver, though I don't know for sure. 

No matter how you do it silver is a bear to weld and results in weak
bonds. When I TIG weld it or use the PUK they are always weak. I
believe it is due to the large HAZ (heat affected zone) due to
silvers high thermal conductivity. But if I can put cold work into
the welded area with care then it becomes much stronger. If I TIG a
ring shank I add extra material that I hammer after welding and that
results in reasonably strong bonds. If I cannot forge the weld I will
use PD white gold wire to make the bond and get satisfactory bonds on
sterling that way. There is a color match issue but that is
something that can often be dealt with by careful finish work.

Jim

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#9

I have used the PUK 2 a lot and the PUK a little bit.

The three biggest differences I see are

  1. The PUK 3 allows you to save settings, which is a great time
    saver for doing similar jobs.

  2. There is variable adjustments on the PUK3 than just the 8 setting
    on the PUK2

  3. The PUK 3 has lower power setting than the PUK 2, which allows
    you to weld fines wires and chains.

There seems to be a LOT of miss-floating around about
the PUK.

As Jim said it does full welds and is NOT just a tack welder. I’ve
re-tipped many prongs over the last 3-4 years and it does an
excellent job, faster than a torch. I’ve seen a lot of prongs
re-tipped with a Laser and don’t see any different between a prong
re-tipping with a trained Laser Welder and a trained jeweler on the
PUK.

I’ve also worked on silver with both the PUK2 and PUK3 with no
problems.

The needles do need re-sharpening often when you start but as you
learn how to use it properly you won’t have to sharpen them as much.

The biggest problem I’ve seen jewelers have with the PUK is moving
the work. You need to keep your hand still. I always position the
needle above my benchpin and hold the jewelry with both hands and
brace my hands against my benchpin.

Having a gap between the jewelry and the needle causes a bigger
"spark" which can damage a stone and blows the tip of the needle off.

Keep you hands still and place the needle tip on the jewelry and
keep it there until the weld occurs, eliminates 80% of the problems
associated with the PUK welder.

The PUK is very accurate, because the weld occurs at the tip of the
needle. There is no cross bars to line up, no shooting your finger
(or the stone), there is no light beam ricocheting around the cabinet
that might hit a stone or any of the other problems you have with a
Laser. Plus you save a ton of money!

To me the BIGGEST difference between a Laser Welder and the PUK is
that the Laser companies have done a fairly good job of training and
there are a lot of Laser welding seminars taught at all the different
trade events. The companies selling the PUK and ABI and similar
welders have done a very poor job of teaching jewelers how to use it.

Imagine plugging in a Laser and trying to learn how to weld jewelry
with it with NO training and just learn by trial and error.

The learning curve is only bigger for the PUL because no-body is
offering any training on it. Jim has done a few seminars on it and so
have I, but that’s about it.

Brad Simon

PS. I am NOT associated in any way with the PUK. Just a happy user.

Brad Simon


#10
I was is no way implying that the PUK or other tack welders were
bad choices. They do exactly what they are designed to do. I have
never been a bench jeweler, but I have heard all the honest stories
from my customers. 

I must say that most of the people who complain the most about the
PUK or the other pulse arc welders did not invest the time to learn
how to weld with them. They do have a steep learning curve. I find
the people who have the fastest success with them already know how to
TIG weld.

What I am implying is that the salespeople who sell them often
overstate their functions. They advertise them to be 95% like a
laser and that is far from the truth. I have had more customers who
were so frustrated by them. Keeping honesty in sales is an
important part of my philosophy and I apologize to those posters who
were looking for specific on the PUK's only. 

I don’t think that all the salespeople who sell them overstate their
functionality although I am certain that some probably do. I do
believe however that many customers hear what they want to hear when
looking at the price difference of a laser and a pulse arc welder.
By the time you are talking to them they have already decided that
the pulse arc welder is not working for them they have most likely
decided that to justify their purchase of the laser they need a
reason why the pulse arc welder is “no good”. This is simple human
psychology and why the “honest stories” from your customers may be
just a little biased.

In regards to your comment on the smaller "personal" welders, well
I am here to tell you that you can do everything with the $15K-$19K
iWeld lasers than you can with the $25-$30K LaserStar's. What you
sacrifice is the shot frequency on silver. Not all laser machines
are built like ours and their small models cannot do silver. Ours
can! Most people want the larger lasers and that is up to their
personal budgets. With our welders, you only need about 20-25
joules to weld thick silver regardless of the machines as ours have
high peak power rated in kW's. Sure if you worked on 25% or more in
silver everyday, then you should get the cooling capacity of the
larger $25K+ models. 

None of the small ones I have looked at have pulse shaping and they
operate at a restricted pulse rate when compared to the larger floor
models (you have to give up a few things to get them wedged into a
smaller package). Peak power is a good thing but rep rate and the
ability to tailor the pulse characteristics are must haves on my
list of laser features. This is why I don’t believe the table top
units to be a good choice given their still considerable cost.

Jim

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#11

Jim, you stated:

None of the small ones I have looked at have pulse shaping and
they operate at a restricted pulse rate when compared to the larger
floor models (you have to give up a few things to get them wedged
into a smaller package). Peak power is a good thing but rep rate
and the ability to tailor the pulse characteristics are must haves
on my list of laser features. This is why I don't believe the table
top units to be a good choice given their still considerable cost. 

The iWeld 990 Series 60J model includes Deluxe P3 Technology or
pulse shaping and we incorporate these into the 24 preprogrammed
memory settings. The iWeld has the highest peak power (8.0 KW) in its
class. For example, with the thick Yellow Gold Setting I can get 10
HZ easily - how much more do you need to work with? If you worked on
silver all day long, sure the HZ are reduced so you may want the
added cooling capacity and added speed of the larger LaserStar 7000
80J or 100J or comparable competitors. In the small personal welder
category, no one beats our features and performance for under $20K.

All machines in every industry are made and purchased for one thing
only, to increase productivity and in the end increase profits. Ask
yourself - for $15 a day is it worth it to me to have a laser welder
and do everything a PUK or other brand of tack welder can do plus
tons of additional things. This number is based on a $425/month 60
month $1.00 buyout lease payment. If you are in the repair/custom
design business doing one additional job a day can pay for the
machine. A laser used properly will increase productivity. As David
Geller often says, having a laser is like increasing your
productivity 40%-70% vs. torch soldering for most jobs.

My philosophy is this, in today’s market, loyalty is dead with cut
throat competition and the internet chocking off the supply of new
customers. You have one chance to wow a customer and that is with
great personal service both from the jewelers bench and with case
sales. Jewelers that invest today in the ability to improve their
customer service will survive while others cower and hide from the
gloom and doom of the news will have it tougher. Most of my
customers feel that it is wrong to send even one customer out of
their store to a competitor because they couldn’t do the job and make
money at it.

Best Regards,
Andre Friedmann
Technical Sales Representative
LaserStar Technologies Corp.


#12
The iWeld 990 Series 60J model includes Deluxe P3 Technology or
pulse shaping and we incorporate these into the 24 preprogrammed
memory settings. 

At $18,500 you are beginning to get away from the main virtue of the
desk top units (low price) but I will look at that model when I get
the budget for the laser.

All machines in every industry are made and purchased for one
thing only, to increase productivity and in the end increase
profits. Ask yourself - for $15 a day is it worth it to me to have
a laser welder and do everything a PUK or other brand of tack welder
can do plus tons of additional things. This number is based on a
$425/month 60 month $1.00 buyout lease payment. 

This kind of statement drives me crazy. It is not just you, the CNC
machine tool salesmen give me the same kind of numbers. Assuming
that a business makes 5% net profit on every dollar that comes
through the door, in a worst case scenario you need to generate $300
a day from the laser to pay for itself. Now I know there are many
things that make the worst case unrealistic but it is not unrealistic
to assume that you need to generate $75-$100 a day, every day in
additional revenue to pay for that laser otherwise you are loosing
money on it.

Jim

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#13

How about this little story then?..

Last year I replaced all the windows in my house with those expensive
double-pane energy efficient kind.

Today, I got a call from the contractor who installed them. He was
complaining that the work had been completed a whole year ago and I
still hadn’t paid for them.

Just because I’m blonde doesn’t mean that I am automatically stupid.
So, I told him just what his fast talking sales guy had told me last
year, that in ONE YEAR these windows would pay for themselves!
“Helllooooo? It’s been a year!”, I told him.

There was only silence at the other end of the line, so I finally
just hung up.

He never called back.
I bet he felt like an idiot.
Regards, Gary Wooding


#14

Only used the PUK 2 on a limited basis for tacking pieces prior to
soldering, so I can’t really speak to it’s full abilities.

However, after much pondering between a laser or pulse arc, I bought
the PUK 3 Pro last year and it’s been a productive addition to my
equipment arsenal. It was the right fit for my intended applications,
and I think therein lies the answer to being happy with any new
equipment purchase. I know of a few jewelers that purchased a PUK
without doing their homework first and were disappointed. It’s not a
replacement for the torch, and it’s not a substitute for a laser. But
because of it’s price point I think many salespeople would have us
think it’s a step between… and it’s not.

For me the PUK 3 Pro made the most sense because I already know TIG,
I work with a lot of different metals, and I do some very large
jewelry pieces so I couldn’t work with the limitations of a laser
cabinet. I needed something fast, with the extra power to work in
silver, and programmable settings for the metals/tasks I use/do
regularly. Most importantly, the price was realistic for what I could
expect in return.

As has been mentioned, the PUK does have a high learning curve.
Silver has given me the most difficulty (and it’s good to know I’m
not alone), but I’m learning certain construction methods work better
than others. Examining some complex TIG joins seemed to help.
Electrodes, I just sharpen a batch as routine everytime I sit down to
work. I also like to have some that are in dull stages or mis-angled
to suit the weld I’m shooting for.

Al-in-all I’m happy with it. It suits my needs, and has earned it’s
place on my bench. I’m still saving for the day when laser prices
become more realistic for my small sized studio, even so, I doubt the
pulse arc welder will loose it’s place when that happens.

Lyn Punkari
http://www.darkridgejewels.com


#15

Since my post last week, several jewelers have contacted me about
using the PUK to weld silver. So I have up-loaded a video of mine on
Bench Tube here on Orchid on sizing a gents silver ring.

To weld silver you need the PUK 2 or 3 the PUK 111 will not weld
silver satisfactorily. On the PUK 2 (which I’m using in the video)
you need to set the impulse setting to 2. For the power setting start
with a low setting and try 2 or 3 shots. If it doesn’t weld increase
the power setting and try again. For a heavy men’s shank I would use
a 6 or 7 power setting on the PUK 2. I seldom ever use the 8 power
setting. I hear from jewelers that the ABI and Orion have more power
than the PUK, and I always ask them what are they trying to weld with
it. I seldom need all the power the PUK offers so why would you need
more?

More on welding silver with the PUK can be found on
their website at:

http://www.lampert.info/download/tools/Workshop10_Tools.pdf

Brad Simon


#16

All hail Brad Simon!

After having intermittent arguments with my PUK 3 pro for the past
year about welding silver, I tried a riff on his recommendations for
welding silver with the PUK2, and lo, I finally got decent weld
puddles. Yay. Since his video shows the PUK2, and he gives settings
based on the PUK2’s controls, let me translate that into PUK3.

Gap filling mode, 50% power, 7ms, argon at about 2LPM. Sharp
electrode required.

Since we’ve all heard about how much power is required to weld
silver, I suspect many of us are trying to overpower it. I was just
getting blasted craters with melted balls of silver strewn about, up
in the 80-90% power range. Start low, about 30-40% power, and work up
until you get a decent puddle. You’ll have to “V” out the weld, and
fill it in with filler wire, as there’s not a whole lot of depth to
the weld, even with a sharp electrode.

Many thanks,
Brian.