This weekend at Stuller’s Bench Jewelers gathering I had my first
opportunity to sit down and use a pulse arc welder, the Orion 150s.
My daughter who is apprentice got a chance to use the Orion 150.
I have roughly 10 years experience laser welding. I do not set
myself up as any authority, but I figure I have enough experience to
be able to make a fairly decent comparison.
We had a roughly 2 hour session, decided equally between an hour of
classroom discussion of the technology and the machines, and 1 hr of
hands on at a machine.
I welded both sterling and platinum. By the end of the hour I was
able to replace a channel on a sterling silver opal set ring,
without damage to the opal. Crude work, of course because I am a
novice with the tool, but quite serviceable and instructive.
I feel that in a very short time I could do nearly every repair that
I do now on the laser, with that pulse arc. The exceptions being
that the laser can weld in locations that no arc welder can reach.
I also feel that while it is possible to re tip using pulse arc,
that it seems to add quite a bit of risk, unless you are able to
pull the prong away from the gemstone to do the repair.
I even watched Blain Lewis weld a silver shank, and then beat It
mercilessly on a mandrel without it cracking.
My daughter Melissa, with relatively few hours at the laser,
although she’s already quite good on that machine, found jumping
onto the pulse arc quite easy herself.
The pulse arc welders have come a very long way since I first
researched the PUK welders a long time ago, and I can honestly now
see a shop or store going this route, instead of the far more costly
laser, and simply sending the occasional job it doesn’t do on to
someone with access to the laser.
I am NOT giving up my laser though, to jump to pulse arc. If on the
other hand we reach the point where we can expand the shop and add a
second machine, it will probably be a pulse arc machine.