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TIG versus laser welder


#1

I’m weighing the pros and cons of a TIG welder, like the Orion Pulse
150i or a laser welder. From what I’ve read online it seems that the
laser welder will give you more options to control your weld and
possibly with less experience needed but with a larger cost.

I’ve welded a little in my life, stick welding in college but that
was a while back and not the same material or size of the jewelry
I’m working on.

I’d like to have the most options (of course) to weld the most
variations in metal–copper, brass, gold, silver, etc. with the
greatest ease (weld, clean-up, etc.)

Thanks in advance for any help.

BTW, I’ve been reading this post quite often for about 3 years and
have gleaned a lot of useful Thank you to all who
contribute! :slight_smile:

Thanks,
Scott


#2

Hi Scott, I have the Orion Master Jeweler Plus. I have had it for
over 2 years now and am extremely happy with it. It works great in
all kinds of applications, all the metals you mentioned, especially
silver which is difficult for laser welders because when highly
polished has a way of deflecting the laser (so I have been told).
The staff at Orion are great, they are located in Utah, and anyone
you speak to there has great knowledge of their products. The only
maintenance you have to do is occasionally clean the electrode, I do
this 3-4 times a day, depending how much your weldingof course.
About once every 2-3 months I am due for a new electrode. Besides
from your argon, that’s really the only maintenance. I have heard
thatwith a laser, you have to change out the bulb on the laser.
Granted thisis after years of use, but still quite the expense. I
would say the onlything that makes the laser better is that it’s
more precise. I can definitely see how that would be an advantage,
but you really have to be doing some fine work to make it worth it.
I am not knocking the Laser welders, Ithink they are great machines.
But for what you can do with an Orion at a fraction of the cost, I
am happy!Another thing, with my Master Jeweler Plus, I can weld any
size of an item. I can remove the stylus from it’s holder on the
microscope stand and use it freehand on as large as piece as you
wish. I hope this helps, reply if you have any questions. Tom


#3
I would say the only thing that makes the laser better is that
it's more precise. 

I haven’t used the Orion, but I’m pretty familiar with a PUK and a
laser, and I’d say the great thing about the laser is that you don’t
have to be able to touch a spot to weld it. It’s line-of-sight, so if
you can see it, you can zap it.

Also, it isn’t that hard to laser silver. You just have to stop
frequently and cover the area you’re trying to weld with black marker
pen.

Also, it’s a LOT faster-- you can fire it pretty much as rapidly as
you like.

That said, you would expect a tool that costs so much more to have
advantages. I will never own a laser. I do have a PUK.

Noel


#4

Dear Scott, We have been using the Orion Pulse 150i for two years
now. You might say that we are avid advocates for it. Before I made
the purchase, I attended a Stuller Bench Jeweler Workshop and brought
a list of 33 chores for it to do. It passed the tests with flying
colors. Metals weuse in our studio: Brass, copper, 14k gold filled,
14 & 18k gold, titanium, sterling silver, argentium silver, sterilium
silver, continuum silver (palladium & sterling) By the way, I just
spoke to a jeweler who tried it out on stainless steel with success.
The only one that is a little finicky is copper because it sometimes
forms its own current. We use the same sharpy trick as laser
operators to deal with silver- no problems. Our consumables are
ridiculously cheap for elements- no expensive light bulbs to replace.
Argon is argon- we use the pure argon formula.

Settings are remembered and saved on the touch screen according to
the task. If you have issues, just give Sunstone Engineering a call-
they arequick to respond and give you help and even suggested
settings. We use the Orion for repairs, porosity in casting, spot
welding, and even total fabrication of a piece of jewelry.

Please feel free to email me off list if you need more info. BTW, I
sold my PUK after we tried out the Orion 150i in our studio. Need I
say more? This is not a paid endorsement, just VERY happy owners of
our Orion. Oh yes, software upgrades are ridiculously easy too. It
was not amusing to find out our old PUK was obsolete as soon as we
bought it. Not nice… Ruthie Cohen


#5

Hello Ruthie,

Why do you have to use a Sharpie on sterling with a pulse arc
welder?

Stainless is the easiest alloy to weld because of its high
resistance, that’s why you see it being used in demonstrations at
trade shows.

I’m curious, was it the PUK software that was out of date? And, what
PUK model did you have?

Jeff Herman
hermansilver.com


#6

Hi - I have a PUK4 that I’m very happy with. A deciding influence
for me was Jeffrey Herman’s recommendation on pulse arc welding.

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep801o

I put the pieces together and out of the box it worked perfectly. The
PUK4 is an easy interface with gobs of flexibility. It works really
well with most varieties of metal although welding stainless steel
isn’t as easy as I’d hoped. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that the
electrodes last and the machine isn’t picky about having them sharp.
Not so with the Orion.

Before purchasing the PUK4, I had the top of the line Orion but found
that it was difficult to use. The touch screen was fiddly and the
save function didn’t work. I returned it to Orion. I think the
difference between the two machines is this: the PUK engineers
understand goldsmithing. The Orion engineers come at the design from
an engineering standpoint - how much flexibility can we put in this
machine. They built a very nice machine for high tech manufacturing
but not oriented to the needs of a bench jeweler. As I was trying to
make the Orion machine work, I found that none of their engineers
had a clue about making jewelry. This is not to say that they build a
bad machine, just that it’s interface and capabilities are more
suited to a general manufacturing environment. Prior to working as a
goldsmith, I was an engineer in high tech, and I thought that I could
make it all work. I could, but the daily agony of thinking like an
engineer and then translating that to work on my goldsmithing bench
just wasn’t fun. Ergo - return the Orion machine.

Using a laser with silver, copper etc is problematic - it likes to
reflect off the silver. Previously I had an earlier version of PUK
that simply wasn’t high energy enough for silver. Pretty much all of
them work well with gold.

In my opinion, they are all overpriced but since I’d rather make
jewelry than make a similar machine from a large scale TIG welder, I
paid and got on with the job. Kevin Lindsey has had success with
adapting one of the large TIG machines as I remember.

Judy Hoch


#7

Hi, Ruthie,

Where do you get continuum silver? What is the proportion of silver
and palladium?

I tried to email you off-forum, but it bounced.

Thanks!
Noel


#8

go for the laser for jewlellery making. A TIG is too awkward even if
you modify the anodes! If you can lease a laser welder try before you
buy!..rer


#9
go for the laser for jewlellery making. A TIG is too awkward even
if you modify the anodes! If you can lease a laser welder try
before you buy! 

TIG is the process used in both the PUK and Orion pulse arc welders,
and they work just fine for jewelry at 1/4 to 1/3 the cost of a
Laser. Even a modern inverter TIG unit intended for larger work can
be used to weld jewelry with the appropriate torch and training.
Kevin Lindsey who posts here occasionally does amazing work with a
standard Miller TIG welder.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#10

Thanks for all the replies to my question. I was being swayed to
look at TIG but after Ms. Rourke’s comment I’m not sure.

I still have time for more research.

Thanks,
Scott