Patti, Brent, James, and all:
Everyone wants to know why I am selling my new laser welder. Here is
the truth: this is a wonderful machine for repairing porosity in
platinum castings, for some (but not all) repair jobs, and for
tacking things together prior to soldering.
I am primarily a special order fabrication goldsmith. I purchased
this laser in the hopes that it would allow me to do complicated
fabrication setups in record time, and allow me to get a much better
bond when joining platinum and 18k. I do not do a lot of casting, and
probably take in only a dozen or so repair jobs each year.
What I learned after using the laser for 3 months was that the laser
was not the best tool for my fabrication technique, and that I was
actually faster at the bench that the laser. The problem is that the
laser leaves behind a welding scar when you pulse along a seam. Yes,
you can infill by fusing metal into the seam, but you will still have
a scar. Normally, I fit my joints together so tightly that they will
hold together mechanically without solder, and a minimum amount of
solder will cleanly flow along the joint to lock everything together.
I normally do not have to go back and clean up my solder mess. All
that I am using the laser for now is to tack components together
prior to soldering…and this is a total waste of a $30,000.00 tool!
The other problem that I have noticed is that in trying to minimize
my beam spread (to minimize surface scarring), I am hitting the metal
with a laser beam so intense that the metal instantly melts and
chills in the seam. Yes, this is what is supposed to happen with a
laser beam, but since the melt area is so tiny, no annealing takes
place. I can see where this would be a good thing in many repair
situations but I found that this caused a brittle joint when used for
fabrication. I would have to torch anneal the piece to prevent
cracking under stress.
If I was using this laser to assemble components for a production
line, I could avoid almost all of the problems that I am having by
simply designing around the problem. I could cast components with
tabs or posts that would be sanded smooth after assembly, for
example. And even large pits in a casting are no problem for this
tool: Once you laser-weld material into the pit, it is like it never
existed. Being able to repair jewelry with all the stones in place,
even in platinum, would also outweigh the inconvenience of having to
remove the seam scar later.
Crafford is selling this laser for $29,000, plus crating and shipping
(a few hundred dollars), and a couple of hours of training (an
additional $1500.00). I am willing to sell this laser for $24,000.00.
I still have the pallet that it was shipped on, and would be happy
to show you how to use this tool (it is really very simple). I would
also be willing to deliver, within 500 miles of Baltimore/Washington.
I have very few hours logged on the laser, and the flash tube (the
only part that wears out: $400) still shows over 95%. This is as
close to new as you’re ever going to see in a used laser!
If you decide that this laser will work for you, let me know.
Zaruba & Co.
35 N. Market St.
Frederick, MD 21701