Today’s manufacturing and retail jewelers have a wide range of new technologies available to enhance their ability to provide the highest level of quality, craftsmanship, and service to their clients. One of the fastest-growing technologies is the use of laser systems for jewelry as an alternative to traditional methods of welding, engraving, and cutting of metals.
When soldering with a torch, the heat is applied to a relatively large area resulting in heat transfer. If the user is not careful, he can burn or destroy heat-sensitive stones and other heat-sensitive materials that are in close proximity to the flame. The jeweler is forced to either remove these stones or protect these areas with a heat-absorbing substance.
There are many different reasons why laser welding jewelry is superior to soldering jewelry. To better understand the differences, we must first look closely at the two processes. Soldering, or more appropriately brazing, is a capillary fill system where solder is heated with a gas-oxygen torch or open flame. The solder then flows across and bridges the noble metals together. Solder is an alloy that is designed to melt at a lower temperature than the noble metal one is soldering. Therefore, it is a different alloy than the noble metal. The heat used for this process is very high, and thus often results in a visible seam, discoloration, or fire scale in the solder area.
laser welding is a process in which light energy is used to weld the noble metals to themselves; this process fuses the noble metal on a molecular level resulting in a finished product that is all one alloy. When adding metal or “laser filler wire” with the laser welder, we will almost always add the same noble alloy. The heat used in the laser welding process is so localized that it results in a seamless, undetectable work zone that is not discolored in any way.
The laser has a finely focused laser beam resulting in a minimal heat-affected zone or "bombardment zone." During the laser welding process, the metal adjacent to the bombardment zone does not become molten. This precision heat source allows the user to laser weld metal in close proximity of heat-sensitive stones and materials such as epoxy, enamel, pearls, and stringing thread to name a few, without affecting the stone or material. Because of this pinpoint heat source, the laser weld will not anneal springs or clips eliminating the need to replace damaged findings.
When soldering, steps must be taken prior to and after the heating process. One step is to thoroughly clean the jewelry of any dirt or oils from its surface. To reduce the amount of fire scale; the user must also coat the jewelry with a mixture of boric acid and denatured alcohol prior to soldering. This mixture must later be removed by pickling.
When laser welding, the beam is so concentrated, it burns away any impurities during the laser welding process, thus eliminating the need for prior cleaning, coating, and post-pickling processes. Laser welding can be performed on dirty or even tarnished surfaces without leaving discoloration or fire scale. Laser Welding Jewelry Applications
Ring resizing, re-tipping prongs, repairing bezel settings
Reassembly of broken necklaces, bracelets and earrings
Repairing costume jewelry, eyeglass frames and watch bands
Filling porosity and creating made-to-order designs
A good laser weld is three times as strong as the virgin metal, or 260 times stronger than a solder joint. To learn more about laser welding jewelry, please contact us today. We would be happy to answer any of your questions.
Laser marking and/or laser engraving is an alternative to traditional engraving methods such as mechanical engraving, pad printing, stamping, and chemical etching. Laser engraving systems are computer-controlled, environmentally friendly and offer the benefits of non-contact abrasion-resistant permanent engravings onto almost any type of material including precious
Laser welding allows precious metals and many other alloys to be joined together without the use of solder or torches. Laser welds are strong even in areas that are difficult to access with traditional joining technologies. In general, if you can see the joint – it can be laser welded. Laser welders have become a must-have tool for jewelers doing jewelry repairs as well as helping with jewelry designs that would not have been easily produced prior to this technology.