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Torch vs Laser Welder
Laser Welding JEWELRY vs. Soldering JEWELRY
There are many different reasons to choose repairing your jewelry with a laser welder as oppossed to torch soldering. To better understand the differences, we must first look closely at the two processes. Soldering uses high heat with a gas-oxygen torch or open flame that flows the solder across the seam of precious metals and bonds them together. Solder is an alloy that is designed to melt at a lower temperature than the parent metal being joined together. Therefore, it is a different alloy than the parent metal and is often weaker. The heat used in the soldering process is very high, and thus often results in a visible seam, discoloration or fire scale where the metal is being soldered.
Laser welding is a process in which light energy is used to weld the precious metals to themselves; this process fuses the metal on a molecular level resulting in a finished product that is all one alloy. When adding metal with the laser welder, we will almost always add the same alloy as the parent metal. The slight amount of 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.
When soldering with a torch, the heat is applied to a relatively large area resulting in heat transfer. If the jeweler is not careful and experienced, 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.
The laser has a finely focused laser beam resulting in a minimal heat-affected zone. During the laser welding process, the metal adjacent to the heated zone does not become molten. This precision heat source allows the jeweler 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, laser welding jewelry is a safer option in repairing jewelry and eliminates the possibility of damage.