-Zibpt!- Thats the sound of my new toy making a weld.....err, sorry..... I mean the newest piece of jewellery laser technology thats in Western Australia today!
Its a fanastic tool that allows good jewellers to do thier jobs much, much better, to accomplish tasks that would normally be considered too time consuming, and to obtain precision welds that are undetectable. By using a sharply focussed beam of light to produce very high heat in a small area, the laser has given me the opportunity to be able to make all of those designs I dreamed up that would have been impossible to make in traditional ways, using a flame torch.
It really is like microscopic surgery for jewellery. Because your working under a microscope and the laser can be adjusted down to two-tenths of a millimeter, the precision to be gained from using one of these tools is fabulous, especially for really intricate designs.
So many times I have wished for a better way of holding two pieces togther while soldering with a torch. You've got the pieces clamped in tweezers in a 'third hand' on your bench, the torch with a perfectly adjusted flame in your left hand, and a piece of solder ready to be applied in your right hand......you carefully apply heat to warm the pieces and..... the pieces move... Its so frustrating sometimes. It can be useful to hold the pieces together with a binding wire, but most of the time it just gets in the way. Now I can actually hold the pieces in my hand, align them under the microscope and with a tap of my foot -Zibpt-!!! they are tacked together! So easy! Sometimes its still necessary to apply solder to the join, but its certainly not going to move apart on you, and I just love the precision it helps me achieve.
There is so much more this laser welder can do though, and I'm discovering new things every day. It can build up worn metal, re-tip next to heat sensitive stones, repair cracks in jewellery, and remove accidentally broken off drill bits when drilling seats for diamonds in special custom made pieces (thank goodness, because we all do this from time to time!) I just narrow the beam, turn up the power and disintegrate the drill bit in one hit. Perfect! It also gives me the freedom to work on unconventional jewellery metals like Niobium, Titanium and stainless steel, metals I would not have dreamed about welding before, simply beacuse they cant be welded with a torch.
Now that I have my laser welder I really would find myself very stuck without it. Its my most treasured tool.....sigh... I love my laser welder.