Modern jewellery welding tools have melted the notion that soldering is limited to specific metals and joint sizes. Advances in tools and technology have made soldering unnecessary in some cases, allowing for detailed joint work that wasn't possible in the past. The array of intricate jewellery welding applications has expanded the market of one-of-a-kind jewellery pieces while the availability of state-of-the-art welding tools has opened up a new venue of creative options for jewellers.
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Micro-welders are used in tandem with stereo microscopes (both contain optics that allow both eyes to see three dimensions of objects) and can pinpoint tiny joints within a few thousandths of an inch. Micro-welders are ideal for working on very thin or delicate metals that call for high-precision applications, such as finely linked chains. Micro-welders optimise user control while delivering minuscule amounts of welded metal precisely where they are needed.
Laser welders are small and provide an extremely focused beam of light that creates high heat in tiny areas. The focused beam allows jewellers to quickly accomplish tasks, such as clasp and link repairs, that were once impossible or too time-consuming to be worthwhile with the use of less accurate solderers and torch welders. According to a collaborative article by Costantino Volpe, Tiffany & Company, Engelhard-CLAL LP and Dr. Richard Lanam, another advantage to the laser welder is that it won't damage heat-sensitive stones because the focus of the heat is pinpointed specifically at the weld joint to avoid residual heat damage to nearby sensitive parts. The laser welder's precise operation makes repairing pronged jewellery, such as rings, faster and easier.
The arc welder uses a welder power supply in order to create an electric arc between an electrode and the base material in order to melt the metals at the welding point. The intense heat generated by the arc between the electrode and the base material welds the metals together; electrode arcs can be adjusted in diameter to accurately pinpoint the joints to be welded. However, the arc welding process is more time-consuming than that of either the laser or micro welders.
Tack welders employ a high-energy, low-voltage current to lightly weld, or tack, two pieces of metal together. The weld is temporary and simply holds two pieces of metal together before they are permanently welded. Tack welders have replaced binding wires as a more efficient method of holding metals together temporarily. A tack weld creates a light but precise bond that is easily separated, thereby saving time for professional jewellers.
A fusion welder has a large capacitor in which is stored electrical charges, similar to high capacity batteries, that create instant welds on contact. These welders release a charge when they make contact with the surface of the metal being welded. A small explosion sends oxides and gases away from the actual weld site. A vacuum exists for a fraction of a second, and metals are instantaneously bonded from the remaining heat. According to research by Bond Communications for Professional Jeweler Magazine, fusion welders work particularly well for platinum because of its high melting temperature.
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