Rofin Starweld Laser Welder
John O'Connor, owner of Stoneman Custom Jewelers, is one of the few jewelers in the country who use a
state -of-the-art laser to repair fine jewelry. The laser welder is manufactured by Rofin-Baasel, Inc. of Acton,
Mass., which calls the laser machine, the Starweld Microwelder and reports the new technology is a "safe,
simple, environmentally benign alternavtive to conventional soldering.
With the new technology, repairing fine jewelry is faster and more efficient. When working with the laser you
usually can't tell where it has been repaired, because it has been filled with the same metal. You can even
repair pieces that are semi-metals, like costume jewelry, just like repairs on precious metals. An added plus
with the laser welder is that very little heat is produced. Because there is little heat, you can work on jewelry
that couldn't be done before. Now you can work right next to stones which are very sensitive to heat. Before
you had to remove and then reset the stones, because they couldn't be exposed to the heat of a torch.
When using the laser welder there is no pollution and you can solder higher temperature metals like platinum,
which melts at 3,224 degrees Fahrenheit, or gold which melts at 1,945 degrees. You can even repair titanium
and steel eyeglasses with it.
The amazing thing is the laser is simply a beam of light. Depending on the diameter of the laser beam's focus
and the duration of the blast of concentrated light, as well as voltage used and number of pulses per second, we
can cut with the laser, weld two pieces of precious metal together, or do fill-in work to smooth out gaps and
rough spots. The work is so smooth that even an expert can't detect the repair work once it is polished. The
weld joints created by the laser are stronger than traditional welds and the company's information sheet says
that the "welds are 70 percent stronger than soldered joints, and the ability to combine or marry metals
together, is a breeze with laser welding."
The laser welder is so versatile and useful for fine repair work that it can be used to repair and restore vintage
jewelry. With the laser new things can be done with metals that were impossible before. Pieces that weren't
fixable before can be repaired. Wire as fine as a human hair can be welded. Now with the new technology,
there are few limits to what can be done.