Laser welding is used to join or repair small items efficiently and without wear on the tools used. Coherent, Inc. summarizes the benefits of laser welding over traditional small-item repair methods well by stating: “Laser welding is one of many techniques for joining materials. The main benefit resulting from using a laser for this technique is high processing speeds with no tool wear due to a contact-free process.” Welding seams are small and accurate, resulting in a minimized need for post-processing. Process automation enables a high degree of repeatability and quality. Generally, any metal that can be welded using traditional methods is also able to be laser welded.
The outstanding accuracy of laser technology – which translates to minimal warping or damage to surrounding material – makes laser welding an excellent choice for repairing small items that may be irreparable otherwise. Let’s examine several ways laser welding can be used for repair.
Laser welding is incredibly useful as a jewelry repair method. Lasers produce focused light beams and work quickly to melt metal. Since the laser beam is small, the heat is generated stays localized and has less of an effect on the entire piece. This means that with a laser, intricate details and delicate repair work is possible, whereas with traditional repair methods these same tasks would be exceptionally difficult, if not impossible.
With traditional jewelry repair work, precious stones usually have to be removed to avoid damage from the heat of the jeweler’s torch. When stones are removed, the setting later has to be rebuilt. In addition, some fragile gemstones will chip or break when removed from their settings, especially in older or antique jewelry pieces. Laser welding eliminates these concerns, saving time, money, and even the jewelry itself in some cases.
Laser-based jewelry repair is not available in all areas, although mail-in or relatively nearby solutions can typically be found through a quick check online. Jewelers with experience in laser welding for jewelry repair will often accept insured, mailed-in pieces to be repaired and sent back to the consumer.
Using laser welding to repair eyeglasses results in a nearly seamless and permanent repair. Intense heat from a soldering iron or jeweler’s torch can weaken the metal surrounding the repair, leading to further problems. These traditional repair methods may also damage any metal plating or coating on the frames. Conversely, the bond created via laser welding is estimated to be sixty times stronger than a soldered bond – while still being almost invisible to the naked eye.
This degree of accuracy is possible because lasers work at low temperatures using specific spectrums of light through highly focused beams that give off exponentially less residual hear. The laser welder also uses a microscope that magnifies the frames by fifty times. This allows for precision welding of each area being repaired. Since the laser welding process does not heat up the frames, the frames can be held in the hand as they are being repaired as opposed to with tongs, helping ensure accuracy and efficiency.
Finally, using laser welding for denture repair eliminates the need to remold the dentures and can repair an existing as opposed to recreating it entirely. This saves time and money, and helps maintain consistency in the dentures.
Similar to jewelry or eyeglasses, laser welding on dentures offers a great amount of control, resulting in a precise weld with no warping. The precision of the laser weld allows for welding near acrylic and metal junctures with minimal effects to the acrylic. Newer models also offer the ability to work in burst mode, which lets the user set the number of laser beam pulses that occur during each press of the pedal. Using this mode creates an overlapping, strong, and aesthetically pleasing weld.
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