Professional Jeweler Archive: Here's Sparkie!

April 2000

Precious Metals & Bench/New

Here's Sparkie!

Fusion welding gets small

One key to a successful (and profitable) jeweler’s bench is diversity. The more types of jobs you can perform quickly, easily and safely, the more customers you can satisfy. So if you’re a master at soldering but haven’t looked into fusion welding, you may be turning away business because customers need a repair soldering can’t do. For those jobs, Sparkie® may be just what you need.

Sparkie, a registered trademark of Triad Inc., Chartley, MA, is a minifusion welder. Fusion welding dates back to 1939 and has been used in the jewelry industry since the 1960s. While the basic technology isn’t new, recent developments in minifusion welders such as Sparkie and Sparkie II make technology affordable and easy to use. This technique also is less expensive than laser welding.

What Is Fusion Welding?

Fusion provides a fast, clean bond between similar and dissimilar metals when using fusion findings readily available from most major findings manufacturers.

A fusion welder uses a large capacitor to store an electrical charge, like a battery. That charge is released through a fusion find- ing as it touches the surface of the receiving metal.

A small explosion occurs, blowing oxides and gases away from the weld. The sound the operator hears is the breaking of the sound barrier. A vacuum exists for the next millionth of a second, allowing similar and dissimilar metals to bond in the residual heat. The weld takes place instantly.

Fusion Benefits

Fusion welding can be used on a wide variety of metals, including gold, silver, stainless steel, nickel, brass, steel, copper, titanium and niobium. Fusion welding works particularly well with platinum because of its high melting temperature. Leaded materials, such as leaded brass, cannot be fused.

Fusion welding eliminates the need for solder, flux, gas or hazardous materials. Intense heat can be a problem when you work with certain gems – such as opals and treated gems – and when repairing or assembling filigreed or enameled pieces. Because fusion welding concentrates heat on the immediate area of the weld, you can safely join pieces you wouldn’t want to solder.

Triad Inc.’s Sparkie Midget Fusion Welder is compact enough to fit at any bench. It stands 13.5 inches high, 7.5 inches deep and 4.5 inches wide. It weighs 7.5 pounds and operates on standard 115-volt current. It was designed specifically for the craftsman/designer and jewelry repair shop. You can use it to fuse dial feet, ear wires, posts and tie tacs.

Sparkie II is a more powerful model and, though only slightly larger, performs a wide range of welding jobs, including joints, catches, clip earrings, stick pins, screw posts, ear posts, tie tacs, dial feet, cuff links, French hooks and jump rings.

Sparkie and Sparkie II come with an instruction booklet and videotape, safety glasses, base metal practice kit and the collets and jigs needed for ear posts and tie tacs.

You can easily learn to use these welders, and the skills can be mastered in a few hours, says John Alves Jr., a sales representative for Triad. Sparkie retails for around $700. Sparkie II retails for just under $1,000. Both are sold through distributors.

Tack it in a Flash

Triad recently introduced another product designed to make jewelry repair and assembly easier and more efficient. The Flash Mini Tack Welder provides a temporary bond between similar or dissimilar metals, eliminating the need for jigs, wires, glues or third hands to correct a placement.

Tacking is especially useful when assembling a multicomponent piece of jewelry. If you assemble it using only solder, you must start with high-temperature solder and then change to lower-temperature solders as you add components. Otherwise, the heat needed to apply the additional components will soften the first solder, allowing the components to move.

If you first tack all components with the Flash Mini Tack Welder, they’ll stay in place while you solder. This way you can use the same grade solder to finish the entire piece because, even if the early solders are softened by the later ones, the components won’t move during the process.

This use of a consistent solder also will help assure your jewelry meets assay requirements.
The Flash works with platinum, karat gold, sterling silver, steel, nickel, brass and copper. It measures 9.25 inches long, 8.25 inches wide and 3.75 inches high and weighs 8 pounds. It retails for about $800.

  • Triad Inc., Chartley, MA; (800) 642-4218.

Sparkie Sparkie II
The Flash Mini Tack Welder

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