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Hi - I have a PUK4 that I'm very happy with. A deciding influence
for me was Jeffrey Herman's recommendation on pulse arc welding.
I put the pieces together and out of the box it worked perfectly. The
PUK4 is an easy interface with gobs of flexibility. It works really
well with most varieties of metal although welding stainless steel
isn't as easy as I'd hoped. I've been pleasantly surprised that the
electrodes last and the machine isn't picky about having them sharp.
Not so with the Orion.
Before purchasing the PUK4, I had the top of the line Orion but found
that it was difficult to use. The touch screen was fiddly and the
save function didn't work. I returned it to Orion. I think the
difference between the two machines is this: the PUK engineers
understand goldsmithing. The Orion engineers come at the design from
an engineering standpoint - how much flexibility can we put in this
machine. They built a very nice machine for high tech manufacturing
but not oriented to the needs of a bench jeweler. As I was trying to
make the Orion machine work, I found that none of their engineers
had a clue about making jewelry. This is not to say that they build a
bad machine, just that it's interface and capabilities are more
suited to a general manufacturing environment. Prior to working as a
goldsmith, I was an engineer in high tech, and I thought that I could
make it all work. I could, but the daily agony of thinking like an
engineer and then translating that to work on my goldsmithing bench
just wasn't fun. Ergo - return the Orion machine.
Using a laser with silver, copper etc is problematic - it likes to
reflect off the silver. Previously I had an earlier version of PUK
that simply wasn't high energy enough for silver. Pretty much all of
them work well with gold.
In my opinion, they are all overpriced but since I'd rather make
jewelry than make a similar machine from a large scale TIG welder, I
paid and got on with the job. Kevin Lindsey has had success with
adapting one of the large TIG machines as I remember.