Palladium Sizing, Welding and Engraving

This article, written by Chris Ploof, describes the methods and procedures of palladium sizing, welding and engraving

Sizing Palladium Rings

You can use traditional methods to easily size palladium rings. Laser welding is not recommended, as lasered joints, even when properly prepared, can be brittle. Use the same alloy for sizing rings larger. For making rings smaller, remove material as necessary and carefully prepare a clean seam. Using palladium solder and no flux, or white gold solder and flux, solder the seam.

Torch Welding

Don’t do it! Palladium has the unique property of wanting to absorb many times its own weight of many gases. Torch welding will cause a porous, blistered mess that will require removal of material or necessitate complete scrapping of the piece of jewelry.

Laser Welding

Palladium can be laser welded, but the joint may not be structurally sound. Good laser welding practices, such as the use of V joints and tight seams, should always be observed. Additionally, it is necessary to use argon gas, which can be purchased in various grades. You can find industrial- or welding-grade gas easily; it’s a little bit harder to find laboratory-grade argon, but it’s highly recommended and provides better results. You may be tempted to use medical-grade argon, but it’s much more expensive and there are no appreciable differences noted when using it over laboratory-grade.

All lasers are different, but you can obtain the best results by setting the power low and the milliseconds high to spread energy throughout the weld, which prevents cracking through the center of the weld. If pulse shaping is available, use a mountain-shaped pulse. For best results, use your metal supplier’s alloy as laser fill wire.

Engraving

Palladium engraves easily. The metal flakes away from the piece, leaving a bright finish. You will find that your tools dull quicker than when engraving gold, and they require more frequent sharpening. The same tool angles used for engraving steel work well for palladium.

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