Paying for your jewelry welder and the permanent jewelry boom
Currently it is difficult to scroll through Instagram or TikTok and not see someone mentioning or advertising permanent jewelry.
What is permanent jewelry?
Simply, permanent jewelry is jewelry that you can’t take off. Instead of a traditional clasp, the two loose ends of the chain are welded or fused together using a jewelry pulse arc welder.
What is a pulse arc welder?
Pulse arc welders use a method involving electrical energy to produce welds. Using a tungsten electrode an arc is generated when the grounded workpiece touches the electrode. The generated arc creates a high-temperature pulse of plasma that can melt metal (i.e. weld). Simply: electricity, heat, and angry magic pixies.
Pulse arc welders typically use an argon shielding gas to protect the welds from oxidation. Argon is an inert gas that is heavier than oxygen. A little puff of argon pushes the oxygen out of the weld area and makes for cleaner pretty welds.
Paying for welders in the jewelry studio.
Welders cost anywhere from $2k to over $8K depending on the model, size and power.
That is a lot of money for a small business or hobby goldsmith. In my own shop / studio I look at things from the perspective of versatility and cost effectiveness.
Lets use the most basic but still capable jewelry welder as an example. The mPulse 30, which currently runs approximately $2.3K at our Pepetools affiliate (prices can fluctuate).
I currently charge a base $65 base welder fee on all repairs. This includes pushing the welder on button and 10-15 ish welds. After the 10-15 welds there is a reasonable sliding scale of price increase.
There are a few reasons for this pricing:
- Sliding scale- More welds means more argon gas usage, more wear on consumables (tungsten electrodes) and more electricity usage.
- A base welder fee is established because the welder is a specialized tool. Specialized tools should have special pricing. Ultimately as a business owner your customers should pay for your specialized tools. Tools should not have to come out of take home profit. Larger tool purchases should be looked at as business investments. Once paid off how will it continue to bring in revenue?
Time for some rough math!
mPulse 30 $2300
2300 divided by 65 = 35.38 jobs
Job 36 and thereafter pays for consumables and PROFIT.
I don’t currently offer permanent jewelry but it seems like getting 36 jobs doing a few pop up shows should be pretty easy with the right marketing and venue selection.
Other welder models
The mPulse 30 is very capable but I would 100% advise upgrading the the mPulse 30 plus. It comes with a welder safe microscope that increases the usefulness of the welder.
Current Orion models and price scales at the time of this writing:
There is a wide range of welder models out there. I currently have the 200i it is the most powerful and adjustable out of the jewelry line of welders. I currently use mine for jewelry, tool manufacturing and tool modification.
As the models get more expensive you can expect an increase in welder power and adjustability of the welds ( a welder nerds dream) despite the lower price range of the mPulse welders I have played with them a lot and found them absolutely sufficient for repairs and studio work.
Addition equipment not normally mentioned
There are argon gas mail order programs through Sunstone that work great if you don’t have a welding gas supplier near you. However, typically a tank is purchased full from a welding gas supplier and then traded out for a full tank when empty.
The first time you purchase your argon and tank the price will be higher because you are also punching the tank (rental if you will). Then after the tank is empty you trade your empty for a full tank at your supplier and only pay for the gas. Argon refills cost me around $65 for a 20-30 standard cubic foot (scf) tank at my supplier. A 20 scf tank can last me a few months depending on how much welding I am doing.
A inert gas regulator will be necessary to regulate the gas flow from the tank to your welder. I highly recommend getting one from a jewelry welding supplier because they are tuned to allow a finer adjustment
Grounding attachments are key to comfortable work holding and ease of use. Lion Punch forge has this one for sale (special order) and the capability to make custom attachments. We also have YouTube video showing you how to make your own.
Electrodes are the magic maker with welders even if you purchase a $10k welder if you have the wrong electrodes or poorly shaped electrodes you will get poor welds. Fortunately this isn’t hard to do. Electrodes are consumables and will eventually need replacing when the get too short from sharpening -Good news after a few years of use I still don’t need more, they last a long time.
Sharpening electrodes can be done on a diamond wheel in a flex shaft super quick!
or use a specialized tool designed to make it go faster and more mobile:
Pilot Electrode Sharpener for Permanent Jewelry
I hope this basic overview helps you think about welders and more specialized tools in a different light.
Specialized tools can make help you work faster and accomplish more tasks. Leave a comment if you would like to see more blog entries like this either on other tools or expanding on these details and maybe show some fun tricks using a welder.
Learning new skills:
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