Featured Articles LaserStar Technologies - making laser welding affordable for all independent retailers

LaserStar Technologies - making laser welding affordable for all independent retailers

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Laser welders have become an integral part of the independent retailer’s business plan. What was once expensive and complicated has evolved into an “everyman’s” in-store tool. With major technological advancements making the latest laser machines smaller, smarter and easier to use, many retailers are opting to jump the hurdle of apprehension and join the evolving laser revolution. LaserStar Technologies is ready to accommodate the growing interest as one of the jewelry industries most experienced laser manufacturing companies.

 

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LaserStar Technologies’ iWeld enables small, independent jewelers to enjoy the many benefits of a laser welder without breaking their budget.
With more than 52 years in the jewelry industry, LaserStar Technologies got its start by providing lasers to the medical and dental industries. Their production of Diode and Fiber laser marking systems offers non-contact, abrasion-resistant, permanent laser marking onto almost any type of material, making them appealing to a wide range of industries and applications.

It wasn’t until the early 1990s that laser welders were introduced to the retail jeweler as a tool for repair, reconstruction or customization. The medical and dental industry had been reaping the benefits of lasers for years in the production of pace makers, cochlear ear implants, angioplasty equipment, and brain stents. But the technology didn’t reach jewelry retailers until companies like LaserStar realized the need for an accurate, welding system to protect heat sensitive stones, etc.

“Lasers are clean and quick and don’t require an operator with many years of bench experience,” comments James E. Gervais, President of LaserStar Technologies. “Lasers aren’t prejudicial when it comes to metals. They operate the same whether it is gold, platinum, silver or brass.”

Understanding the vast differences in heating requirements among the metals provides a greater appreciation for laser welders. Traditional welding of metals limits the designer in scope, size and design of the piece. Likewise certain stones cannot be in close proximity to the extreme heat of a welding torch without causing severe damage, making some designs or repairs virtually impossible.

So, the introduction of laser welders to the industry was met with eagerness, in spite of the fact that early machines were bulky, expensive and somewhat complicated to operate. Despite the drawbacks, retailers saw an opportunity to keep repairs and custom work inside their shop without having multiple bench jewelers on staff.

 

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This two piece, created using a LaserStar welder, took 1st place in the MJSA Vision Award category.
As the first company to introduce these new machines to the jewelry industry in 1993, LaserStar Technologies took the knowledge it produced for the medical industry and gave it to the jewelry industry. Although original prices were in the $45,000 range, retailers were still eager to get their hands on such a useful tool.

“We started in the industry by taking our machines to shows and that’s where we discovered that the mom and pop stores were very interested in owning their own machine. They wanted to be able to create a profit center that allowed them to work with the elements that had previously been too heat sensitive to solder.”

LaserStar left with a new mission; to bring down pricing enabling retailers, small and large, the opportunity to own a laser welder.

Today’s lasers are a third of the price, provide twice the power and have more technology than they did in 1993. With the average price of an iWeld laser welder running $14,000 - $20,000, the company has worked hard to bring costs down and make them affordable to everyone.

“To make our laser welders more affordable for many retail stores, we created a lease-to-own purchase program that runs as little as $310 per month on our entry level machines. That is a little easier to budget for instead of $14,500 up front,” states Gervais. “We saw this alternative financing program really take off in 2003 when, for the first time, our retail machine sales outpaced our jewelry manufacturing factory sales.”

And the trend continues. With today’s jewelers facing more custom requests than ever before, and needing the extra revenue that comes with handling repairs in the store, laser welders are quickly gaining in popularity at the retail level.

 

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This two piece, created using a LaserStar welder, took 2nd place in the MJSA Vision Award category.
For those who are still apprehensive about their ability to utilize such a tool, LaserStar has this to say: “Once you purchase your machine, we offer complete application and revenue generating training at any of our national LaserStar Learning Centers located in Rhode Island, Florida or California. Our certified trainers will train you how to use the machine while you earn money for making the repair.  We encourage all of our students to bring several of their ‘needs repair’ items that they have been avoiding.”

LaserStar prides itself on excellent customer service backed by the exceptional quality and immediate support that comes with Made in the USA. Whether it’s video segments on how to handle common repair requests or helpful reference books that provide tips and tricks to use the laser welder, there is a complete compilation of resources to help retailers get the most out of their machine.

They have even partnered with GIA, which now offers a course on laser welding where students learn using LaserStar machines.

“The GIA Laser Training Course is a modified version of LaserStar’s training curriculum,” remarks Gervais. “We often work in conjunction with GIA to help train retailers on our machines. Many of LaserStar’s Jewelry Application Specialists are GIA graduates.”

But don’t think LaserStar is resting on its achievements. In the spring of 2010 they will introduce their latest advancement in laser engraving.  Starting at $35,000, this new machine will allow retailers the ease of accurate engraving coupled with an increase in power output.

“We simply carried out our mission which is to make this amazing technology available to everyone in the industry. We strive to constantly enhance the quality, performance and innovation of our products. Come visit us at many of the spring trade shows including SJTA Atlanta, MJSA Expo New York, JCK Las Vegas, etc. and see the products yourself. We know you’ll be amazed.”

Visit the company’s website at www.laserstar.net or contact one of their national sales offices -  in Rhode Island at 401-438-1500, Florida at 407-248-1142 or California at 213-612-0622 for more information.

 
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