Dating as far back as the early 1960’s, researchers were zapping tattoo inks with laser light was an effective way to remove the markings from human skin. At the time it was prohibitively expensive. But the desire to have an undo-button for badge choices is strong, and thus the tattoo removal gun was born.
These days you can pick up one of these zappy, burn-y wonders for far less than a flagship cellphone put their high-power-output to alternative use. [Andrew] recently discovered that these devices can be readily repurposed into a laser welding tool with just a bit of work under the hood.
He first came across the technology via videos from [styropyro], whose work we’ve featured before. The tattoo removal gun features a YAG laser, which is pulsed to create a high power density. In initial testing, the pulses were too short and of too high intensity to effectively weld with; instead, the pulses simply cratered the metal.
After delving in further, [Andrew] discovered that by removing the Q-switch optical component, the pulses from the laser could be lengthened. This reduces the power density, and allows the tool to weld various materials even on its lower power settings. Success was found welding steel, titanium, and other materials, though attempts to weld copper and silver faced little success. Test pieces included razor blades and small screws, which could easily be welded with the tool. Results of the razor blade welding is spectacular, with a high-quality welding bead achieved by taping the laser to a CNC mill for precise movement.
It could prove to be a useful tool for those experimenting with complex projects involving bonding metals at very fine scales. If you’re pursuing something exotic yourself, we want to hear about it!