As any jeweler or refiner can tell you, there are many ways to refine and shape gold. But a recently developed technique called laser sintering is one of the most interesting that we’ve heard of – and it could pave the way for many new innovations in gold refining.
Sintering has been used in industrial applications for many years. The process involves taking a powdered material and heating it to just below the material’s melting point. This creates atomic diffusion, which causes the powder particles to bond together and form one solid piece. You can see sintering in action for yourself: get a glass of water and add some ice cubes. As the water warms the ice to near its melting point, the cubes will all fuse together!
Typically, industrial sintering requires the powdered material to be kept in a mold. But, laser sintering removes this weakness. First, gold is ground into a very fine powder. Then, a highly-focused laser beam can be used to sinter the gold in localized areas. Essentially, laser sintering allows you to “draw” whatever design you want in any shape imaginable.
Laser sintering opens a world of possibility for creating intricate industrial parts or fantastic jewelry designs. We can’t wait to see this technology take off and produce all sorts of amazing golden goods!