Sunstone Engineering, producer of the leading permanent jewelry welder, the Orion mPulse 30, and the PJ, has introduced a new model of arc pulse micro welder at a much more affordable price ($999 USD) primarily for the permanent jewelry welding.
The purpose of this review is to see whether the Zapp can do the job it needs to do and how it compares to Sunstone’s other product offerings.
The model in the video is a first batch prototype – the actual machine will be white with a silver stylus – however, all the functions of the machine will be identical.
In this video I share:
- Overview and what is included in the price
- Test weld for different thicknesses of jump rings (from most popular for permanent jewelry to very thick 16 gauge 1.6mm wire)
- Value comparison to other Sunstone brands
- Value comparison to no name brands
- Who should and shouldn’t buy the Zapp
First impression is that it is cute and compact, it is very lightweight and simplistic, which I find a bit disconcerting. It has a dial you plug-in the power, the stylus, and if you want to have an auto dimming lens, there is a plug for it, and that’s it. But then, to be honest, that’s what I thought of the iPod when it first came out, and how I feel about the Apple Watch. So I’m gonna reserve comment until I test it out to make sure that he can do all the things one would need for Permanent Jewelry and also if I was a manufacturer to be able to weld in simple things.
In the test weld:
The Zapp can weld jump rings very effectively and efficiently from 26 gauge all the way to 18 gauge.
It is not powerful enough to permanently and securely weld a jump ring that is 16 gauge(1.6mm) or thicker.
Zapp vs Other Sunstone Welders
Let’s see how it compares with the leading Sunstone welders: mPulse 30 and the PJ.
The mPulse is priced at $2400, has a power range of 3-30 joules, power setting safety lock and an ADL. The PJ is priced at $2800, has power range of 1-15 joules, an ADL, ability to change the interface, power setting lock and possible extension for the stylus.
From my experience, most permanent jewelry artists favour 24 and 22 ga jump rings. I like the setting at 7w (or 7 joules) and that’s the setting I leave my mPulse 30 and my PJ on anyway. So it does the work very effectively.
If your primary business is welding jump rings all day every day – for permanent jewelry or customizing chains, the Zapp will work perfectly for you. It will allow you to get started in the permanent jewelry or jewelry sales for customized chain lengths.
If you want to weld fancier things like welding bangles, you need to upgrade to the other models with higher power range because the Zapp is not powerful enough for it. But it will allow you entry into the PJ business to start earning revenue so that if you want the bells and whistles of the other models, you can upgrade later.
As for the ADL and whether or not they need to purchase an auto dimming lens. And the answer is while they are good to have they’re not absolutely necessary. I have filmed a hack where you can use a smartphone or a tablet to not only magnify, but will help protect your eyes from the infrared radiation that comes with the bright light in welding flash.
Zapp vs No Name Brands
As far as whether Zapp is better value for a permanent jewelry business or a jewelry retail business than no name brands, I feel absolutely. Sunstone has spent a lot of effort and money to promote its brands of micro welders within the permanent jewelry industry and that has penetrated through to the consumers. Sunstone’s name is synonymous to safer and higher quality machines. They’re made in the USA and they have much better after-sale service and care.
- The core issue is that the no name welder was not designed for PJ welding and low energy release. It can work, but was never designed for that application.
- The unbranded welder places voltage on the stylus as a trigger. One can see the voltage when the electrode approaches the workpiece, as there is a spark that occurs before the weld is triggered. The spark (the flow of current from the stylus to the workpiece) is what triggers the unbranded welder to release energy and create a weld. The voltage in the stylus is why many owners of the unbranded welder will wrap the stylus in electrical tape, so they nor their customers will feel the current during a weld. This is not to say all unbranded welder owners experience this buzz. Some have learned to make sure they are properly grounded before welding, which eliminates the buzz.
- The Zapp is based upon 15 years of experience in developing micro welders and from designing and manufacturing the two most popular PJ welders in the industry, the PJ and the mPulse.
- Sunstone is an ISO certified company, meaning that the company is audited regularly for quality control
In my opinion, as far as business strategy is concerned, would I buy the Zapp at $1000 over the unbranded welders that I might be able to purchase for $200 or $400 if I was welding permanent jewelry? The answer is yes, this is why: the perceived value of a machine made in the US, backed by Sunstone, is worth way more than the extra $600.
You will be signalling to your customers that you care and that you are offering a higher quality service. They will feel safer with an American welder versus economy machine, even if the unbranded welder has not had any accidents.
You have to think about how many permanent pieces are you hoping to sell? 500 or 1000? That is only $1 per bracelet, which you are charging avg $65-$95 ea, for your first bunch of customers, and your business will grow!
Another reason why I would go with the Zapp vs an unbranded machine, is that Sunstone engineering is a large company, and if anything was to happen (knock on wood), they back up their product and service, including liability issues. What PJ artists would be paying for is extra insurance and peace of mind.
Who should buy the Zapp
The four types of customers for whom this is ideal:
1) just starting out in Permanent Jewelry (budget is limited in this will allow you to gain entry into a very good business and start earning revenue right away)
2) this is a good back up welder for anyone already in Permanent Jewelry (it’s portable travels well in expensive and great when you don’t want the expense of having another model)
3) you’re expanding Permanent Jewelry rapidly in different locations and have limited funds in your rapid expansion
4) you’re a bench, jeweler or maker, and want a fast and efficient way of welding jumprings closed without the hassle of flame and solder, or you want something to hold a piece in place before soldering, in mass production, but don’t want to spend $2400 on the mPulse.
Click here to watch the full review and assembly instructions.