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I have seen people "cleaning" metal with a laser cutter, though in reality they are just burning away a layer of whatever was on the metal (in the cases I've witnessed I think it was paint and rust). Not really cleaning but if there is something flammable covering the metal I suppose it won't be there much longer.
Yes I have. I've only done it this way so far because I like the color. I'm not sure I can make solder shine as well but I suppose I'll give it a try some time in the future.
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Wow. I now know what I want to build.
I suppose you could clean wire this way but it would be a very inefficient way to clean. You have program a path for the laser cutter to follow and it would only follow that path. You would also have to place your wire in that exact same path. Also also, the focal point of the laser is a very fine point (forgive me if I don't know how small :p). It's reaaaaally tiny. The best analogy I can think of is that it's like blindfolding someone and making him clean a floor with a toothbrush. Is it possible? Sure. Will it take forever? Yes. Will it be inaccurate if you gave the machine even the tinniest of nudges? Absolutely. I prefer cleaning the wire with some steel wool.
I haven't worked with nickel so it could be what makya has said; that it is oxidizing. There are some color changes in my projects that I just kind of accept. I don't really have an idea how to avoid the color change as in my experience, any staining or treating of any kind almost completely goes away while sanding. Maybe try something that would plug up those pores in the wood? Let me know if you get past this issue.
If you can make all the metal at every point measure 1mm below the surface, go for it. But mind you that the metal is very soft at this point so it will deform as you tap it in. You would also have to get rid of a lot of wood before you could get the wood flush to the metal. It's easier to get the metal flush to the wood rather than the other way around.
Egyptian silver! Sounds exotic.Post pictures when you get it done.
How I Make Cool Metal InlaysView Instructable »