Cutting apart a well-sealed Makita battery cartridge was a big milestone for my Cutra Wondercutter S purchase. It was the first big project that would have been unreasonably difficult to do with any of the other tools I have on hand. With this milestone, I am confident the tool has a unique niche. Does it justify the cost? That’s a harder question whose answer will depend on usage and budget.
I bought my Wondercutter from Micro-Mark after doing a bit of window-shopping research on the item. I was simultaneously optimistic and skeptical that its capability will live up to its high price tag. When I opened up the box, I saw that a small piece of test material was included in the package for us to take our first Wondercutter cut. It is some sort of foamcore material, and it presented the best-case scenario. It was thick and durable enough to take effort cuting with my X-Acto #11 blade and even then, the cut wasn’t very clean. But Wondercutter sliced through like hot knife through butter on this material and also leaving a clean edge.
I then tried it on materials that I expect to work with. A scrap sheet of 3mm acrylic took more effort to cut than the test material, but it did cut just the same. The sight of acrylic melted along the cutting edge was accompanied by the smell of heated acrylic. Some of the cutting action must have been from heat melting the acrylic and not just the ultrasonic cutting action. This sample indicated the Wondercutter is no substitute for a laser cutter for clean sharp edges. But I don’t have a laser cutter, so a Wondercutter will work in a pinch for quick acrylic cuts at home.
The next tests were done on various failed prints from my 3D printer. Printed PLA cut more easily than acrylic, with similar sight and smell of melting. PETG was more difficult to cut and, thanks to its higher temperature resistance, there was only minimal melting. Another characteristic of cutting PETG is that I could occasionally feel vibration through my fingers, like a dental cleaning session which can be unpleasant. Printed support materials were easier to cut than solid shapes, as they are intentionally printed to be weaker. For this purpose, using a Wondercutter is faster than my X-Acto blade, but by itself is not necessarily enough to justify the expense. I’ve read that the Wondercutter is great for cutting resin support structures, so I look forward to that if I ever get into resin-based 3D printing.
The final test was done on a circuit board. Some Wondercutter vendors claimed it can cut circuit boards, though neither Cutra nor Micro-Mark mentioned it either way. This was a no-go. While the blade could make its way through FR4 fiberglass, cutting progress came to a literal screeching halt as soon as the blade touched a copper trace. It damaged the blade, so I had to replace it. Thankfully there is a pack of 40 replacement blades in the box. I hope it didn’t damage the transducer.
With this bit of testing under my belt, I start pulling out the Wondercutter for various teardown projects. The first big win was cutting the ultrasonic transducer mount free from an oil diffuser. It went much faster than an X-Acto blade and less messy than a Dremel cutting wheel. Some smaller jobs were sprinkled here and there, like cutting the battery tray free from various devices so I could use them in my own projects. Or the plastic-encased bearing assembly of an evaporator fan. The Makita battery project is similar to the oil diffuser transducer: much faster than an X-Acto blade, and less dangerous than a Dremel cutting wheel. The Wondercutter is an expensive investment an order of magnitude more expensive than a Dremel and two orders more than an X-Acto blade. But every once in a while, I find myself in need of its capabilities and glad that I now have it.