BOLTZ Cutter – The first cordless ultrasonic cutter is an interesting new gadget
Following their successful cordless rotary tool campaign, BOLTZ has created another DIY tool, this time an ultrasonic craft knife called BOLTZ Cutter. Ultrasonic knives are getting more popular recently thanks to the rise in hobbyist 3D printing, as plenty of cutting is required to remove the printed part from its support material. The ultrasonic doesn’t just make the cuts easier, but it also requires less direct pressure onto the blade to cut through, minimizing the risk of damaging delicate parts.
A major drawback to these tools is the cost. Even a beginner set usually costs $300-400, out of reach by the average DIY builders. Additionally, most systems are rather bulky and require a 100-240V wall power to operate. For these reasons, BOLTZ made an affordable downsized version for amateurs. It weighs less, runs on battery, uses wireless charging and still offers the same ultrasonic power to cut through various materials. We have just received a pre-production sample set yesterday, and will be trying it out today.
The box is basically an enlarged version of the last BOLTZ box. The packing foam is similar, holding the open-top dock of the Cutter in place. There is also a magnetic USB charging cable and a user’s manual inside. You can charge the Cutter with the cable directly without using the dock, in fact the very basic level of pledge only comes with the cable. Some kind of magnet is placed inside the dock, holding the knife at the current position to recharge. The magnetic charging cable works similarly, you will snap on as long as it is near the socket.
A vacuum-formed plastic packing holds the device securely inside the box. A charging USB cable and user’s manual are found inside. It holds the device safely inside the box and allow easy storage after each use.
The BOLTZ Cutter has roughly the same dimensions as the BOLTZ rotary tool. The front end uses a more traditional collet holder, clamp and hold the blade firmly. This works similar to conventional craft knives, but with the parts enlarged. As the full-sized ultrasonic knives usually use bolts to pin the blade down tightly, I assume better hold is needed for ultrasonic to work.
The LED display and magnetic charger are located at the rear. The display supposedly shows the power level and whether the ultrasonic is on or off, but the latter isn’t really necessary as you will feel and hear it when it does. The magnetic charging port lines up with the cable nicely and stays on even when you move it around. Although not too important for a craft knife, the weight is pretty balanced towards the center point, which is nice.
We received a nice set of blades along with the kit. Most of them are straight blades in various sizes, designed to make clean straight cuts. Smaller ones are handy working in a tight space, like cutting off a support from a small 3DP component. The saw-bladed tool is for sawing/cutting through thick solid material. The flat blade actually works more like a chisel, to chip off components from a chipset.
The BOLTZ team has provided us with some materials to test on. We have picked a piece of balsa from the set, which should help to show the difference between conventional and ultrasonic blades. As expected, the little X-acto style blade didn’t cut all the way through, but the cut is noticeably deeper with sonic on. Although the vibration is rather strong, it didn’t affect and cut and I was able to make straight lines. We used the same pressure on both cuts, and the difference is obvious. We have noticed the blade getting warmer than ambient temperature after the cuts, but nothing near the smoking heat on heavy duty counterparts.
So now the real question – should I get this tool? I think the BOLTZ Cutter is a worthy upgrade to anyone who works often with a X-acto style craft knife. It will make your work easier and allow you to do more in less time. While it isn’t as powerful as the $300+ full sized sets, it is also far cheaper and smaller. All blades in standardized X-acto and Olfa sizes could be used. Additionally, I feel much safer using it. It is available on Kickstarter in various pledges. Recommended.