The blade of an ultrasonic cutter moves at a very high speed (up to 55,500 strokes per second), but it only travels a short distance per stroke. Since it moves so fast for such a short distance, know that you don't have to worry about the material it's cutting sticking to or moving with the blade, which makes ultrasonic cutters ideal where finesse and precision are needed, such as the garment industry, parts factories and hospitals.
Surgeons get a lot of credit for having good hands, but they're only as good as the tools they use. Two of these tools are the Harmonic Scalpel and the SonoSurg Ultrasonic Cutting and Coagulation System. These ultrasonic cutting tools minimise tissue damage by coagulating the blood as they cut. Electric and laser cutting tools accomplish the same thing by burning tissue to cauterise wounds, but they're not as effective at stopping the bleeding. That's why surgeons work faster with ultrasonic cutters and why patients experience quicker recoveries with less scarring. The SonoSurg is a recent breakthrough that's replacing Harmonic Scalpels in some operating rooms because it's easier to set up and use, and it gives more predictable results. Unlike the Harmonic Scalpel it also has probes that can be autoclaved (sterilised) and reused 20 times or more, and it uses a lower (47 kHz) frequency that translates to a longer wavelength and more cutting power; cuts are up to three seconds faster according to Dr. Lee Schmitt. For these and other reasons, ultrasonic cutters are regularly used to do gastric bypasses, haemorrhoid removals, procedures around the oesophagus and many other surgeries.
Manufacturers also rely on ultrasonic cutters to get clean and precise cuts at exact tolerances. These cutting tools include plasma cutters, plasma torches and plasma cutting torches that use a high-heat, high-speed ionised gas to do the cutting. This plasma leaves the tool's nozzle at speeds up to 20,000 feet per second and temperatures reaching 16649 degrees Celsius. The plasma quickly melts areas it touches and blows molten metal off the material as it blasts through to the other side. Ultrasonic cutters work on any electrically conductive material, and they don't heat up metal outside the cutting area. Factories use them for everything from metal working, parts fabrication and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems manufacturing.
Cutting Fabrics and Composites
In the garment industry and other industries that work with fabrics or high-tech composites, fraying or unravelling at the cut can be a problem. Since ultrasonic cutters generate just enough heat to seal the edges they cut, they're popular with garment and airframe manufacturers. These ultrasonic cutters also do a good job on fabrics or composites that vary a lot in their thickness or weave pattern, and they operate at frequencies from 20 to 40 kHz. Their high-speed blades can cut man-made fabrics, rubber, thermoplastic films, carbon and glass fibres and Kevlar and Honeycomb materials with a high degree of accuracy.
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