Sonic Cleaner

Sonic Cleaner
Ref. : 586 000
Production Date : 1982 [first documented appearance I can confirm]

This ultrasonic cleaning unit was a « must have » for every serious studio back in the early 1980’s. It was considered a very futuristic tool restricted to highly skilled operators, a junior like me was not allowed to touch it! Operating at 40 kHz frequency it was designed for cleaning Rotring’s nibs, plotter points and other small component parts. The main cylinder is 15,5 cm high and 9,5cm diameter. The weak point of this unit is the very un-deep cleaning area, allowing only a few parts to be cleaned at one time.

I guess Rotring sub-contract this product from a third-party manufacturer, but anyway the build quality is top-notch. The device is quite heavy, the brushed aluminium is robust and the electrical arrangement seems quite reliable. I purchased this unit second-hand and it come « naked », no manual, no box… so I can’t tell much about the specifications except for the identification sticker found on the bottom and pictured below.

Although almost 40 years-old, my unit works perfectly well, and provide a very good ultrasonic cleaning similar to more modern devices. Having no cap it’s a bit noisy, but nothing really serious. Back in the days, the price tag of this unit was outrageously expensive. In 1982, Rotring sold it for 467 Deutsche Marks, which is roughly 240 Euros (265 USD). A similar device can be found today for around 30 / 40 USD!! This must surely explain why it’s not very easy to find one today.

Sonic Cleaner-A

Sonic Cleaner-B

Sonic Cleaner-C

Sonic Cleaner-D

Sonic Cleaner-E

Sonic Cleaner-F

Sonic Cleaner-G


4 réflexions sur “Sonic Cleaner

  1. Olivier,
    Could you post pictures of before and after cleaning of pen parts that have been thoroughly used? I just want to see how effective this unit is.
    I never got round to evaluating the rotring unit, all I remember was that around 20 years ago I got to see a Faber Castell unit and was not particularly impressed with its cleaning ability at all.


    • Hi SKS, thanks for your feedback. I have no dirty Rotring at hands for now, so I’m not planing a cleaning session soon. However – and this apply to every sonic cleaner – you must not see theses devices as a « miracle tool ». I always made several cleaning session to get a good result. Typically, I first clean the pen manualy with water, cotton tips, towel paper, etc… I then put the component in the sonic cleaner 4, 5, 6 time (sometimes more) to get a good result. I need to do a post about cleaning Rotrings in the future, because I’m frequently asked about this topic.


      • I would never advocate putting the pen parts 4 – 6 time for any cleaning regime. Not meaning to be rude but the reason is obvious – you probably aren’t cleaning them properly. I would, depending on the nib in question, soak the parts in the cleaning unit for days or weeks checking now and again, usually a few weeks would do it for me (this is the reason for always having other pens!). I would them take the parts out of the cleaning unit and clean by hand, using tissue and cleaning fluid if necessary. For some ground in stains like in the ink barrel you might have to soak a tissue and form a rod with it to clean the insides, I do this with the front section of the variant/micronorm/foliograph, you’ll have to screw the tissue in the thread as it were – this will catch the stubborn stains that are lodged there that cleaning might miss. After that a good rinse with clean water and dry it out. I will go as far as cleaning the entire nib sections and even taking out the piston and wire and the nib internals. The Koh I Noor pressure bulb is very useful in this regard:

        you can use it to test that your nib is cleaned by trying to push some water through it to see if any comes out of the nib, and note the colour!. Note that the rotring cleaning fluid, and the Rapido-eze fluid can be rather corrosive to certain metals like that found on rotring plotter points. They also seem to take out the paint marking on the side of the nibs, which is why I don’t like to soak my nibs too long in cleaning fluid, just enough for the cleaning fluid to bite. Plastic parts can be soak almost indefinitely.

        the other thing to note is that due to the natural of rotring indian ink ensure you are using your pens regularly and at least have the ink the in reservoir move a little form time to time. The reason is that the ink tends to « settle » and then « thicken » itself over time if not in a state of mixing (precipitation), this will makes some really, really tough to remove dried on stains. Fortunately this occurs mainly at the end of the reservoir or at the bottom of the front section where the nib begins.


      • In fact I never sonic-clean the pens that I used regularly. They are stored with the nib up and they just don »t need to be cleaned much often, because I never let the ink dry. From time to time I cleaned them with just water and everything is fine. I used my cleaning machine she I buy some old pens, which can be in a disastrous condition, fully cloaked, and here I need to do several sessions of sonic cleaning


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