The first couple of test saddles I made were cut by hand. Even though I’ve been using scalpels for years, there were many attempts at various stages to produce decent pieces and that was all a little tedious! I was improving the more I did but didn’t feel I was ever going to be great at it. In my other job (designer), I use a really good production company called C3 Imaging. I knew they had cutting capabilities, I just didn’t know whether leather was something they could cut. Fortunately for me their Zund cutting machine can cut almost anything, given the right blade. One leather blade later and we did our first test cuts, so exciting and so successful. The cuts were sharp, clean and detailed. Score one for the technology!
I have since found that modern saddles these day are often cut and stitched using cutting and sewing machines, so I don’t feel that it’s an absolute necessity for the craft that everything should still be hand cut.