Best Plasma Cutter Reviews
There is more to having the best plasma cutter than being able to cut metal. Before the introduction of the plasma cutter, cutting metal was hell of a work. This is due to the intense human effort that goes into the process of cutting metal, you struggle, physically exhaust yourself, sweat, and waste a lot of time all in a bid to cut out sheets of metal.
The introduction of the Plasma cutter came as a savior to the welding industry. It is not only the best tool to cut metal, it also has several other varieties of advantages to a welder.
In simple terms, a plasma cutter is a piece of tool that employs a high-speed inert gas to cut through metals or alloys of various thickness with ease. A plasma cutter makes use of an inert gas with an electrical current, the result is a torch that does the cutting process.
On this note, I welcome you to this plasma cutting review where I will pick out the top 30 plasma cutter available in the market today and give my honest opinion on each of them, I will also discuss on what you can do with a plasma cutter, the essential safety gear mandatory for use while cutting with a plasma cutter, the safety hazards involved and the essential tools needed to run a plasma cutter.
Join me as I introduce the best plasma cutters available in the industry.
Top 30 Best Plasma Cutter Reviews
1. Lotos LTP5000D 50Amp Non-Touch Pilot Arc Plasma Cutter
Seeking a compact plasma cutter with the capacity to divide through various metal thickness and size, the Lotos LTP5000D 50Amp Non-Touch Pilot Arc Plasma is the best choice. It has the capacity to seamlessly divide aluminum, copper, mild steel, stainless steel and all sort of metal.
The plasma cutter works with a Pilot arc torch that can pierce through any surface – painted, rough, hard or rust surface to produce a fine and smooth cut. It also features an advanced German cooling system
2. Lotos LT5000D Plasma Cutter 50Amps Dual Voltage Compact Metal Cutter
LOTOS, one of the largest manufacturer of plasma cutters is a highly trusted brand. The Lotos LT5000D Plasma Cutter was designed for rugged and extensive use in all forms of working condition. It is suitable for light home jobs as well as industrial fabrication.
Like most plasma cutters, it comes with an automatic dual voltage as well as PAPST Advanced German Cooling System. When used at a High-frequency DC, the plasma cutter can cut thicker materials than the standard frequency DC.
3. PRIMEWELD Premium & Rugged 50A Air Inverter Plasma Cutter Automatic Dual Voltage
The PRIMEWELD premium & Rugged Plasma cutter is the best choice for welders that value precision work. It is a 50 Amp Digital Air Inverter Plasma cutter that can cut metal with thickness as much as 0.34 inch seamlessly.
This is a plasma cutter suitable for both industrial and home use. It can cut several varieties of metal including mild steel, alloy steel, copper aluminum and many more with ease. It can work between 110v and 220volts power supply.
PRIMEWELD is a highly trusted brand when it comes to manufacturing welding accessories. Hence, they can boast of the manufacture of various high-quality plasma cutters that can handle metal of all sizes and shapes.
4. SUPER DEAL DC Inverter Plasma Cutter Welding Machine With Screen Display
Seeking a classy plasma cutter that can deliver a smooth cut at excellent speed? The SUPER DEAL DC Inverter Plasma Cutter is the best choice available! It gives a clean cut without slag or dross. It is a 240Volts plasma cutter that comes with digital display, it makes cutting so easy!
The SUPER DEAL DC Inverter Plasma Cutter features a current regulator which allows you to work comfortably and efficiently. It consumes low amount of energy which makes it very fair to the environment.
5. PrimeWeld Ct520d 50 Amps Plasma Cutter
The PrimeWeld Ct520d 50 is the best multipurpose plasma cutter available. It features a 3 in 1 multipurpose plasma cutter with the ability to handle multiple cutting and welding functions. It can also alternate between DC STICK and DC TIG welding easily.
It is suitable for professional and DIY jobs. This plasma cutter is very portable, also, it operates on 50A power source. It can perform TIG/Stick welding, plasma cutting, and the arc welding function in a single unit!
6. Lotos Technology 04-ZVGR-0O8D Lotos LTPDC2000D Plasma Cutter Tig Stick Welder 3 in 1 Combo Welding Machine
The Lotos Technology 04-ZVGR-0O8D is a 50 Amp Non-touch plasma cutter that gives an efficient cut for various surfaces – painted, rusty, rough etc. It is compact and very portable. This plasma cutter is able to handle various types of metal without using a hazardous gas
It gives a 3 in one function – a 200 Amp stick welder, a 50 Amp Pilot Arc Plasma cutter and 200 DC TIG Welder, all with the flip of a switch. It is appropriate for industrial and DIY uses. It has the HF hand start control and also support the dual voltage system. The Pilot arc technology allows for cutting without contact with the metal tip.
7. Plasma Cutter, Inverter, Spectrum 375 by Miller Electric
Seeking for a plasma cutter for your day to day job requirement and industrial use? The Plasma Cutter Spectrum 375 is the answer you’ve been searching for. With a rated output of 30 A, it gives a fine precision cut for all sort of metal, alloys, carbon, steel etc.
It is very light in weight, compact and performs it’s duties seamlessly. It’s Manufactured by Miller, one of the giants in the welding accessory industry, the Plasma Cutter Spectrum 375 is a reliable tool to take your welding experience to the next level.
8. Hobart 500566 Airforce 40i Plasma Cutter 240V
Seeking for an efficient plasma cutter that can cut just like a hot knife going through butter? The Hobart 500566 Airforce 40i is the answer you’ve been searching for. Using about 40 Amps of power, the Hobart 500566 Airforce 40i is able to slice through 5/8 in. and sever cut 7/8 in. steel.
It is a heavy duty plasma cutter weighing just 31 pounds hence it’s very light in weight. The wind tunnel technology guards against particles and abrasive dust from damaging the internal parts of the machine.
9. SUNCOO Cut-50 Plasma Cutter Electric DC Inverter Machine with Digital Display
Seeking for a cheap and effective plasma cutter? This is your answer. The SUNCOO Cut-50 Plasma Cutter Electric DC Inverter is a 50 Amp Plasma cutter, it is suitable for copper, iron, stainless steel and all sort of metal. It performs excellently, and can be applied in many areas like site work, ducting work, repair and maintenance service etc.
The SUNCOO is pretty easy to assemble, with a comprehensive manual to guide the user through the installation process. The voltage ranges from 110 to 220V, and the machine has the capacity to adapt.
10. Goplus Plasma Cutter Cut-50 50A 220V Electric DC Inverter Air IGBT Cutting Machine
The Goplus Plasma Cutter Cut-50 is a new plasma cutting machine that features a new technology with an advanced inverter. It comes with a high-quality plasma torch engineered to give users a new cutting experience.
The Goplus Plasma Cutter Cut-50 is applicable for individual DIY projects and industrial use. It was designed with your maximum comfort in mind, hence it’s very easy to operate. It’s also equipped with the necessary accessories to make using it very safe. It can be applied in ducting work, repair work, automotive work, maintenance service.
11. Hobart 500564 Airforce 12ci Plasma Cutter with Built-In Air Compressor
Seeking for a light, portable, and compact plasma cutter? The Hobart 500564 Airforce 12ci Plasma Cutter is the best choice. It comes with very capable size breaker and requires a 30 amps source.
It has a built-in compressor with the ability to cut through all types of metal. When performing flame tuning, there is no gas pressure required. The Hobart 500564 Airforce 12ci Plasma Cutter gives a very accurate cut with a thin kerf and less sla
12. Lotos LT3500 35Amp Air Plasma Cutter, 2/5 Inch Clean Cut
Seeking a plasma cutter to comfortably handle light cutting projects? The Lotos LT3500 35Amp Air Plasma Cutter is the best choice. It is the most compact plasma cutter available on the market but, it is only powerful enough to handle a metal with 15 mm thickness.
It comes with an air filter and air gauge that works perfectly with your air compressor. It is an excellent choice for light projects and DIY jobs. Assembling it is very easy as the whole machine can be set up in just a minute.
13. ZENY DC Inverter Plasma Cutter 50AMP CUT-50 Dual Voltage 110-220V Cutting Machine
The ZENY DC Plasma cutter features the latest cutting technology. It is recommendable for all metal cutting work, it’s suitable for both industrial and DIY jobs. The high-quality plasma torch which it has, gives it an enhanced and improved cut quality.
It features a double voltage adapter with a current range of 20 to 50 Amps. It is equipped with essential accessories like AIR regulator and earth clamp as well as many safety accessories needed to ensure a seamless cutting operation.
14. Hypertherm 088079 Powermax30 XP Building America Edition Hand Plasma System
The Hypertherm 088079 Powermax30 XP plasma cutting machine is a 2 in 1 plasma cutting machine. It works with high vigor to cut through metal with ease. It delivers a very high-performance cutting experience with the ability to handle thick metal of all sorts – up to 16mm. It comes with Fine Cut consumables that give detailed cutting.
It comes with various accessories that ensures you work safely. The automatic voltage setting allows it to adapts to either 120V or 240V circuit. The Kit comes with nozzles, electrodes, shields, retaining cap etc.
15. Hobart 500565 Airforce 27i Plasma Cutter 120/240V
The Hobart 500565 Airforce 27i Plasma Cutter is a strong heavy duty plasma cutter. It comes with an inverter based design and reliable technology. It’s very portable and easy to use.
The Hobart 500565 Airforce 27i Plasma Cutter features multi-voltage plug that allows it to work effectively with either a 120V or 240V power supply. Setting it up is pretty easy as all you have to do is connect and start cutting!
16. JEGS 81545 Plasma Cutter 20-40 Amp 110/220VAC
Seeking a reliable plasma cutter able to handle all form of metal and aluminum? The JEGS 81545 Plasma Cutter is your answer. It comes with all necessary and useful accessories that makes it deliver a seamless working and cutting experience!
17. SUNGOLDPOWER 50A Air Plasma Cutter Inverter DC Digital Display IGBT Portable
The SUNGOLDPOWER 50A Air Plasma Cutter comes with a superior IGBT tech, giving it the ability to slice through as much as 15mm thick metal. Like most plasma cutter, it uses a dual voltage technology. It’s less power consumption from the high duty cycle makes it more efficient.
It has a Digital LCD display and a front pane air pressure gauge making it more appealing and effective. It can cut smoothly without any polish demand. It comes with amazing protective features to make the machine safe for use. It can cut through copper, steel, carbon and several other types of metal.
18. CUT-50, 50 Amp Pro. Plasma Cutter, DC Inverter 110/230V Dual Voltage Cutting Machine
The CUT-50, 50 Amp Pro Plasma Cutter was designed for small businesses and DIY jobs. This is a new and improved model that uses 15 – 50 Amps with an advanced inverter tech. It comes with plug adapter that makes the voltage adapt automatically to the supplied voltage – 100 to 240 Volts.
It has a comfortable grip and a torch design that allows it to slice through various metal forms seamlessly.
19. VIVOHOME DC Inverter Plasma Cutter Cutting Machine Dual Voltage 110V/220V CUT-50
The VIVOHOME DC Inverter Plasma Cutter boasts of the most advanced inverter technology in its construction. It has a high cutting ability with a fast cutting speed way better than that of oxy-acetylene cutting.
It features MOSFET technology that steps up the 50 Hz frequency to over 100KHz. It is fast and economical, able to cut through thickness of up to 12 mm. It’s Suitable for wide application – DIY and industrial use.
20. HYL CUT30C PLASMA CUTTER
The HYL CUT30C plasma is one of the best heavy duty plasma cutter suitable for both home hobby and personal welding. It features a 110/115/120 current type.
It comes with various accessories such as ceramic cups, nozzle, electrodes, ceramic diffusers, replacement torch assembles etc. It can cut a maximum thickness of 0.25 inches.
21. Hypertherm 088096 Powermax 30 AIR Hand System
The Hypertherm 088096 Powermax 30 AIR Hand is a small and lightweight plasma cutter designed with an internal air compressor. It’s small and compact in size, it can handle cutting metal of various forms. Unlike most compressors, it doesn’t need an external air supply due to the in-built compressor system.
The Hypertherm 088096 Powermax uses the latest technology with reliable torch and consumables to keep the system running at its peak. It features a New AIR T30 torch which makes it rugged enough to withstand unconducive environments
22. Biltek 50Amp Air Plasma Cutter Inverter Dual Voltage
Seeking for a classic plasma cutter that uses advanced technology to slice through metal? The Biltek 50Amp Air Plasma Cutter is what you need. It delivers high cutting performance with a non – pilot arc torch that is able to deliver high cutting performance with longer life for consumables.
It comes with a cutting torch, air hose, air filter and other accessories. It uses clean oil – free and dry air from a compressor to deliver very clean cutting experience.
23. VEVOR Plasma Cutter 50A 110V/220V Dual Voltage Welding Cutting Machine CUT50 Inverter Digital Welding Machine
The VEVOR Plasma Cutter is a 50 Amp machine. It is very light in structure and compact in design. It saves energy with extra-axial flow fan for forced convention needed to cool the machine. It can cut up to 12 mm with a digital display on the front panel of the machine. It is able to cut various forms of metal like mild steel, stainless steel, alloy steel etc.
The unit comes with various accessories such as gas pipe, cutting torch etc.
24. Miller Spectrum 625 X-treme Plasma Cutter
The Miller Spectrum 625 X-treme Plasma Cutter is one of the most portable plasma cutter available in the market. It works with a dual voltage setting. It comes with the Auto-Line technology and MVP adapters. It has extra protective features which makes the unit safe during transport and storage.
It comes with essential protection gears to ensure that safety isn’t compromised while working. There is an Ultra-Quick Connect XT 40 torch designed with ergonomic handle that reduces unnecessary fatigue while working. With the Auto – refire technology, it directs the pilot arc when cutting expanded metal
25. Plasma Cutter 40A 220V Electric DC Inverter Air Plasma Cutting Machine CUT40 Metal Cutter HITBOX
Weighing about 16 pounds, the Plasma Cutter by HITBOX can slice through thick Carbon of up to 12 mm thickness. Asides carbon, it cuts steel, copper, and aluminum effectively. It features a digital display and comes equipped with plasma cutting torch consumables.
The Plasma Cutter by HITBOX gives an outstanding cutting performance that is able to work effectively, irrespective of the air pressure. The unit prioritizes safety with various features meant to keep you safe while using the plasma cutter.
26. Everlast SuperCut51P 110v/220v Dual Voltage 50 Amp Pilot Arc Inverter plasma cutter
Seeking for a plasma cutter for your DIY product? The 2017 Everlast SuperCut51P is a perfect fit for you. The SuperCut 51P comes with a high-frequency arc that offers continuous engaging pilot arc. This unit is perfect if you are seeking to make low dross cut, it’s very efficient and easy to use.
27. Air Inverter Plasma Cutting Machine - Tosense CUT50 Dual Voltage 50A Plasma Cutter
The Air Inverter Plasma cutting machine uses the MOSFET inverter technology to give stable, mature and improved cutting experience to its users. It is made with very high-quality components that make the plasma cutter economical with the consumables.
Weighing just 22 pounds, it is compact and portable. Asides, it is applicable for both industrial and personal work. The plasma cutter is able to adjust itself even with a very high air pressure giving a direct and precise cutting experience.
28. Forney 317 250 P+ Plasma Cutter with Air Compressor
The Forney P+ Plasma Cutter is very easy to use and comes with a 15-inch ground cable. It utilizes compressed air and electrical arc to slice through metal like it’s a piece of meat. It is capable of giving a precise cut due to the drag technology that allows users to move the torch on the metal surface.
It comes with many cutting accessories like electrodes, diffuser ring, compressor shield cup etc. There are features to ensure that using the plasma cutter is completely safe. It features a lightweight inverter power supply and a built-in compressor.
29. Hypertherm Powermax45 XP Hand System w/o CPC - 20' Leads
Seeking for a heavy duty plasma cutter with the ability to cut up to 16mm of metal? The Powermax45 XP plasma cutter is the best choice. It comes with varieties of features that give it an optimum and improved performance over other brands.
There is the automatic gas adjustment for simple setup operation as well as the new Duramax Lock torch to give it an improved performance. It is able to cut a wide range of metal with various thickness, and it’s also capable of handling precision gouging and part marking.
30. LOVSHARE 3 In 1 Plasma Cut/TIG/ Welding Machine 110V Multifunction Inverter DC
The LOVSHARE comes in a compact 3 in 1 structure capable of handling TIG, CUT and ARC/MMA function. It has a compact design. It’s portable, reliable and very easy to use.
It is suitable for DIY jobs and industrial application hence, capable of handling shipbuilding, aerospace, automobile and quite a lot of other functions. This plasma cutter has a 110V Welding Machine Portable CT312Welder with Air Regulator.
Having analyzed the review of the best plasma cutter available in the market, I will proceed to discuss what you can do with a plasma cutter, as a welder.
WHAT CAN I DO WITH MY PLASMA CUTTER?
Plasma Cutter is recommended for cutting metal, copper, steel, and other non – ferrous materials. When using oxyacetylene for cutting, you have to carefully control the cutting speed in order to keep the oxidizing process going. Plasma cutter stands out in this aspect.
The plasma cutter is very handy and effective if you will cut expanded metal which can’t be done with oxyfuel. Also, plasma cutting is very fast, it produces a clean cut and also good at making a nonlinear cut!
1. Fabricating Metals on the Go
Plasma technology is extremely invaluable in cutting pieces of metal together. This is especially useful to contractors and welders on site. Many times, metals come in lengths that are too big. At times as well, the job specification requires an exact length of metal that can only be gotten with the use of a plasma cutter.
2. Metal recycling
One of the places where the applications of the plasma cutter is irreplaceable is the junkyard. There are scrap metals that might not be useful to a welder again. A plasma is extremely useful as it helps cut pieces of metal down into bits or size that makes storage easy. With this, you increase storage space and improve productivity!
3. Cutting Pipes
There are times you might need to cut a huge length of pipe. You won’t be able to cut this with a standard cutter due to the time it takes. With a plasma cutter you can do this with ease, you also minimize resources wastage. There are pipe cutting jobs that needs to fit perfectly, and with the smooth neat and quick cut a plasma cutter creates; it is the best for the job!
WHAT PROTECTIVE GEAR DO I NEED WITH MY PLASMA CUTTER?
Thanks to the improvement in technology, plasma cutter has been widely accepted in homes, shop, industrial use, fabrication yards, and many cutting industries. Yes, the plasma cutter is a very useful piece of equipment but a risky one as well.
Hence, the necessary safety precautions are very essential to ensure a seamless operation with the plasma cutter. Irrespective of what you desire to do with the plasma cutter, you need to learn about the necessary level of safety required to get the job done with ease.
From my experience, hazards from using a plasma cutter mostly comes from being exposed to metal fumes, ultraviolet radiation, and hot metals. This could lead to cuts, loss of body parts, crushed toes or fingers, eye damage, electric shock, burns etc.
The good news is that you can limit these type of health hazards with the proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and right safety attitude. It is when you use the recommended personal protective equipment that you can be protected from all the hazards associated with the plasma cutting machine.
Hence, in order to work safely, you have got to protect yourself and those around you with the essential safety gears:
- Plasma Helmet: this is essential to keep you safe from debris, hot slags, intense length and most especially radiation. The helmet protects not only your face but the eyes and your respiratory system. It limits the inhale of toxic gases and also protects your eyes from the intensely bright light that comes from the cutting process.
- Welding Gloves: There are chances you mistakenly handle a hot metal. This is where a good and reliable welding glove comes in. Also, the intense heat produced by the cutting process could be dangerous for your hand. A good welding glove is needed to serve as insulation between your hands and the heat source. Asides this, a good welding glove also protects you from burns, electric shocks, fire etc.
- Welding Jacket: There is the possibility of slag and molten metal flying around during the cutting process. This is why you need to keep your whole body protected. They are essential to keep you safe from fires, intense heat, fire etc. A good welding jacket should be heat resistant and nonflammable. The main idea is to protect your skin. Thus, if any hot spark, debris or slag flies around while cutting and comes in contact with you, you are well protected!
- Welding beanie: Basically, a welding beanie is essential for keeping your hair, head, neck, and ear protected from the flying debris, spark or slag during the welding process. It essentially serves as an insulation to guard you against heat stroke and burns.
- Laced and Tied Boots: A properly laced and tied boots will keep you safe from flying debris, electric shock. There is the possibility of stepping on a wire that could trigger an electric shock but with your boot on, you’re protected. Also, you need a well-tied boot to prevent your feet from getting burned from hot flying sparks.
- Set of Jeans: In addition to your welding jacket, you need a good pair of jeans to keep your legs safe from various hazards that could arise as a result of the plasma cutting process, the hot splash could pour on your leg. With a pair of strong jeans, you not only protect your leg from this splashes, but you also guard against heat stroke due to the excessive temperature of the workshop.
- Respirator Mask: During plasma cutting, the possibility of hazardous fumes being released is very high. This calls for adequate protection of your nose, and the best way to do this is with the help of a respiratory mask. This will keep you safe from fumes, oxides etc. You need a quality respiratory mask that is able to filter fumes and particles from the air you breathe. This is essential for your comfort and safety while cutting!
- Fire Extinguisher: Last but not the least on my set of important protective gears needed during plasma cutting is a fire extinguisher. The essence of a fire extinguisher is very obvious. Welding is a hot job, plasma cutting makes use of excessively hot gas at extreme temperatures. With this excess temperature, there is the risk of fire occurrence. This is why you need a fire extinguisher handy, so you can guard against any incidence of fire outbreak!
While working with a plasma cutter, it is very good to prioritize safety. Hence, on no account should you compromise on this personal protective equipment while working in the workshop. Remember working safely is critical to your health and wellbeing!
Having discussed the essential safety gears needed for plasma cutting, I will also address the safety hazards that are common while using a plasma cutter.
Safety Hazards of The Best Plasma Cutting
Welding is a hot job. And, plasma welding involves cutting iron or other metals at extremely high temperatures. This presents a lot of health risk to you. Asides physical hazards, there are chemical hazards that you can be exposed to.
In order to guard against the injuries and hazards associated with plasma cutting, you need to be aware of the risks involved. When you know the risk, you will be able to protect yourself adequately against the inherent dangers present during plasma cutting.
Here as some safety hazards involved in plasma cutting:
1. Eye Damage
Plasma cutting often releases vapors, sparks, slag etc. that are physical threats to you. There is a huge risk that this flying debris could get into an unprotected eye. This is why it is essential to be fully kitted before using a plasma cutter. Putting on a welding helmet, as well as a safety goggle, is very important. Not only the eyes need protection, but the entire face as well.
2. Flammable Liquid Around Your Cutting Area
As indicated above, plasma cutting produces splash and sparks that are usually very hot. Thus, the tendency of any flammable liquid around you catching fire is very high. A fire could erupt if sparks comes in contact with any liquid that is highly flammable around the workshop, clothing materials covered in grease or oil also has a great tendency of catching fire. This is why the workshop or working space should be free of flammable liquids, clutters and chemicals.
The presence of a fire extinguisher is very important in the workshop!
3. Dropping Pieces of Hot Metal
Careless handling of hot metal also poses a great risk to you. When this drops, there is the tendency of injuring an exposed leg. This is why a safety boot is always recommended while using a plasma cutter. You can never be overdressed for safety. A hot piece of heavy metal dropping won’t only burn the toe but has the tendency to crush the toes! So dropping pieces of hot metal should be dreadfully avoided.
4. Dangerous Fumes
It is very important to be aware of the dangers involves in dangerous fumes that might come around during plasma cutting. The process of burning might cause toxic gases like Carbon monoxide, argon, and hydrogen fluoride to be released. Inhaling this can lead to serious health complications like eye, throat and lung irritation. When you’re exposed to these fumes for a very long time, there can be severe damage to the internal organs like the kidney, lungs, and liver.
As a result of this, it is important a welder takes a conscious step to get rid of these fumes. The choice of the plasma cutting machine matters. Also, having an engineering control, like a local exhaust ventilation, in place is very important. It helps you get rid of harmful fumes while on the job.
5. Electric Shock
The plasma cutter can also expose you to the risk of electric shock. As a result, you need to take precautions to make sure that the plasma cutting machine and the associated wires are in top conditions, the earth wire should be properly grounded and no naked wire should be in sight.
You should use the necessary and recommended pair of gloves to avoid handling a conductor. Also, the protective clothing, jacket, and gloves should be free from moisture to avoid conducting electricity when working with your plasma cutter. The ground wire should also be in a very good condition to limit the risk of electric shock!
6. Handling metal Just After Cutting
This is a common mistake with many first-timers. Some welders might even be distracted and not realize that a metal just cut is usually extremely hot. Hence, even If you are with a glove, the metal can pierce the glove and burn the naked hand. This applies mostly to small pieces of metal.
I recommend that you give these pieces of metal enough time to cool down before picking them up. But, if it is necessary to pick up a metal while hot, a pair of vice – grips are better!
As evident from the risks listed above, plasma cutting is a dangerous exercise and taking the right precautions can help limit the dangers associated with it.
Having discussed the dangers and hazards associated with plasma cutting, I’ll proceed to discuss the necessary accessories that are very important and needed when using a plasma cutter!
What Equipment is Needed in the Shop to Run a Plasma Cutter?
1. The Right Power Hookup for the Plasma Cutter
“During the best plasma cuter review section of this guide” I pointed out that some machines operate either on the 110V or 220V or both power supply.
The power supply of the plasma cutter is able to convert a single or three phases AC voltage to a constant DC voltage from between 200 to 400VDC. This Direct Current voltage maintains the plasma arc while cutting.
This voltage also stabilizes the current given out due to the requirement of the nature and thickness of the material being handled.
2. Air Compressor
Also, in the section where I reviewed the top plasma cutter available, you will realize that some machines come with a built-in air compressor. But, if it didn’t come with one, for it to function appropriately a constant supply of air is required to get the desired pressure to make the cut.
3. Moisture Filter
A moisture filter ensures that only clean and dry air, coming from the compressor, gets transferred to the plasma. This is a good practice that will keep your plasma cutter functioning at optimum capacity. Most air filters go for averagely $60.
4. Wire Wheel or Grinder
In a case where you have to cut metals or materials with paints on them, you will have to grind down the surface or path around the cut. This is to ensure that the naked metal is exposed to the plasma. The reason is that paint, being highly flammable, can catch fire during the cutting process.
This isn’t very compulsory, but it’s advantage is that you get an improved visibility line.
5. Plasma Torch
A plasma torch is essential to give the necessary alignment as well as cooling down of the consumables. To form an arc generation, the major consumable parts are the swirl, the electrode, nozzle, and ring.
There is the need for an extra shielding cap which can help improve the cut quality.
There are many brands of plasma cutter in the market. Hence, choosing the most appropriate one can be very confusing, especially for someone that has no prior knowledge. In this regards, in the next section I’ll discuss how to choose the best and most appropriate plasma cutter.
How to Choose the best Plasma Cutter?
Plasma cutter is a very important welding tool for every form of welding operation. It makes the cutting of metal and other hard substances very easy, accurate and fast. This is due to the new designs and technology that backs up the plasma cutting machine.
Quite a lot of plasma cutting machines exist in the market. This alone can get anyone who wants to buy a plasma cutter confused on the most suitable one to use. In view of this, I’ll explain how to go about selecting the best plasma cutter and what you should consider before making the final choice.
Discussed below are the necessary considerations you should look at before selecting a plasma cutter.
1. Cutting Speed
One of the most important factors to consider in selecting a plasma cutter is the cutting speed. The basic thickness of the metal you will be handling and the desired cutting speed are things you have to know before selecting a plasma cutter. Basically, a plasma cutter provides cutting in three different quality which are the rated cut, quality cut, and severe cut.
- The rated cut is the best cut one can expect from a plasma cutting machine. This is the plasma that is able to handle mild and fairly thick steel at the highest cutting speed. Since it isn’t handling a very thick metal, the cut is clean and smooth
- A plasma cutter rated quality cut, on the other hand, is able to handle thick materials. Only that it takes more time to finish the cutting.
- A plasma rated severe cut is able to handle very thick materials really slow. The disadvantage of severe cut rated plasma cutter is that they don’t produce a quality cut. Also, the cut requires to be cleaned up. Even though it cuts slowly, the speed picks up as the thickness of the metal decreases
Examining the average thickness of the metal that will be cut as well as the desired cutting speed is one of the guiding factor in selecting the best and most desired plasma cutter!
2. Duty Cycle
One of the very important factors you need to consider in selecting a plasma cutter is the duty cycle of the plasma cutter. Should you desire to use a plasma cutter frequently but not over and over for a very long period of time, the maximum amperage output should be the guiding factor in selecting the plasma cutter. The more the amperage output of the plasma cutter, the more the duty cycle.
On the other hand, if you will be using them over and over for a very long time, then you should select a plasma cutter based on the average size of the material you will be cutting. In this case, considering the maximum thickness that the plasma cutter can deal with is the way to go.
3. Pilot to Cut and Cut to Pilot Transfers
When the pilot arc is brought near the work piece, then one will have a transfer from the pilot arc to the cutting arc. As a result, a plasma cutting machine that gives a fast and reasonable transfer from pilot to cut at a huge transfer height.
These type of plasma cutters make much sense and will be useful for gouging, ideal for proper fitting when welding heavy plate. How do you test advanced characteristics? You can do this by cutting expanded gratings or metal. This will require the machine to switch from pilot to cut and back to the pilot as fast as possible.
Although the portability is not one of the most important factors, it is still essential for some users. A portable plasma cutter can come in handy for some folks which will be very important to their job.
If you will have a plasma cutter that will be stationary for as long as possible, and the materials to be sliced will always be brought to your shop, then the size and weight of the plasma cutting machine might not matter. But, if you’ll be moving the plasma cutter a lot, especially to various job sites, then portability is an important factor.
Most of the plasma cutter that I mentioned in “ the best plasma cutter review section” are very compact and light in weight. Technology has made them abundant these days!
5. Safety of the Device
Plasma cutting is a hot job which presents a lot of hazard to you, the work environment and the neighbors around. Also, the voltage needed to establish an arc for a plasma cutter is usually as high as 300VDC. One of the safety factors to keep you safe is the nozzle.
Having the machine on without the nozzle can result in a serious accident. Thanks to the improvement in technology, there are sensors that detect the nozzle. These sensors prevent the machine from coming up when the nozzle is disconnected.
The pre-flow sequence is another safety factor that comes with the plasma cutting machine. This feature warns you before the arc is triggered. Another safety factor essential in a plasma cutting machine is the three-second pre-flow safety, this is important to warn and alert you in case of any obstruction on the part of the nozzle before the arc comes on!
6. Ease and Comfortable to Use
7. How Does the Plasma Cutter Start?
Air is a very good insulator. In establishing a plasma, the air has to ionize to get the necessary current flow needed. Ideally, plasma cutters should have a pilot arc that makes use of high frequency to turn the air into a conductor. With this, getting the machine to start will be easy. It does come with some cons anyway. The excessive frequency generated can interfere with equipment like PC and co.
Thus, if there are sensitive PCs or OC powered accessories around, it is recommended that one go with an alternate method in getting the plasma cutter to start working!
The lift arc method can get rid of this issue. It employs a DC positive nozzle alongside a DC negative electrode in it. At first, the electrode and the nozzle will be in touch. On pulling the trigger, there will be a current flow between the nozzle and the electrode which draws the nozzle away. This forms the pilot. The switch from pilot to a cutting arc happens when the pilot arc is moved near the work piece. This movement is triggered by the electric potential that goes from the nozzle to the work piece.
8. Primary Power
There are two main elements involves in plasma cutting – air and electricity. Thus in selecting a plasma cutter, it is important to know the type of input power source is available. For a 115 primary service, there is no cause for alarm. There are many 12- and 25-amp plasma cutters that operate on the 115 or 230V power supply. Thus, with an input circuit of 30 – amp, there will be an equal cutting capacity at the two voltages.
Miller Electric comes with a unique power technology known as Auto – Line. Basically, a machine with auto – line can accept input voltage in the rage of 190 to 630 V, which can be single or three phase. The interpretation of this is that the plasma cutter can be used with any source of power. Also, if the main source of power rises or falls (within the 190 to bucks630V range), the machine will work seamlessly.
Source of input power is one of the most important factors that you mustn’t overlook when buying a plasma cutter. The reason is simple – all plasma cutters require an excessive amount of electricity for effective operation. Generally, a plasma cutter will either use a 110 volts power supply or a 220 volts power supply. All plasma cutter do come with amperage ratings. The best way to select your plasma cutter is to choose something with a minimum amperage rating that works with the electrical outlet of your workshop.
Also, it is recommended that you have a separate and dedicated power outlet source for the plasma cutter. Using a single source with a plasma cutter and other electrical appliances can reduce power supply to the plasma cutter which can affect the performance.
9. Consumable Cost and Consumable Life
There are some consumable items that go along with plasma cutting torches that will have to be replaced regularly. Take the handheld torch, for instance, the shield, the nozzle, the retaining cap, swirl ring, and the electrode should be easily replaced. Asides, once the plasma cutter’s performance goes down, these parts should be replaced. This is part of the hidden cost.
As a result of this, I advise going for a plasma cutting machine with limited number of consumable parts. The smaller the consumable, the less the parts to replace which translates to less extra cost in the long run. Asides, in getting the plasma cutter, there should be information on the manufacturer’s user guide on the long the consumables will last.
A couple of manufacturers prefer to classify their consumables by the number of cuts, while others prefer the number of starts as their basics. For instance, production equipment that operates all the time will have a wear profile different from a similar one that works at an interval.
The brand manufacturing the plasma cutter should also be considered in selecting the most suitable plasma cutter for your use. You have to do a thorough research about the best brands. I’ll advice you to choose one of the brands mentioned earlier in the article, they are brands that have established themselves as an authority in the welding accessories field.
The review of other users and their experience with a particular product is another way to judge and decide the most effective plasma cutter user can select.
11. Cut Quality
The quality of the cut you will be getting from your plasma cutting machine is also critical. This is because it has a direct effect on your finished products and it also makes your work fast. When you have a tidy and smooth edge, you will waste no extra time on a secondary job.
The importance of a tidy and smooth cut can’t be overemphasized. This is why a good plasma cutter will give very narrow kerfs (the cut width). This translates to less wasted materials and very accurate cuts!
12. Pilot Arc
Having discussed the main factors to consider before selecting a plasma cutting machine, I’ll proceed to discuss the step by step guide on how to cut with the plasma cutting machine.
How Do I Cut With a Plasma Cutter?
Without any doubt, a plasma cutter is a great machine meant to make work easier. But, if not handled properly, using it won’t be very easy.
The following are a step by step guide on how to use the plasma cutting machine, it’ll make using the machine very easy if followed diligently.
Step 1 – Be Safety Conscious
Plasma cutting is a dangerous exercise which requires being safety conscious. Thus, before commencing anything at all, you want to make sure you have taken all necessary safety precautions. Be sure to be fully kitted from head to toe – welding jacket, eye protection, gloves, your pair of boot, your beanie etc. Also, make sure all flammable materials are out of the working area.
Step 2 – Be Aware of the Effects
For first time users, I advise that you are fully aware of the potential effect of the cutting process before starting the cutting operation at all. In other words, be prepared for excessive noise, very high temperatures, fumes, UV radiations etc. There are times you will have to deal with molten metal!
Step 3 – Prepare the Workshop/Work Area
Asides getting rid of flammable materials, there are other things you need to do to prepare for the cutting process. For instance, you need a well-ventilated workspace for the cutting process due to the intense heat produced. Also, you have to get the air compressor started on time in order to build the needed air pressure needed for cutting.
Step 4 – Select the Right Cutter
If you will be using a plasma cutter for the first time, I will advise you go with a version that is pretty easy to use. New designs are recommended as you don’t have to adjust the pressure!
Step 5 – Be Aware of the Thickness of Your Work Piece
Before commencing the cutting process at all, you have to measure the thickness of the metal you need to cut. This is because the thickness of the metal decides the size of your cutter. A 375 spectrum, for instance, is able to cut 3/8 inch of steel.
Step 6 – Connect to the Power Source
One of the main things to be careful about in using your plasma cutter is the power source. The good news here is that plasma cutters can work with varieties of input power such as 1 phase, 3 phase, 50 Hz and 60 Hz. You must make sure you use the right and recommended power source for the machine!
Step 7 – Placing and Preparing Your Work Piece
The metal that needs to be cut should be positioned on the vice, sawhorses or clamped to the work table – a flat surface. I recommend using any wooden table. You should be careful and certain that when the metal is cut and it falls, it will hit neither you nor the chord of the plasma.
After setting your work piece, clean the path of cut with a grinder or wire piece, especially if it is a painted material. Also, mark your cut line with a metal chalk or any marking tool you have.
Step 8 - Working With the Torch
This is the point where you proceed to work with the torch. Grab the torch of the plasma cutter and point close to the metal surface. On pulling the trigger, the pilot arch will start
Step 9 – Move the Torch
On pulling the trigger, move the touch to commence the cutting arc. Be certain that it is piercing the metal to its bottom. In a perpendicular position, hold the torch and maneuver it around the work piece
Step 10 – Judge the Speed
On moving the torch, you should be able to decide if you are making meaningful progress. An easy way to do this is to look for spark beneath the metal. It there is no spark, the plasma cutter’s speed is wrong. It’s also pointing to the fact that the work piece hasn’t been penetrated through
Step 11 – Adjust the Speed
Some minor adjustments will allow you to fix any issue with the speed. You also need to have adequate output amperage, in this regard, the speed with which you move should be minimal in order to make it effective!
Step 12 – Be careful With the Finishing Cut
You need to be very careful with the finishing cut. You should have your torch angled on getting to the finishing point. Also, you could hold on for a while when getting to the final bit, hold on and then proceed.
Step 13 – Allow Work Piece to Cool
When done with the cutting, put the cutter away in a safe place then allow to cool off and keep on a noncombustible surface. A good plasma cutter should be equipped with a cooling system which should cool the unit after use.
Now that you are aware of how to use a plasma cutter, I’ll take you through a list of the frequently asked questions and the appropriate solutions for them.
FAQs on Plasma Cutter For Beginners.
I present some questions that might answer your concern on the use of plasma cutter below:
1. Do I need a Plasma With an Inbuilt Compressor?
“In the section on the top plasma cutter review above” I mentioned that some plasma cutter that comes with compressors. These plasma cutters do give a constant supply of air while the machine is cutting. These types of plasma cutter are recommended for users that will be working in places without access to air compressor.
The cons with these types of machine is that they are usually expensive and underpowered. A plasma cutter with an air compressor is recommended if you will be moving the plasma cutter a lot.
2. What is the Pilot Arc? Do I need it?
If you have a quality plasma cutter, it should come with a pilot arc. The meaning of this is the ability to make a cut with the plasma cutter’s torch without making contact with the metal/work piece. On using a pilot arc, you are required to hold the tip of the torch near the metal.
The advantage of this is that you are able to make a smooth cut as well as prolong the life of your consumables. You will also have a smooth and neat cut, especially if you are cutting expanded steel.
On the other hand, a non-Pilot Arc plasma cutting machine is pretty cheap. In using it, the torch tip of your metal has to touch the metal for you to cut. The disadvantage of this is obvious – you waste consumables. Hence, the few extra bucks that is required for a pilot arc enabled plasma cutting machine is so worth it!
3. What are Consumables and How Often Do I Need to replace them?
The part of the torch of your plasma cutter that wears out after several cuts are called the consumables. Consumables come in various types like the deflectors, shield, nozzles, retaining caps, swirl rings, and electrodes, all on the torch. How long these components will last differs, depending on how often you use the machine.
The good news is that you can get these consumables from manufacturers. Thus, when you have a worn out part, you can easily order for it, replace and continue working. It’s also very easy to dismantle. There are consumable kits from manufacturers with all the essential parts that you can buy.
4. How Does Plasma Cutting Compare to Oxyfuel Cutting?
Plasma cutter works perfectly with any type of metal as long as it is conducive such as aluminum, carbon, mild steel and stainless steel. Mild steel gives operators faster and thicker cuts compared to alloys.
The principle of cutting with oxyfuel is oxidation or burning of the base metal. The cons with oxyfuel are that it is limited to steel and other ferrous metals which supports the process of oxidation. Aluminum, stainless steel and other forms of metal disrupt further oxidation process. This prevents oxyfuel from being a good cutting tool. On the other hand, plasma cutting doesn’t work with oxidation hence, it is able to cut stainless, aluminum and many other conductive materials.
Although the various type of gases are applicable to plasma cutting, compressed air from an air compressor is often used. Some plasma cutting machine comes equipped with a compressor, and , compressed air is readily available. This removes the need for using fuel gas and compressed oxygen in the cutting operation.
It is pretty easy to cut with a plasma cutter, and it is much easier to use a plasma cutter on thinner materials compared to oxyfuel cutting.
5. Is there any Limitation to Plasma Cutting?
There are some applications where oxyfuel and other cutting method are preferred. Oxyfuel, for instance, is able to cut very thick sections of steel – more than one inch – and cuts way faster than a plasma cutter.
Plasma cutting machine is also expensive compared to oxyacetylene. Some users also prefer torch cutting compared to plasma cutting due to the fact that they operate independently of compressed air and electric power. This makes it a more preferred method for some welders.
Users do benefit from the plasma cutting technology due to pre-existing shop services. This will translate to little cost. Also, the cost of consumables like fuel and oxygen is reduced.
6. Why Do I Prefer Plasma Cutter but not Laser or Water Jet?
The reason is the cost of cut per inch of thickness. It is relatively high in terms of cost to cut per inch of thickness with laser and water jet when compared to a plasma cutter. Thus, plasma cutter saves time, and cost when cutting both ferrous and non-ferrous work piece.
7. Can Plasma Cutter be used for Cutting Aluminum and Stainless?
Yes, Plasma cutter can handle anything metal. IF you have a standard plasma cutting machine with you, it will handle the job seamlessly.
8. Why Should You prefer a Quality Plasma Cutter?
Getting a quality plasma cutter is preferred for many reasons. First of all, I would like you to see the plasma cutter as an investment rather than an ordinary tool. And with all investments, it will pay for itself over the years to come. Thus, over the years that you will be using it, it will serve you better, compared to going for a cheap tool that might not last you for long. With a quality plasma cutter, you save money!
Conclusion: The best Plasma Cutter Review
Plasma cutters are interesting tools that give a superb performance. This plasma cutter review has been compiled based on my personal experience as well as surveys from close friends and relatives. So, you can be rest assured that all descriptions, analysis, advantages and disadvantages of each machine given are honest!
As indicated in the previous section, getting a plasma cutting machine is a very good investment as a welder. Thus, on making an investment this expensive, you have got to be serious, fully equipped with the best information and analysis before heading to the market.
My plasma cutter is one of my most useful and loved equipment because it makes my work so fast and elegant, I owe most of my success in welding to using the best and most efficient equipment. This is why I wrote a review on the best plasma cutters available. Be assured that choosing any of the top plasma cutting machine mentioned will be a very wise decision and like I always say “you can never go wrong with the right plasma cutter!“
Getting a plasma cutter is one of the best investments I ever made, get yours so you can know how it feels to work seamlessly. With the right plasma cutter, the future is now!
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