Plasma Cutters: The Necessary Guide

This page will contain a bunch of different plasma cutter topics, that you may or may not be familiar with. While it could seem slightly messy put together, it covers some of the various aspects that may be important when you are choosing the right type of machinery for the job that you are trying to get done. We don’t just want you to get any type of plasma cutter, but rather the one that suits your needs and that you will stay excited about for a long time to come. For that very reason, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with all the different elements that go into choosing a type of machinery that is right for your needs.

Things to look for

Whether you’re buying a fuel tank, a wide belt sander, an engine driven welder, a plasma cutter or a waste oil heater, reality is that there are a bunch of difference things that you should be looking for, and these things will all depend on how you are in fact intending on using the piece of equipment.

If, for instance, you have a woodworking shop where you help contractors and homeowners with their various wooden requirements, you would want to choose the wide belt sander that can comfortably get the jobs done that you are intending on working on. Working with this machine is no different as you can work on a range of different types of metal in various types of thicknesses, which will require that yours is capable of handling the types of materials that you will be putting in front of it.

You can’t simply disregard whether you’re mainly going to be working on sheet metal, steel, stainless steel, brass or aluminum as each type will have its various things that it is rated capable of doing. If you will mainly be cutting very thick pieces of steel, you won’t be able to get the job done with a machine that is only rated capable of handling thin pieces of aluminum.

First of all, you will want to ensure that the machine you choose is capable of providing you with the level of reliability that you are looking for, and that you aren’t just in possession of a broken plasma cutter after you have been using it for a month. The last thing you want to have happen is that you have a strict deadline you are working on, and you now suddenly do not have a machine that can handle it anymore. Because of that, our recommendation is always that you go with one of the recognized names in the industry such as ESAB, Lincoln, Miller or Hypertherm!

The second thing you will want to consider is whether or not the plasma cutter provides cutting with the use of a pilot arc or not, as that will greatly improve the life of your consumables. While some of the cheaper machines may seem cheaper to start off with, a portion of them will go through the consumables at an incredible rate. If you find yourself actually needing to do a bunch of metal cutting, you’ll very quickly rack up a serious bill just in consumables!

You should also make sure that you get a machine that is able to provide the right amount of voltage, as not every American home will have the option of powering a 230V machine, although a lot of shops will. The 230V plasma cutters are obviously a lot more powerful than their 115V counterparts.

The cut rating and quality is another important aspect. Remember how we focused on the thickness of the metal? Plasma cutters are rated with both a quality cut, a sever cut and a rated cut that are 3 factors that determine both the speed and thickness that the machine is able to handle. Additionally, make suse that you have a machine that has a sufficiently high duty cycle that it won’t bother you. If yours has a duty cycle of 50%, it will only be able to use it for 5 minutes before you will have to take a 5 minute break from using it again.

Built in Air Compressor For Sale

If you are looking for a plasma cutter with a built-in air compressor, then this is where we have all those listed for sale, that you could possibly want.

You can also go to a bunch of other pages, where we specifically have those listed that we either consider portable because of their dimensions and how much they weigh, and yet some pages are dedicated to the plasma cutters that specifically have a pilot arc.

With regards to the built-in air compressors, some of the most popular versions include the following from manufacturers such as Hypertherm, Hobart and Miller, as well as others.

  • Hypertherm Powermax 30 Air
  • Hobart Airforce 250ci
  • Hobart AirForce 40i
  • Miller Spectrum 625 X-Treme
  • Hypertherm Powermax 45

Feeling overwhelmed? We get it! There’s so much information for you to consider, why we have created the easy-to-use comparison chart that will allow you to select the features you have been looking for, and see the specs for each machine that has those exact features.

man cutting thin metal with a plasma cutter

Portable Options

If you’re always on the move, getting a portable plasma cutter is the right move for you. Having a light-weight, hand-held machine just allows you to get more done than having something massive that is just a pain to deal with.

Since you came to this page specifically looking for a portable option, you may also be interested in checking out our comparison chart. It allows you to easily say “okay, this is how much I want it to weigh at the very most, and these are the dimensions I don’t want it to be bigger than.” That saves you a bunch of trouble if you know that you are either mainly comfortable carrying a certain amount, or if you know that you want your plasma cutter to be fitting in a specific space on your truck, where there is just a limited amount of space.

A lot of people are extremely happy with the Hypertherm Powermax 45, which stands at 36 lbs, but the Powermax 30 is an even lighter option at 21.4 lbs. Then it very much comes down to your personal preferences, or if you have some types of metal, or thicknesses that you know you will be dealing with a lot.

There are also a bunch of both HobartEverlastThermal Dynamics and Miller Electric models that the pros are using out there. From Miller Electric, you will find that the Spectrum 625 X-TREME is a strong contender at 21 lbs.

Pilot Arc

There are many different users across the internet that will absolutely swear that getting a plasma cutter with a pilot arc is a necessity – that is why we have listed all the models we have for sale on this page.

You can find a variety of models with this feature like the Lotos models (LTP5000D, for instance), while it is a feature that will be significantly more normal for higher end machines. The Lotos model we mentioned, however, is a good cheap option to consider if you’re a DIY wanting to work on different projects.

You should also know that you probably will not want to go back when you start using a plasma cutter with a pilot arc. That is how much we believe you will love the feature!

The Cut-50 is another option that has a pilot arc on the much cheaper end, but you should also know that you will not want to get that option unless your needs are extremely limited.

If you check the various communities online, you will probably come across more than a handful of people that have mentioned that they ended up being too cheap when they bought a plasma cutter, and now they’re just waiting for someone to buy it off of them.

Manufacturers
Lotos Hobart Hypertherm

Lotos

Are Lotos plasma cutters the best cheap options we have for sale here on this site? We think so, and we hope you’ll take the time to review the video where we’re showing you why we think so.

There’s one out there for everyone, and it’s not everyone that needs a shop grade piece of equipment because they are going to be using it every single day. While you’re not getting a machine that comes with the Hobart name, like the AirForce 27i, you’re getting a machine that will handle the absolutely vast amount of different projects you could throw at is your average DIY person.

Got some heavier projects in mind, or are you sure whether or not this will be enough for your various needs? We invite you to study the various specs provided. There are many different cheap versions out there, and even some that are cheaper than this, but if you’re looking for a plasma cutter with a budget under $500, the LTP5000D is the machine we’ll recommend, which is a great pilot arc model.

Are you still considering a more expensive model, then we suggest you visit our LincolnThermal Dynamics or Hobart pages, as they have great models too.

Hobart

Welcome to the page where you’ll find all the Hobart options we have for sale, including the 250ci, 40i, airforce 12ci, 27i, 250a, 700i, Airforce 400, 500i. These are the most requested model for that manufacturer.

Hobart Welders is a name you can count on when it comes to plasma cutters, whether you want a cheaper option, or you’re going for a more expensive option.

As we get further along with this site, we are also going to be including video reviews of Hobart’s various models in order to give you the comprehensive overview of what the different models are able to do for you and your project needs.

When you choose a Hobart machine, you are not buying some random machine from a company that you don’t know whether will be around tomorrow. Rather, you’re buying something that you know will last you a very long time, with the various features you’re looking for. Among them are many various 110v or 120v plasma cutters, if that’s what you’re looking for, at the price that best fits your budget.

You can also find some with built in air compressors. We also have specific pages for both EverlastThermal Dynamics, Lincoln ElectricLotos, and other plasma cutter manufacturers for you to choose from.

Hypertherm

Hypertherm are some of the most popular options that we have for sale here on the site, so we’re not all too surprised that that is the brand you’re considering going with! Hypertherm has a bunch of really great models, including the PowerMax 380, 45, 65 & 800, and we take it upon ourselves to help you make sure you’re not just buying a plasma cutter – you’re buying the right one also.

What that means is that we’re not blindly telling you to buy Hypertherm. We also have pages dedicated to Miller Electric & ESAB and other popular options in the industry. Some are cheap, others aren’t and are better suited for those people that have significantly more needs than others.

We’re not trying to say that there is one plasma cutter that is right for everyone, absolutely not, but we’re rather trying to give you the advice you need so that you can end up making the right decisions in your specific case.

plasma cutter in use

CNC

This page is dedicated to listing all the various brands for sale, whether it’s the Lincoln Torchmate 4800 or the crossfire model, but we also have various hobby CNC plasma cutters for you to take a look at.

If you’re rather looking for a handheld plasma cutter, we have a dedicated page to those instead, carrying various different brands including Miller Electric, Hobart & HyperTherm.

Our intention on this page is to create video reviews of the various CNC machines in order for you to get a better understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of the various different models. You can easily choose the various sizes you may be interested in, including 4×4, 4×8, 5×10 and more.

Got any questions regarding the Lincoln Torchmate 4400, it’s cost or anything else? Our support is here, ready to help you out. Our mission is to make sure you get the best option for your needs.

Reviews & Comparison Chart

Finding the right one for your project may not necessarily be easy. There are so many different models to go with, and it can often be very difficult to figure out whether you want a MillerHobart or Lincoln Electric machine for your home or shop.

This is probably the place you always wanted to find because it makes it so much easier for you to do all the work. All you have to do is figure out what your requirements are, what is important to you, and we’ll stack the different models against each other in a way that makes your decision making easy. You’re no longer having to scour the internet for days and days to figure out what the right plasma cutter is for your needs.

We have combined cheap models, expensive models, and everything in between. It’s our way to give back to the community, and hopefully we would love if you chose to make your next purchase through us – we do appreciate your business!

Hobart AirForce 40i

The Hobart AirForce 40i is a really great product from the renowned manufacturer, Hobart. In addition, it is also just one step above the AirForce 27i, that we also offer on this site for you.

At a 50% duty cycle, this is a strong machine able to cut 7/8 mild steel, and doing so a lot faster than with the use of oxy fuel, and without the headache of using oxy fuel which requires you to manage all the various settings.

It also has a fan that will only run as needed, which keeps your machine from getting excess dust and other things running through it, while being powered with 120 or 240 volt.

Make sure to watch our review of the machine to see what you can expect if this is the machine you decide to go with. At 21 pounds, it is not the most portable one you can find, but it can run up to 40 amps and provide the necessary power to cut 5/8 clean, or sever 7/8 steel. These are the reasons why it’s a go-to choice for the person who cannot afford to have to deal with the issues of a cheap machine, and do some industrial work. The previous version was 31 lbs, so this marks a significant improvement with the new design.

Make sure of the type you are looking at can do what it is you want it to do

While there are machines that may suffice if you are simply cutting some metal at home on occasion, that would be very different from the situation where you have significantly more demanding needs, that might for instance require that you cut metal up to 25 mm, or the equivalent of one inch. In those more demanding circumstances, it’s important you get a machine that is up to the task and can handle those industrial needs.

Besides the thickness of the metal that it should be able to cut, you will also need to figure out the type of cutting technique you intend on using whether you are talking about mechanized cutting or drag cutting, and whether those individual machines are great for their intended purpose.

On a different topic, if you want to keep reading, we also encourage you to read our articles on ozone layer depletion and air pollution.

Chicago Electric 240 Volt Inverter with Digital Display

Want to buy one cutter? Good call! After all, every welder worth his salt needs one in his welder toolbox. You want a tool that not only cuts through different types of metals such as steel, aluminum, and copper, but you also want one that does so with stunning precision. 

Case in point: the Chicago Electric Welding 240 Volt Inverter with Digital Display.

Chicago Electric is a trusted brand that offers state-of-the-art technological tools across a broad range of industries. And they’re up to their old tricks with their Plasma Cutter offering.

Whether you’re a beginner, a hobbyist, or a long-time professional welder, the Chicago Electric has a lot to offer in meeting your welding needs.

For starters, it can help you produce quick, clean, and precise welds, among other things. (Of course, given that you know how to use a plasma cutter)

How does this tool pull it off?

Let me count the ways. Here are Chicago Electric Plasma Cutter’s specs and top features.

SPECS

Flow Rate: 4.5 CFM @ 60-80 PSI

Duty Cycle: 40 amps @ 60%

Cutting Capacity: Cut rating: ⅜”; Quality Cut Rating: ½”; Severance Cut Rating: ⅝”

Minimum Cut Depth: 3/8 in. steel @ 10 IPM

Maximum Amperage Output: 15-40 amps

Open Circuit Voltage: 330V

Working pressure: 60-80 psi

Length: 14.5”

Width: 6.25”

Height: 11”

Weight: 22.60 lbs

Top Features

  • Internal air/gas regulator with pressure adjustment
  • Pilot arc striking system
  • Thermal overload protection
  • LCD digital display
  • PT-40 torch with safety guard
Things to look for
Easily change settings Arc maintenance
Precision Duty cycle
Air pressure maintenance  

Easy air pressure maintenance

First off, this cutting tool is equipped with an internal air regulator with pressure adjustment. This allows the tool to maintain the air pressure at a certain level, while at the same time allowing you to adjust the cutter’s pressure with ease.

Easy setup

Starting up this plasma cutter is so easy thanks to its reliable pilot arc striking system. Just hook up the compressor and the ground cable, adjust the air pressure (preferably between 60 psi and 80 psi) until you achieve the desired frequency, press the single rocker switch to turn the machine on and you’re off to the races.

Effortless arc maintenance

Moreover, a pilot arc can also help you keep your arc steady even if you’re working with hard and thicker materials. Most of the time, that added cutting capacity spells the difference between a good product and a bad one. Of course, how effectively you’re able to control the amperage settings is a big part of that, which brings us to….

Change settings on the fly

Changing the setting is as simple as flipping the toggle switch from “set” to “cutter” and vice versa. With enough practice, changing the current to accommodate specific thicknesses will feel like second nature to you, especially if your plasma cutter has enough amperage to get the job done.

Deep, quick, and precise work

In terms of power and capacity, it has a lot going for it. Boasting a max amperage output of 15-40 amps and a duty cycle of 60% at 40 Amps, this tool can cut up to ⅝ inches of steel, whether the material you’re working on is made of steel, aluminum, cast iron, stainless steel, copper, brass, and titanium. With that amount of power and control, it’s easy even for novice welders to produce precise welds.

No more overheating

You can’t compromise your safety when you’re welding. That’s even more the case if you’re using a plasma cutter. They tend to overheat if you’re not careful or if the tool you’re using isn’t on par with industry standards. Beginners tend to become slow when moving the torch or tend to drag the nozzle, causing your equipment or tools to overheat.

Thankfully, Chicago Electric’s model has a built-in thermal overload relay that protects your motor from overheating. Combined with the unit’s high-quality LCD, it’s easy to keep tabs with the machine and help you control it better. 

Portability

With its lightweight and compact design, along with its built-in carry handle, this plasma cutter is easy to lug around. You’d love this one If you’re a welder who’s always out and about.

Final Word

If you want a reasonably priced model that has all the essentials and works flawlessly, you don’t need to look further than Chicago Electric for a great manufacturer. The pilot arc striking system, thermal overload protection system, and the LCD digital display are great additions that can only improve your welding experience. 

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