Folks, if you love DIY projects at your garage or backyard, you know how stressing it can be to reshape metal or cut it into pieces. You might be lucky before you have a powered drill. Decades ago, people used metal saws to try and cut this material. This was painfully slow, but again they had no option — that’s all they had.
Now, enter the 21st century, and you will love how metal-cutting technology has evolved. We have simple, portable tools called plasma cutters that cut sheets of metal in a blink of an eye. They are fast, easy to use, and don’t wear out quickly. Wondering what these super tools are?
Simply put, plasma cutters are small tools that use inert gas blown out from a nozzle at high speed to create an extremely hot torch. This allows you to target specific areas on a metal or alloy and cut through with ease. Unlike the traditional cutting methods/tools, these offer a clean cutting experience for DIY lovers.
Read on and discover the best plasma cutters that will help you get the job done easy and clean.
Top 8 Plasma Cutters of 2020 Reviewed
1. Hypertherm 088079 Powermax30 XP Building American Edition Hand Plasma System[wt_products id=”2883″ template=”5″]
2. Lotos LTP5000D 50Amp Non-Touch Pilot Arc Plasma Cutter[wt_products id=”2885″ template=”5″]
3. Hobart 500566 Airforce 40i Plasma Cutter[wt_products id=”2887″ template=”5″]
4. HeroCut 120/240V CNC Plasma Cutter[wt_products id=”2889″ template=”5″]
5. Forney Easy Weld 251 P Plasma Cutter[wt_products id=”2891″ template=”5″]
6. PRIMEWELD Premium & Rugged 50A Air Inverter Plasma Cutter[wt_products id=”2893″ template=”5″]
7. SUNCOO Plasma Cutter Cut50 Electric DC Inverter Portable Metal Plasma Cutting Machine[wt_products id=”2895″ template=”5″]
8. PrimeWeld Ct520d 50 Amps Plasma Cutter[wt_products id=”2897″ template=”5″]
How to Choose the Best Plasma Cutter – The Ultimate Buying Guide
Whenever you need to cut metal with ease, a plasma cutter will always do the trick. It is capable of cutting aluminum, steel, mild steel, and other alloys. Plasma cutters work by transforming gases like oxygen, argon, nitrogen, into plasma, which is the fourth state of matter. The plasma is then channeled to metal to cut it.
Why Do You Need A Plasma Cutter?
Conventional tools may not be able to cut metals that are too thick. That’s where a plasma cutter comes in to be used to precisely cut metals of a thickness of up to ¾ inches. It works by channeling an electric current at an extremely high speed. Gas is blown through a nozzle at a high velocity. It passes over the electric arc which makes it hot triggering a transformation of the once inert gases into plasma. In the end, it is capable of cutting tough and thick metal without much of a hassle.
Plasma cutters are the tools of work for builders, plumbers, demolishers, recyclers, contractors, and metal artists. Depending a project, you can also use these tools for your DIY tasks at your garage or home. Just learn how to use one and you are good to go!
How to Choose the Best Plasma Cutters
To choose the best plasma cutter, there are certain things you need to look at. If you don’t, then it will be impossible for you to find exactly what you want.
Maximum Metal Thickness
To understand if the machine is going to perform the task you have, you need to know the maximum metal thickness it can handle. This has to do with the upper limit of the metal thickness the machine can comfortably handle while maintaining smooth lines.
An important consideration is the ampere rating of your machine. For example, a machine with a 40-amp rating can comfortably cut through a ½ -inch thick metal. With a 25-amp rating, it may only cut a ¼-inch thick metal. However, at a higher 80-amp rating, the machine will cut anything ¾-inch to 1 inch.
If you aren’t worried about the price, it is important to go for a machine with the highest rating in terms of amperes. With that, you will be able to cut metal of all sorts of thickness. Also, you will avoid low-quality cuts which are hard to use.
How Much Power Do You Need
In line with the point we have just considered, it is important to look at the power output of a plasma cutter. The power output is measured in amperes and it determines the ability of the machine to handle metals of different kinds. It also plays a role in the length of time and to what extent you can use a cutter. While a majority of the plasma cutters on the market fall within the 30 to 50 amperes range, others may have higher power ratings. Those with higher ratings are suitable for heavier industrial applications.
But the power rating isn’t everything. You should look at it together with those factors relating to other aspects of metal cutting. Generally, you need to understand that cutters with more power output will cost more. If all you need is a home cutter for thin metals, anything between 30 to 40 amps isn’t that bad. If heavy-duty industrial applications, then go for a machine with a higher rating.
Duty Cycle: the Higher, the Better for Large Projects
This refers to the ability of the plasma cutter to keep operating without running into serious issues or requiring to let go of the trigger. The duty cycle of a machine is usually given as a percentage and it usually correlates with the number of minutes the cutter can operate in a 10-minute period. For instance, a machine with a duty cycle of 40 percent simply means it can operate for 4 minutes continuously out of ten. This is key to determining the speed at which you can work since some settings usually require higher duty cycles for a job to be done within a specific time or make certain output quotas.
Size – Easy to Store?
Compared to other electric tools, plasma cutters are usually in the mid-range as far as the size matters. Hence, they aren’t too big to be moved nor too small to remain stationary. The weight for this machine varies from one model or brand to another. Buy a machine that can easily fit in your workshop or which you can carry with you if you have a job elsewhere. You can easily carry the machine to whichever location you intend to work from.
Portability Can You Use it on the Go?
To reiterate, the portability of a plasma cutter is important whether you intend to use it at home or an industrial setting. A portable machine is usually easy to use and can provide a wide variety of cutting applications without the need for shifting its location.
With a portable machine, it is possible to work from different sites since it is easy to carry. It also comes with a lot of conveniences, given that it is portable and lightweight, all at the same time. Some even feature an undercarriage or shoulder strap for easy portability.
Never overlook the portability of a plasma cutter. It is the best way to find a machine that takes up little floor space while improving your ability to work from anywhere. Also, ensure that the machine has great storage options for the work cable, consumables, and torch.
Quality of the Cut
Every manufacturer is likely to beat his own drum when it comes to the kind of cut you get from a particular model. That’s why you should be vigilant when assessing a plasma cutter in terms of how clean the cut is. Look for features such as an endless pilot arc which produces a plasma stream without any disruption. With a pilot arc, it is also possible to cut through metals with holes or rusted ones without the need for special actions. Look for cutters fitted with MOSFET transistors, which are associated with a steady arc, which produces a cleaner cut with little or no slag.
Length of Time to Start-Up
When working in a workshop, you may not have a lot of time on your hands. That’s why you need to know how long it will take to start the cutter. This has everything to do with ease of use and convenience you will enjoy from the plasma cutter. The good thing is that many of the available plasma cutters are easy to start given the high-frequency rating of the pilot arc. However, the high frequency may interfere with office electronics and machines such as computers. In that case, you have to consider an alternative method of starting the cutter.
Additional Modes and Features
What type of projects do you wish to undertake? That’s a key question when it comes to deciding on the features you want in a plasma cutter. If you have a small welding workshop at home, a model with TIG welder capabilities is a must. That way, you can easily assemble the metal once you cut it. Other key features may include performance and pressure displays. Things to look out for include an LCD screen and units of pressure such as PSI. You may also want to look for cutters that use non-hazardous air or which has a small torch head to cut even in hidden places.
How Easy is it to Maintain the Tool?
Plasma cutters are created differently and would, therefore, different types of maintenance. The main reason why it needs maintenance is the inevitable wear and tear that comes with everyday use of the machine. To avoid incurring huge maintenance costs, go for plasma cutters with fewer parts. Such machines are also very easy to maintain.
Accessories The Product Comes with
For a plasma cutter to work properly, it should be accompanied by a number of accessories. So, checking whether the package has the right accessories is one of the things you should do before settling on a particular model. They include the following.
- Plasma Torch: It is the torch which acts to regulate the plasma. It is usually affixed at the end of the plasma cutter. The torch is expensive and should be accessed carefully to ensure it is well-functioning. It also requires careful maintenance and regular changing.
- Wedging horse: The wedging is used to attach the plasma torch to the cutter. It usually comes with the cutter and doesn’t require you to buy it separately. Where you have a sorter default port, it will be necessary to buy a longer horse.
- Welding nozzle: If you are an artist or metal sculptor, the nozzle will come in handy. Using a nozzle, it is possible to do some fine cutting and is regulated by the floor of gas. Since they are in constant contact with heat, nozzles are likely to be fast-wearing.
- Welding electrodes: The work of electrodes is to create an electric spark. Its work is to carry an electric current to the torch. Most electrodes are made of silver and copper. They may also contain hafnium and tungsten. Since they get heated up all the time, electrodes require to be replaced regularly.
- Head protectors: To prevent the plasma torch and nozzles from getting damaged, you need to use head protectors. Their work is to cover the torch to prevent damage due to molten metal. It also prevents sparks from reaching the consumable parts of the torch. With head protectors in place, you won’t have to spend money replacing the torch.
- A measuring kit for plasma flow: To prevent damage to the consumables inside the cutter, a measuring kit for the plasma flow is provided. Its work is to ensure the correct levels of plasma flow thus helping adjust the heat according to the requirements of the task at hand.
- Swirl ring: The work of the ring is to control plasma flow in a certain direction. As soon as the gas starts to flow, the swirl ring will control the direction and temperatures in which it flows. Without swirl rings, the gas will not mix adequately and the nozzle may end up getting burned.
With the items reviewed here, together with the buying guide, you should point you in the right direction when it comes to choosing a plasma cutter. Even as you consider the other factors, a good tool should serve the best of your needs. Don’t be fooled by the price.