The world is made up matter. Plasma is among the four fundamental elements of matter. The other three states of matter are solid, liquid and gas, with plasma being the fourth. Unlike the other three states, plasma has very different properties. Due to its unique properties, it is used for many things, including cutting through materials that can conduct electricity. This is where finding the best plasma cutter for the money comes into play.
What is a Plasma Cutter?
A plasma cutter is a piece of equipment generally used for the cutting of electrically conductive objects like aluminum, copper, brass or steel. Various industries use a plasma cutter for their activities. Examples of places that use plasma cutters are welding shops, industries, automotive industries, and even in metal scrapping and salvaging industries.
Plasma cutting over the years has become an excellent way of cutting any form of electrically conductive material. It is an exact method, it is faster than the other methods, and it is also cheaper when compared to the other methods. This research was conducted and reported by the body called Computer Numeric Control (CNC).
How a Plasma Cutter Works?
Plasma cutters are found to be useful in cutting sheet metal in angled shapes or curved shapes. Hand-held torches can cut up to 38 mm or 1.5 inches’ thick steel plate. Machine controlled torches controlled by computers can cut through steel that is up to six inches thick.
A grounding clamp is attached to the metal piece to be cut to complete an electrical circuit. The plasma cutter generates superheated electrically ionized gas, which completes the electrical circuit back through the grounding clamp. Some form of compressed gas is blown through a focused nozzle at high speed towards the workpiece. The gas can be oxygen, air, or inert gas).
An electrical arc forms within the gas, creating an electrically conductive channel of plasma which delivers sufficient heat to melt the metal being cut. The compressed gas blows the molten metal away in effect separating the metal or cutting through the workpiece.
Here are the top 13 best cutters available:
|Rankings||Name||Price and More Details|
|Lotos LTP5000D 50AMP Pilot Arc Plasma Cutter||Click Here|
|Hypertherm Powermax45 American Build Edition||Click Here|
|Ramsond Cut 50dx Plasma Sytem||Click Here|
|Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster||Click Here|
|Hobart Airforce 40i Plasma Cutter||Click Here|
1. Hypertherm Powermax45
The Hypertherm Powermax45 is our first top pick for its portability and ease of use. Its smart sensor technology makes this unit the best portable cutting machine on the market. Also, you can achieve fast cuts with a patented cutting tech that is 1.5 times greater than other conventional cutting systems.
- Reduces grinding
- Provides a superior quality cut with less working time
- The cutting ability of 16mm thickness
- Easy to set up and use especially for those first-time users
- Lightweight and small in size providing excellent portability
- Air pressure smart technology to ensure the perfect set up
- Expensive cutting system
2. Lotos LT5000D Plasma Cutter
The Lotos LTP5000D plasma cutter model is the latest Lotos technology for plasma cutters. It is a 50Amp Non-touch Pilot Arc Plasma Cutter with a dual voltage of 110V and 220V. Its manufacturer describes it as a 1/2 inch clean cutter.
According to customer reviews, the Lotos technology cutter works best on the latter voltage 220V but also works quite effectively at 110V. For this product to be used well, a person will need two items: an air hose which has a female connector. With a female connector, one can easily connect and disconnect the air inlet. The other essential element is the air compressor.
Lotos technology is one of the best cutter for the money, but it has its pros and cons.
- It is a dual voltage cutter with a choice between the 110V and the 220V
- Compared to the other cutters, it has a neater cut
- Can quickly and effectively be used for personal use, other than commercial use
- It has good value cutter for the money
- The 110V voltage does not work as well as the 220 Voltage
- A person needs to buy their plug for the 110V and the 220V since the cutter does not come with its plugs
- As much as the cut is impeccable, it is larger compared to other personal cutters
3. Hypertherm Powermax 30 XP Plasma System
The Powermax30 XP has a casing and is an American edition with a two in one version. It has a capability of cutting thick metallic surfaces as well as delicate metals which need exceptional precision.
It is well packaged and easily portable. The Hypertherm PowerMax 30 comes with consumables such as plugs for both the 120V and the 240V circuits. Also, it comes with shaded glass, a carrier case, and a shield mask and even cutting gloves.
- Has the ability to cut metals with precise accuracy.
- It is portable and light in weight, with a well-designed carrier
- Does not require any explosive gases
- It is a long-lasting plasma cutter
- On the most part, this is a great cutter, but it can be speedy. Because of this, a person has to be steady to achieve a clean cut with this cutter.
4. Ramsond Cut 50dx Plasma System
The Ramsond Cut 50dx is our fourth top pick for its impressive 60 percent duty cycle performance. The sever cuts production is excellent with a maximum of a 1-inch thickness of steel cutting ability. With its integrated pressure gauge and dual voltage technology, this Ramsond machine is by far the best plasma cutter for the money.
- Uses V-MOSFETs Inverter technology for an incredible 60 percent duty cycle
- Portable handle that is fully insulated
- Pulse width modulation tech that provides constant and precise uniform cuts
- Dual voltage for 110V and 220V power capabilities
- Extremely lightweight with only 19 pounds
- Poor cut quality cuts for large thicknesses of metal
- Works excellent for thin metals
5. Eastwood Versa Plasma Cutter
The Versa cut60 plasma is a sharp cutter. It can easily slice materials that are 7 or even 8 inches thick.
Not only does it cut through the thick heavy metals, but it also cuts through thin metals and has a neat cut to it. Its built-in pilot arc allows a user to have stability and precision when cutting. It happens to have an in-built moisture separator which would enable only clean air to pass through the Torch.
- Has a build-in arc which makes it more stable while in use
- Cuts through both thin and thick metals just as easily
- Its output is 60Amp, which makes it very appropriate to use
- The one metal which this cutter can cut well is steel.
- It does an ok job with the rest like steel stainless steel.
6. Hobart Airforce 12ci Plasma Cutter
The 500564 Airforce 12i is the way to go if one needs a cheap plasma cutter that works perfectly at home or in small welding environments. It works perfectly in harsh environments but is comfortable to use.
- Can work in touch environments with a 35% rated duty cycle at 104F degrees, but has an inbuilt coolant which enables a comfortable working environment
- It is convenient to use
- It is compact and powerful
- Can be used to cut thick metals of about 4 or 5 inches comfortably
- Does not have a CNC torch, and is generally not CNC compatible.
- Poor cut quality for thick metals
7. Hobart Airforce 27i With Built in Air Compressor
The Hobart Airforce 27i has a cutting ability of 3/8 and 5/8 mild steel. It is not a cheap plasma cutter because of its wind tunnel technology that reduces the amount of debris and dust that is pulled into the unit. Also, we recommend the Airforce 27i for those who are looking to cut material thickness between 1/4 and 3/8 inches.
- Precise cut for mild steel
- Connect to 120V or 240V as a power source
- Wind Tunnel Technology to protect from dust and debris
- Lightweight inverter technology
- Built-in Air Compressor
- Not a Cheap plasma cutter
- Only recommend for 3/8 inches of materials or less
8. Zeny DC Inverter Plasma Cutter
If you are looking for a decent metal cutting ability with a significant percentage of energy savings, then the Zeny DC 50AMP CUT-50 is our top pick for the best cutter for the money. This fantastic cutting machine if very portable and it is perfect for any DIY home repairing or cutting job.
- A compact handle that makes this unit very portable
- Almost 50 percent of energy savings
- New and improved cooling system for the Torch
- Dual voltage for 110V and 220V
- Some resistors might blow out with inadequate use of the cutting machine
- Seem to be a little hard to set up, not recommended for beginners
9. Everlast SuperUltra Plasma Cutter
The Super Ultra 205 200A Tig stick is a cheap plasma cutter. It is a multipurpose Welder with dual voltage, i.e., 110V and 220V. Also, It is an excellent tool for portable duties since it is a compact tool. It is also great at repairs.
- Clean and smooth cut on any metal that comes in its way.
- It has a low electric consumption due to its excellent inverter design.
- Has a protection circuit which warns the user when they are using more electricity than required
- Has excellent arc stability which means one can have neat cuts
- According to some users, instruction that comes with this plasma cutter does not help much
- The warranty for this cutter does not cover some countries
10. AHP AlphaCut Plasma cutter
The AHP plasma cutter has a recent 2016 model called AlphaCut 60 60Amp Plasma cutter. This cutter has a dual voltage of 11oV and 220V. It has a good pilot arc which enables a user to cut through objects like rusted metals, painted metals and even expanded metals precisely.
- Has a dual voltage with a plug that has the ability to quickly switch from the 220V to the 110V and vice versa.
- Can be used commercially, and if need be, personally
- Has a built in air separator which enables clean cuts to be formed
- The 110V is not as adequate as the 220V and can leave one feeling disappointed and frustrated while working with that input
11. Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster
The Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster 60i has advanced gas optimizer technology to increase the consumables life. With maximum sever cuts performance of 16mm, the cutmaster is considered one of the most powerful among the competitors. Also, it comes with the SL60QD 1Torch for easy replacement.
- Excellent cut quality for thin metals
- Sever cuts performance of 16mm of thicknesses of metal
- 50 percent duty cycle dual voltage technology
- Four-year factory warranty
- Does not perform as well with steel stainless steel
12. Hobart Airforce 40i Plasma Cutter
The Airforce 40i Plasma Cutter is an excellent fit for someone that is looking for both lights a heavy industrial use. The Hobart Airforce 40i can handle sever cuts of 7/8 inches of steel, which is not bad for a portable cutter. It is considered a potent cutting machines that can be transported with excellent portability.
- Powerful 7/8 cutting ability in a 50 percent duty cycle
- Has efficient air consumption
- Safety ergonomic trigger mechanism
- Wind Tunnel Tech to prevent dust from damaging the machine
- Works for both light and heavy cutting
- Only operates under 240V
- With 31 pounds it is not the lighter portable cutter
13. Miller Spectrum 625 X-treme
The miller electric company has created the most potent 40AMP portable cutter on the market with a cutting capability of 5/8 mild steel thickness. Also, the Miller Spectrum cutter offers a dual voltage connection with incredible Auto-Line technology.
- Comes with a case for excellent protection
- Very portable with only 21 pounds of weight
- Flexible cables and LED indicators for ease of use
- Pilot Arc Technology
- Connectors tend to be larger and heavier than the older 375 model
- Not able to cut 1 inch thick metals or more
Plasma Cutters have revolutionized how metal and electrically compatible objects are cut. Anyone who has not yet embraced this technology is missing out on an excellent opportunity to save costs, time, and energy.
In the market, there are several plasma cutters, and we recommend to read our buyers guide to become more aware before making the final purchase.
Plasma Cutting Machine Buying Guide
There are a variety of plasma cutters on the market with various features and cutting ability. Before you decide on which machine to purchase, check the specifications and the reviews for each device. Make a decision on which features and capabilities work best for your application and use. Take into account the price, power hookups, e.g., 120 or 240 Volt and amperage requirements, and how efficient they are compared to the consumables and cost of the consumables. Some machines come with built-in air compressors to provide compressed air while others require external high capacity units. Also, these units can come equipped with dual voltage systems. Sometimes a super deal does not have the best features. For example, a Ramsond cut 50dx plasma cutter can be purchased for less than five hundred dollars.
What is plasma cutting?
Plasma cutting describes a process of cutting through materials that conduct electricity using an accelerated jet of hot gases or plasma. Steel, aluminum, brass, and copper are the typical materials cut using this process. However, anything that conducts electricity can, in theory, be cut using a plasma cutting process. The process is used in hobby shops up to and including large scale industrial manufacturing and repair shops. Due to their high speed and precision, plasma cutters are used in fabrication shops, auto repair, construction, and even salvage operations.
How to determine the amount of power that you need?
Just like a truck, the more power you have, the faster you can go with a giant load. Two plasma cutters with the same number of amps, but different voltages deliver much different power levels. Amps times volts gives you the number of kilowatts it provides. A 120-volt system with the same current as a 240-volt system delivers less power. Slower cutting in terms of inches per minute and smaller thickness may be an issue depending on if you are a hobbyist or a repair shop, for example.
What kind of metals can a plasma system cut?
Typically, plasma cutters can cut through steel, mild steel, stainless steel, brass, copper, and aluminum. Other materials can be cut as well as providing that they can conduct electricity. The power level of the plasma cutter also determines how fast it can cut through the material and what is the max cut of the material. These systems are known for cutting metals quickly with high precision and are popular with fabrication shops and industrial construction projects.
Top 6 Things to Check Before Using a Plasma System
Plasma cutters are practical and efficient steel cutters. However, like most tools, they need to be handled with care, taking safety precautions seriously to prevent accidents. A adequately maintained cutter can also provide accurate, clean cuts without the need to make corrective cuts later on. Factors such as air quality, the cutting thickness of the metal, voltage levels, power supplies, and proper grounding are essential. Consumables should also be reviewed and replaced before they cause poor results.
1. Air quality
The ideal cutting process develops gases and noxious fumes that can be harmful to humans. Also, avoid having flammable materials nearby. Always work in a well-ventilated area or use filtration systems to remove particulate and noxious gases.
2. Metal thickness
Verify the metal thickness across the cutting area and also the capacity of your plasma cutter. Best results can be attained with a consistent thickness of metal and appropriate power level for the metal thickness under consideration.
3. Input voltage
The input voltage and the amperage determine the overall power level in addition to the cutting ability in terms of thickness and speed of cut. Always confirm you have the right machine for the metal you are cutting.
4. Power source
The power source must have the voltage and amperage capability to power the plasma cutter. A 25-amp fuse on a 120 volt supply is not sufficient for a 40 amp – 240-volt plasma cutter.
5. Air pressure regulator
The air pressure regulator controls the pressure of the gas injected into the system for ideal cutting. Check with your manufacturers manual for the optimum setting for your plasma cutter. They tend to vary between machines.
Electrocution is one of the most significant risks to operators of plasma cutters. Proper grounding of the item to be cut, wearing rubber gloves and welding gloves, using a rubber mat to stand on and ensuring there is no moisture present is essential.
What are consumables?
Consumables in a plasma cutting machine are the materials that are slowly consumed when the device is being operated. If any of them are beginning to be worn down or begin malfunctioning, the plasma cutting process becomes slower, less precise, and the actual cut can start to become more extensive. You may not even be able to cut through the metal at all at some point. The main parts are covered in the next section.
What are the main consumable parts?
There are five different components to the consumable parts of a plasma cutting machine – the shield, retaining cap, the nozzle, the electrode, and the swirl ring.
The swirl ring causes the more cooling gas to swirl on the outside to cool the nozzle. The gas swirls around the electrode, around the arc, down the nozzle and out through the Torch.
The electrode is a slender piece of copper or silver and may contain hafnium or tungsten. The electrode carries the electrical current from the Torch to the plate.
The nozzle focuses the plasma arc. Wide nozzles are used for gouging, while narrow nozzles are used for more delicate work for detailed shaping and cutting.
The retaining cap in a plasma cutting machine is to cover and secure the other consumables together in position for efficient cutting.
The shield protects the consumables from the sparks and molten metal associated with the cutting process, therefore extending their life cycle.
How to improve consumables life?
Consumable life cycles depend on cutting speed, distance held from the piece being cut and whether the right consumables are being used for the correct type of cut. Slow cutting means higher temperatures which can use up the consumables more quickly. Worn consumables can reduce the life cycle more quickly.
How to protect yourself while using plasma cutters (Welding safety)?
Plasma cutting machines use high voltage and high current electricity to cut thick metallic material. Improper grounding presents an electrocution risk. Sparks and molten metal can ignite clothing and flammable liquids. The sparks and high-intensity light can damage the eyes as well. Operators should wear protective eyewear, headgear, footgear, and protective clothing. The work area should be ventilated and free of flammable liquids.
Operators should wear protective eyewear and also face shields or helmets to protect the face from sparks and molten metal, which can severely burn your skin.
Flame Resistant Apron
Flame resistant aprons and unique clothing should be worn to protect your body and clothing from burns from hot metal. Leather, heavy wool or heavy denim seems to work well.
Leather Welding Boot
Hot metal can quickly burn through regular shoes. Operators should wear heavy leather high topped boots to protect their feet and ankles from flying sparks and metal.
Your hands are probably the closest appendage to the actual cutting process. They are exposed to sparks and hot metal. Wear heavy gloves to protect them.
Extra Welding Jacket
Continuous high power plasma cutting generates a great deal of heat, sparks, and molten metal. Many operators wear extra welding jackets to protect there clothing and bodies from burns.
If you are not going to be using the plasma machine on a consistent base, then buying a welding cart can help you save time. There are a few welding carts that can help you safely keep your machine after purchase, and it can also help you keep your garage clean.
Plasma Cutting Duty Cycles Explained
An important consideration when purchasing a plasma cutting machine is the duty cycle. A machine with a 30% duty cycle means it can be used for three minutes out of every 10 minutes. A machine with a 50% duty cycle means you can use it for 5 minutes out of every ten minutes without damaging the device or its components.
The duty cycle is based on standards such as power supply temperature, cutting at the maximum current level and the components inside reaching the maximum operating temperature. Most plasma cutters come with sensors that can shut down the cutter when these standards are met. A cooling system may extend the duty cycle.
How does ambient air temperature affect the duty cycle?
Duty cycle standards are based on standard temperatures set by the manufacturer. Some plasma cutters use 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If your operating ambient temperature is lower, internal components can take longer to reach their duty cycle levels. Similarly, operating plasma cutters at higher ambient temperatures can lower the time the machine can be used.
What happens if you exceed the duty cycle in a plasma system?
In most cases, nothing, because the plasma machine’s internal sensors can report overheating and automatically shut the machine off. If for some reason the sensors are bypassed, it can continue working for a short while and then overheat and possibly catch fire.
Advantages of Using a Plasma Cutter
Plasma cutting machines have several advantages over those or regular acetylene torches. Faster cutting, wide cutting capability, can cut all electrically conductive metals, works well-cutting sheet materials, excellent cutting performance on small and medium thickness steel, relatively low consumable expense, and a capability of cutting high-quality edges. They are very portable as long as there is a compatible electrical connection. One person can move some of the smaller machines.
Plasma cutters cut with minimum slag and cuts with a narrow kerf. Operators can cut many different shapes and angles easily. An angle grinder is not required once you use a plasma cutter.
Manufacturers claim that plasma cutters can complete cuts in one-fourth of the time of many other cutting tools. Also, there is minimal metal distortion.
Plasma cutters are now produced in lightweight, portable designs suitable for one person to quickly move these machines to a variety of work sites.
Plasma cutters offer precise cutting results producing a minimum amount of slag. They are ideal for cutting shapes and angles.
What is Pilot Arc Technology?
Late-model plasma cutters are now available with an innovation called “pilot arc.” This design reduces electrical interference with electronics situated nearby and they provide an increased stable arc while cutting. Consumables also last longer, which reduces the operating cost. At present, they are more expensive to purchase, which offsets the savings in consumables. Machines equipped with pilot arc are ideal for construction sites with nearby buildings operating computers and other electronic devices.
Welding shops would not usually need to be concerned about interfering with electronics. However, using portable units on construction sites within an existing building may interfere with customer electronics. A pilot arc plasma cutter would be preferable in this situation.
Benefits of Using a Plasma System with Inverter Technology
One of the significant advantages of inverter plasma cutter technology vs. transformer-based cutters is weight. For example, a 50 amp inverter machine might weigh 30 to 40 pounds. A transformer-based machine could weigh as much as 140 to 200 pounds making it more challenging to move to various construction sites. Construction sites may also require a combination welder generator until grid power is available.
Power use and potential savings of inverters vs. transformer-based machines is minimal and depends on usage. Higher usage would tend to favor inverter-based devices.
Inverter technology cycle primary power on and off many thousands of times per second, creating its own high-frequency AC power for the transformer. If the source power has irregularities in terms of frequency, spikes and dips in voltage, the high-speed cycling of the inverter compensate for producing the smooth power output.
Tips for Using a Plasma Cutter
- Safety Gear – Wear a welding helmet, proper glasses, high-quality aprons, and high topped leather boots.
- Safe Environment – Make sure the area is well ventilated and remove all flammable material from the area.
- Correctly assemble the Torch – They should be clean and fit snugly, consumables should be kept clean on a cloth to avoid contamination from material on the shop bench.
- Replace consumables regularly before they wear out and begin lowering the quality of your work.
- Clean the Torch regularly.
- Avoid torch collisions and do not use the Torch as a hammer.
- Proper coolant and gas flow ensures the consumables are adequately cooled and can last longer. Excess gas pressure can cause it to be challenging to start. Check the flows every day before using.
- Maintain correct standoff from the metal to ensure the arc can flow smoothly. The incorrect standoff can damage the ideal cutting tool or the metal you are cutting. All cutters need compressed air and ground to perform at its best.
Hope you have enjoyed our complete buyers guide and reviews on the best plasma cutters on the market today. You can check price on amazon by following our links above if you need more information. We suggest purchasing a cutter with a built in air compressor that can fit your budget options.
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