Mankind has been using tools to advance our civilisation live for thousands of years. In fact, some studies show that our work on toolmaking goes further back than language—which just indicates just how central tools are in our lives.
We are lucky to be living in a time where we can build on the knowledge of our forefathers to produce new developments and work on different kinds of innovation at a greater speed.
One of the most used tools available to us is the plasma cutter, a cutting tool that is capable of dishing out cleaner and more powerful cuts than traditional metal-to-metal methods. Beyond the enhanced quality of their cut, they can also work on a variety of different metals.
In many aspects, plasma cutters widely outpace the work of oxyfuel cutters. If you are reading through this article, chances are you’ve already heard of them and would like to see what they’re all about. You’ve come to the right place—this article aims to be a comprehensive guide on best plasma cutters, from A to Z. Read on for a complete view of what these machines are all about!
- Best Plasma Cutter – Comparison
- The Top 10 Plasma Cutters: Reviews And Recommendations
- Lotos LTP5000D
- Hobart 500566
- Primeweld Premium
- Hypertherm Powermax 45 XP
- Hypotherm 088079 Powermax 30 XP
- Lotos LTPDC2000D
- Amico Power CUT 50 Pro
- CORAL CUT-50 AMP IGBT
- Lotos LT5000D
- Forney Easy Weld 251 20 P
- Features To Look Out For When Buying A Plasma Cutter
- The Thickness And Type Of Metal You Usually Deal With
- Your Optimal Cutting Speed
- The Power Source Of Your Plasma Cutter
- The Cost And Life Span Of Consumables
- The Quality Of Your Test Cuts
- Ease Of Transfer From Pilot Arc To Cutting Arc
- Portability Of The Cutter
- Durability And Protective Measures
- Ease Of Use For Your Workforce
- Safety Systems And Measures
- Operating A Plasma Cutter
- Staying Safe While Using Your Plasma Cutter
- Maintaining Your Plasma Cutter
- FAQs: Your Biggest Questions On Plasma Cutters, Answered
- Making The Most Out Of Your Plasma Cutter
Best Plasma Cutter – Comparison
|Model||Max Cutting Thickness||Volts||Price|
|Hobart 500566 ||3/4"||240V|
|Hypertherm 088079 ||16 mm ||45 XP|
|Hypertherm 088079||5/8"||110 V - 240 V|
|Lotos LTPDC2000D||1/2"||220 V/110 V|
|Amico CUT-50||3/4"||110V & 230V|
|Coral Plasma Cutter, CUT50||1-17mm||110V-220V|
|Forney Easy Weld 251||1/4"||120 v|
The Top 10 Plasma Cutters: Reviews And Recommendations
There are tons of plasma cutters out there and you won’t ever run out of choices. This is a rapidly growing industry with several developments in the works. We are looking forward to all the new machines that are soon to be released—but before that, here is a list of all the top plasma cutters that are currently available.
The Lotos LTP5000D is a well-loved model for tons of reasons. It is a balanced machine, capable of delivering a powerful performance despite its small stature. This plasma cutter only weighs around 9.9 kilograms and it has a handle built into the top of the machine so you can carry it around when you need to.
This model’s replacement parts, which are an important consideration for all plasma cutters, are super affordable. You can easily stock up ahead of time so that you are prepared for regular maintenance sessions. You must work on acquiring these extra materials because the LTP5000D does burn through a lot of consumables very quickly.
Despite the constant need for replacement parts, this model is of steady build overall and will be able to last you a few years, provided that you continue using it within the range it can handle.
The size of this machine’s torch is also small, which allows you to work with tight spaces. This is accompanied by a ten-foot torch cable so you do not have to worry about ease of movement as you are doing your job.
When you order this unit, the Lotos LTP5000D comes with a power cord that does not have a fitted end. This is done on purpose so you have the liberty of attaching either a 110V or a 220V plug. Carefully assess your requirements so that you do not overburden your machine with the wrong equipment. The 110V plug is fine for lighter use, but you will be taxing the machine’s circuits if you attempt to cut thicker materials. This is why you may need to invest in both plugs beforehand, alongside your purchase of this product.
Please note that this machine’s trigger does not come with a safety guard. This makes it easy to hit by accident and could cause a serious accident to you or whoever is using it.
Overall, I would recommend the Lotus LTP5000D for use in a non-professional setting. It is not made for heavy work, which is evident in the build and the exterior of the machine. This is the most budget-friendly option you can go for if you are a weekend warrior who enjoys working on DIY projects at home. On the other hand, if you are a professional who makes a living out of metal welding, you may want to consider other options that are built out of more sophisticated material and which require fewer replacement parts regularly.
You can never go wrong with a Hobart machine. Here is a plasma cutter that really knows how to make the most out of an investment. The Hobart 500566 is a well-rounded and powerful machine, capable of cutting through steel that is up to ⅞” thick.
To operate consistently, this device requires 240V. One energy-saving feature of this machine is the fan on-demand technology. This means that the fan is only running when it is needed, which reduces the power consumption of the device overall. Also, it also has a filter that can limit the amount of debris and dust that enters the unit. This extends the lifespan of the machine by protecting its interior from these contaminants.
Another interesting piece of technology from the Hobart 500566 is the post-flow cooling system. Any plasma cutter operator worth their salt would know that it takes a significant amount of time for the machine to cool down after it has finished the cutting job. However, this feature lessens your waiting time and actively works to bring the heat of the hard work to more machine-friendly temperature levels. This extends the lifespan of your machine by preserving the tips and electrodes. It also lessens your waiting time in between jobs if you are giving the machine a break.
The Hobart 500566 is made out of solid stuff, designed to withstand tough jobs and professional work environments. If it detects itself overheating, it has an automatic safety measure that will set itself in place and automatically shut the entire machine off to prevent the more fragile parts of the body from taking damage.
One aspect of this machine that I really appreciated was how easy it was to use. It is definitely built for a professional environment, but even people who are not well-versed in using plasma cutters will be able to understand how to use it immediately.
Part of what makes this machine so portable is its inverter design. This allows it to weigh only half of what the usual plasma cutter would weigh without compromising its external build or its performance.
To wrap this review up, I would recommend the Hobart 500566 if you are looking for the portability and size of the Lotos LTP5000D, but also something capable of working in a professional setting. It has some additional capabilities, such as the fan on-demand system as well as the post-flow cooling system, that make investing in it all the more worthwhile.
True to its name, the Primeweld Premium is the cream of the crop for plasma cutters. It can deliver premium cuts despite its small size and it comes with a comprehensive kit of its own. This way, you can get straight to work.
This device can be used in different locations because it has a 110V/220V capacity. This makes it useful for professionals who need to position their device in different locations because they will not need to invest in an adapter.
One strong advantage that the Primeweld Premium has over other plasma cutters is its built-in DC inverter technology. It focuses purely on converting DC to AC, which allows the model to operate at a quieter pace. In addition, it is also capable of regulating the current to ensure that you get a smooth and consistent cut, regardless of any fluctuations in power.
If you need a plasma cutter that you can carry around the project site, the Primeweld Premium comes with a big handle at the very top of the machine so you can freely transport it from one area to another.
When you buy the Primeweld Premium, the package will also include the plasma cutting torch, four clamps, two couplers, the air regulator, the 12’ ground clamp, and the cable.
One small issue that I had with this device is that it will require some training and practice to get used to. This is a device I would recommend for seasoned veterans in metal welding and cutting. Beginners should look towards other models that have a more user-friendly interface and a clearer set of instructions on the machine. While it is not a big problem, there is definitely a marked learning curve to figuring out how to use this device.
Overall, I have no qualms with using the Primeweld Premium for my work. It is affordable, lightweight, and portable. Once you can look past the slight learning curve, you will find that this machine is a long-term companion for your metalwork.
Simplicity is key with the Hypertherm’s Powermax 45 XP. It is a plasma cutter from one of the world’s most trusted brands in this industry. You will definitely be paying a little extra compared to other models, but this is because you have the reassurance that this will be a product of quality and extensive research.
This machine will require higher electrical output levels, as it can only function on 200V to 240V. This is the ideal model for fine precision cuts, given that it has different methods of cutting that you can choose from. It comes with a clearly labeled switch that can easily shift between these three different modes.
The first mode is the continuous pilot arc. This is the best mode for cutting through painted, rusty, or perforated metals. This is followed by the non-continuous pilot arc, which is the standard setting for cutting normal metal plates regardless of thickness. The third and final mode, gouging, functions specifically to punch holes in metal plates. For best results, you should make sure that you are equipped with the right gouging consumables before you begin.
One feature I appreciated about the Powermax 45 XP was the twenty feet cutting cord. It gave me a lot of freedom of movement while I was working. It also kept the workplace free from any falling debris and sparks.
Here is another plasma cutter that is good for beginners. The Powermax 30 XP is yet another small device that is easy to set up and get to work with immediately. This is a device that can be used by both casual cutters and professionals alike.
In addition to the Standard set of consumables, this machine is accompanied by FineCut consumables for thin and detailed metal cutting. I noted that the replacement time for the consumables was evenly spaced and not so frequent as to become a drain on your pocket.
When you order the Powermax 30 XP, it also comes with a pair of cutting gloves, a rugged carrying case, one carry strap, and a pair of protective eyewear. I tried these accessories out for myself and found that they were functional. I appreciated these extras because it helped reduce the cost of owning a plasma cutter.
One salient feature of this machine is its auto-voltage adjustment, which can swiftly adapt to the flow of power regardless of whether it is 110V or 240V. It also comes with plug adapters so you do not need to go through the additional effort of buying some on your own.
Between the Powermax 30 XP and the 45 XP, it is important to note that the 30 XP is more suited for smaller jobs. I would definitely recommend this cutter for anyone who wants a steady and well-equipped device for their light to medium metalworking needs.
Here is an extremely useful multipurpose device that can definitely help you save up in the long run. The Lotos LTPDC2000D is one powerhouse of a plasma cutter, its most defining feature being that it is a three-in-one welding machine. In addition to the pilot arc plasma cutter, it is also built with a TIG welder and a stick welder.
This is every professional metalworker’s dream, as both add-ons are still popular methods of welding in the industry. The TIG welder, an acronym for tungsten inert gas welder, is used for crafting tricky welds such as welds on round surfaces or s-curves. It is the preferred welding method for titanium, aluminum, copper, and dissimilar metals.
On the other hand, the stick welder is mostly used on steel and iron. It is a popular welding method in the repair and maintenance industries, as well as the construction of heavy steel structures.
The TIG welder and the stick welder are not beginner-friendly tools, so this machine is best suited for professional working environments where there are people who are well-versed with using these tools already.
One feature that stands out in the Lotos LTPDC2000D is the PAPST cooling system. It works to shorten the cooldown time of the machine after extended periods of use, which is an advantage for you because you can get back to work faster as well as a benefit for the machine because it helps preserve the longevity of the working parts.
In case you run into any issues with this model, the Lotos LTPDC2000D comes with a three-year manufacturing warranty.
Overall, I would recommend this model to professionals in rough working environments. The only issue that I had is that its consumables are slightly more expensive than others, but the quality of the cut, as well as its multipurpose capabilities, more than make up for this downside.
Amico is a reputable company in the welding industry. It is known for making quality plasma cutters at cost-efficient prices.
This machine is equipped with automatic voltage detection technology. It will seamlessly adapt to voltage between 110V to 240V and power itself up accordingly. This is an important feature for me because not all power outlets are created equal, and inconsistent power supply could be harmful to the machine if it does not know how to regulate itself.
Even with thick protective gloves on, I found that the torch was easy to handle after extended periods of use. The product is advertised as having heat and impact-resistant material, and in my experience this holds true.
One of the biggest selling points of the Power CUT 50 Pro is how it has been optimized to function on less maintenance. It is definitely an advantage because you will spend less time cleaning and caring for the machine, and more time working for cleaner, closer cuts.
A small issue I had with this machine is that it appears to be prone to air leaks. Some models may arrive with a discernible leaking sound from the inside. Most people found the Amico customer service super helpful in taking care of the situation. You can conduct a manual inspection yourself by opening up the machine with their advice, or you can send it back in and get a new one. Both methods have been proven to work.
Next up is the CUT 50 IGBT by CORAL… Don’t let its appearance fool you, this sleek blue plasma cutter has some explosive power packed into its tiny frame. While they have similar names, please note that the Amico Power CUT 50 Pro and this model, the CUT-50 AMP IGBT, are not from the same line of products nor the same brand.
I really appreciated how this device comes with an LCD digital display. In just one glance, It showed me everything I needed to know about the machine and how it was operating. As per my experience, this really helps in making the device easy to use and therefore is one I would recommend for beginners.
If you take a closer look at its exterior as well as its corresponding consumables, you will see that this product is built out of high-quality components. It is evident in each part’s capacity to provide consistently good cuts while staying durable for a slightly longer time than other consumables. At the price that the CUT 50 IGBT is at, this makes it a great bargain.
When you buy this machine, you will also get the following equipment: one pressure-reducing valve, one earth clamp, one air hose, six replacement consumables, and two ceramic cups.
In case you run into any unforeseen circumstances or you feel like you are not getting the most out of your device, the CUT 50 AMP IGBT comes with a three-year warranty. It is always good to know that you will be supported even after you invest in this product.
To wrap this review up. CORAL’s CUT 50 AMP IGBT is one of those machines that know how to strike a balance between performance, aesthetics, and cost-efficiency. You should definitely consider investing in one for your workshop or home.
Between this model and the previous Amico machine, this weighs only 8.6 kilograms and has tons of accessories as well. I would say that this model is better for beginners and hobbyists because of its weight and the other tools that accompany the machine.
Looking for a machine that can switch between home projects and the odd welding job here and there? Look no further than the Lotos LT5000D. Its minimalist packaging belies a serious industrial cutting machine that is capable of achieving a job well done, every time.
This device is powered by non-hazardous compressed air to pierce through a variety of metals, such as stainless steel, mild steel, alloy steel, copper, and aluminum. The Lotos brand has definitely left its mark on this list, and its final entry presents itself as the most affordable machine to go for. It weighs 10.2 kilograms, just a little bit heavier than the LTP5000D.
One challenge I had with this product was the cost of its consumables. I thought it was too expensive at first, but after a bit of research, I saw that there were some generic options to consider. In my experience, they are viable alternatives that did not interfere with the performance of the machine.
In conclusion, I enjoyed using this model for all sorts of metalworking projects. It’s small but solid, and will definitely be a welcome addition to any toolkit.
To finish off this list, we have the Forney 251 20 P. This is the lightest machine on this list, narrowly beating the Lotos LTP5000D (9.9 kilograms) by weighing in at only twenty-one and a half.
In terms of safety, one aspect of this product that I really appreciated was the present of clear light indicators for a variety of machine issues. The Forney 251 20 P comes with a troubleshooting guide and an instruction manual to help ensure that you stay safe while using this device.
This bright green cutting machine caters mostly to people who are interested in metalworking as a hobby or a pastime. It may not be the best option for seasoned professionals who need a plasma cutter that can handle multiple projects and high power output on a daily basis.
This is definitely a direct rival of the Lotos LTP5000D in terms of target audience, capabilities, and aesthetics. You may want to pick this machine if you have more varied needs to consider because this one has additional accessories that come with the packaging.
Features To Look Out For When Buying A Plasma Cutter
Plasma cutters have many distinct advantages from other cutting technologies, and you may be itching to buy your own already. However, do note that there are notable variations from one machine to another. This is because they are made to suit different metal types, working environments, and other personal preferences. Narrow down your list of choices with this quick checklist.
The Thickness And Type Of Metal You Usually Deal With
The thickness of the metal that you will place through the cutter is an important consideration because this will determine the kind of power source you should look for in your plasma cutter. If you only need to cut material that is ⅓” thick, you get the best results with a low amperage machine. However, if you will be handling materials that are ½” in thickness, you should be browsing through machines with a higher amperage unit.
If you push your plasma cutters to operate at the limit of their capacity, the quality of the resulting cut will be poor. There is an optimal range of thickness that every unit can handle and you should verify this before purchasing. As a general rule,
a ¼” machine has approximately 25 amps of output
a ½” machine has a 50-60 amp output
a ¾” to 1″ machine has 80 amps output.
Your Optimal Cutting Speed
Any reputable manufacturer of plasma cutters will have the cutting speed for all kinds of metal measured in inches per minute (IPM). If you will be cutting through a ¼” metal, then a high amperage plasma cutter unit will be able to do the job faster than units with lower amperage—although both will be capable of working through the metal.
As a rule of thumb, it is recommended that you find a machine capable of handling around twice your normal cutting thickness.
One consideration you will also need to make undercutting speed is your plasma cutter’s duty cycle. The duty cycle refers to the amount of time you can cut continuously before the machine will overheat and require cooling. The duty cycle can be calculated by taking the percentage of a ten-minute period—for example, a sixty-percent duty cycle at fifty amps indicates that you can cut continuously for six minutes out of a ten-minute period if you are operating at fifty amps output power.
The Power Source Of Your Plasma Cutter
Plasma cutters usually rely on a pilot arc that utilizes high frequency to conduct electricity across the air and power up the device. This makes for an easy start, but it does come with a price: the high frequency can interfere with the performance of computers or office equipment. If your production environment contains PC-controlled equipment or other such technologies, you may want to consider alternate sources of power.
The lift arc method is one such alternative. It uses a DC-positive nozzle with a DC-negative electrode inside. When it is triggered, a current runs between the electrode and the nozzle. This pulls the electrode away from the nozzle and establishes the pilot arc.
The Cost And Life Span Of Consumables
Plasma cutters are made out of all sorts of consumable items that need to be replaced on a regular basis. These are hidden costs that you have to think about before you buy your machine. To help lessen the cost of maintenance, find a manufacturer that has machines with the least number of consumable parts. This information is listed down in the manufacturer’s specifications.
Make sure that you will be comparing the same metrics for measurement. Some manufacturers rate their consumables by the number of cuts, while others will rate it by the number of starts. This can make a difference in production equipment that runs continuously compared to similar machines that stop and start frequently.
The Quality Of Your Test Cuts
Give the machine a try before you commit to buying it. Make a few test cuts on your top picks with the same speed and same thickness of material. This way, you can compare and contrast the effects of each cut from each machine.
While you are comparing, look closely at the plate for dross on the bottom side. Examine the gap left by the cut and see if the angle is perpendicular or angular. If the unit is designed well, it will leave a tight and precise arc.
If you want to test the cutter’s capacity to cut through thicker plates, try lifting the plasma torch away from the plate while you are cutting. Observe how much distance you can put between the workpiece and the torch while still maintaining the arc. The longer the arc is, the higher its voltage and consequently its capacity to cut through thicker plates.
Ease Of Transfer From Pilot Arc To Cutting Arc
It’s important to find a machine with a quick and positive transfer from the pilot arc to the cutting arc. These machines will be easier to use and are better at gouging, which is essential for getting the right fit-up when you are welding heavy plates.
To test this, test your plasma cutter on expanded metal or gratings. This will push the machine to transfer from pilot to cut and back at a very rapid pace.
Portability Of The Cutter
You may find yourself having to move your machine from one location to the other so you can get the job done. If you think you may need to be more mobile than usual, you will want to look for a lightweight unit and a means of transportation for it as well. This could be in the form of an undercarriage or a shoulder strap.
Durability And Protective Measures
It’s in the little things, from the protective cap over the trigger to the cage that surrounds the air filter, that can indicate how well a machine will hold up in the long term. You may want to invest a little extra in plasma cutters that have protective measures over important parts of the equipment so that you do not have to worry about replacing it too early.
Ease Of Use For Your Workforce
Plasma cutters can pose a huge risk all on their own and you don’t want to add to this by buying machines that don’t have a clear set of instructions laid out. A good control panel can let a user with minimal experience work with the plasma torch in a quick, safe, and efficient manner.
Ergonomics is also an important factor. Your comfort levels while operating the plasma cutter will undoubtedly play a part in the quality of the end result.
Safety Systems And Measures
Beyond safety measures for the plasma cutter, your final consideration when shopping for the ideal machine should be whether it has safety measures for the user as well. This includes safety sensors for the nozzles, machines with a pre-flow sequence, and a pre-flow safety check before the arc starts up.
Operating A Plasma Cutter
Plasma cutters are convenient to use and efficient at what they do. To make the most out of your work, however, you will need to follow a few quick steps. This is to ensure your safety as well as the integrity of the machine. Here is a quick outline of what you need to do.
Find A Good Location
You will be cutting through metal and as a result, it will be important that you set operations up in a safe place. Place the metal on a surface that is sturdy and allows for significant freedom of movement. Look for a ‘grate’ type of table as this will be the ideal surface for your cutting.
Get A Stable Source Of Power
Position the plasma cutter next to an outlet. Make sure that the machine has been turned off before you plug it in. This prevents any dangerous accidents that happen when the device starts up while left unattended. Any fluctuations in power may also pose a risk, so take a look at the stability of your power source as well before you begin.
Get A Stable Source Of Air
Connect the cord of the external air pressure to the plasma cutter. Plasma cutters need a steady stream of high pressure plasma to work, so make sure that everything is connected properly before you begin. The outer flange of the female connection should be pushed back before you insert the male connection.
Turn On The Airflow
The clamp for the airflow will usually be marked in a distinctive color, such as red or yellow. Move the clamp from its position perpendicular to the air line until it is in line with the pipes. This will connect the airflow to the machine and prime it for operations.
Position The Metal
Place the metal that you want to cut on the table and attach the ground clamp close to where you plan on cutting. This will hold the metal in position as you work.
Turn On The Machine
Now it is time to power up! Flip the switch on the plasma cutter from OFF to ON to start working. This switch is usually located at the back of your machine.
Adjust The Current
Bring the current lower or higher according to the thickness and type of metal that you will be cutting through. Remember that if you set too low a current, it might not give a clean cut and may damage the metal. If the current is too high, it will damage the nozzle.
Work Through The Metal
Remove the safety measure on the trigger and get to work! Keep the end of the nozzle close to the metal. If you have templates on hand to help you with tracing, use the guide surrounding the nozzle to trace around it.
Turn Off The Machine
If you are finished with your work, reattach the safety measure on the trigger and switch off the machine.
Disconnect The Clamp
Slowly remove the ground clamp from the metal you are working on.
Turn Off The Air Flow
Bring the clamp back to its original position to cut off the air flow and to thoroughly close down the machine.
Clean The Area
Arrange the wires around your plasma cutter so that they do not post a safety hazard. Wrap up the air line, ground line, and plasma gun line on the hook that is found at the side of the machine.
Staying Safe While Using Your Plasma Cutter
Plasma cutters are an important investment you need to make if you have to cut through different kinds of steel on a regular basis. However, these machines need to be handled with care. To make the most out of your tool and to ensure your own safety, here’s a quick look at some basic safety precautions.
Regulating Your Electricity Levels
Plasma cutters, especially models that are built with their own inverter technology, are capable of delivering a fatal shock if its power output levels are not properly monitored. As a result, it is crucial to ensure that before you even turn on your machine, it has been grounded and wired properly. Furthermore, the plasma cutter must be positioned in an area with little to no moisture.
On your part, wear rubber gloves as well as welding gloves for that added layer of protection. While you are operating the machine, stand on a rubber mat. These measures help ensure that any electrical currents running through will not be able to penetrate your body.
Checking Your Safety Gear
As you are operating this equipment, you will be exposed to intense infrared and ultraviolet rays, as well as high molten metal and fumes. Here is a list of protective equipment that you must have on while you are using the plasma cutter:
Protective Shield Or Hat
A welding helmet that covers your entire head will protect the most critical part of your body from sparks and debris.
Goggles Or Safety Glasses
Your protective eyewear must include lenses that are equipped with the right lens shade. This is to protect your eyes from any untoward visual stimulation caused by the machine’s intense arc light and radiation.
Rubber And Welding Gloves
No, it isn’t overkill. I would definitely recommend using both rubber and welding gloves while you are on a plasma cutter because your hands will likely be the closest parts of your body to the machine. It will keep you safe from the heat and the possibility of any electric shocks.
Your feet may be the farthest from the machine but you will still need to don a pair of thick boots to keep you from getting electrocuted. Electric currents can radiate from the device across the floor.
Apron And Proper Clothing
A nonflammable and heat-resistant apron, paired with some proper clothing, will protect your skin from any hot slags, debris, or sparks that fly out of the machine and come into contact with any part of your body.
Don’t use any random mask—invest in a respirator mask to keep your lungs safe from the fumes and oxides that are generated by operating the plasma cutter. This kind of mask is capable of filtering these harmful particles from the air and enhancing your safety as well as your personal comfort.
Ear Plugs Or Ear Muffs
Last but not the least, take care of your ears! Plasma cutters can be super loud and damaging for your eardrums. I would recommend going the extra mile and investing in a pair of fire-resistant ear plugs for any sparks or splatter that will come from the machine.
Maintaining Your Plasma Cutter
You wouldn’t want to have your plasma cutter break down in the middle of an important job. With great power comes great responsibility and plasma cutters need to have a certain standard of maintenance so that they can continue powering through metal sheets and plates. Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to do:
Check The Torch Body
Remove all the torch parts and examine them thoroughly for signs of wear, especially for any mechanical damage to the threads. Use a cotton swab and some electrical contact cleaner to clean out the inside of the torch. Finally, blow out any metal dust that has accumulated on or inside the torch.
Wipe Down The Torch Leads
Make sure to clean out all the way down the length of the torch so that you can scrub out the accumulated dust and dirt. It’s important that you remove all traces of metal dust because this can affect the amount of voltage the machine needs to power up the plasma arc. Take a look at the hoses, wires, and fittings for any signs of wear or damage. Lastly, ensure that the high-frequency shielding is still in place.
Clear Up The Power Supply
Use compressed air to blow out the metal dust in this area. The metal dust can damage the plasma cutter’s power supply components, especially the boards. Check the air filters inside the housing and keep some extra filters on hand so you can replace them if necessary.
Check The Torch-cooling Components
Check your plasma cutter’s water-cooled torches, if any, for signs of reduced air flow. This can be examined in the coolant stream area and it’s important that you verify that the return flow is at the specified gallons per minute. Take a look at the flow switches and ensure that they function properly because a lack of coolant flow can cause the torch to overheat.
Clean The Machine Components
This includes the rails, gears, and racks. Use some degreasing agent to wipe off any accumulated grease, dirt, and metal dust. For gears, lubricate these parts with a dry lubricant such as graphite powder. Keep in mind that you do not need to lubricate rail sections because this will surely attract contaminants that can wear down the machine.
Fine-Tune The Drive Motors And Control
If your plasma cutter’s motors don’t look like they’re in sync, then it’s time to perform some drive-motor tuning. Common warning signs that you can also look out for include when the torch no longer returns to its home position, or if inaccuracies in its cut pieces start developing—especially in moves where both the x and y drives are in operation. The speed achieved by each axis needs to be equal so that you can achieve the right torch positioning. Finally, you need to minimize the motor drift.
These adjustments may often seem minor and easy to pick up, but they do differ from system to system. As such, you need to go over the manual or get in touch with an authorized representative for your plasma cutter to ensure that you are tuning your machine right.
FAQs: Your Biggest Questions On Plasma Cutters, Answered
1. How much metal can a plasma cutter handle?
This depends on the power output of the plasma cutter. If you plan on working with metals that are only one-fourth of an inch or less, then a 25-amp plasma cutter will do the trick. However, if you are cutting metals that are thicker than one inch, then you will have to use a plasma cutter that can deliver at least 80-amps.
In terms of surface-level, plasma cutters belong to one of three different tiers: low-tier, mid-tier, and top-tier cutters. Depending on the kind of metal as well as the amount that you will be cutting, the best plasma cutter for you will fall in one of these three categories.
2. How much air pressure do I need for plasma cutting?
This will depend largely on the brand and model that you are going for, so I would recommend that you look through the user manual that comes with your machine to get an idea of how much air pressure that specific machine would need.
3. Can a plasma cutter cut through…
It is possible to make clean cuts through hardened steel. Most plasma cutters can accommodate full sheets of hardened steel with a cutting area of 4 feet by 8 feet. However, there may be better options for going through this material, such as a cut-off wheel on an angle grinder or a water jet. This is because these methods are less likely to leave impressions on the metal.
Plasma cutters can cut through stainless steel better than oxyfuel cutters. This is because unlike oxyfuel, it does not rely on oxidation to work and instead works to melt away the metal using the work piece.
Yes, a plasma cutter can work on carbide. Carbide can be made out of either titanium carbide or tungsten carbide, materials that are both conducive for work with a plasma cutter.
Yes, you can cut copper with a plasma cutter. However, keep in mind that copper is a unique metak: it is very conducive to heat, but not very good for electricity. As a result, you will need to adjust your pace while cutting. Do not go too fast and do not force the machine through the metal. If you take your time, you can get a straighter and more balanced cut.
Plasma cutters are definitely the superior machine for cutting through aluminum. It cannot be worked by an oxyfuel cutter because this metal does not react well to being oxidized.
Making The Most Out Of Your Plasma Cutter
There you have it— everything you need to know about what plasma cutters are, how they work, and the steps you can take to keep them maintained. These machines are capable of cutting through a wide variety of metals because they do not use fuel, gas, or compressed oxygen. It’s no wonder that they have become such a popular option for all sorts of work on metal plates and surfaces.
As a result of their popularity, the industry has been rapidly evolving ever since the 1990s. This fast pace of development ensures that as long as you fit your needs and preferences to the right tier, you will always find a product that is worth your investment. I hope that this guide has made it even easier to find the best machine for you!