Plasma cutting technology has finally become affordable for home users and small workshops. You can cut through electrically conductive materials easily and effectively with the use of the right plasma cutter and today we’ll help you choose one with our list of the most popular plasma cutters available in the market so let’s have a look at the alternatives:
Last update on 2019-09-15 at 11:33 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Which is the best plasma cutter for the money?
There are plenty of models to choose from and nowadays you can easily find reliable tools at attractive prices. If you are looking for the best machine on the market, then be prepared to invest a little more, as the more powerful and rigid models have a very high price tag. Fortunately, there are also plasma cutters for sale that can be found for less than $500, while still purchasing a reliable tool that won’t let you down.
Plasma cutter prices have been lower the recent years as technology advances, and we are able to get a great machine for a lower price. The typical cost of a budget-friendly plasma cutter is around $400 and at this price point, there are plenty of plasma cutters to buy without breaking the bank. The following models are the ones that we are recommending when it comes to buying a machine that provides great value for the money spent. We would like to propose a model from each price range so you know your best option for a plasma cutter for each price point:
Best you can buy under 300
Iglobalbuy Portable 3 in 1 Combo
This plasma cutter has 30A current output and due to its portable design can improve your maneuverability. in tight spaces. The Iglobalbuy is a small plasma cutter, compared to other models, it is lightweight and provides great cutting power for small everyday projects. Comes at a very attractive price and it’s really a cheap plasma cutter you can find online and work on your first projects.
Biltek 50Amp Air Plasma Cutter
This is our recommendation for anyone looking for the best low-cost plasma cutter. If you are really looking for a plasma cutter but you are afraid to invest a little more, this is one of the cheapest models on the market that worth your investment. If you are just starting out, then look no further as this is the best entry level plasma cutter you can get and it is also quite attractive as a solution for your home projects. It is a 50A plasma cutter that can run on 110V and 220V which makes it quite versatile for its price.
Best you can buy under 500
We would like to refer to this model as the best inexpensive plasma cutter on the market as it is quite cheap in comparison to other models, yet you get access to a lot of handy features. It has some of the highest ratings on plasma cutter reviews and we think its a worthy investment. It is a model that will be quite handy for projects in your garage and due to its low price it is a clear winner for home use. Lotos LTP5000D is a 50A plasma cutter that runs on 220V but you can use it on 11V with a pigtail that is sold separately. This is the best introduction you can have into the world of plasma cutters without breaking the bank. The machine is quite portable and compact, yet it can cut metals up to 3/4 inch. For more dense material you can still cut precisely up to 1/2 inch. Comes with a torch, electrode clamps, cables, and air hose, along with everything else need to get you started apart from safety gear. the only drawback of the machine is the rather short ground cable it comes with.
Best you can buy under 1000
Lotos Technology LTP6000
Lotos LTP6000 is a powerful 60A plasma cutter that can help you get clean cuts with a duty cycle of 60% at maximum output. It is suitable for stainless steel, alloy steel, mild steel, copper, and aluminum and comes at the right price for anyone making professional use of plasma cutters. Keep in mind that through the year you can find some pretty good deals on such tools, so if you find them at the reduced price this is a no-brainer.
2016 AHP AlphaCut 60 60 Amp plasma cutter 110v / 220v DUAL VOLTAGE
AHP AlphaCut is a plasma cutter that run on 110/220V and it is designed for professional use. It comes at a higher price compared to the competitors but can through rusted and painted metals easily due to its high power output. It’s one of the models where you can get a plasma cutter with a lot of cutting power yet at a reasonable price. Perfect for professional use and DIY projects up to 1-inch cuts at 220V. The AlphaCut is quite portable for those that need a compact solution and can provide smooth and precise cuts. The included adapter lets the machine easily be run on 110V and 220V and comes with a long lasting warranty.
Hobart 500564 Airforce 12ci Plasma Cutter with Built-In Air Compressor 120V
For professionals, this is a value for money option that comes with a built-in air compressor and provides precise and fast cuts. It runs on 120V and it’s a great investment without breaking the bank. It has a built-in handle which makes it quite portable together with the compact design. It can provide precise cuts and has a preset feature that will help you with self-adjustments. It is a great option for any DIY enthusiast and also has enough power for small shop owners.
Best you can buy under 1500
Hobart 500566 Airforce 40i Plasma Cutter 240V
This is a more powerful model from Hobart that runs 240V and with the built-in air compressor, you can cut faster with a maximum cutting of mild steel at 7/8 at 50% duty cycle. If you need a plasma cutter for industrial use that this is a no-brainer at this price point. With 40A it is a quite powerful cutter but a little pricey.
Hypertherm 088079 Powermax30 XP
This model from Hypertherm is able to run on 110V-240V and the specific kit comes with all the necessary equipment to start, like eye shield, gloves, shoulder strap, and consumables. At this price point, it is the most powerful and versatile plasma cutter you can buy. The low profile cutting head will help you make cuts in tight spaces and its trigger will provide maximum versatility while you cut. This is a great kit that can get you started right away and get smooth and clean cuts with no compromises.
Best you can buy over 1500
Hypertherm Powermax 65
If you need more power and speed for your cuts then this model can produce cuts up to 1″. This is the best investment for professional environments but it comes at a cost. If you find yourself working with thick metals then you might want to invest a little more and get Powermax 65 as there is no other alternative at this price.
What to consider when buying a plasma cutter?
Our buying guide will help you choose a plasma cutter for your needs without breaking the bank. If you feel like taking your tools from job to job, or like the extra portability it may be worth looking for a portable plasma cutter. A lightweight design will help you transport it when necessary but also be flexible while working in your workshop too.
Professional cutters may require a duty cycle above 50% while for hobbyists 35% can be an affordable alternative without breaking the bank. Depending on the materials you plan to cut you have to make sure that the plasma cutter is able to handle the task. These effects also your cutting speeds so if you are a professional you have to look for a model having 75 psi pressure or more in order to be able to work speedy and steady.
The most plasma cutters will offer 30 amp at 110 volts, or 50amo at 220 volts so pick a cutter that is suitable for your outlet. Look for cutters that have good cooling mechanisms as a good cooling system will prevent dust and dirt from damaging the unit while also prolong its life. Buy the accessories you plan of using the plasma cutter with, so that you make sure you can make the cuts easier and precise. It may be expensive at first but invest in a good quality plasma cutter from a reputable brand to be able to avoid any issues for the years to come.
You need to keep in mind that air pressure plays a vital role in plasma operations as too much air can blow out the plasma while on the other hand, not enough air will not help you cut anything. When setting up your plasma cutter it is vital to consult the manual of the manufacturer to ensure proper operation by checking the plasma cutter air requirements. Moreover, a good ground is also important for your safety while cutting, especially on larger objects.
Before choosing a model it is vital to ask yourself “what is the maximum thickness you might cut?” as the plasma cutter voltage and amperage will determine the maximum thickness you can quality cut together with the speed of your cuts. Most manufacturers provide cutting speed charts that can help you decide on the model that is more suitable for your everyday cutting jobs.
A built-in air compressor will help you be portable as they typically only run on 220v. Keep in mind that the plasma cutters with built-in compressors can only cut for the duration the compressor provides air supply. The most common models on the market are inverter-based as they are meant to be lightweight for improved portability while also have enough power to cut through 1/2inch materials.
How to choose a plasma cutter:
The first thing to consider when buying a plasma cutter is to set yourself a budget for the machine. There are plenty of models to choose from starting at around $300 and can get quite pricey which plasma cutters that cost up to $2000. It is vital to determine your budget and your requirement right from the start so as to eliminate models that are out of your budget. Keep in mind the pricier models offer some features like automatic air and amperage adjustments or greater ergonomic design, which can be quite handy and might want to consider extending your initial budget so as to invest in a machine that suits your needs.
If you are just starting out, or need a plasma cutter for home or your hobby, you have to keep in mind that going for the cheapest model might not be your best bet. Often the cheaper models tend to end up pricier to maintain after some time, or even having to buy a replacement unit or upgrade in the future. A good budget for anyone that doesn’t plan on working on cutting professional should be set at around $400-500 for the entry level models and if you need more power or reliability you can look for models up to the $800 mark. You will have to make some compromises to the cutting capacity or user-friendliness of the models but still, they will get the job done and worth every penny.
If you plan on working on metal professionally or want to take your projects to the next level, models ranging around $1000-1300 are able to provide enough power and cutting capacity for larger projects. They can be an overkill for a hobbyist but essential for professional metalwork especially if you need to cut up to 1″ steel for example. They are ideal for professionals that need to work with galvanized steel, aluminum and get clean cuts. Take into consideration your everyday needs and possible future projects when deciding on the cutting power of your machine.
Keep in mind that most models in the market are designed to be used on 220V. If you are a hobbyist or need to power the machine at 110V, you will have to look for models that are designed to operate at 110V while you make a compromise on the actual cutting power of the plasma cutter. If you find yourself working outside your workspace a lot, you may want to look at machines that work both on 110V and 220V, and probably go for models that come with a long hose for extra maneuverability.
Which brands to look for?
It is advisable to pick a plasma cutter for a reputable manufacturer. Moreover, look for models that come with a long lasting warranty so as to be safe in case you need to service the machine. It is vital that you pick a model from the current product line instead of a used one in case you need to find spare parts available for future maintenance. Some of the best brands:
Lotos: They are a well-known brand that makes the most popular plasma cutters and welders on the market. They are known for their great after sales service and their models are some of the more affordable ones in the market.
Hobart: Another well-known manufacturer that stood the test of time and still provides us with excellent machines. They even have a forum where you can find many answers to your questions.
Hypertherm: With more than 50 years of experience and a global network of partners in 93 countries, you can rely on them for your next purchase.
Other brands that worth checking out are Thermal Dynamics, Eastwood, Everlast, Boc, Lincoln, Miller, and Unimig.
How to use a Plasma Cutter? Safety equipment to start with.
Protective equipment is a must when it comes to plasma cutting.
- You need to have your eyes protected while operating the machine and you should invest in safety glasses, a hand shield and helmet in order to protect your head.
- The fumes and gases that are produced during cutting are toxic and it is vital to get a respiratory mask for lung protection.
- Your arms and body need to be covered as the arc that plasma cutters produce can burn your unprotected skin, so gloves and rubber boots are standard safety measures.
- Last but not least, ear muffs for ear protection are vital in production environments.
You also need to keep your welding and cutting area clean as sparks and heat can cause fire hazards. Check the video for the basic gear needed, and also check our top10 tips on safety while operating a plasma cutter.
Are you looking for a plasma cutter for CNC cutting machines?
There are plenty of models to choose from ranging from 30A all the way to 1000A cutting power. Some models offer height control but in lower-priced models, you can manually adjust the height after each cut. These lower cost alternatives may not have a brain to control the system and rely on your laptop and software to control the machine.
If you are a hobbyist then they are a good choice but if you need to work on a professional environment you will have to look for more robust choices that can withstand longer operation times in a busy production environment. Keep in mind that the higher end machines will have a great interface, possibly with a touchscreen to allow access to the software instead of relying on keyboard and mouse.
If you plan to install a plasma cutter on a CNC table for precise cuts, make sure you pick a model that it is designed for heavy-duty use and can cut through the material of your choice easily. Look for models of 50-65A and up, ideally 100A as a powerful machine is needed for heavy fabrication duties. There are a ton of different tables on the market but it’s advisable to pick a CNC table for your plasma cutter that is automatically raised/lowered in water.
A high-precision plasma cutter has to concentrate arc energy into a very small area for sharp cuts. It is vital to control height as accurately as possible and keep the nozzle at the correct distance through the life of the electrode. If you are looking for accuracy above all then automatic software will help you maximize the material usage. Have a look at our TOP10 selection of art created with plasma cutters for some interest ideas for your next projects