Looking for a cutting machine loaded with power and precision? Maybe you need a plasma cutting machine for repair work, or are looking for a cutter that can cut intricate designs in high quantity? Whatever your need, there is no doubt that the impressive plasma cutting machine packs quite the punch. From art galleries to automotive shops, plasma cutters are skyrocketing in popularity, likely due to their outstanding features. With their ability to cut intricate designs at mass volumes and slice through steel, aluminium, brass and copper in top-notch speed, plasma cutters are no longer just a staple on job sites. More and more are purchasing them for their personal use. Efficient, fast, and capable of highly advanced craftsmanship, there is little not to recommend. That being said, it can be overwhelming trying to decide on the perfect plasma cutter designed to fit your needs. Not all plasma cutters are made equal, so before committing to purchasing one, there are some questions you will first want to address.
What Will You Be Using It For?
The first question you should ask yourself is “What will I be using this for?”. As many plasma cutters serve different purposes, it is important to recognise which one would most suit your needs. For example, some cut circular, others only linear. What type of metal you will be cutting will also dictate which machine will best serve you. Additionally, you will want to ask yourself:
- How thick is the metal I will be cutting?
- How quickly do I need to cut?
- Metal Density
It is critical that you know the overall thickness of the material you will be cutting. Contrary to welding machines, plasma cutters require high voltage and low amperage levels. However, it is important that you do not decide on which cutter to purchase simply because of the amperage rate alone. The thicker the material the higher the amperage, but the less dense the material the lower the amperage. Therefore, if you are cutting material that is half an inch thick, you want to be on the lookout for a higher amperage cutter. Although a cutter with lower amperage may be capable of cutting, the cuts itself will not be of high quality. Each plasma cutter has a range of thickness they recommend in producing the best results, so make certain that it is on par with what you will be using it for. For example, a machine that has 80 amps of outlet will be roughly at its top performance quality when cutting between ¾ - 1”, whereas a ¼ machine will require roughly 25 amps of output.
The rate at which you will be cutting is entirely up to you. If you are using it in a manufacturing capacity where producing in mass quantities is required, you will want a plasma cutter that cuts quickly. The speed will not be a vital factor to one using the cutter on a less frequent basis. When purchasing a cutter, look for the cutting speeds for the metal density measured in inches per minute, also known as IPM. For example, if you are searching for a machine to cut a metal that is ¼ inches thick, then a higher amperage will cut through much more quickly than lower one. It will be useful to remember the best choice would be to select a machine robust enough to withstand about two times your regular cutting thickness. For example, a ¼ inch piece of steel is probably best suited to the class above, the 60 amp cutter. What this will ensure is that not only will the cutter be able to withstand your desired speed, but it will also produce high-quality results.
As with most things in life, when we decide we must purchase something, we tend to search for lower costs available. Although you may not require the most state of the art plasma cutter at your disposal, you also don’t want to choose solely based on a low cost. It is also worth noting that a high-quality machine does not have to be high cost. If you are on a budget, there will be specific types much more costly. For example, a CNC plasma cutter (regardless of the brand name) will be a costly, although worthy, expenditure. Before you make a decision, it will be helpful to look more closely into some of the features of the machine itself.
There are various metals which make up the plasma cutter itself. If the plasma cutter table is made of steel, it will certainly have stability and firmness not as present in aluminium, though that does not mean aluminium is not a solid choice. Both are durable metals, and both have their advantages. Is the machine something that must be easily transportable? If so, you may be interested in steel plasma cutters as aluminium, though stronger, will be bulkier whereas steel is easier to manage.
The table itself is also incredibly important, as it dictates the quality of the work. A larger sized gantry can be a bit harder to manage due to its heaviness; therefore accuracy and efficiency may be sacrificed. A torch that is light, however, will offer more flexibility and ease, thus more exact cutting results.
Servo vs Stepper Motors
There are two types of motor options for plasma cutting machines, a servo motor and a stepper motor. Servo motors are of a higher calibre than a stepper motor. A servo motor has an outstanding range of motion and can shift into many positions. It also can inform the controller of its exact location. More restricted in its range of abilities, a stepper motor has a restricted range of motion and fewer position options. Whereas the servo responds to the commands of the controller, there is no way, in fact, to know if a stepper motor has succeeded in what the user requested. Servo motors are traditionally more expensive, and you may not require that level of advancement. The most important thing to remember, regardless of the motor, is which plasma cutting machine will be most beneficial for you and produce high-quality cuts.
It can be overwhelming trying to sift through what makes one cutter costlier than another. One thing to be aware of is that different plasma cutters have different torches. These torches may require maintenance and replacement due to constant wear. The plasma cutting torches have several parts, known as consumables which will break down over time. It is to your benefit to look into a plasma cutting machine which has the fewest number of replacement parts. Fewer consumables mean less cost put towards repairs.
Inquiring about the longevity of these replacement parts will be beneficial. Choosing a plasma cutter with long-lasting parts will be a wise investment. Although it may seem costly up front, it will be worth it financially speaking in the long run. When deciding between machines, take note that some companies will rate replacement parts by some cuts, while others use a different way of measuring.
Other things you will want to consider before purchasing:
Portability - Will this be a machine you need to take on the move? If so, keep in mind that a lightweight machine will make transportation less burdensome. Additionally, a machine with plenty of storage available for your torch and other consumables will make moving from site to site much easier.
Safety - There is truly nothing more vital than your safety, so be sure to find a machine that has an actual safety sensor, which will prevent the machine from moving an arc until the nozzle is in place. A shield cup can be useful, although not entirely reliable. There are also machines that will offer a warning before the arc begins moving. There are plasma cutting machines that provide a three second or so notice before initiating, allowing the user to cut with safety.
Warranty - Anything can happen, even with the most top of the line machines. Therefore, always make sure to check how long the warranty is, with more extended warranty obviously being the better option. Also, consider how long the warranty is. Does it include all parts and replaceable, or just a select number and type? Is there a warranty extension? How much are the parts past the warranty dates? These are all things which you may want to consider.
Whatever your need is, there is one thing that is certain- a plasma cutter is a useful and powerful machine. Keeping all these factors in mind will hopefully help you in deciding which is the best plasma cutter to suit your needs.
AHP AlphaCut 60 60 Amp plasma cutter
For those wondering if it is possible to own a plasma cutter that is affordable in cost yet big on power, the answer here is a resounding yes. The AHP Alphacut 60 plasma cutter has 60 Amps of cutting power with a continuous arc that will guide you with ease through rough surfaces such as expanded, rusted, corroded and painted metals. A perfect choice for those who are interested in DIY projects and don't have the demand of a massive workload. Equally impressive is its ability to cut up to ⅜” at 110 volts, and an entire inch at 220 volts.
Some of the excellent features of this plasma cutter are:
- Portability and compact, perfect for those who are seeking transport
- Continuous arc provides smooth and precise cuts, regardless of voltage
- Commercial grade cycle, which keeps power consistent
- Quickly goes from 220v to 110v by using the included, simple to use adapter
- Includes hose, clamps and nozzle
- 3-year Warranty
The plasma cutter is ideal for anyone doing home projects such as restorations and renovations. In general, this is a great choice of machinery for those who don’t require mass usage of it on a daily basis or need it to produce high quantities of cuts at a rapid rate. This is also an optimal choice for though using it for auto repairs, repairs on fabrication, and metal work art projects. With excellent customer service, AHP specialists are recognised as being attentive and respond promptly to any issues or repairs.
In short, if you are looking for a powerhouse of a machine for a bargain, there is a lot to recommend about this plasma cutter.
Lotos LT5000D Plasma Cutter
Lightweight and easily transportable, the Lotos LT5000D Plasma Cutter has a great price point and is quite the capable cutting machine. With its dual voltage adaptability, this plasma cutter provides plenty of room for flexibility. While probably not the best choice for those requiring mass production in large quantities, this will suit users who are using the machine for lighter projects. There are many excellent features in the Lotos LT5000 Plasma Cutter such as:
There is a lot of versatility on this machine, thanks to its two voltage options. 110 is great are cutting thinner metals, while 220 can hold its weight in cutting the thicker materials. Having binary choices is a useful option, as purchasing a machine with only one voltage option would require the controller to purchases an additional hookup. The German engineered PAPST cooling system is also a standout feature, making it unique as many other plasma cutters do not have a cooling system at such a high standard.
The Lotos LT5000D cuts up to 1/2 inch, while metals can be severed up to 3/4 inch. Although the greater the density the more difficult the cut, at 1/2 inch, the cuts are still top-notch quality. The real beauty, however, is how well this machine cuts on thinner metals, allowing excellent precision and smooth edges. The torch head sits low, making it ideal when working in tighter and smaller spaces. Additionally, with dimensions of 15"x6" x12", and at 22.5 pounds, this plasma cutter could not be any easier to take on the move. Included is a torch, nozzle, electrode clamps, cables, and air hose and air pressure regulator.
Hobart 500564 Airforce 12ci Plasma Cutter
American-made, this efficient and reliable plasma cutter is a great option for those looking for a machine that doesn't require a massive workload. With an ergonomic design and a built-in air compressor, this plasma cutter has many impressive features. Working off of electrical feeds is a useful feature for the Hobart 500564 Plasma Cutter, making it extremely accessible. This cutter is excellent for home renovation enthusiasts or for use in smaller shops. There are many things to recommend about the Hobart plasma cutter, such as:
- Built-in piston-driven air compressor
- Convenient and portable, with handles built into the casing
- Preset pressure which offers self-adjustments
- Unique cooling features
- Excellent compatibility with electrical feeds
- Easy use on rough, rusty, painted or corroded surfaces
- USA made
- 1-5 year warranty, depending on model
The preset pressure is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable features, as there are very few plasma cutters which have this. It offers high quality cutting for any project without the controller needing to make any adjustments. Without an additional air-compressor to lug around, this machine could not be easier to transport.
Loaded with numerous smart design aspects and manufactured by a commercial class company, this machine is efficient, easy to use, and reliable. The cooling features located on the torch tip dampen the heat when finished cutting, and the cutting arc is also unique in that it begins with a smaller arc. Not requiring contact with the table, this also you to take advantage of the tips and combustible capabilities.
Although a lower voltage, high-quality cuts are not the least bit sacrificed. Offering clean cuts with exact precision, this robust machine with built in LED alerts has remarkable features and is highly recommended.
Ramsond CUT 50DX Air Plasma Cutter
Looking for a plasma cutter high on quality but low on cost? If so, then the Ramsond CUT 50DX Air Plasma Cutter might be the ideal machine for you. This 4th generation cutter has new and improved internal parts, making it much more sturdy and reliable than its previous ones. Add the fact that it is extremely affordable, and this is a tough bargain to pass up. That being said, if you are looking for a cutter that can handle a heavy workload, you might want to look elsewhere. What this machine offers works best for DIY enthusiasts and those looking for a cutter for household projects.
This plasma cutter has a lot going for it, including easy setup and operation. The torch, however, is not pilot arc compatible, so you must be vigilant in maintaining the proper distance. If cutting up to ⅜”, you can expect precise and clean cuts. Cutting at ½ “ is where you might notice some rougher edges. Therefore, this works best on thinner material, and it is wise not to go beyond ½ inch as that is when the quality begins to suffer somewhat. Lightweight due to the digital inverter technology, this machine is easily transportable. This plasma cutter can also be easily switched between 120v and 220v.
The Ramsond CUT 50DX is definitely worth taking into consideration is you are looking for a basic, simple, run of the mill machine that isn't required to perform an exorbitant amount of work. Without a doubt, this would be a reliable machine to use if you were looking to use it for around the home projects.
Lotos CT520D Plasma Cutter
The Lotos CT520D Plasma Cutter is quite the impressive machine with a lot in its favour. First, this cutter is unique in that is a 3 in 1 machine capable of tig welding and sticks welding, in addition to basic cutting. At 32 pounds, it might not be as lightweight and easily mobile as other models, but the extra feature more than makes up for it. Indeed, having these two welding features added eliminates your need to purchase them separately.
With a maximum thickness cut at ½”, this machine may be somewhat limited in comparison to others. However, the fact that it is dual voltage is a bonus, as it can be utilised with both 110v and 220v. Considering that you can use it for TIG welding makes this plasma cutter one to keep an eye on.
It does need an external air compressor and a foot pedal for can be purchased individually for welding projects. Although not the cheapest of all the plasma cutters out there, when you consider the versatility of this machine, and the fact that it includes a TIG and sticks welder, then the price is more than justified. Easy to use and sturdy, this machine also comes with a simple to use 220v adapter, however, if you are more interested in using it at 120v, you will need to purchase that separately. Although this plasma cutter does not have a pilot feature, it does offer consistently clean and precise cuts at ½”.
If you are looking for a cutter that can do more than cut, then this will be an ideal machine for you. With great versatility, it also offers clean cuts below ½”. Add to it the welding capabilities, and you are looking at a machine of great value.