Which Is the Best Plasma Cutter? – Mechanopedia’s Top Picks
If you’re frequently engaged in cutting metal for your ordinary DIY activities or work projects, it’s high time you got yourself a plasma cutter. Plasma cutters function with plain and simple components; by only using an ordinary power socket and the air. Although it may seem unnatural, these two distinctive, irreconcilable elements combine to produce an excellent plasma cutter tool.
A high-quality plasma cutter systematically produces a cutting temperature that can reach up to 35.000 degrees Fahrenheit. It performs excellently on both small tasks as well as large projects.
This article is a review of the best plasma cutters permeating today’s markets while exposing both their advantages and disadvantages.
The Best Plasma Cutter – Our Picks
Hypertherm 088079 Powermax30 XP is currently seen as the best plasma cutter permeating today’s markets. What makes the Powermax30 XP a unique product and the best plasma cutter is its interior design that combines both Fine Cut consumables and high-power ones. The former is responsible for achieving neat cuts on thin metal pieces, while the latter makes accurate and clean cuts on thick metal pieces. It also has an auto-voltage interior system, thanks to which users can shift appropriately and smoothly from 120 V to 220 V.
This is a dual voltage plasma cutter device that can reconcile both the household 120 V supply alongside the industrial 220 V. It provides an output current that ranges commonly between 15 A and 30 A. Thanks to this feature, this model is agreeably capable of making neat and clean cuts on ¼ inch metal quickly and easily.
The unit is designed to cut 3/8 inch metal at 20 inches per minute. In case of cutting ½ inch metal, its pace decreases down to 10 inches per minute. This model provides a 100% duty cycle at 15A, that is, when cutting thin metal sheets with the Powermax30 XP, you’re capable of working for a long time without having to stop. Also, this model is coupled with an adapter to help you arrange the power plug with the outlet within a few seconds.
It’s quite light and handy, although it generates a lot of power and energy. It’s equipped with several high quality items to help you further. Among these items, we have the Robust Duramax LT Torch whose central role is to protect the device from heat. It is also accompanied by a carry case in which there are niches to put cutting torch, consumables, the equipment, and the datasheet.
Moreover, the Duramax consumables are more durable than that of ordinary plasma cutters. If you often deal with an area that is not easily accessible, this cutter may help you as it matches with Hypertherm HyAccess consumables.
What we like about it:
All in all, this plasma cutter has several advantages, namely: the fact that it comes with a three-year warranty and a full carry case, it’s designed which suitable for both thick as well as thin metal, and its enduring, durable torch. The only unpleasant thing about is the price. Otherwise, it’s the best plasma cutter you can get in terms of durability, performance, and quality.
The next best plasma cutter available today is the Lotos LTP5000D. Like the previous Hypertherm Powermax30 XP machine, this one is a dual voltage device. That is to say, it can function either with 120 V or 220 V, though automatically, it’s regulated at 220 V. You have to get an additional pigtail adapter to make it fit for 120 V outlet.
The Lotos machine generates between 20A and 50 A, which you can readjust using the selector knob. When at 50 A, it operates at a rate of up to 60% duty cycle. When cutting ½ inch metal piece, the device should be put at 50 A. When compared to the Powermax30 XP that is able to cut ½ inch at 30A, this product is not as powerful. While The Powermax30 XP requires an airflow rating 4 scfm at 80 psi, the LTP5000D necessitates an airflow pace of 3.6 scfm at 60 psi. This allows you to resort to a smaller compressor when using the LTP5000D.
If you don’t frequently need to cut thicker metals, the Hypertherm Powermax30 XP is not a good choice for you, as you’d waste much money in comparison to your necessities. If you plan to cut metal that is less than ½ inch, then the LTP5000D is the best choice for you.
One of the most adorable thing about this model, and among the features that make it one of the best plasma cutters is the arc technology feature. Thanks to this feature, your job becomes simpler when needing to cut through various types of metal, no matter how uncomfortable, uncommon, painted, dusty, or rusty the surface is. You can easily work on wire mesh, slotted channels, and perforated surfaces.
When using other plasma cutters that lack this feature, you’re obliged to strike the arc whenever you need to cut. This renders your task extremely tiresome, overwhelming, and annoying, especially when cutting irregular types of metal each time. Thanks to the arc technology that nourishes and stimulates the product’s consumables, the model lasts for a long time.
This product, like any other product, has some drawbacks. Yet, its low price, as well as its exceptionally high performance, compensate for these drawbacks.
What we like about it:
The LTP5000D is one of the renowned, best plasma cutters for several factors. It has a reasonable, affordable price, it doesn’t require much of your pressure, and it has the most likable feature: the arc technology. If the metal you’re going to cut is not thicker than ½ inch, start considering having this model.
The next best plasma cutter is The Super Deal Cut50. Like the previous ones, The Cut-50 is a dual voltage plasma cutter, which enhances its performance when dealing with thin metal sheets. To cut a ¼ inch thick metal, you have to cut through quite slowly, though you won’t have great results. However, when it comes to cutting a metal sheet that is 22 gauge, it does so quickly and neatly.
Unlike the previous one; this plasma cutter is more tiresome since you have to strike the arch repeatedly because it lacks the pilot arc technology. It’s for this reason that it’s a low budget machine. However, it still one of the best plasma cutters that you can get today.
It comes with a cutter cable, the ground cable with clamp, a handheld mask, a few consumables, an air filter with pressure gauge, and a cleaning brush. However, because it doesn’t come with full power cables, you’ll have to attach a plug to the wire yourself.
The Super Deal Cut50 is your best pick if you usually don’t deal with metal sheets that go far beyond 22 or 18 gauge, and aren’t beyond 1/8 inch thick. Otherwise, you’d waste your money on a plasma cutter that is not made for your type of activities far surpass your basic needs.
What we like about it:
In general, there are a couple of key features that make The Super Deal Cut50 one of the best plasma cutters you can buy. It’s based on a dual voltage operation system, and perform excellently when cutting thin metal that ranges between 22 or 18 gauge. Also, it has a relatively low price.
The Miller Electric Spectrum 375 shares many characteristics with the previously mentioned Powermax30 XP, mainly when it comes to price and performance level. In this sense, it’s the Powermax30’s closest competitor and is righteously one of the best plasma cutters. However, there is something complicated about it, which is a peculiar warranty. Each item has its own warranty terms. Make sure to read it carefully to understand their warranty system entirely. Also, it’s coupled with an important carry case, and it’s handy and durable. It will accompany you during your various working experiences.
The Miller Electric Miller 375 is also a dual voltage, generating 20 A at 120 V and 30 A at 220 V. At 30A, it can cut 1/8 inch thick metal at 18 inches per minute. It slightly differs from the Powermax30 XP, for the latter can cut the same thickness at 20 IPM. Like the Powermax3O XP, the Spectrum 375 has a duty cycle 35% at 240 V and 20% at 120V and 30 A. However, there are cases when the Powermax30 XP operates more effectively than the Spectrum 375. While the former performs a duty cycle that registers 100% at 120 V and 15A, the latter records only 35% duty cycle, though with the same current and voltage level.
When using the Spectrum 375, you won’t waste time adjusting and readjusting the pressure since it is predesigned with an interiorly integrated regulator, which is the most pleasing feature which makes it one of the best plasma cutters. However, you’ll need to have a big compressor to get an airflow rate of 5 scfm at 90 psi. On the panel, it always signals the lack of pressure through the receptive warning light, so that you fix it.
What we like about it:
All in all, the Spectrum 375 is such a good machine, and you’re less likely to regret buying it. With its easy to shift dual voltage operation system, internal pressure regulator system, along with being a portable device, it makes your task easier and more comfortable. These factors make it ranks among the best plasma cutters.
This is the last, best plasma cutter you can get. If you have a quite limited budget, or simply you don’t want to spend on much money, this plasma cutter is the best option for you. The Ramsond Cut 50DX is designed with an automatic dual voltage/ dual frequency that registers 110/220V 50/60Hz and operates with digital inverter technology. Its size is 14.2 x 6 X 9 inches, making it easier to use and carry. It has a 60% duty cycle. While it can be used in cutting metals of 1 inch thickness, it performs best with ¾ inch metal sheet. Also, it has a built-in pressure gauge.
This machine can cut 3/8 inch metals properly, but the thicker the metal, the messier the cuts become. It’s better if you confine yourself to the appropriate thickness measures that this model can cut through. Moreover, the torch it has is not compatible with pilot arc technology, so you should be careful with the distance you keep or refer back to the user guide.
This model belongs to the fourth generation of Ramsond machines. Thanks to the company’s constant efforts to edit and improve their products, it outgrows the issues inherent in the previous products. Its integral constituents are quite innovative and high-quality, which makes this model the most long-lasting among other Raymond products and one among the best plasma cutters available today.
What we like about it:
To sum it up, The Ramsond Cut 50DX has many advantages, including its convenient and lightweight that makes it easy to use and carry, its dual voltage converter, and its hose length that registers 10 feet. Undoubtedly, it’s one of the best plasma cutters that are worth your consideration.
Choosing the Best Plasma Cutter – Buying Guide
This section helps you to further inform yourself about the main features you should find in the best plasma cutter. Also, this part is meant to show you the best manner with which you should use your newly bought plasma cutter.
The first thing to think of is the machine’s average cutting power. The cutting power is referred to in terms of amperage output. The best plasma cutter doesn’t have an average power that is less than 50 amps. Some machines can only produce 30 amps, which is suitable for small home tasks and is still considered a decent power level.
Having the most expensive machine doesn’t necessarily mean having the best plasma cutter for your personal need and use.
Size and Weight
Plasma cutters are generally used occasionally. Therefore, before purchasing one, check out the size and weight of your material as well as of the plasma cutter to make sure you pick the most appropriate model. If you have issues storing, small-sized plasma cutters are more comfortable to store.
The best plasma cutter always has a dual voltage. It’s more effective. Get yourself a model that operates at both 120 V and 220 V, and check out whether or not it’s easy to shift back and forth from 120 V to 220.
The output current is the indicator of the machine’s cutting power. However, higher current doesn’t always mean excellent performance. On the datasheet, you’ll find the right output current as well as the appropriate thickness with which to work.
Most of the time, users need tools with a high duty cycle. A machine with 20% duty cycle at 30A and 120 V requires 8-minute break every 2-minute work.
Inches per Minute
The best plasma cutters cut ½ inch thick metal sheet at 10 inches per minute with 20% duty cycle. They can cut up to 20 inches without you wasting 8 minutes. Considering the metal thickness you’re going to cut, as well as your own standards and needs, make your own decision.
Before purchasing a given machine, you need to carefully read the terms and conditions, and don’t buy it until you entirely grasp them.
With time, your machine’s consumables will weaken. Before buying one, check whether or not the consumables are available in your area. Some consumables are hard to find, or altogether unavailable.
Build Quality and Portability
If you’re always on the move and you need to take your machine, check the weight, and build quality before buying. Also, the machine should come with a carry case.
Picking the Best Plasma Cutter – Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Plasma Cutters, and How Do They Operate?
Plasma cutter work by sending concentrated air through a nozzle. The air then penetrates through an electrical arc, which is meant to overheat the air to make it strong enough to cut metal. This very process defines plasma cutters.
What Are the Various Types of Plasma Cutters?
Plasma cutters don’t differ much. They only differ as to how they receive the air.
Traditional plasma cutters operate through attaching them to exterior air compressor using an air tank. They produce extremely high power, and they’re expensive.
More modern plasma cutters are designed with an interior air compressor. These kinds have a straightforward setting configuration; all you need to do is plugging them in. However, they don’t always perform as efficiently as the traditional plasma cutters.
What Are the Advantages of Using Plasma Cutters?
Power: Using merely air, they transform that power into a cutting jet. It makes cutting metal an interestingly easier task which you’d rather enjoy.
Convenience: Plasma cutters generally weigh around 30 lbs. You can move it from place to place. It even has a small size, which makes storing it easier.
What Is the Duty Cycle?
The Duty cycle is the time during which a machine is active, yet not continuously. Devices with a high percentage of duty cycle perform better and more efficiently. If the device has a duty cycle of 50%, this means that the signal is ON for 50% of the machine’s active time.
What Do We Mean by Consumables?
Consumables refer to the nozzle in which the air is being heated. The nozzle is generally copper made and doesn’t last for a long time. You’ll need to change from time to time as they weaken quickly due to the forceful air.
Are There Any Other Tools That I May Need?
The most important item you need to have is an air compressor. It transforms the air into a metal cutting power. Otherwise, you need to have a plasma cutter with an interior air compressor. They are more expensive and produce less energy than traditional plasma cutters that work with an exterior air compressor.
How to Differentiate Between Low, Mid, and Top Tier Models?
First of all, the tier system doesn’t determine quality. It only helps you find the right machine for you that fulfills your goal.
To figure out the tier of the plasma cutter, you simply need to check the severance cut and cut speed for a given thickness. For example:
- Super Deal Cut-50: this model registers a severance ability of about ½ inch and cutting ability of ½ inch metal at 3 or 4 inches each minute.
- Powermax30 XP: the severance capacity of the Powermax30 XP reaches up to 5/8 inches, with cutting ability that registers ½ inch thick metal at 10 inches within a minute.
- Powermax45: the Powermax45 cutter can severe 1 inch and cut ½ inch thick metal at 20 inches each minute.
According to the figures, we deduce that the first plasma cutter is the top, the second is a mid-tier plasma cutter, and the last is the lowest.
What Is the Pilot Arc Technology That Characterizes Some Plasma Cutters?
Pilot arc technology enables you to cut expanded and mesh-like metal sheets comfortably. It even performs greatly on different surface types. Yet, cutters with high-frequency arc technology cut only clean and flat surface. To understand it, you have to understand what plasma is.
Plasma ranks fourth in the states of matter- which are solid, liquid, and gas. Gas starts generating electricity in the fourth state. When the air compressor produces air in the nozzle, it’s still non-conducting, but when a given mechanism converts it into an ion, it becomes plasma.
The heat that the plasma generates results in melting the metal and the powerful air blows it away, ultimately cutting it. Some plasma cutters strike an arc between the electrode and the metal with powerful discharge. Consequently, the air converts into plasma. These models are not entirely safe.
For safety concerns, some plasma cutters have a plasma stream existing between the nozzle and electrode. Once the torch is closer to the metal, it transfers the pilot arc to the metal.
A plasma cutter is an essential tool in any metalworker’s arsenal. That said, you mustn’t jump on the first model you find. Instead, you need to check the top-rated products in this category, which we reviewed above, and pick the best plasma cutter for your workplace after checking our buying guide.
What are you waiting for, then? Go on, get a new plasma cutter, and get to work already!
- Our own experience