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Don't Buy a Cheap Plasma Cutter

Updated on June 4, 2010

Introduction

The plasma cutter has become one of the most popular additions to any commercial, farm, or home work shop. The plasma cutter is safer, easier to use, and cheaper than the oxy-acetylene cutting torch. Although there are still applications where the oxy-acetylene torch is still preferred the plasma cutter is by far the metal cutting tool of choice.

Shopping for Plasma Cutters

When shopping for plasma cutters for sale sizing the plasma cutter to the metal thickness is the key. It is the output current that determines the thickness that can be cut. Buying a cheap plasma cutter that is too small for the job or buying a heavy duty plasma cutter and cutting thin metal with it will not give you the results you want.

Input Power Requirements

Another important point is the input power. A plasma cutter that operates on 110 VAC requires twice the current of the same unit operating on 230 VAC. There are a few small size hand held portable plasma cutters like the Miller Spectrum 125C and the Hypertherm 190 C that operate on 110 VAC. These portable, light weight, convenient to use low output plasma cutters have built in air compressors. These low output plasma cutters are built to cut thin 1/8 inch and 3/16 inch mild steel. Don't expect them to cut 3/8 inch material and produce a clean cut. A 12 amp output plasma cutter needs a 20 amp circuit breaker when powered by 110 VAC. That same plasma cutter operating at 230 VAC uses 8 amps.

Plasma Cutter Components

A plasma cutter uses a power source, a hand-held torch that houses the nozzle and electrode, a source of dry compressed air, and an electronic or manual starting circuit. The portable hand operated plasma cutters operate from about 12 amps of cutting current on the low end to about 100 output amps at the high end. A few of the portable low power hand held plasma cutters sport a built in air source in the way of a small compressor.

A plasma cutter uses a power source, a hand-held torch that houses the nozzle and electrode, a source of dry compressed air, and an electronic or manual starting circuit. The portable hand operated plasma cutters operate from about 12 amps of cutting current on the low end to about 100 output amps at the high end. A few of the portable low power hand held plasma cutters sport a built in air source in the way of a small compressor.

Cheap Plasma Cutter

Don't waste your valuable time and money with a cheap plasma cutter. There is a reason why a plasma cutter is cheap and that reason is quality. The components used in the low buck cheap plasma cutter are just not up to the quality standards of the brand name manufacturers. A friend once told me something that his father told him. And now I'll pass that sage advice on. Buy cheap, Buy twice.

Buy Brand Name Plasma Cutters

When looking to buy a plasma cutter stick with the major brands;

· Hypertherm Plasma Cutter

· Miller Plasma Cutter

· Lincoln Plasma Cutter

· Thermal Dynamics Plasma Cutter

· ESAB Plasma Cutter

· Hobart Plasma Cutter

These are the manufactures who invest time and money in research to develop innovations and breakthroughs. Their products cost more because they are technically superior and because they use the best quality parts. Cheap plasma cutters are copies of old technology and they are cheap because they use cheap parts, enough said.

How Plasma Cutters Work

 Plasma cutters convert compressed air into plasma by passing it through a high temperature electric arc. The compressed air flow is heated inside the nozzle and becomes ionized. A character of plasma is that it conducts electricity. As the stream exits the cutter nozzle it is a hot plasma jet. On the way out of the nozzle the plasma stream is forced through an orifice which has the effect of further concentrating the stream increasing the plasma jet temperature to around 30,000°F. The velocity of the plasma is also increased to 20,000 ft./s or more.

The plasma arc leaves the nozzle and makes a connection to the electrically conductive work piece completing the current path back to the power supply. The plasma arc conducts electricity just like a wire. The narrow plasma jet is just .050 inch in diameter or smaller. The high temperature 30,000°F plasma arc melts the work piece metal and the high speed of the plasma jet pushes the molten metal out of the bottom of the cut like a hot knife through butter. Any metal that conducts electricity can be cut using the plasma cutter.

Summary

 When making the decision to buy a Plasma Cutter take time to shop around to compare specifications and price. Stay away from the small units that operate on 110VAC unless the need for portability is a prime requirement. Visit my website to learn more about Plasma Cutters For Sale.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Robert 

      6 years ago

      For the hobbiest, the other plasma cutter are more attractive than the more expensive counterparts. I have heard people haveing great service with some of the other brands. I have a VersaCut from Eastwood and it comes with a 3 year warranty and ins some cses 1/3rd the price. We will see how it fairs.

    • profile image

      NPROEQUIP 

      7 years ago

      This is a great, concise article discussing the particulars of plasma cutting, depending on your needs. I also liked the 'how plasma cutters work' section, to shed light on what's actually happening inside your machine. Thanks also for listing the top brands.

    • profile image

      Miller Plasma Cutters 

      8 years ago

      Hi Chuck,

      You have some great advice here for people who are in the market for a plasma cutter. I find them to be a lot of fun to work with and it is just fascinating how easily my plasma cutter can cut through metal.

      Thanks again Chuck!

    working

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