Best Plasma Cutter Reviews 2017
With plasma cutters starting at a few hundred dollars and running into the thousands, it is important that you find the best plasma cutter to fit your needs and your budget.
Finding the right cutter among the many choices available may seem like a daunting task especially for beginners who are buying for the first time.
This guide is here to help you conquer that issue with as little effort as possible. In this buying guide you’ll find the very best plasma cutters on the market for a variety of different needs.
Plasma Cutter Comparison Chart
|Picture||Name||Price||Our Rating Out Of 5||Max Cut||Duty Cycle||Warranty|
|Hobart 500566 Airforce 40i||$$$$$||4.9||7/8 Inch||50%||5 Year Industrial Warranty|
|SUNGOLDPOWER Portable||$||4.5||12mm||60%||2 Year Warranty|
|LOTOS LTP5000D||$$$||4.4||3/4 Inch||60%||1 Year Limited Warranty|
|Super Deal Plasma Cutter||$$||4.7||12mm||60%||2 Year Warranty|
|Longevity ForceCut 42i||$$$$||4.9||1 Inch||40%||1 Year Warranty|
|PRIMEWELD Air Inverter Plasma Cutter||$$$||4.6||1/2 Inch||60%||1 Year Warranty|
|Hypertherm 088079 Powermax30 XP||$$$$||4.8||5/8 Inch||35%||Power supplies 3-year warranty | torches a 1-year warranty|
|Everlast PowerPro Plasma Cutter||$$$$||4.8||5/8 Inch||60%||3 Year Warranty|
Not only are plasma cutters cool in theory, they are also useful tools in the workshop especially if you deal with a lot of metal cutting in your day to day work as a professional or hobbyist metal worker.
Plasma cutters are tools that use inert gas blown at high speeds out of a nozzle. They are equipped with an electric arc that when applied to gas, turns into the fourth state of matter called plasma.
Even though they sound like cutting machines from the distant future, plasma cutters are used in the present day to cut through different types and widths of metal easily, accurately and taking less time than traditional methods.
Best Plasma Cutter Overall
Other features include an ergonomic trigger safety, improved air consumption and economically priced consumables. This cutter is made for heavy-duty use. It retails for one of the higher prices on this list and comes with a generous five-year warranty.
This plasma cutter is well-reviewed by users describing its capability to cut through steel with great ease. People who bought it also commented on how easy it was to set up which is great for beginners.
Their only worry is that the cutter’s tips are a bit pricey and might be difficult to replace when the time comes.
Best Cheap Plasma Cutter
The tool itself is waterproof and equipped with shielding from electric shock and corrosion. It comes for a very low price compared with others and includes a 2-year warranty from the manufacturer.
Some users had a bad start with this cutter because of its unhelpful instructions but eventually learned to like the tool and found it to be a great starting plasma cutter for the ‘home garage grease monkeys’.
One beginner user has used this plasma cutter to cut out knives and make a new rack for his four-wheeler with success. They also liked the affordable price of this plasma cutter saying it’s got the same quality as more expensive models for just a quarter of the price. Overall, a great deal.
Best Plasma Cutter Under $500
The Lotos LTP5000D boasts of being able to deliver great cutting performance despite its compact packaging. It features a pilot arc that is useful for continuous cutting on rough surfaces and dirty metal.
Its transistors provide high-power output for thick metal cutting and a steady output for cutting thin metal. It also fits the needs of DIYers or those doing light-duty and small business projects.
You can get this Lotos plasma cutter at a reasonable price for its features. It is a great plasma cutter for the home user. Buyers were pretty surprised that this cutter was able to cut ⅜ steel with ease.
They described the tool as a ‘fantastic little machine’ and have used it to cut steel for framing car parts. Some people have also used this to cut off large chunks of heavy and rusty galvanized pipe.
Best Plasma Cutter For The Money
Here we have another plasma cutter that will suit people on a tight budget. The Super Deal Plasma Cutter comes equipped with a powerful 50-amp motor. It has a duty cycle of 60% and an efficiency rate of 85%.
It can cut material with thickness ranging from 1 mm up to 12 mm and works on two voltage options of 110v and 220v.
Users have many positive things to say for this plasma cutter’s cutting efficiency. They all agreed on the easiness of its ability to cut through metal of varying thickness and sizes. And for that low price, they consider this one a steal. Buyers also liked the light weight of the plasma cutter and the easy set up the tool requires.
Best Portable Plasma Cutter
Another perk is that it’s a lightweight cutter at only 37 lbs plus a carrying strap making it more travel-ready. It is a professional grade plasma cutter and retails for one of the higher prices on our list.
People who bought it praised both this plasma cutter and its brand for their consistent high-quality output and performance. They liked how easy it is to set up and the accuracy and the speed of its cuts.
One user used this model to fix up old cars and commented how it helped him ‘pimp his rides’. Of course, users were also grateful for the portability of the plasma cutter which enabled them to carry it to and from their homes and shops.
Best Plasma Cutter For Home Use
This plasma cutter’s primary selling feature is its ability to make precision cuts. It also features a 50-amp motor which enables it to cut through a maximum of a ½ inch on stainless steel, alloy steel, mild steel, copper aluminum and other metal material.
It is designed and marketed for a variety of uses in the home or work place. It retails at a fairly affordable price and comes with a 3-year warranty for the user’s peace of mind.
Some users described purchasing this plasma cutter as a gamble given its cheap asking price. However, they were glad to have bought the product as it performed well and found that the brand can be trusted.
Although some users commented that they were initially sent defective cutters, the manufacturer was able to replace those with working ones right away.
Best Plasma Cutter For Fine Cuts
The cutter itself is designed to provide a comfortable grip made to resist heat and impact. It has a maximum cut capacity of up to ⅝ inch and uses compressed air.
Users have used this tool to cut through ¼ inch thick sheet plates and commented on the good quality of its cuts. However, they recommended users to have a more steady hand if they want want really fine cuts.
They also liked that the cutter is both portable and lightweight. The cutter is also recommended for beginners by one user who uses this particular model in teaching her metal sculpting class.
Best Plasma Cutter Combo Set
The PowerPro 164 160a is a lightweight and portable plasma cutter combo set. It features easy to use controls with simple selector switches for easy process changes. It also has a low power consumption due to its inverter design.
It can produce clean and smooth cuts on almost any type of metal. It isn’t the most expensive on the list but the price tag is still hefty enough. Users were initially skeptical of buying this plasma cutter given its high asking price but were gladly surprised by the cutter’s performance in the end.
Owners of this cutter recommend it to professionals and home users alike. They commented on how the cutter runs smoothly, didn’t produce much noise and had enough power for the weekend welder.
Plasma Cutter Buying Guide
Before we dive into the different features that you should watch out for, it would be in the interest of beginners to familiarize themselves with the vital parts that make up a typical plasma cutter.
How Plasma Cutters Work
Basically, you can understand how a plasma cutter works by understanding just three parts:
- Power supply
- Arc starting console
- Plasma torch
Of course, like any other power tool, a plasma cutter works through a power supply which converts single or three phase AC line voltage into a DC voltage which ranges from 200 to 400 VDC.
The DC voltage is the one that maintains the plasma all throughout the cut. In relation, the arc starting console or ASC is the circuit which produces the AC voltage which sparks inside the torch, thus creating the plasma arc.
Last, is the plasma torch, the part that provides proper alignment and cooling of main consumable parts such as the nozzle, electrode and swirl ring required for the generation of the plasma arc. To help you visualize these, here is an illustration from LincolnElectric.com
If you’re still a bit confused, this video from Cruxweld’s YouTube channel should clear things up.
Seeing how a plasma cutter is used might also be helpful for beginners. If you want to see a demonstration, check out this video by Weld.com on YouTube.
Now that that’s all a little clearer, let’s discuss the things you need to consider when scouting around for the best plasma cutter for your needs.
Plasma Cutter Duty Cycle
The first thing worth checking out is a plasma cutter’s duty cycle or the period of time that it takes a signal to complete an on and off cycle. This is expressed as a percentage or ratio.
If you’re planning on using your cutter for short bursts rather than long periods of time, you’ll want to buy one with a high amperage output. This means that it will have more duty cycle.
However, if you want a plasma cutter that you can use for long periods at a time, the thing you should consider is the thickness of metal that cutter will be capable of. If a plasma cutter is designed to cut thick metal then it should be able to run for extended periods.
The Cutting Speed
Another important factor that will affect your buying decision is the cutting speed.There are usually three options available when it comes to the quality of cuts:
- Rated cut
- Quality cut
- Severe cut
The rated cut will give you the best quality of cut which is smooth and clean. This is normally used to cut steel that is not that thick and at maximum speed.
Meanwhile, quality cuts will also give cuts of a decent quality, but with thicker materials and taking a longer time.
As the name implies, the severe cut option is used for materials of great thickness. This option will give the user less fine cuts which may need refining afterwards.
Plasma Cutter Starts
The type of start a plasma cutter is equipped with is another thing to consider. The start is the one that initiates pilot arc. There are two types:
- Contact start
- High frequency start
Plasma cutters with contact starts are recommended for users who plan on using their cutter
around appliances like computers, televisions and other electronics as they will not interfere with the plasma cutter like the high frequency start will.
The Control Panel
Having a user-friendly control panel is an advantage for beginners who want to improve their plasma cutting skills. You should choose a plasma cutter equipped with easy-to-read and easily understandable controls and indicators.
Inverters And Plasma Cutter Portability
The last three factors in choosing the best plasma cutter for your needs are all to do with your portability needs. If you plan on using your plasma cutter in remote sites far from or without power outlets, you might want to check out cutters with built-in inverters.
Having these inverters enables cutters to take DC power and feed the power through a high frequency transistor-inverter. One catch though is that these plasma cutters usually fetch for a much higher price that those without.
As mentioned earlier, plasma cutters use air to operate, thus it is important to find out what type of air supply cutters have. While most cutters use regular air, some are equipped with bottled nitrogen which is less expensive and believed to produce lesser oxidation.
If portability and weight are issues for you, you might want to consider a plasma cutter with a built-in air compressor as they make cutters lighter. However, be warned that these cutters should only be used to cut thinner materials.
Plasma Cutter Safety
Here are a few reminders and guidelines on safety gear and measures to help avoid accidents. Cutting metal may look cool but it can also be very dangerous with sparks and metal pieces flying off.
To avoid burns and other injuries, you should consider wearing some or all of the following gear as recommended by actual people who use plasma cutters for work:
- A plasma helmet for both eye and face protection
- A welding beanie to protect hair from catching fire
- A welding jacket to protect arms and torso
- Welding gloves for hand-protection
- Welding leathers for legs
- Work boots to protect feet from falling metal pieces
It is also a great idea to have a functioning fire extinguisher around your worksite in case of things catching fire from sparks.
That’s our guide complete. As always, we hope you found the information helpful and please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Categorised in: Power Tools