Are you in need of a high-quality yet plasma cutter? as it can be a big productivity boost. The problem is that, although necessary, these units can be on the expensive side.
When shopping for a plasma cutter online, you may find yourself spoiled for choice and overwhelmed. Choosing a model that meets your unique metal construction needs can be a daunting task. For this reason, we decided to take the load off you and do some research to compile a list of high-end, budget plasma cutters.
It is the process of making use of electronically ionized gas, otherwise known as plasma, to cut through material that is electrically conductive. You may typically use this technique to cut through metals such as:
- stainless steel,
- brass and
This method of cutting through metal is incredibly effective, and many people across industrial and construction industries use it in carrying out their activities. As a small construction business owner or DIY enthusiast, you may also find it incredibly useful in your workshop.
If precision and speed are important to you, it will definitely be worth your while to consider adding this to your supply of tools and equipment. The running costs of using these products are incredibly low, making it a sound investment, especially if you are a professional. In many cases, you will be able to find a combination unit that you can use for welding as well.
This process involves creating an electrical beam of heated electronically ionized gas to complete an electric circuit through the material that you are cutting. The circuit is completed back to the unit itself by making use of a ground clamp. Depending on the material that you want to cut, the plasma is created by compressing gasses like oxygen, inert, air and more and blowing it through a concentrated nozzle.
As you blow the concentrated gasses to the metal surface, an electrical arc forms within the gas, connecting an electrode near the gas with the metal that you are cutting.
As the electrical arc ionizes the gas, plasma forms, which in turn delivers and focuses intense heat on the work object, causing it to melt. Because you blow this matter at a high velocity towards the work object, it blows the molten metal away and divides the piece. This process allows for making neat, angular, or curved cuts.
What are consumables, and how do they ensure a neat and successful cut? Typical systems make use of five different consumables: the shield, retaining cap, swirls ring, nozzle, an electrode.
The shield’s job is to protect the rest of the consumables against molten metal and sparks. If you don’t have a lot of experience with these machines, opt for a shield that is a drag shield.
The retaining cap holds the consumable stack together, and the nozzle focuses the plasma arc. The size of the nozzle orifice is significant in constricting and focusing the arc. For fine cuts, a small orifice is better.
The electrode conducts the current from the torch to the plate and completes the electric circuit. It typically is a copper piece that contains hafnium or tungsten.
The swirl ring guides the gas in different directions from the machine and down the torch. This consumable is key to prevent burning the nozzle.
Generally speaking, the length of the duty cycle depends on how high the amperage rating is. The duty cycle refers to the plasma cutter’s ability to perform under a specific load for a period of time. To ensure that you buy a high-performing model, look at the average thickness that it can cut.
A solid unit will be able to make a ¼” cut. If this is the width that you will be able to cut, pushing for more can have a compromising effect on precision and the neatness of the separation.
A lower duty cycle means optimal performance for a limited duration. After this time period, performance levels may drop and your project will take longer. For heavy-duty projects, a duty cycle of 50% – 60% will be sufficient.
When looking at the different specifications, it is important to prioritize the duty cycle as this can play a significant role in during operation.
When shopping for a budget plasma cutter, there are some things that you have to take into consideration. Knowing the requirements of a high-end product can help you get a reduced buying price as well as lower running costs.
Before buying, make sure that your workshop has 110v or 220v outlets. You should also ensure that your breakers have sufficient amps to withstand the amperage of the unit and the compressors.
This consideration depends on your unique needs. If you plan on cutting regular metal sheets, a unit with a cutting thickness of ½” will be sufficient.
Keep in mind that you want the most optimal duty cycle for your projects. Don’t spend too much on a unit that has the performance to spare, but don’t limit yourself in terms of future project needs.
Also, make sure that you will be able to use consumable economically to keep your running costs as low as possible. Low-quality models tend to deplete consumables at a faster rate.
Operation in different locations is sometimes necessary, especially if you are a professional. This means that mobility is a must-have feature that you are looking for in a plasma torch. There are some aspects that influence the portability of a unit.
The most important aspect is weight. For some people, 35 pounds may not be manageable, but for others it is. Make sure that the unit is not too heavy for you.
Built-in carrying features like handles or shoulder straps can also increase portability. Power output is another aspect that can diminish your ability to use the system in different locations and settings.
To ensure that you get the best value for money, it is important that you shop in the right place. We found that Amazon is the best place to search for a plasma cutter. There are many reasons for this.
In the first place, there is complete transparency. You can see exactly what buyers and existing owners think of the products. Secondly, the cost of switching sellers is zero. You don’t have to spend time driving around to find the best product at the lowest price.
If you don’t like what you see, you can simply click away. You also get access to an abundance of information and specifications on this platform, which makes comparing models with one another much easier. You can also choose from more units.
Finally, Amazon’s own customer service is excellent. If you buy from a prime seller, you will have your new plasma cutter within a day or two.
Average Cost for a Plasma Cutter on Sale
One of the biggest considerations when shopping for equipment is the price. The average cost of a unit on sale can range from $475 – $800. Although the price is not necessarily an indication of the product quality, you can expect to pay more for units on the high end of the quality spectrum.
If you are a novice in metal construction, try to opt for durability and versatility instead of industrial or heavy-duty performance. This may help you to find a product that is suitable to your needs without you having to break the bank. It will also ensure that you get the best possible value for money.
- Dimensions: 15 x 6 x 12″
- Weight: 26lbs
- Input Power: 110V/220V 50/60Hz
- Output Current: 10-50A
- Duty Cycle: 60%
If portability and versatility are important to you, take a look at this unit from Lotos with its non-touch Pilot arc and 50 Amp output. This machine makes use of non-hazardous compressed air to make neat cuts to stainless steel, aluminum, alloy steel, mild steel, and copper.
Reviewers are especially pleased that the pilot arc torch allows for clean cutting, even if the surface is dirty or painted.
- Run directly on 220v or 110v power
- Suitable for cutting a wide range of metals
- Impressive cutting abilities
- Features pulse width modulation technology
- The ground cable is too short
- Dimensions: 18.5 x 11 x 13.5″
- Weight: 22lbs
- Input Power: 110/220V 60Hz
- Output Current: 20-50A
- Duty Cycle: 60%
This 240v plasma cutter offers the ultimate in precision and speed. It has a pilot arc striking system that can be used in the home as well as industrial settings. You also get continuous current regulation as well as efficient heat dissipation to ensure a long lifespan.
Although the user manual is difficult to follow, reviewers found this system easy to operate and energy efficient.
- Durable unit suitable for all applications
- Controls and operation are intuitive and simple
- Capable of performing smooth cuts
- Excellent value for money
- Operating instructions are confusing
- Limited to ¼” steel cutting
- Dimensions: 20 x 19 x 11″
- Weight: 47.4lbs
- Input Power: 110/220V 60Hz
- Output Current: 60A
- Duty Cycle: 60%
The AHP AlphaCut features blow-back start technology as well as a pilot arc for easy and clean metal cutting. This 110/220v plasma cutter is ideal for home workshop use and is able to cut through metals with painted or rusty surfaces.
Since this system produces an output of 60A, it is more than sufficient for casual metal construction projects. If you are looking for a high-quality unit that can easily make 1/8” stainless steel cuts, the AHP AlphaCut is for you.
- Pilot arc makes it possible to work with painted or rusty metal
- Versatile home tool for metal cutting
- Easy to set up and use
- High-quality components
- Limited in term of metal thickness
- Not suitable for industrial use
- Dimensions: 10 x 8 x 13″
- Weight: 26.7lbs
- Input Power: 120V 60Hz
- Output Current: 12A
- Duty Cycle: 35%
The Hobart 500564 comes with a built-in air compressor to increase quality cutting and performance speed. With this unit, you won’t have to adjust gas pressure settings, and the heat affected zone is smaller, which reduces warping.
People who bought this unit are pleased with its light weight and portability. They also like the fact that it is incredibly easy to use.
Want to learn more? Check out our full review here.
- Can cut steel that is 3/8” thick
- Excellent for the casual metal worker
- Ideal for cutting sheet metal
- Doesn’t perform well in an industrial setting
- Have trouble cutting painted or rusty metals
- Dimensions: 18 x 8 x 11″
- Weight: 21.6lbs
- Input Power: 120/240V 50/60Hz
- Output Range: DC: 10-30A
- Duty Cycle: 20/35%
This plasma torch system is designed to perform high-speed precision cuts. It has a dual function for both thick and thin metal cutting which includes specialized consumables. These add-ons are included in a starter kit, making ideal for casual metal workers or beginners.
Reviewers liked the portability and custom carry case. Although the duty cycle is not as long, you will be able to use it extensively for light industrial and household applications.
- Easy to set up and use
- High-quality and durable system
- Can manage a wide range of metal thickness
- Allows for clean and precision cutting
- Poor connection quality
- Not entirely suitable for industrial use
For the casual welder, less expensive torches will get the job done on occasion. As a weekend DIY metal worker, it can be beneficial to go for more affordable models. You will be able to find a high-end design that, although limited in terms of thickness and speed, will provide you with quality cuts and a long lifespan.
Even if you have the means to buy a costlier model, it may be better to stick to a higher quality but affordable machine rather than overspending on something that you don’t need.
If you are a professional steelworker, you may have to pay more for industrial plasma cutters with longer duty cycles and bigger power outputs. This is especially important if you are in the business of mass production.
Although more affordable units don’t necessarily have compromised quality, chances are that you will see a reduced ability to perform high-speed and thicker cuts. If you need a plasma cutter for everyday use, you may not be able to get away with lower-priced systems.
Before buying a plasma torch, it is important for you to be as informed as possible. You also have to make sure that you know exactly how you will use the plasma cutter. Take the cutting widths you want to make, types of metal you will be cutting, as well as regularity of use into account.
Additionally, you should also make sure that you get all the consumables and welding gear that you may need. The rate of consumable use is significant as it determines your machine’s running costs over time. It can also influence your initial costs to buy the unit.