What Is The Best Plasma Cutter For The Price? – Professional Grade & Budget Friendly
Plasma cutters are rapidly becoming the new standard in industrial work. Because of their properties, they allow for better precision and accelerate the plasma cutting process. Improvements to the quality of the work will be noticeable immediately. It is also important to know that the more high-end models are easier on the consumables, so a smart choice of tool will help decrease your expenses in the long run.
What Are Plasma Cutters and How Do They Work?
Plasma is best explained as the fourth state of the matter. Let’s take water as an example: with the introduction of heat, it changes from its solid state (ice) to its liquid state (water). If you apply more heat, it will change to its gas state (steam). Increasing the temperature levels again will ionize the gas and make it electrically conductive. This is called plasma, and it’s the main driving force of plasma cutters.
Plasma cutters have three main components: power supply, the Arc Starting Console (ASC), and the plasma torch. The external power supply and the ASC provide pressure and heat to push the conductive gases such as oxygen, argon, and nitrogen through a small orifice nozzle in the torch. This high-pressure gas flow results in what is commonly known as “plasma jet.” It instantly reaches temperatures as high as 40,000 degrees, swiftly cutting through any conductive material.
Which Plasma Cutter Should I Buy?
The choice of a plasma cutter will depend on your professional needs. Larger, more expensive models are primarily intended for industrial use, whereas cheaper models are perfect for small businesses and home shops. To help you make an informed decision on which plasma cutter to purchase, we will highlight the best models currently available on the market and outline their main characteristics.
Best Portable Plasma Cutters For The Money – Comparison Chart
#1 Hypertherm Powermax 65 Hand System – 25 ft Lead Review
Hypertherm has long been the leading manufacturer of welding equipment, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see two of their products featured on this list. The first one of them is Powermax65. This is a versatile tool intended for heavy-duty cutting and gouging in different environments. Utilizing the latest technologies, it cuts up to 150 percent faster than comparable oxyfuel cutters.
Powermax65 comes with multiple torch styles adjusted for different types of work. Input voltages range from 200 to 600 volts, producing an output current of up to 65 amps. Cutting speeds vary from 5 IPM for hand cutting to 20 IPM for cutting through 20 millimeter-thick materials. The Smart Sense technology allows for automatic change of air pressure based on the material you are working with.
With retail price of about $2,770, this is the most expensive model on this list. Most retailers will offer a sizable discount, as well as the option to pay in installments. It normally comes with a 2-year warranty.
#2 Hypertherm 088079 Powermax30 XP Hand Plasma System with Case and 15-Feet Lead Review
Powermax30 XP is a 2014 model of plasma cutter also manufactured by Hypertherm. It offers several advanced options for faster cutting at only half the price of Powermax 65. Fueled by nitrogen or oxygen, this is a portable 2-in-1 tool designed to cut through thick metal just as fast as it does through thin metal.
Input voltages go up to 240 volts, resulting in output current of up to 30 amps. Keep in mind that this model is not intended for cutting materials thicker than 16 millimeters. If you use it accordingly, you can expect to achieve cutting speeds of 5 to 20 ipm, depending on the type of work and the surface.
Powermax30 XP comes with a full set of additional equipment, all packaged in a nice-looking carry case.
#3 Longevity ForceCut 42i 40-Amp Plasma Cutter Auto-Voltage Review
Longevity ForceCut 42i is a powerful unit that weighs only 36 pounds and has a portable strap for easy moving. It has an intuitive pilot arc that allows for uninterrupted work when working with different cutting heights, as well as expanded or rusted metal. The cuts can be as deep as 25 millimeters.
This model works on a 270-volt input current and produces cutting current of up to 40 amps. Integrated technological innovations help maintain the low cost of operation. Replacement consumables are widely available and can be purchased cheaply, which makes this the most cost-effective choice on the list.
ForceCut 42i retails at around $1,500, but you can buy it directly from the manufacturer and save hundreds of dollars. The unit comes with an all-inclusive 3-year warranty. Optionally, your warranty can be extended for an additional two-year period.
#4 Miller Spectrum 375 X-TREME Review
Miller Spectrum 375 X-TREMEis a durable, compact plasma cutter custom-made for home shops and light construction work. It comes with a shoulder strap and is highly portable at just 19 pounds of weight.
Don’t be fooled by the size of this box, though. Miller is a brand known for its quality products and Spectrum 375 X-TREME certainly lives up to the expectations. It is easy to use regardless of your level of welding experience. More importantly, most retailers in the US stock Miller products, so you will have no trouble finding this particular model.
This unit can cut through materials no thicker than 16 millimeters and has an average speed of 15 ipm. The cutter operates on a 220-volt input current and can produce cutting current of up to 30 amps. This tiny, powerful unit comes with a case of consumables and a 3-year guarantee.
#5 Everlast PowerPro 164 160a Tig Stick Pulse 40a Plasma Cutter 110v/220v Multi Process Welder
This is one of the more interesting units featured in the list – it combines three separate products in a single packaging. PowerPro 164 can be used as a TIG (tungsten inert gas) welder, stick welder, or as a plasma cutter. It is equipped with two 12-inch torches: one is a TIG torch, the other is a plasma torch.
This cutter is digitally controlled and comes with an extensive user manual. Integrated in the unit is an inverter that can operate on either 120-volt or 240-volt input current. When used as a plasma cutter, it can produce an output current of up to 40 amps and reach a cutting speed of 20 ipm.
Everlast PowerPro 164 is intended mainly for portable repair and light fabrication chores. It is not designed to be used in industrial welding. The model retails at around $1,500, but it’s worth it. You essentially get three different welding machines combined into one, as well as a 5-year guarantee on all the individual parts. That’s a pretty great deal considering all the possibilities that come with it.
#6 Primeweld Ct520d 50 Amps Plasma Cutter, 200 Amps Tig Welder and 200 Amps Stick Welder Combo Review
In order to give you more options to choose from, the second half of this list is reserved for cheaper plasma cutters. PrimeWeld CT520D is first of these. Here we have another 3-in-1 unit that costs only a fragment of the price of PowerPro 164, but still manages to offer a lot for welding hobbyists.
It will take you some time to figure out how to get the machine going, as there are no instructions included. When you finally get everything right, you will need an input current of 220 volts to run the plasma cutter. You can expect an output current of up to 50 amps, which is a great feat for such an inexpensive product.
The packaging includes only two sets of spare consumables. If you run out, don’t fret – you can buy additional consumables on E-Bay or from your local retailer. The set – which includes both a plasma stick and a TIG stick – comes with a 1-year warranty on all the parts and labor.
#7 Lotos LTP5000D 50Amp Non-Touch Pilot Arc Plasma Cutter, Dual Voltage 110V/220V, 1/2 Inch Clean Cut Review
Lotos LTP5000D is another inexpensive combo-cutter worth considering. Much like the previous two units, this one also serves as a TIG welder, a stick welder, and a plasma cutter. It comes with two torches and a set of consumables. Weighing only 26 pounds, with a black handle on top, the unit is also portable.
This model needs 220 volts of input current to produce an output current of 50 amps. It can cut through materials as thick as 19 millimeters. Unlike the earlier models from the same manufacturer, this one also cuts through rusty and painted metal, which is especially important if you’re working with cars.
LTP5000D is built using high quality materials, which is another thing that makes it stand out from the rest of the cheap plasma cutters. The IGBT Power Drive Matrix is manufactured by Siemens, and the cooling system was also made in Germany. With a polished design and a retail price of less than $500, this unit is perfect for do-it-yourself works, as well as less demanding industrial projects.
#8 Eastwood 14099 Versa Cut 60 Plasma Cutter, 10 Pack Review
Eastwood Versa Cut 60 is a light and neat portable plasma cutter. Though it is more expensive than the rest of our cheaper picks, this one can do something only the highest priced model highlighted here can. Versa Cut 60 can produce an output current of up to 60 amps on a 220-volt input stream!
This enables you to make curved and refined cuts more easily and with more precision. The unit has a built-in pilot arc system that allows for easy handling of rusted and expanded metals. For maximum performance, you will need an air compressor capable of delivering at least 5-7 cubic feet per minute (CFM) at a pressure of 60 pounds per square inch (PSI).
Priced at around $650, Versa Cut 60 comes with a hefty set of consumables which contains ten spare nozzles and ten additional electrodes. You also get a 3-year warranty and a face shield. Because of its high frequency start feature, it is not recommended to use this unit on a CNC plasma table.
#9 SUNGOLDPOWER 50A Air Plasma Cutter Inverter DC Digital Display IGBT Portable With Accessories Welding Machine Inverter Cutting 50Amp 220V Review
The SUNGOLDPOWER CUT50 plasma cutter is one of many units that carry a “CUT50” sign. They all produce an output current of up to 50 amps, they are all within the same price range, and most of them are either blue or yellow.This model is blue, but what sets it apart from other similar models is that it has a digital LCD display.
You can run it at 110 volts, but the input voltage can go up to 220 volts when you’re cutting thicker surfaces. The cuts can go as deep as 15 millimeters. Additional upsides to this model are its energy efficiency and the fact that it produces no noise when operating. As is the case with the majority of cheaper models, this one comes with a 1-year warranty and just a basic set of spare consumables.
#10 Zeny DC Inverter Plasma Cutter Cutting Machine 50AMP CUT-50 Dual Voltage 110-220V Welder W/ Welding Mask Review
Here’s another good example of “CUT50” plasma cutters – this time it’s a yellow one. Zeny CUT50 doesn’t have a digital display, but is otherwise very similar to the SUNGOLDPOWER CUT50 model. To make up for the missing LCD display, this unit comes with a free welding face mask.
You will need an air hose (you can also use a tube) to connect the regulator to the machine. Once it is in operating mode, you can expect pretty much the same performances as the ones outlined above. The unit needs an input current of 110-220 volts and can cut through as deep as 15 millimeters.
It looks like the basic mechanism of all these “CUT50” plasma cutters is mass-produced in China and then sold to various companies who market them as their own. The problem with these cheaper models is that these companies often do not have an online presence and their contact details are impossible to find. If something breaks down, you will be hard-pressed to find spare parts to fix your machine.
The reasons for their inclusion in this list are quite simple. They provide optimum performance for hobbyists. They cut through different kinds of metal with ease, which makes them particularly popular among car mechanics.
Finally, the price is important, too. Even with a very basic set of spare consumables and a 1-year warranty, these plasma cutters offer a lot of bang for your buck. This all proves that they should definitely be taken into consideration when picking out the welding equipment you want to invest in.
Video – How To Use a Plasma Cutter
- Amazon product descriptions and user reviews
- Product descriptions on official websites (where available)
- Wikipedia [ plasma cutting, oxyfuel cutters ]
- Youtube [ Video ]