The technology of plasma cutting has come quite a long way since its initial days. Nowadays everyone wants the Best Plasma Cutter and it is the most efficient way of cutting conductive materials and is also a more economical alternative to Oxy-Fuel cutting for industries.
If you are planning to get one for your business or for occasional DIY use, do read the Buyer’s Guide and the FAQs section so that you have a clear picture of making your purchase easy.
Best Plasma Cutters – Comparison Table[table id=7 /]
So let us begin our list starting from the most expensive moving towards the more affordable models
1. Miller Spectrum 625 – Best Plasma Cutters
We start out with this exceptional Best Plasma Cutter that can go right through metals without breaking a sweat. The maximum cut it offers is better than its competitors and one of the best in the market.
It is versatile in terms of its power running at both 110/120 and 220/240 Voltage ranges.
The design is especially compact which makes it suitable for portable use and as stated above the voltage options are suitable for that too.
A particularly useful feature that makes it a Best Plasma Cutters is the auto re-fire feature. It makes it suitable for perforated metals. One criticism you could have of it is that it runs through consumables quicker than its competitors which would end up being an economic burden in the long run.
- Weight of 21 lbs
- Dimensions of 13.2” x 5.5” x 9”
- Duty cycle 50% at 240V, 20% at 120V
- Voltage input of 120-240V
- A storage case is included
- 12-foot extension cable which is great for portable use
- 3-year warranty
2. Hypertherm PowerMax45XP – Best plasma cutter
Hypertherm is one of the leading brands in plasma cutting equipment and the PowerMax45XP is their flagship model.
This is an ideal best plasma cutter for factories with a steel cutting thickness of 5/8th of an inch. The patented drug cutting technology makes it safe to use even for first-timers. The controls are simple albeit not controlled by a computer.
The high input voltage of 240V makes it ideal for heavy-duty jobs and for commercial usage.
It has a Smart Sense Air Pressure control setting that makes sure air pressure is correctly set. There are several torch options for drag cutting, extended reach gouging, extended reach cutting, flush cutting, and other options. There is a 3-year warranty on this best plasma cutter with a one-year torch warranty.
- Cutting capacity of ⅝ inches
- Weight of 36 lbs
- 17.4 x 6.8 x 14.1 inches
- 10 to 45 amps of output
- 3-year warranty
- Duty cycle 50%
- 200 to 240V high power voltage
3. Hobart 500566 Airforce 40i – Best plasma cutter for the money
This powerful best plasma cutter from Hobart has all the features you need in a compact design.It works on 240V and produces clean cuts up to 5/8th of an inch of steel and sever cuts up to 7/8th of an inch of steel.
The ergonomic best plasma cutter trigger makes you safer while it also has a fan that runs only whenever needed. The fan reduces the amount of dust that enters the cutter.
It also has auto-refire technology which makes it versatile and suitable even for perforated or painted metal surfaces. The duty cycle of 50% means that it can easily go on for a long time before having to cool down.
- Weight of 34.3 lbs
- Dimensions of 17 x 18.25 x 11.63 inches
- Powerful 240V input power
- Up to 40 amp output
- Has auto-refire technology
- 3-year warranty
- 50% duty cycle at 40 amp
4. Hypertherm PowerMax30 XP – Best plasma cutter for home use
Another appearance by Hypertherm on this list and for good reason.
This best plasma cutter can work at 110V as well as 240V making it easy to use wherever you are.
The thickness is highly impressive as it can easily cut 16mm or 5/8th of an inch of steel.
It only requires compressed air and not any expensive gases.
The new Duramax torch is highly heating and impact resistant making the whole process smoother. It is accompanied by a variety of handy accessories like gloves, a hard carry case, a shoulder strap as well as the standard and FineCut consumables for cutting thin metals. With an easy to use one knob interface and superior cut quality
- Weighs 21 lbs
- Dimensions of 14 x 5.5 x 11.5 inches
- Automatically switches voltage from 110V to 240V
- Package includes handy accessories like a hard carry case and protective equipment
- Output range of 15 to 30 amp
- Has a 15ft torch lead
- Cutting capacity of 5/8th of an inch (recommended use is at 3/8th of an inch)
- The Duramax Torch is heat and impact resistant
- Has a 3-year warranty
5. Everlast PowerPro 205Si – Top rated plasma cutters
In terms of versatility,, not much best plasma cutter can match the Everlast PowerPro 205Si. It can work as a TIG welding machine at 200A, a stick welding machine at 200A, or as a plasma cutter at 50A. It has a maximum cutting capacity of 5/8th of an inch of steel. It works on a 240V heavy-duty voltage and can perform well whenever you want a versatile solution for all your welding needs.
It gives an excellent duty cycle when used at 40A of 60% which means you can use it for longer periods of time without having to stop. The 10ft cable and the 14ft torch increase your maneuverability in the workshop. It weighs about 60lbs so portability may be a limitation but in a workshop setting where you may not have to move much, it is an efficient welding solution.
- Weight of 60 lbs
- Dimensions of 22” x 9” x 17”
- Input Voltage of 240V
- Amperage capacity of 50 to 200 Amperes
- Can work as a TIG, Stick or Plasma Cutting appliance
- An Impressive duty cycle for TiG, Stick and Plasma Cutting
Best Plasma Cutter – Buying Guide
There is probably no better device for cutting metals than the Best plasma cutter. But since they come in so many different varieties with each one being suitable for a specific use, it is tough to pick one. Let this be a buyer’s guide of what to look for in the best plasma cutter.
A major factor in choosing a plasma cutter is the maximum cut thickness. It directly determines what the plasma cutter can be used for and what it is unsuitable for. It is usually measured in terms of quarters of an inch of steel. It basically means how much the Best plasma cutter can cut cleanly without producing jagged edges or slag.
It should not be confused with severance thickness. The latter refers to the maximum thickness of metal that the plasma cutter can cut when cleanliness is not a factor. It may end up producing jagged ends and excessive slag. This factor should not be considered when you want a clean, precise cut.
The general cutting capacity for the best plasma cutter is about 3/8th of an inch of a sheet of aluminum while it is 5/8th of an inch of steel sheet. This cutting capacity is great for commercial use. However, if you want a plasma cutter for occasional use in a non-commercial setting you can probably sacrifice some of the cutting capacity for an improved price. Some of the more affordable models can cut up to 1/4th of an inch of steel which is adequate if you want to cut thin sheets of metal.
The duty cycle is an important factor regarding the output of your plasma cutter. It basically refers to the time period a plasma cutter can operate continuously without suffering any problems or requiring you to stop midway. It is depicted as a percentage that shows what percentage of a ten-minute interval it can continuously run and the rest of the time is the duration it needs to cool down. The common duty cycle is about 50% which means that these Best plasma cutter can run for 5 minutes continuously in a ten-minute interval and needs about 5 minutes to cool down.
The duty cycle depends on the amperage so that those with higher amperage will have a higher duty cycle. Now the plasma cutters with higher duty cycles are great for working with thicker metals while you can compromise on the duty cycle when working with thin sheets of metal.
It is another necessary detail to consider when buying a plasma cutter. Usually, plasma cutters have two voltage input sources, either a 110V or 220V input. The 220V input provides better power and cut thickness while 110V tends to compromise on that. However, the 110V input is easy to find around you in case you want to use it wherever you want. So the 220V is better for commercial usage while the 110V input is convenient and easy to find.
While buying a new plasma cutter, you have to remember that it may not be the end of your expenses. You need an air compressor to make your plasma cutter functional. That is if your plasma cutter does not have a built-in compressor. There are only a few Best plasma cutters with built-in compressors and one of them is the Hobart 500564. This option reduces your headache, especially when going for a small job outside your work station.
In terms of the air provided by the air compressor, make sure it is as dry as possible because that allows optimum performance by the plasma cutter.
The convenience of the controls is another factor that influences the user experience. It is a valuable feature for beginners who can then easily understand and use plasma cutters efficiently. Some handy buttons like the integrated pressure gauge and digital amp display in the Ramsond CUT 50DX make it a winner in this category.
A major determinant of user experience is portability. And it depends on the weight of your plasma cutter. The lightweight plasma cutters are easily portable and if your job requires you to move from place to place, those may help you out. A great option is the Miller Spectrum 625 which gives you supreme function while weighing only 21 lbs. Another detail that may help in portability is if you have a plasma cutter with a built-in air compressor. Note that it may not be a major factor for people working in one place where the metals are brought to them instead of it being the other way around.
There are two usual torch mechanisms used in plasma cutters. One is the high-frequency torches while the other mechanism is the contact start torches.
The high-frequency torch mechanism is used in most heavy-duty industrial plasma cutters and creates a spark without any movable parts. This makes them more durable for long-term usage. One drawback of the HF (high frequency) torch mechanism is that it may create electrical noise which may disrupt your computers or any other surrounding electrical appliances. They may also need maintenance from time to time.
The other option is the contact start torch mechanism that has a moving electrode producing a spark that runs the pilot arc. It starts instantly and does not interfere with nearby computers. It is a customer-friendly torch mechanism and can be paired with CNC machines to regulate the position and the speed of the torch detailing.
A small detail that may heavily influence user experience is the torch length. If you are using a big plasma cutter in a spacious workshop you will need a larger torch so that you can easily move it around the workshop without having to move the heavy plasma cutter with it. There are several shapes of torches too so if you want something to use for several years you may look at something suitable for your own hands.
Plasma cutters are not the cheapest tool you will ever buy. Even the less advanced models require a certain investment so it is imperative that it lasts you a few years of quality usage. For this, you should look at the warranty the top brands offer. A 3-year warranty is an adequate amount while just a 1-year warranty is disappointing. Some brands like Forney are also known for great customer service so that whenever you have a problem they do their best to solve it for you.
Speed of Cutting
This is another useful metric to judge a plasma cutter. Two plasma cutters may have the same cut thickness but they may differ in the speed of cutting, so that one may be done with a thick metal cut before the other. So when working in a commercial environment it is a handy detail that is always good to know. You can look for the cutting speed as the inches per minute (IPM) parameter often displayed on a plasma cutter.
Another thing to consider is how quickly your plasma cutter goes through the consumables. You may have saved money on buying a reasonably priced plasma cutter but if it goes through consumables quickly, and the supported consumables are costly, you are back where you started.
So it is important to look for a plasma cutter whose consumables can last for more time and are affordable when you have to replace them. A good option, in this case, is the Hypertherm Powermax45XP.
Type of Usage
An important consideration is how you want to use your plasma cutter. For DIYers or occasional users, 120V input and 15 amp models may suffice. However, when it comes to industrial heavy-duty usage it is best to use 220V to 240V input and 20-50 amp output cutters.
So if you know how you will be using your plasma cutter you can definitely buy the right model for yourself and save your time and money.
Best Plasma Cutter – FAQs
What do you wear when using a plasma cutter?
When doing plasma cutting, you should be wearing complete equipment to protect yourself. This includes a quality welding helmet with goggles underneath it, adjustable rubber gloves, insulated work shoes, and a good apron. Your clothing and gloves should be fire resistant while doing plasma cutting. Try to use leather in your clothing and leather boots are a good option too.
Can a plasma cutter shock you?
Yes, they definitely can. Some of the industrial Plasma cutters work on 240V or even greater voltage. And if you touch those wires or switches without the proper safety equipment you could get a fatal electric shock.
Can a plasma cutter cut wood?
Plasma cutters can only cut those materials that are electrically conductive. Wood, and for that matter glass, are insulators that do not conduct electricity well. So plasma cutters can not cut wood.
What are the advantages of plasma cutting?
Best plasma cutter has several advantages compared to other methods of welding and cutting metals, especially Oxyfuel. Some of these advantages are
- Speed of cutting: The speed of cuttingin plasma cutting is more than oxy-fuel cutting and several other metal cutting procedures.
- Metal cutting: Efficient metal cuttingis a great benefit of plasma cutters. No other method can cut metals as a plasma cutter.
- Convenience: Plasma cutters are easy to use and many latest models have easy to understand controls.
- Precise cutting: Plasma cutters can make highly precise cuts especially when you cut within its maximum cutting capacity.
- Reduced heat transfer: The technology of plasma cutting is such that it does not allow much of the heat to be transferred to the material being cut. This decreases plate warping, which is a problem with materials cut by Oxy-Fuel.
- Versatility: Plasma cutters can cut any material that is electrically conductive. That includes steel, aluminum copper, stainless steel among others. This versatility makes it an extremely useful method.
Does a plasma cutter need compressed air?
Plasma cutters work by sending an arc through compressed air at a significant pressure. So yes, they do need compressed air. However, compressed air is not the only gas used in plasma cutting. Nitrogen, argon, and other expensive gases may also be employed.
What materials can a plasma cutter cut through?
Plasma cutters can through a variety of electrically conductive materials like
- Stainless steel
- Cast iron
Can you do welding with a plasma cutter?
There are a few options in the market that can do welding and plasma cutting. An example is the Everlast PowerPro 205Si that can do plasma cutting, TIG, and Stick Welding efficiently. It is essentially a 3-in-1 welding solution. However, in cases of heavy-duty commercial usage, most experts recommend having different units for each process.
What are plasma cutter consumables?
The consumables used by plasma cutters are
- A nozzle that directs the torch arc helping with gas flow
- Retaining cap that keeps all the consumables in place
- The electrode transmits the current to the material being worked on
- The Shield protects the consumables and increases their life
- Swirl ring controls and swirls the gas around the torch arc. It also ensures the right alignment between the electrode and the nozzle.
These consumables are necessary for plasma cutter function and durability. So it always helps to keep a few spare consumables. Moreover, they are an additional expense when buying a plasma cutter. So it is important to know how quickly your plasma cutter runs through consumables. Those cutters that can give you more duration with their consumables would end up costing you less money in the long term.
Can you get a flash burn from using plasma cutters?
Yes, you can get a flash burn from plasma cutters. Plasma cutters, like any other welding equipment, emit UV and IR radiation. This radiation can damage your eyes significantly. Plasma arcs specifically are known for being extremely intense reaching temperatures of 45000 degrees Fahrenheit. So it goes without saying that these intense arcs can significantly damage your eyes giving corneal damage leading to flash burn as well as retinal damage giving permanent blindness. So definitely use welding helmets and goggles during plasma cutting.
What air pressure is required for plasma cutting?
The general requirement of air needed by a plasma cutter is about 4-8 SCFM (Standard cubic feet per minute) delivered at 90-120 PSI. However, it may vary with different thicknesses of metals that you may cut.
What are the different gases used by plasma cutters?
Most plasma cutters use compressed air as the gas for the whole process. Other gases may also be used like
- Oxygen may be used especially while cutting thin sheets of steel. It gives an efficient cut since the spray remains fast and thin when using oxygen. Having said that it is expensive and not suitable for aluminum.
- Nitrogen is another gas that can be used in plasma cutting. It is most suitable for aluminum and stainless steel cutting. However, it is expensive and the quality is just mildly better than compressed air.
- Argon-Hydrogen combination is another great combination used in plasma cutting. It is exceptional for heavy-duty applications and is widely used in some of the best plasma cutter we have mentioned in our list. It is also perfect for cutting aluminum. That being said, your plasma cutting machine needs to be compatible with this gas for you to use it and it is an expensive gas that is only suitable for industrial use wherever quality is paramount.
Are plasma cutters expensive to run?
Plasma cutters can be incredibly affordable to run considering the function that they can produce. Also if you buy a plasma cutter that can use consumables for a longer period of time you can further decrease costs. Also the gases you may use may be cheap or expensive so you should always know which gas is suitable for your operation.
What are some disadvantages of plasma cutters?
Every technology has its limitations. Some of the disadvantages of plasma cutters over other technologies are the following
- The arc can get very hot and extremely bright. This can produce serious vision problems if safety measures are not taken.
- Plasma cutting can produce significant dross during the cutting process giving a less clean-cut than laser technology. However, it is much quicker than the latter which may be a big factor in industrial use.
- Plasma cutters can be noisy and can release excessive fumes. This makes it imperative to use the necessary personal protective equipment while using them.
- Plasma cutters have a significant one-time investment compared to Oxyfuel. In the long term, the costs may reduce but it still is a burden spending all that money on a compressor and a plasma cutter.
So this was everything you need to know about the Best plasma cutter. By now you must have realized that they are a great addition to your workshop and are especially good at cutting metals.
There are several great cutters in the market that can do the job for you and we have made sure to include the best of the best. Make sure that you make an educated decision about which plasma cutter to buy because then it can last you for several years and give you great results at an affordable price.
Plasma cutting is an evolving technology so expect several new advancements in the coming years and much-improved user experience and performance.