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Metalworking has become increasingly popular on both the professional and hobbyist side within recent years. There are plenty of uses for the craft, many of which we take advantage of in our daily lives, without even realizing it.
Unlike TIG welders or MIG welders plasma cutters are specifically designed to cut not fuse metals. Do note that some multi-function welders do come with plasma cutting functions but nothing beats the real deal.
If you have ever found yourself in a situation where you needed to cut through some kind of metal, whether you were getting hands on with a home project or creating something to make a living, you might have come across a plasma cutter.
Plasma cutters are heavy-duty tools that re used to cut through materials that are conductive through the process of applying hot plasma to the area.
The hot plasma is emitted from the inside of the machine, which is a hand-held tool for the operator.
Some of the most common materials that can be penetrated by a plasma cutter include, but are certainly not limited to, aluminum, brass, copper, steel, and stainless steel.
Also included on the long list of materials that plasma cutters can manipulate are any other types of metals that are considered to be conductive.
Regardless of the reason that has led you to search for the best plasma cutter on the market, there are a number of factors to consider before you do so.
Each individual plasma cutter has its own set of specifications and special features, from measurements and weight all the way to electronic displays and increased levels of power.
Today, we will be breaking down all of the best plasma cutters in existence, based on your individual preferences and what you are looking for.
When you keep reading, you will find an organized explanation of the best overall plasma cutter, the best option for the money, and several alternatives that fit in between.
If you don’t have time to read through our detailed breakdown of each individual product, you can refer to this quick table, where you will find our top picks in order from highest to lowest ranking.
This is based on a variety of factors, from value to price and overall customer satisfaction.
Take a quick look at numbers 1 through 5, skimming through their names and ratings – you can even click on the buy link to be redirected to their Amazon product page to make a direct purchase:
Our Reviews Of The Best Plasma Cutter
Lotos LTP5000D 50Amp Non-Touch Pilot Arc Plasma Cutter
The Lotos LTP5000D 50Amp Non-Touch Pilot Arc Plasma Cutter, Dual Voltage 110V/220V, 1/2 Inch Clean Cut, Brown is a dual voltage plasma cutter in the stylish color brown.
The machine possesses a no-touch technology that allows the operator to cut through almost any material with little to no delay in doing so.
If you are looking for a compact, easy to use, and low-priced plasma cutter option, the Lotos LTP5000D 50Amp Non-Touch Pilot Arc Plasma Cutter, Dual Voltage 110V/220V, 1/2 Inch Clean Cut, Brown might be the right choice for you.
With the hands-free technology, this is one of the most convenient tools to have in your arsenal, and is therefore considered to be the best overall plasma cutter.
Hobart 500565 Airforce 27i Plasma Cutter 120/240V
The Hobart 500565 Airforce 27i Plasma Cutter 120/240V is a high quality plasma cutter that specializes in cutting mild steel.
The thickness of the cut can range from 3/8 to 5/8 inches. Along with a very precise cut, this machine has a bult-in fan that gets rid of debris before you are even done cutting.
When you purchase the Hobart 500565 Airforce 27i Plasma Cutter 120/240V, you will find that the added features provide a lot of convenience and ease of use.
The most notable feature is the wind tunnel technology, which blows wind through the cutting area on demand, getting rid of all dust and debris while you are working.
This will significantly limit the time that you will spend cleaning up the finished product when you are finished cleaning.
The only drawback with this particular product is the fact that there is no display screen.
However, if convenience is the most important aspect for your plasma cutter, you can’t go wrong choosing this one.
CUT-50, 50 Amp Pro. Plasma Cutter
The CUT-50, 50 Amp Pro. Plasma Cutter, DC Inverter 110/230V Dual Voltage Cutting Machine New is a great alternative to the Best Overall and Runner-Up Plasma Cutters that were previously listed.
This particular cutter is able to adapt to different voltages, from 100 to 240 Volts. It is also resistant to impact, and can cut through endless varieties of metal.
There are plenty of added features that make the CUT-50, 50 Amp Pro. Plasma Cutter, DC Inverter 110/230V Dual Voltage Cutting Machine New attractive to many potential buyers.
With metal cutting versatility, the only drawback with this choice is the reportedly slow cutting speed.
Other than that, if you are looking for a home and hobby machine, you will be happy when you choose this plasma cutter.
PRIMEWELD Premium & Rugged 50A Air Inverter Plasma Cutter
The PRIMEWELD Premium & Rugged 50A Air Inverter Plasma Cutter Automatic Dual Voltage 110/220VAC 1/2″ Clean Cut Portable Plasma Cutter is a portable and precise machine that consistently delivers perfect results to satisfied customers.
This alternative plasma cutter choice is ideal for those who are looking for a basic piece of equipment, without all of the bells and whistles, that will get the job done and remain reliable for several years after purchase.
SUNGOLDPOWER 50A Air Plasma Cutter
The SUNGOLDPOWER 50A Air Plasma Cutter Inverter DC Digital Display IGBT Portable With Accessories Welding Machine Inverter Cutting 50Amp 110V and 220V is the best plasma cutter that you can find on the market for the money that you will pay.
If you are looking for a simple, compact plasma cutter that will get the job done, but won’t break the bank, the SUNGOLDPOWER 50A Air Plasma Cutter Inverter DC Digital Display IGBT Portable With Accessories Welding Machine Inverter Cutting 50Amp 110V and 220V is the best option for the price tag.
However, due to customer complaints, you should research the warranty on this product before you purchase.
Plasma Cutter FAQ
How Does a Plasma Cutter Work?
Plasma cutters are a very interesting concept, and many people have never learned how they work or have seen them in action.
In fact, plasma cutters are rarely a topic of discussion when it comes to metalworking.
You will usually hear about all different types of welding and melting metals to attach them together, but never plasma cutting.
The process that a plasma cutter goes through in order to separate one piece of metal from another and detach it completely is somewhat of a complicated one.
Let’s take a look at exactly what this process looks like:
- Sends an electric arc through a gas
- The gas passes through an opening
- Gas temperature is elevated significantly
- The gas reaches the 4th state of matter (past solid, liquid, and gas)
- Plasma cuts through the metal using electrical conductivity
- Gas squeezes through the nozzle (fast speeds)
- Gas penetrates hot molten metal that was cut by the plasma (splits it apart)
The first thing that a plasma cutter does when it is preparing to penetrate through a piece of metal is send an electric arc through a gas.
The gas then passes through an opening in order to begin the entire cutting process.
When we talk about gas in terms of plasma cutters, there is a wide variety that can be used in any situation. Some of the possible gas options for plasma cutters are listed down below.
We will get into some more detail on this topic before we continue in our discussion of the plasma-cutting process.
These are the most common gas types that can be used with a plasma cutter:
- The air in the shop
When you are using a plasma cutter, the first, and most accessible, type of air that can be used is the air that is already present in the shop.
This can be utilized and manipulated by the machine in order to cut through tough metal. Alternatives to this particular option include nitrogen, argon, and pure oxygen.
If you do not have direct access to these materials, there are a multitude of other gases that you can take advantage of.
To continue through the plasma cutting process, the gas that has just been released through the restricted opening is heated up to extremely high temperatures. As it is elevating, it surpasses its original form, and many other forms after that.
To be more specific about this concept, think back to your elementary school science class.
At some point, you probably learned about the states of matter: the basic ones that you have are solid, liquid, and gas.
The explanation of all three of these states of matter are quite obvious. We know that a solid can be turned into a liquid, then evaporated into a gas, so what comes after that? Plasma.
The gas will become so hot that it will surpass its gas form and become something new, which is plasma.
The new plasma that has been created will then work to cut through the metal by heating it to extremely high temperatures, using its electrical conductivity.
New gas will then squeeze through the nozzle at very fast speeds, penetrating the hot molten metal that was produced by the new plasma.
This final step will be what penetrates the piece of metal, causing it to split apart and completely separate from the other side.
A plasma cutter will follow the exact same process for each metal that it is capable of cutting through, some of which are listed down below.
These are the types of metals that a plasma cutter can penetrate:
- Stainless steel
- Any other conductive metal types
While it is true that a plasma cutter can penetrate through steel and stainless steel, all the way down the list to copper, the amount of metals that a plasma cutter can cut through are not limited to these items alone.
Any other conductive metal types are susceptible to being cut through by a plasma cutter through this process.
How To Use a Plasma Cutter?
Now that you have gotten a clear explanation of how a plasma cutter works to cut through various types of metals using hot gas, you are probably curious about how these types of machines are operated by a human in order to execute these tasks.
The process of cutting through metal with a plasma cutter might seem like a very long and complicated process, but you would be surprised to find out that the cutter itself will actually do most of the work for you.
Let’s take a look at what the operator is required to do in order to use a plasma cutter to penetrate through metal:
- Turn the plasma cutter on
- Set the correct current setting on the side of the machine
- Use the handheld nozzle to cut the metal as desired
- Turn off the machine
- Remove the ground clamp
- Turn off the air
- Wind up the hoses and put your machine away
To begin, turn the plasma cutter on, and adjust the current setting on the side of the machine before you do anything else.
The last thing that you want to do is start using your plasma cutter on the wrong setting, returning the opposite of the results that you were originally expecting.
The actual cutting part will consist of holding on to the handheld nozzle, and moving it with your hand accordingly to cut the metal as desired.
This can be done in one slow motion, and will be done within minutes, depending on the thickness of the material.
When you have successfully completed your cut, you will turn off the machine, remove the ground clamp to release the machine, turn off the air source, and prepare to put your machine away until the next time that you will be using it.
Before you can put it away neatly, you will need to wind up all of the outstanding hoses and hang them onto the side of the machine. Put your machine away for storage safely until your next project begins.
Along with the proper technique for using a plasma cutter, you will need to have safety equipment on your person before you begin.
Here is all of the safety equipment that you will need to use a plasma cutter:
- Head protection – helmet/cap
- Eye protection – goggles
- Hand protection – gloves
- Foot protection – boots (rubber is best)
- Skin protection – long sleeves and sunscreen
- Lung protection – face mask
- Ear protection – ear plugs/muffs
How Hot Is a Plasma Cutter?
The average temperature of a plasma cutter ,when it is hot enough to cut through the metal material, is 20,000 degrees Celsius. This directly translates to 36,032 degrees Fahrenheit.
What Kind Of Gas Does a Plasma Cutter Use?
The specific gases that a plasma cutter can use include the air that is already present in the shop, nitrogen, argon, oxygen, and anything else that is readily available to be connected to the machine before use.
How To Set Up a Plasma Cutter?
Before you can use a plasma cutter, you will need to set it up properly.
Setting up a plasma cutter is a relatively simple process, but you should always make sure to pay attention to detail while you are doing so.
Even just one missed step can result in a safety or quality issue.
- Choose a safe and clean location where you will work
- Plug in your plasma cutter to a power source
- Connect the air portion
- Turn on the air
- Attach the clamp to the ground
To set up your plasma cutter, you will need to choose a safe and clean location where you will work.
The most ideal location for this task will be in an outdoor area that is well ventilated, in order to avoid any harmful fumes being inhaled.
Next, you will plug in your plasma cutter to a power source, and connect the air portion to an air nozzle.
Proceed by turning on the air, so it can flow through your plasma cutter and act as the gas element.
Additionally, you will want to attach the clamp to the ground to secure your work area, and avoid anything becoming a hazard while you are in the process of making the cut.
As you can see, the process of using a plasma cutter to penetrate a metal surface is like no other.
The gas and air that is utilized by the machine is heated to such a high temperature that it surpasses any normal form of matter, becoming plasma.
With temperatures in the tens of thousands of degrees when the plasma is created, there is no doubting the capabilities of this extremely durable machine.
When it comes time for you to choose the best plasma cutter for your own shop or home, it really helps to go through the pros and cons of each, as well as an outline of the most attractive features.
With a well-rounded idea of what you will be getting yourself into, there is no doubt that the information in this guide will help you find the best possible plasma cutter that will check all of your boxes.
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