Best Plasma Cutter for the Money – Reviews & Guide

best plasma cutter for money

If you are using an angle grinder or oxy-fuel cutting, it’s time to get an upgrade. The best plasma cutter list gives you a far greater perspective on their applications. There are plenty of reasons to have them as they provide no metal chips, provide accurate cuts with a smooth finish for suitable settings.

The plasma cutter has many usages in the HVAC industry. It is the most advanced, reliable, and simple cutting technology so far available, and the good thing is, it’s economical. The high-temperature beam from the gun allows you to cut almost every metal available in your workshop.

The recent advancements have also enabled the CNC feature in them, which all you have to do is add numerical data and the software do the rest of your work. So in this blog post, I shall be reviewing the 10 best plasma cutters based on their cutting ability, cutting speed, power, duty cycle, and of course, their price. At the end of the reviews, you will find a buying guide that will educate you more about them, and you shall be able to reach some conclusion.

So Lets, Begin!

Top 10 Plasma Cutters Reviews – Cut & Engrave Like a Professional

1.Hypertherm Powermax45 XP – Master of All

Hypertherm Powermax45 XP plasma cutter

My top on the list is Hypertherm Powermax 45 XP. This model is equipped with top-notch technology with a heavy-duty mechanism that ensures quality and super clean cuts even when time is a factor. This powerful cutter can easily handle all the thick metals, including mild steel and aluminum.

It wouldn’t be wrong if I assert this one, a beast, and jack of all cuttings. It cleanly cuts metals up to 5/8 inches thickness with a duty cycle of 100% @ 32 A. The cutting experience is like putting a hot knife in butter. It can cut 7/8 inches at a rate of 10 inches per minute that makes him one the fastest plasma cutter.

The sophisticated mechanism keeps the plasma arc stable, and the cut is achieved with precision. The Super easy and user-friendly interface makes the features handy for you. It has an exceptionally long consumable life that saves your money on malfunction and gouging issues.

The powermax45 XP is lightweight and portable that increases the productivity of your tasks. One important thing to mention is that it requires nitrogen gas from the compressor source while dealing with stainless steel.

It provides a 3-year warranty for power supply and a 1-year warranty for torches. So, if you are a pro welder/cutter and want to use artistically with this Powermax45 XP you will enjoy your passion. The only complain is it’s very expensive but worth investing in as you can handle all the autobody, shop work, garage experiments with it.

Pros
  • Automatic gas adjustment
  • CNC interface option
  • Flush cutting
  • IGBT inverter power supply
  • Heavy Duty and Reliable
  • Great for Beginners and Professionals
  • Commes with Warranty
  • Package offers other accessories
Cons
  • Very Expensive

2.Hobart 500566 Airforce 40i – For Home Use

Hobart 500566 Airforce 40i

All welders know about Hobart and its wonderful appliances so that’s why I have reviewed Hobart 500566. This is correspondent to Hypertherm Powermax45 XP.  It has an edge over Hypertherm Powermax45 plasma cutter due to being lighter and cheaper and more reviewed by customers.  The autofire patented technology makes it lucid to work over thermally expanded and perforated metals object.

You will find it going smoothly over coated or painted surfaces. It offers a 50% duty cycle for heavy applications. This cutter operates at 240-volt with 40 ampers of power that can cut sheets of 7/8″ of thickness significantly enhances your operations. Although, It does not permit varied activities like gouging and mechanized cutting but is master in provided services.

It carries advanced features as Wind Tunnel Technology keeps abrasive and sharp particles restricted from flowing inside the components, and the fan on demand provides excellent suction and keeps the debris out hence increase the life span. Power factor correction (PFC) circuitry for saving energy. Post flow cooling to extend the usage life of consumables and torch by cooling them when the trigger is released.

Hobart Airforce 40i can be a great companion and it can support you well in all heavy fabrication jobs at the industrial level. It is also trustworthy for home use and garage adventures.

Pros
  • Fan on Demand
  • Pilot arc controller
  • Post flow cooling circuit
  • Cut up to 7/8″
  • Heavy Duty with 40 amperage power
  • Ergonomic safety enabled
  • 5 years warranty
  • Bang for Buck
Cons
  • Costly
  • High Ampere Breaker is essential

3.Lotos LTP5000D 50Amp – Best Value

 

Lotos LTP5000D 50Amp

LOTOS is a cool manufacturer, and this cutter is a marvel of their high-end technology and commitment. It is a budget-friendly plasma cutter with advanced features. The machine setups in just a couple of minutes, and then you are all set for your professional cutting of small business projects and DIYs.

The pre-installed NPT 1/4″ industry type D plug and air filter regulator for a handy approach.  This plasma cutter can severely cut metals with a more delicate finish up to 1/2 inch. The vast voltage range allows us to operate it in both A.C. & D.C. voltages. The 3/4″ cutting can be achieved using 240 volts while the 120 volts can help with 2/4″ of thickness.

In the long run, there are some issues seen with the machine. My fellow welders complained regarding torch and machine life. It is obvious that it can’t compete Neither for price nor for the performance against Hobart Airforce 12ci or Hypertherm Powermax30 XP.

one of the high-performance plasma cutters with dual voltage 110v/220v. It has the capability to cut rusty and painted surfaces and can withstand heavy use. This has higher approval ratings plus cheap. You can rely on this for intermediate applications for occasional usage as a hobbyist.

Pros
  • Pilot Arc Technology
  • MOSFET transistors
  • Torch Lead 13 feet
  • Cut up to 3/4″
  • Heavy Duty with 50 amperage power
  • Extremely Light Weight
  • 1-year warranty
  • Budget Friendly
Cons
  • Ground clamp is short
  • Not reliable for prolonged usage

4.SUNGOLDPOWER 50A Dual Voltage

 

SUNGOLDPOWER 50A Air Dual Voltage plasma cutter

 

My fourth one on the list is SUNGOLDPOWER 50A, which is a low priced and high performing plasma cutter. IGBT inverter provides you with better on-site operation as stabilizing the voltage. IGBT machine is the next generation plasma cutter, which is better than the outdated MOSFET technology machines. The maximum cutting capacity is 3/4″ for conductors and 1/2″ as cutting paper with a blade.

You have to struggle if you are using this to the upper limit, over 40 Amps, for producing a clean cut. Another problem is without Touch start, and the absence of drag technology makes precise cutting complicated, but concerning price, it’s all okay.

A new captivating thing is LCD to display Air pressure gauge. This plasma cutter is not made for heavy industrial operations. But you can ideally use it for around the house and small projects.

Pros
  • IGBT inverter technology
  • Dual Voltage
  • Weight 24 pounds
  • Torch Lead 13 feet
  • Ideal cut up to 3/4″
  • 10- 50 amperage power
  • Current and pressure indicators
  • 1-year warranty
  • LCD display
  • Low priced
Cons
  • Poor Customer Service
  • Not reliable for prolonged usage

5.Miller Spectrum X-Treme 625

 

Miller Electric Spectrum 625

 

This account shall be incomplete if I don’t mention Miller Electric 625 plasma cutter. This machine is a combination of elite features and enhanced functionality. It has a costly price tag that advocates its heavy industrial application.

It can work continuously for long hours, and you can do your long projects with high productivity. While working, you will experience the stable plasma arc that’s a plus and helps a lot during sophisticated designing and drawing. It can cut up to 5/8″ at 13 ipm and gouging operation.

With Auto-Refire™ technology, the pilot arc will automatically switch in and out as fast as needed when cutting expanded metal and provides maximum power for cutting thicker metal.

Standoff roller guide and circle cutting guide is beneficial for beginners as well as professionals. Another exciting feature about this plasma cutter is the built-in Autoline circuit that ends the hassle of switching from 120 to 240 volts. It renders surprisingly at 60% duty cycle for 40A @ 140 V. It cuts like a champ for pipeline and fun to use as well.

Check Also: Best MIG welder 2020

The black plastic storage box is awful. The box is designed to put factory wrapped cords and hoses in for shipping rather than for a real worker to use. It needs a box intended for shop use.

You can ideally use it for around the house and small projects.

Pros
  • Auto-Refire technology
  • Dual Voltage 120/240
  • Standoff roller Guide
  • Drag-cutting technology
  • Torch Lead 13 feet
  • Clean cut till 5/8″
  • 10- 40 amperage power
  • Automatic air regulation
  • 3-years warranty
  • Heavy Duty and Portable
Cons
  • Very Expensive

6.Hypertherm Powermax30 

Hypertherm Powermax30

 

Hypertherm is a reputable name in the tooling industry and always praised by customers. So, its various models are famous mainly for its durability and comfortable cutting experience. The Hypertherm Powermax30 is an extremely lightweight plasma cutter and has an automatic voltage switching feature. The auto feature helps sync with the input voltage weather 120 or 240 volts.

It comes second to Hypertherm Powermax 45, yet it promises fast cutting speeds, and excellent cut quality to let you finish jobs quicker, with fewer secondary operations and Built to withstand heavy-duty use in the most demanding environments. While using plasma cutters, always wear suitable helmets, see my guide for welding helmets.

The company offers many extra accessories, but the Duramax L.T. torch is unique of all; it has a high temp-resistant coating, which allows a firm grip for long hours. It easily cuts 5/8″ inch thickness with a speed of 10 inches per minute with a quality surface finish.

This one is no doubt a premium choice plasma cutter and can serve best to both beginners and hobbyists but after reaching out to some friends they mentioned the air leak from the internal valve. This is due to using it heavily in industrial mode. Although the model is great and you will find it a great cutter.

Pros
  • IGBT inverter power supply
  • Dual Voltage 120/240
  • PPE included
  • Drag-cutting technology
  • FineCut for thinner metals
  • Torch Lead 15 feet
  • cut till 5/8″
  • Weight 21.4 pounds
  • 10- 40 amperage power
  • Automatic air regulation
  • 3-years warranty
Cons
  • Very Expensive

7.PrimeWeld CT520D combo

PrimeWeld CT520D combo

If you are looking for a multifunctional and budget-friendly plasma cutter, then PrimeWeld CT520D combo is an excellent choice with these specs in this price range. Its a combo machine with tig, stick and plasma cutting ability. You are getting 3 in 1 combo for garage functions and professional work.

This innovative welder and cutter meet rigid safety standards and provides you with an accurate, convenient, and long-lasting addition to your workshop.

The price tag is affordable, and multi-features make it a good machine, but it can only cut to the limit of 1/2″ inch. The 50 Amp plasma cutting power helps for cast iron, mild steel, copper, aluminum, to be worked with easily. It promises 85% efficiency with 50Hz/60Hz input frequency.  The 200 A tig welding option lets you handle aluminum, and magnesium like metals.

Overall its a great plasma cutter with many features and it can be used in garage, car restoration or some pipeline work.

Pros
  • Versatile Unit
  • Dual Voltage 120/240
  • 3 in 1 combo
  • 200 Amp Tig Welder
  • Built-in air gauge
  • 35.7 pounds heavy
  • 50 amperage power
  • 3-years warranty
Cons
  • No pilot arc in cut mode
  • cut till 1/2″
  • single input for air and inert gas

8.Hobart 500564 Airforce 12ci

Hobart 500564 Airforce 12ci

The number eight is again Hobart with a lighter version. It’s also compact, lightweight and best thing of all it has a built-in air compressor. This one is not that powerful as compared to Hobart 40i plasma cutter and its cutting speed is also less.

It has rated 1/8″ inch cutting at 10 inches per minute cut with the handheld torch but could also cut 1/4″ inch at a rate of 3 inches per minute. This is somehow slow, and you have to be patient. Although it smoothly operates on household power, no need for 240 V hookup by the utility company. One thing is it’s not recommended to use with a CNC cutting table.

This plasma cutter can be directly used over artworks, hobby projects auto body repairs, HVAC ductwork, and other versatile applications. The inverter technology makes it easily portable and low power consumption. Promising Five-year warranty on transformers, stabilizers, and main rectifiers; three years on generators, P.C. boards and drive systems; and one year on guns (MIG, plasma, and TIG torches).

Only good for lightweight and thin metal objects.

Pros
  • Built-in air compressor
  • Dual Voltage 120/240
  • Post flow cooling circuit
  • Weight 27 pounds
  • 3-years warranty
Cons
  • Not suitable for continuous industrial use
  • cut till 1/8″
  • Slag built up is a problem
  • Duty cycle is only 35%

9.Forney Easy Weld 251 Plasma Cutter

Forney Easy Weld 251 Plasma Cutter

Since 1932 Forney an American Brand is creating plasma cutters and Welding gears. The name of quality and reliability. This has a great cutting capacity of 1/4″ inches for thin sections of all conductors except aluminium for that it is limited to 3/16″ inches. It comes with 13 inches long lead and solid ground clamp of 8 inches. The company provides an additional electrode and a nozzle with a one-year warranty.

its the right choice for hobbyists and professionals who never compromise on quality, It functions for a low voltage of 120 volts, and surprisingly it is generator friendly. It can be set up instantly after the delivery. Attach an air compressor, and all you need is shade 5 eye protection.

It has a pilot arc function that provides an easy start even for beginners. It has drag torch technology: keeping the torch in contact with the material, easy to use like you are drawing with a pencil, and more excellent finish. Their customer service is reviewed awesome by their clients.

 

Forney has also built-in troubleshooting set up which turns out the light signalling the exact problem to you. In my opinion, it’s great for light operations as the output power is limited to 20A but for this price its reasonable.

Pros
  • Versatile Unit
  • Voltage 120 Range
  • 13 feet Torch Lead
  • Pilot arc function
  • Drag torch technology
  • 21.1 pounds
  • 20 amperage power
  • 1-year warranty
Cons
  • cut till 1/4″
  • Power is too low
  • for light works only
  • no built in air compressor

10.Lotos LTPDC 2000D 

Lotos LTPDC 2000D plasma cutter

 

My Last review is again about the same brand but with a different machine Lotos LTPDC 2000D that is combo plasma cutter and a great professional choice. This model is specially designed for small business owners and DIY aspirants for smooth performance.

Especially for beginners with a lot of accessible handling functions so that they do not struggle much in the learning phase. This carries high technology that aspires the professionals as well. It comes with MOSFET inverter technology for D.C. conversion.

For dynamic control of the welding heat, it supports foot pedal heat control so that one does not worry about controlling amperage by hand. Another fantastic function is the High-Frequency arc start for welding that wave of the sticking of the electrode with the workpiece.

This plasma cutter can seriously clean cut up to 1/2″ inch and Severance cut up to 3/4″ inch. It provides 100% Duty cycle @ 40°C (104°F) for low amperages i.e. plasma cutting 35 A, TIG welding 105 A, and stick welding 95 A.

Pros
  • All rounder cutter
  • Automatic dual voltage 110/220 V
  • HF arc start
  • Max clean cut 1/2″ and severance 3/4″
  • Drag torch technology
  • 21.1 pounds
  • 50 amperage power
Cons
  • TIG tip requires care in handling
  • No built in compressor
  • 1 Year Warranty

The Ultimate Buying Guide for Plasma Cutters

Question Yourself:

  • Maximum cutting thickness that I shall encounter?
  • How often and for how long I have to work continuously?
  • Budget?
  • My essential features of a plasma cutter?

Infographic plasma cutter

 

Starting with your budget and your job requirements as this helps you to decide the durability of your product you are heading towards. You are somehow looking into details that can compromise either on quality or cost. Lotos LTP5000D is overall cool, but if you want the best go for Hypertherm Powermax30 or Hobart Airforce 12ci. The more you invest money, you will end up getting better performance, long-lasting equipment, and multiple features and options for household usage or as hobbyist capacity of 1/2 inch more than enough. For industrial work or heavy-duty, it is worthy of investment more to keep up with your day to day tasks.

Cut Quality

Consider the maximum cutting capacity, and you will get the exceptional cut quality up to 80% of the given thickness; usually, so less machining is required in the end to finish the job. Power is calculated that is a product of Amperage and Volts (30A and 110v give power 3300W). Consider the amperage to get a suitable ability to get a smooth cut. With increasing thickness of the sheet, amperage is enhanced to get an excellent cut.

Input Voltages

Now let us discuss the available electricity input. Operating on 110 V will support less amperage and combine to give less power, so is cutting thickness. For household applications, 110 V is sufficient. Manufacturers offer dual voltage 110v/220v cutters facilitating end-users for both connections.

Hypertherm Powermax30 is a dual voltage machine. At 110 V, it supports 20 Amps maximum and cut 1/2″ conveniently as I said enough for around the house applications. If you connect over 220 V, it can withstand up to 40 Amps and cut nicely 3/4″.

Cutting speed

If you are professional and have to do consignment speedily, then you must examine the cutting speed given in inches per minute, all you are finding is an appropriate tool to finish the task efficiently.

At higher cutting speed, the arc penetration is less, so consider the given relation of cutting speed with sheet thickness at given Amps. Fortunately, cutting speeds increase as the material gets thinner. Consider Hobart Airforce 40i at 40A and 240 V, cutting speed is 36 ipm for 1/2 inch thickness and 13 ipm for 5/8 inches.

Additional features

Some extra professional features as some support by Hypertherm Powermax45, like flush cutting, gouging, a pilot arc that offers an artistic approach towards work. Pilot arc and drag technology are standard features required for smooth cut and precision.

Duty cycle

The duty cycle is standard to express usage of motor safely for some time duration. It gives time out of hours that you can do the job continuously.

Consider the example of Hobart 500566 Airforce 40i.

Rated Output
Duty cycle
Time(out of an hour)
20A at 88 VDC
60%
36 mins
27A at 91 VDC
35%
21 mins
40A at 140 VDC
60%
36 mins

 

If you are using is in-shop and need an operation for a long time without any break, then consider at least 60% duty cycle. It is temperature and ampere specific and varies with these variables. If you seldom use your cutter than a 35% duty cycle is more than enough for your requirement. Along with this, consider working temperature that is prescribed with a duty cycle that is usually 104°F. While working the environment temperature different for the indoor and outdoor jobs, so is the slight variation in the duty cycle.

See Also: Best welding helmet for Tig 2020

Consumables

The electrode is usually made of tungsten (M.P. 3,422°C) or hafnium (M.P. 4,602°C) and nozzle of copper (M.P. 3,422°C). It is a fantastic thing in itself that the plasma arc itself 20,000 °C and handled by such delicate materials. Firstly it’s the flowing gas that separates it from the torch body by acting as a barrier and focus the arc over the content.

The electrodes consume at a prolonged rate with arc, and the nozzle has a life span of limited arc starts. So again, keep with yourself sufficient accessories. Moreover, the nozzles are Amperage dependent: separate for different amperage values. While comparing the cost, also consider the consumables offered with it so that additional cost for consumables is saved.

Air Flow

As you got the idea after getting through consumables that proper airflow is compulsory, so let’s talk about arrangements for air. Based on this, Plasma cutters divided into two categories: the one with a built-in compressor and the other which don’t.

Built-in compressor like in Hobart Airforce 12ci, this is real portability, only you have to carry is the unit. Unlike this, with other cutters, an external air compressor is required.

Check the power output of the built-in compressor plasma cutter, as the compressor consumes some power, and the power of the plasma arc could be relatively smaller than the unit without a built-in compressor. Read the instructions given to find out a suitable gas cylinder that matches the essential requirement to produce the arc ideally and extends the consumables life.

Arc Starting

The equipment varies on the basis to ignite plasma arc. This somehow gives a luxurious approach to the job. Initially, High-Frequency starting is used but has many concerns about electrocution, machine maintenance and could not cope up with rusty surfaces. In its circuit is completed through a workpiece to start an arc, and this is risky near sensitive electronics like CNC hardware or computers.

A pilot arc is efficient; unlike H.F., it completes the circuit within torch to ignite the plasma arc. The electrode act as anode and nozzle as a cathode. Initially, the course is completed within the torch, and then blows of air transfer it to the metal sheet and focus over it. Consumables for pilot arc are cheaper and have extra life than H.F. started,

Drag technology

For handheld torches, this is a productive feature. As the name depicts, you effortlessly drag the torch-like you are marking lines with a pencil. On the contrary, you have to maintain the distance by your senses lifting in the air that is an arduous task. It also saves energy and produces less spatter and blowback, hence consumables life increased. Set proper angle of the torch, place its farthest point, and slowly start dragging towards you to achieve flawless cut. Don’t forget to maintain consistent travel speed for a uniform cut.

For standoff cutting, you hold a 3-4 mm torch tip above the sheet and matching the amperage level of advice and machine.

Warranty

In this technological advancement era, quality and life of electronics are extending continuously, and so manufacturers feel confident in providing a warranty to its users. Moreover, it is fair to look for a guarantee if you are investing your money.

It is worth mentioning that check warranty details as it differs for different parts of the same machine-like Hobart industrial warranty are of 5 years for transformers and stabilizers, 3 years for P.C. boards and drive systems, and 1 year for guns/torches.

Frequently Asked Questions about Plasma Cutter (FAQs)

What is the best brand of plasma cutters?

There are plenty, but based on factors like heavy-duty, price, efficiency, and cutting speed, I have found Powermax45 and Hobart Airforce40i top of the class and a welder’s best friend.

What is the best plasma cutter for home use?

Hobart Airforce 40i & SUNGOLDPOWER 50A are the two best choices for dealing with home jobs and cuttings. They are reliable and have a high duty cycle.

Do you need gas for a plasma cutter?

The gas is used by a plasma cutter to form plasma and propagate cutting. The electric arc interacts with the gas that can be nitrogen, argon they are necessary for a plasma cutting operation.

Are cheap plasma cutters any good?

There are a few, but remember they are not so heavy duty and can do light thickness metal jobs. You can consider Lotos LT5000D, SUNGOLDPOWER 50A, PrimeWeld CT520D in this class.

Conclusion

Thank you for sticking to the end. I hope you have enjoyed the comparison guide. For elite performance, I would suggest Hypertherm Powermax45 XP & Hobart 40i plasma cutter. They both are amazing and laced with top-notch technology and can work inconsistently for hours.

In the end, I would say if you feel something is missing or wanted to share your experience, then let me know in the comment section that will be a considerable contribution.

 

Hello Everyone, I am James from Kentucky and been into this welding fiasco for 13 years in that time I have worked as a private welder and did most of the auto restoration work. In this recent, COVID-19 outbreak I decided to start a welding blog and share welding tips along with product reviews.

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