Best Plasma Cutters In 2020 – Reviews and Top Picks
Plasma cutting is the process of cutting electrically conductive metals like steel, copper, aluminum, and the likes using Plasma (The fourth state of matter). The process is used in many industries, auto-repair shops, restoration facilities, etc. Due to its ease to use, high speed, precision, and performance, it is widely used in metal works. This article will review some of the top plasma cutters in the market with their pros and cons.
What is a Plasma Cutter?
A plasma cutter is a tool that is used to cut electrically conductive metals with high precision. It uses gas, electricity, and a set up to create a plasma arc that can cut the metal sheet. These cutters are of many types depending on the make and features. The gases used can be shop air, nitrogen, argon, hydrogen, and the mixture of these gases.
How does a Plasma Cutter work?
When the machine is connected to a power supply and the compressed gas is supplied, the current induces the electrode to create an arc that is powerful enough to ionize the gas into Plasma. This plasma arc will be released through the nozzle and directed towards the cutting area. Due to the high temperature, the metal is cut.
Owning a Plasma Cutter
If you are a metal worker, owning a plasma cutting tool will be a gift because of various reasons. Some of them are explained below.
• You can do sheet metal cutting at ease and a faster rate
• You can cut all electrically conducting materials
• Highly suitable for sheet metal cutting
• High-class performance and ability
• You need not be an expert to use the tool
• Consumables cost is low
• It is safer to use with user-friendly features
• You can cut complicated shapes without any deterioration
• You can cut both ferrous and non-ferrous metals
• Highly versatile features
On the other hand, using this machine has some disadvantages also. Some of them are listed below.
• It is slightly expensive
• It is limited to cut metals up to a thickness of 50 mm
• You can cut only conductive metals and it will be a waste of money if you do only a little metal cutting
• The arc will be bright with a lot of fumes
• Occasional dross formation
Top Plasma Cutters for 2020: Reviews
Hypertherm Powermax 45 Plasma Cutter
It uses AC power. You can pick this machine for speed and delicacy of metal cutting. It provides a stable arc that makes it easier, even for beginners. It has a cutting speed of 20 IPM. It is coming with a cutting ability of ½ inches and a severance capacity of 1 inch. It comes with a 3-year warranty.
Easily portable because of lightweight
No need for a skilled operator
Extremely precise cutting
A bit expensive
SUNGOLDPOWER 50A Plasma Cutter
Do not underestimate the power of this machine by seeing its size. You can use this to cut metals like copper, aluminum, iron, and stainless steel. You can cut up to ½ inch. It has a pressure gauge with indicator lights to show the pressure used. It requires a voltage range of 110V – 220V.
Easy to set up and use
Electric shock shield
Resistant to water
The ground cable will be short
Prone to electric failures
Hobart Airforce 40i Plasma Cutter
It is one of the best plasma cutters out there with a cutting capacity of up to 7/8” steel. It is too cheap for its capacity. The machine is simple and you can use it easily. The stability of the torch is appreciable for the price range. You can cut hard metals without any issues because of the power of the machine. It needs 240V power. The machine is completely reliable for long term use.
Suited for home use
Used for heavy workloads
Wind Tunnel Technology
Weak ground clamp
Miller Spectrum 625 X-Treme Plasma Cutter
If you need the best plasma machine that can last for long working hours, miller spectrum will help. It is simple and lightweight in design but provides great performance. Miller spectrum has an auto-line circuitry that avoids the tools to connect to an AC. It uses a multi-voltage plug adapter to make necessary connections to 120V to 240V AC. Auto-Refire technology helps to cut thicker metals. You will not experience any discomfort in the hand because of a painless grip facility.
Highly powerful and portable
It has Auto-line technology with multi-voltage adapters
Cannot be used for heavy cutting tasks
Lotos LT5000D Plasma Cutter
It is one of the best and smallest cutting machines that are easily portable. It has a dual-voltage unit that works on both AC and DC. With the use of MOSFET transistors, it provides a better cutting performance. You can cut both thin and heavy metals including stainless steel, copper, and aluminum. It is mostly suitable for lightweight and DIY cutting, helpful for hobbyists. It is equipped with IGB technology.
Pulse-Width-Modulation technology provides consistent cutting
You cannot use it for heavy-duty cutting
Lotos LTP8000 Plasma Cutter
It has a pilot arc that provides consistent and perfect cutting. It can cut up to a thickness of 1 1/2 inches while 1 inch is ideal. It has all the features of LTP5000D including MOSFET transistors. It has an advanced cooling system providing a safer cutting process. You can use the machine to cut stainless steel, aluminum, and copper. You can even cut rusty or painted metals with less amount of slag.
80 Amp Non-touch pilot arc
Non-hazardous cutting experience
Produce high power output
Not suited for heavy-duty use
Ramsond CUT50DX Plasma Cutter
It is a cheap and best cutter with a dual voltage and dual frequency unit of 110/220V and 50/60 Hz. It is equipped with a pressure gauge display. It uses digital inverter technology. The machine can provide clean-cut up to 3/8” after which deterioration in cleanliness will start. Its 60% duty cycle can provide good performance.
It is lightweight and easily portable
Dual voltage unit (110v 220v)
Cheapest in the market
Better than all the previous models of the brand
No pilot-arc production
Cannot cut deeper than the ideal thickness
PRIMEWELD Cut50 Plasma Cutter
It is an inverter-based cutter that is easy to use and portable. You can cut metals up to ½ inches. You can cut metals like copper, aluminum, alloy, etc. You can expect a clean-cut within the maximum range of depth of ½ inches. The power requirement is 110V or 220V DC. Like some other cutters, it uses a dual voltage inverter mechanism that makes it easy to clean and maintain.
Great performance for the price range
The ground cable is quite long
Extra safety because of the shield protection around the torch
Limited to household use
Forney Easy Weld 251 Plasma Cutter
You can cut metals up to a thickness of ¼ inches. A drag torch is available that makes it possible for the torch to cut along the path you follow. A pilot arc facility is available. It needs an input voltage of 120V for 20 Amperes. It has some lights that indicate to you if the machine has some issues. Yellow, Green, and Red lights can help to find out the problem. The user manual can help you with this.
Consistent cutting along the path with clean cuts
You can solve problems using a built-in troubleshooting guide
Suitable for hobbyists and not for heavy jobs
Hobart 500564 Airforce 12ci
You can cut metals up to 1/8 inches using this cutter. You can expect high performance from its inverter technology. The power requirement is 120V and 60Hz. It is a piston-driven tool. It does not need an air compressor since it is built-in. It is limited for small or simple jobs and suitable for heavy-duty jobs. It will have pre-set air pressure that gets you rid of manual pressure setting.
Lightweight and easily portable
No air compressor is needed
Value for money
The cutting width is limited
It is one of the powerful cutters that can cut up to 1 inch with a 1 ¼ inch severance capacity and the cutting rate at 10 inches per minute. It is suitable for heavy jobs like industrial and heavy-duty cutting. The power requirement is 200/480V and 50/60 Hz. It has a terrific output range up to 65A, making the torch more efficient and powerful. It weighs around 65 lbs. It is one of the versatile cutters out there.
Highly durable with a convincing performance
Fit for heavy-duty cutting
Availability of various torch styles
It’s quite costly
Not portable because of the size and weight
PRIMEWELD 50A Air Inverter Plasma Cutter
You cannot get a performance like this at the price range. As the name suggests, it is an inverter-based cutter. Irrespective of its small size, it delivers high performance. It can cut metals up to ½ inches with cleanliness and precision. You can use it to cut metals like steel, copper, aluminum, etc. The power requirement is 110V and 220V. It includes MOSFET technology. It comes with a lot of additional components helpful in cutting.
60% duty cycle at 50A
High performance for a low price
Lightweight and easily portable
Despite better performance for this price, it is not powerful enough for heavy-duty usage
ZENY DC Inverter Plasma Cutter
It is one of the best companions for people who need to move the cutter often. It is suitable for light-duty projects and home usage. It operates on both 110V and 220V since it has a dual voltage unit. It is also an inverter-based machine. It also includes a screen that shows the readings and other information during the process. It uses Switch power technology.
No need for a skilled operator
Easily portable using the handle and durable
Reduces energy usage by 50%
Air regulator quality makes the arc weak in the long run
SUPER DEAL DC Inverter Plasma Cutter
It is one of the best and economical plasma cutters that are suitable for light industrial use. Both the professionals and DIYs can use this machine. It has an LCD digital display to show information. It is a DC operated machine requiring 240V. It provides a stable pilot arc that delivers clean cut without any slag. It has a high duty cycle that consumes less power and energy. You can use this cutter for a variety of purposes. It comes with a 1-year warranty.
Lightweight and easily portable
Protection for both over and under-voltage
You should be careful while placing the cord
CUT-50, 50 Amp Pro by Amico
It is one of the best models of plasma machines that are more convenient to use. It consists of an LCD to indicate readings. It can cut up to a thickness of ¾ inches with a severance capacity of 1 inch. You can cut copper, aluminum, and mild steel. The plasma torch design provides a comfortable grip. With an ampere capacity of 50 amp, it gives better performance.
Very less cleaning will be required
Highly portable and suitable for light industrial jobs
Protection from fire hazard
No Pilot arc
Green Forney Easy Weld 20p Plasma Cutter
It is a portable cutter that works with AC. The power requirement is 120V with compressed air, and the capacity is 20 Amps. You can cut metals and alloys like brass, galvanized steel, aluminum, etc. You can cut up to a thickness of ¼ inches. The machine is generator friendly. It comes with components like cutting torch, adapter, an electrode, and a ground clamp. You can use this cutter for plumbing and HVAC works. You can cut seamlessly throughout your path using drag torch technology. It comes with a 1-year warranty.
Easily portable and lightweight
Clean and follow-through cutting
No air compressor
Lincoln Electric 20
It is quite an expensive plasma cutter produced by a well-known brand. Its cutting capacity is up to 1/8 inches. It requires 110V, 15 amps for an average output while 110V and 20 amps can provide maximum output. It is an inverter-based cutter that makes it lightweight. It has a 1-year warranty for parts and labor. It will be suitable for HVAC, light industrial, and home usage. You can use it for cutting expanded metal. It comes with a built-in air pressure regulator. It uses standard compressed air of 65 PSI at 3.5 CFM.
Lightweight and easily portable
Cutting torch assemble with above 9 feet reach
It may be difficult to understand the control panel
Canaweld Cut 45D Plasma Cutter
It is one of the best cutters that provides a 100% duty cycle at 30 amps. You can cut metal up to 5/8 thickness. It operates with a dual input voltage as 110v 220v. It is coming with a 3-year warranty. It has a quality TRAFIMET torch. It comes with an automatic pressure regulator along with a built-in air filter and water separator. The pressure will vary depending on the height of the torch from the metal automatically.
It provides Auto arc re-strike technology for mesh cutting and grates
Pilot arc starting
High-quality cutting torch
No High Frequency
Different Plasma Cutting Uses
Plasma cutting is mainly used in industrial applications where a lot of sheet metal has to be cut with high precision and quality. Many industries use CNC or programmable machines integrated with cutters to automate the cutting process. Using a CNC, high quality cutting is possible in bulk. You can use any type of plasma cutter according to your output and the metal of operation.
Metal artists will have to work with fine metals to create quality artwork having minute shapes. They have to cut sheet metal according to their need without damaging other parts of it. Other welding processes will destroy the area around the welded portions that collapses the design of the artwork. Plasma cutting helps them to cut along the drawn edges without any damages.
If we consider metal cutting, we cannot ignore Auto body restoration or building. Automobile works will include lots of metal cutting processes. One can use a plasma cutter to do all these jobs. You can easily cut metals to fit in the auto parts without any deterioration. There is another advantage in Auto work that you will cut up to a maximum of ¼ inches thick metal and will need only a basic cutter.
Home use (Fabrication works)
You can do a lot of home repairs and fabrications yourself using these cutters. You can fix your lawnmowers, plumbing issues, HVAC system issues, etc. You do not want to wait for a professional to get the job done.
High Frequency vs. Pilot Arc Plasma Cutters
A High-frequency machine uses a high-frequency circuit to ignite the arc in the gap between the fixed set up of nozzle and electrode. In a pilot arc cutter, the electrode will be moving inside the torch. DC induces the gas flow in the torch and the pilot arc is formed without even touching the workpiece. Comparing the two, the pilot arc cutter is widely preferred because of its seamless cutting ability.
How to Choose the Right Plasma Cutter
How Much Power Do You Need?
A plasma machine can cut anything conductive. You have to choose a cutter based on the power you need. To cut metals of 1-inch thickness will need high power than a ½ inch thick metal. You can use a 25A torch to cut sheets up to 1/4”; 40A for 1/2”, and choose over 60A for 1-inch sheets. You have to think of available input power at your place. Some cutters will need 120V and the others may need 220V.
Types of Plasma Cutters
• Semi-Portable Cutters
These cutters will be slightly heavy but portable. You can use these to do DIY jobs and other household cuttings ranging up to 1-inch thickness. You can also use it for light industrial purposes.
• Heavy-duty Cutters
• You can cut from 1 to 1.5 inches. These cutters are useful for industrial purposes and these are not portable. You can get high performance in industrial cutting.
• Inverter-Type Cutters
• These machines are economical since most of the consumables will not wear out easily as other cutters. You can get high performance with a requirement of less maintenance.
What is the Duty Cycle?
It indicates the maximum time the machine can cut non-stop at its maximum amperage. If your cutter’s rating is 50 amps with a 60% duty cycle, you can weld non-stop for 36 minutes.
What type of materials will you cut and what thickness?
The type of material you need to cut can be a factor to decide on the cutter. You should know the thickness of the metal. Some machines can cut up to 1 inch thick metals and can cut only copper, and mild steel. If you buy it to cut an aluminum sheet of 2 inches thickness, it will be a waste of money.
What is your budget?
Many cheap plasma cutters can do everything that a high-end cutter with few exceptions in features. If you do not need those extra features, you can go with the cheap cutter instead of a high-quality model. So, the budget is the main factor that you should make sure of selecting a plasma cutter.
Types of torches to consider
A torch is used to create an arc that melts the metal. There are different types of torches with minute differences. You can choose a torch with a long lead, a high-frequency non-touch torch, or a torch with drag technology.
What are your cutting ability and performance requirements?
By default, everyone would love to buy a quality, high-performance tool. Here, you should look for the cutting ability and performance of the cutter. Some cutters can cut only up to ¼ inches while some others will have the capacity to cut 1.5 inches. Depending on your need, you can select.
What Are Consumables?
Consumables are the parts in the cutter that get deteriorated and worn out after a few usages of the machine. Electrodes, shields, nozzles, and the retaining cap are some of the consumables. The higher their life, the better the quality of the equipment.
Desiccant Air Dryer & Filtration Systems
Your nozzle should be free from debris, oil, dust, and moisture. Desiccant Air Dryer and Filtration systems remove all these unwanted things and let the clean airflow through the nozzle maintaining its quality.
Your equipment should come with a minimum warranty. Some will provide a 1-year warranty and some will provide a 2-year warranty. You should make sure you get quick service for your defects.
Apart from normal working conditions, you can look out for some extra features like Arc starting types, CNC control, Automatic features, etc.
Frequently asked questions
What is the best plasma cutter under $500?
Considering various factors, one of the best plasma cutters in a budget will be Lotos LTP5000D. It has various advantages like decent quality, risk-free usage, MOSFET transistors with IGB technology in this price range.
What Other Equipment Will You Need?
You can opt for additional equipment like air filtration systems along with a high-quality air compressor.
How do I choose the best plasma cutter?
You should consider the budget you have, the material you need to cut, the thickness of the metal, power required, expected performance and cutting capacity, your expertise in using the machine, portability, etc. You can see cutter reviews online to judge the product.
How much does a plasma cutter cost?
The price depends on the capacity and performance of the machine. You can find a cheaper machine for $230 with a low capacity and a $1500 cutter with high-class performance. Cheap cutters will also be better for light use. You can also get a plasma cutter on sale.
What is the most economical plasma cutting gas?
Highly preferred economical gas for plasma cutting is clean and dry shop air.
What air pressure is required for plasma cutting?
You should set around 60 psi air pressure for plasma cutting.
Can you use nitrogen with a plasma cutter?
Yes, Nitrogen can be used as a gas in the plasma cutting machines. A nitrogen-hydrogen mixture is known as f5 plasma gas.
How do you cut aluminum with plasma?
You should use a gas mixture of argon and helium along with a high-amperage system to cut aluminum.
Should I Buy a Plasma Cutter Online?
Yes. Online, you will have a lot of options to choose from than the retail stores along with the cutter reviews from previous customers.
Can a Plasma Cutter Cut Wood or Plastic?
You cannot cut a non-conductive material using plasma cutters.
If you are about to do the metal cutting, plasma cutters will be the better choice. You should look out for all the buying factors and choose the best plasma cutter that suits your need. You can also check the plasma cutters sale to get the best prices. You should select a durable plasma machine that has better performance, cutting capacity, portability, etc. If you choose a cutter having all these, it will be a worthy buy.