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Technical Best plasma cutter for the money

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Roothawg, Feb 18, 2020.

  1. Roothawg
    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 21,978

    Roothawg
    Member

    I think I need to up my game. It's time to start investing in some good tools for the shop. I am looking for a heavy duty plasma cutter.

    Tell me what you like about yours and why it is better than the rest.

    Thanks
     
  2. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 17,270

    alchemy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I can't say I've used a lot, but I do know they make a lot of sparks. Always makes me really nervous I'm going to start a fire in some corner of the shop. If I had one in my own shop (I don't and probably won't) it would have to have a dedicated barrel to cut over.

    I was recently given one of these as a Christmas present: https://www.eastwood.com/eastwood-mini-metal-saw.html

    It works amazingly! Cuts through thick steel like butter, and doesn't make sparks at all. Granted you can't cut curves like a plasma cutter, but it sure makes straights a breeze.
     
  3. wvenfield
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 5,374

    wvenfield
    Member

    I can't really help as I have a cheap one. All I can add is I wish I had one earlier. Even with my cheap one I've cut 1/4 inch with no real problem. (does require some clean up)
     
  4. joedoh
    Joined: May 5, 2007
    Posts: 188

    joedoh
    Member
    from Wichita KS

    I have a hypertherm powermax 600 I bought new in 2005ish, readily available consumables with good (not great) life, has worked every time I turned it on and saved thousands of hours in work time and probably thousands in other cutoff methods. I build jigs for things I will cut more than once, most of my work is in 1/8" material but I have cut thinner material and also cut much much thicker material. it was around $2200 in 2005.

    I bought a simple cnc table in january and with it bought a new inverter type plasma cutter so I can have dedicated machines for hand and cnc. the new inverter machines are much smaller, both my hypertherm and this new razorweld cut 45 are capable of ~45a, but the razorweld is less than half the size. the new torch design on the razorweld uses the same consumables as the hypertherm 45xp, which are a lightyear improvement over the older 121T torch on my powermax. cutting is improved too, I noticed my cut speed could be higher with the new cut 45 and cut quality was improved too with less dross (the material that blows out the bottom and sticks to the cut edge). it was $900 in the package but I have seen that price for standalone on other sites. it compares in capability to the hypertherm 45xp which is 2.5x (and now has a further upgraded torch)

    as an ancillary note, cnc work requires a machine style torch for precise holes, so I am thinking of buying the upgraded duramax machine torch for my hypertherm and using it on the cnc table, and using the cut 45 as my hand torch going forward.

    the secret to great cuts and long consumable life is not really the machine though, its the dry air you pump through it. use ONLY a motorguard particulate filter, it uses the toilet paper roll looking filter and I have used the same filter since 2005, taking it out of the canister and letting it dry in between uses. they are expensive, around $130 all in, but the only guys I see complain about that price are the ones who are also buying the very least expensive plasma cutters out there, everyone else sees the value in using an expensive filter to protect a very expensive machine. water will kill consumables, and eventually kill the torch, and eventually the machine. you can use any combination of water and oil filter you want upstream of the motorguard, but the motorguard should be the last thing in line before the machine. I use only a motorguard, for 15 years now.
     

  5. Roothawg
    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 21,978

    Roothawg
    Member

    This one?
    http://www.razorweld.com/catalogue_product.asp?product=983&category=22&subcategory=87
     
  6. jvo
    Joined: Nov 11, 2008
    Posts: 228

    jvo
    Member

    I bought a Miller Spectrum in a previous life. Probably 25 years ago. It sits on a shelf on the wall, and I sometimes use it to cut junk apart. It was one of the first big metalworking purchases I made. I hate the damn thing. Makes a huge mess and stink in the shop. Only way to cut a straight line is with a guide ( for me anyway), but I can cut a scribed line perfectly straight in sheet metal with a Bosch 1610 shear.
    What are you going to use it for? Sorry if you have already made up your mind.
    I use my Kama band saw, and 4 1/2 inch grinder with thin cutoff wheels.
    Sorry if this isn't what you wanted.
     
    Desmodromic likes this.
  7. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 2,106

    ekimneirbo
    Member
    from Brooks Ky

    Hypertherm is the best. They hold all the patents and license them to other manufacturers. There are other decent ones on the market, but Hypertherm specializes in Plasma cutters. I had a POS Italian made that wasn't worth a crap.
    When I bought my Hypertherm, that had a deal where you could trade in your old/broken PC . I think they gave me two or three hundred $ for it. All I had to do was ship them my gun and my nameplate.
    Later, a friend had an old Snap On (Century) PC he wasn't using and swapped it to me. Had to buy some tips . Hooked it up and the first time I tried it........Poof, smoke everywhere. Used it for another trade in because I wanted it for my son. Actually came out ahead on the deal cause I had less invested in the Snap On than its trade in value. I don't know if they still do that, but you can ask.........then look for a junk one.
    Biggest thing (other than the water filter prob mentioned above) is that people don't buy a PC big enough to do what they want, and then cuss the machine.
    Here is my machine and you can see I incorporated a HF water separator/pressure regulator in the cart. Just hook your air hose up and you don't have to worry about water ruining the tips.

    Plasma Cutter x1a.jpg
    Plasma Cutter x2a.jpg
    Plasma Cutter x3a.jpg
    Plasma Cutter x5.JPG
    Hypertherm Plasma 1x.jpg
    This will cut 5/8 and will get thru 3/4 . My son has the next size down and its done everything he needs. The thing you need to consider is that a decent PC will cost some money. When you buy an off brand, will you be able to even get parts for it ? That snap on I had used cross referenced Century tips. The old Italian SIP was impossible to get anything for. Learned my lesson with them. With Hypertherm you can actually call and talk to real people to get things done.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2020
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  8. Roothawg
    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 21,978

    Roothawg
    Member

    The new compressor I just bought has an after cooler on it. They say that gets rid of 70% of the moisture. I will definitely invest in the toilet paper filter (motorguard).
     
  9. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 8,672

    anthony myrick
    Member

    A good cheap one (offshore)
    or the best.
    Hypertherm would be my blank check one
    we have a miller at school
    holds up well being used by students.
    Blue aint cheap though
    there are some good reviews on a couple of the offshore ones, those may be how I go for one at home
     
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  10. sunbeam
    Joined: Oct 22, 2010
    Posts: 5,330

    sunbeam
    Member

    I have an old school Lincoln procut 60. One thing you need to check on is the price of consumables. I finaly went to a Chinese torch because of the price of consumables and the old cutter seems to work just as well. Big power levels eat up consumables fast I just don't run mine at high levels I would not buy that big a unit again.
     
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  11. Dyce
    Joined: Sep 12, 2006
    Posts: 1,918

    Dyce
    Member

    I just got the 45A Titanium from harbor freight. It's the size of a big lunch box but it surprises me every time I use it. It goes through 1/2 inch ok, 1/4 like butter. I didn't plan on using it every day so I'm hoping it lasts a while.
     
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  12. Depends on what you’re doing.
    I got a 40 amp HF rig that’s been going strong and doing its thing daily since 2008. No problems but the disclaimer is,,, Bought first one and it died first day, got second one and it was DOA, third one lasted a few days the 4th one has been on it like a champ for 12 years.
    Trafimet Consumables are cheap and last a long time unless you’re piercing holes. You’re going to be way ahead drilling a hole to start the cut. It cuts up to 1/4” and down to 29ga easy and clean. 74860398-7872-4E19-8B35-4056FCFA8ADF.png

    I’ve been playing with a hypertherm 1000 lately. (Not mine) It’s a beast cuts 3/4” steel but it is definitely a female moody bitch kind of beast ,,, it’s wants everything perfect or she ain’t giving it up. When you give it to her all perfect she’s a great piece of ass. She don’t like anything but new or blasted metal, won’t tolerate paint, doesn’t like mill scale. Since The consumables don’t last very long even on perfect metal the cut gets nasty. Lots of worse crap to deal with then. The $bills to change them consumables out is outrageous. But that’s what it does best, eat consumables.
    The reason they bought the new 1000 is because their brand new hypertherm 900 was not playing nice, supposedly not enough ass. The new 900 sits on the shelf and the newer 1000 sat collecting dust till recently and probably going to go Back to collecting dust. It’s supposed to be the best but I wouldn’t have it in my shop.
    In my shop the plasma cuts thru anything you’re going to find that could possibly be applied to a car. It doesn’t mind mill scale, paint, or surface rust, the crusty rust needs knocked off but it certainly doesn’t need to be ground clean. It Cuts stainless and aluminum easy. If you’re really careful and go extra slow it will go 5/16 and pop the duty cycle. 3/8” ain’t happening.
     
  13. joedoh
    Joined: May 5, 2007
    Posts: 188

    joedoh
    Member
    from Wichita KS

  14. Roothawg
    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 21,978

    Roothawg
    Member

    I'll be honest. I won't buy a HF anything. I'm not that impressed. I know they are cheap but I just don't feel like dicking with them.

    I would rather spend more and know it's solid. I have a Miller Mig and Tig machine that I have never touched in 15 years, other than consumables.
    That is good advice on making sure the consumables are affordable.

    As far as what I will be using it for, I would expect that almost 95% of what I use it for will be under 3/8". Making brackets, cutting out body panels etc. No 1" plate stuff....ever.
     
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  15. gene-koning
    Joined: Oct 28, 2016
    Posts: 2,560

    gene-koning
    Member

    I really like my Hypotherm Plasma cutter. Its a few years old now, but it works much better then the old Century plasma cutter I had before.

    When you buy a plasma cutter, expect it to quickly cut up to a little over 1/2 of whatever thickness it says it will cut. As you get closer to the rated cut thickness, the s-l-o-w-e-r it gets. If you intend to cut a lot of 3/8" steel, buy a cutter with at least a 1/2" capacity.

    When your using a plasma cutter, be watchful where the sparks from whatever your cutting is going. Those sparks can cause a fire pretty quickly. Also, a 1/2" capacity plasma cutter means it will cut anything within a 1/2" of the tip, and it will shower the area past that with molten steel.

    Be very mindful of where what your cutting off will drop to. I cut a piece of 18 gauge sheet metal off once, and it dropped right down and cut the plasma cutter whip in 1/2! That was a $400 cut because that was what the new whip cost.The whip is a plastic tube surrounded by small wires, covered in the rubber tube, treat it with respect.

    Wear eye protection, the light from cutting is just as damaging to your eyes as the contact point of welding.

    If your cutting old nasty stuff, grind a place to connect the plasma cutter ground, it will work much better.

    Plasma cutters put a lot of metal partials into the air. You will want to be sure to have fresh air if your doing a lot of cutting. Gene
     
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  16. Hollywood-East
    Joined: Mar 13, 2008
    Posts: 1,538

    Hollywood-East
    Member

    My hypotherm 600 is 20. Yrs. Old this year... Rated to do 7/8's... Never had a problem KIMG6544.JPG
     
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  17. fastcar1953
    Joined: Oct 23, 2009
    Posts: 2,625

    fastcar1953
    Member

    This is what i have. Great machine Been discontinued and replaced with 12ci. I really like that it's self contained. I take it anywhere i have a 115volt outlet. Throw it in the truck and take to jobsites. I can cut a frame into with it. https://fabricationguy.com/hobart-airforce-250ci/ Screen-shot-2013-12-18-at-7.28.49-PM-e1531088730393.png
     
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  18. Flathead Dave
    Joined: Mar 21, 2014
    Posts: 3,459

    Flathead Dave
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from So. Cal.

    What about plasma cutters with built in air c0mpressors?
     

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