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cheap plasma cutter

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by novarat71, Apr 30, 2011.

  1. novarat71
    Joined: May 20, 2010
    Posts: 9


    [FONT=verdana, helvetica, sans-serif]I'm looking at a couple of cheap plasma cutters, the LOTOS LT5000D and[/FONT]
    the Simadre 50D. Does anyone have any experience with these? Or another cheap unit I should consider? I'm mainly considering these for sheet metal and the 110v convenience. I know Miller or Lincoln would be better, but I can't justify the cost for the amount of use. Most of the cheap units look the same with different names, it's quite confusing. Also, is a Pilot Arc type better?
  2. budd
    Joined: Oct 31, 2006
    Posts: 3,478


    i dont think there is a cheap plasma, i own a plasma and unless i'm doing alot of cutting i just use a zip disk, does your local welding suply place sell consumables for these machines?
  3. get the best you can afford for the amount of use you plan on using it for.. like was posted, make sure you can get consumeables.. the cheaper units have cheaper windings and electronics in them. but for small jobs every once in awhile they should be fine... just dont expect to much out of them
  4. RichFox
    Joined: Dec 3, 2006
    Posts: 10,020

    Member Emeritus

    I have the LOTOS. I bought it because Jack Costella, who has built more Bonneville streamliners and other rides than anyone, has one and recommended it. For the small amount I have used mine it has worked fine. I only use it with 220. Jack can do exceptional work with his. Talent. Can't buy it.

  5. zman
    Joined: Apr 2, 2001
    Posts: 16,594

    from Garner, NC

    I'd buy a brand name used before I bought a cheap one.
  6. The not so popular brands might be cheap to purchase, but expensive down the road from the cost and availability/unavailability of consumables and possible repairs and or warrant issues. Remember there is always someone in the market for a name brand plasma when your done with it or no longer have a use for it. Keep that Miller/Hobart in nice shape and get most of your money back when your done.
  7. angry
    Joined: Jan 6, 2006
    Posts: 343

    from ventura ca

    i got a lotos for 200 on ebay it works just not as good but well worth the 200 bucks
  8. dexleo2
    Joined: Jul 20, 2008
    Posts: 145


    I have the one that Northern tools sells and it has worked great for 2 years. I have cut a lot of metal with this little unit. Works great easy to transport if you need to take it to your buddies shop works great price is around 500.00
  9. Dynaflash_8
    Joined: Sep 24, 2008
    Posts: 3,028

    from Auburn WA

    spend the money for a thermal dynamics. I have a worn out hammy-down one i got from my neighbor, and she's a beaut!
  10. TV
    Joined: Aug 28, 2002
    Posts: 1,451


    I bought a cheep Miller a few years back it was a 110 model. I didn't like it and finally gave it away. If i ever buy another it will be a good one.--TV
  11. rcranger
    Joined: Oct 1, 2007
    Posts: 231

    from ilion ny

    bought a lincoln p20 didnt need it for any real heavy cutting only paid 400 for it brand new so far it cut up to 1/4" not bad for a cheap plasma , it is there if i need it and parts are available not like some of the cheap units
  12. raidmagic
    Joined: Dec 10, 2007
    Posts: 1,438


    What consumables are needed? What wears out? Does it use a gas of any sort? I've been thinking about a plasma cutter for awhile now but just don't know enough about how they work to make a decision.
    Why if you own a plasma would you use a cut off wheel? Isn't that the point of owning a plasma?
    If any one can answer my questions that would be great, thanks.
  13. 48thames
    Joined: Feb 7, 2007
    Posts: 79

    from so cal

    I was just going to buy the new thermo dynamic cutmaster 4200, but seems that this one is made in China,while the rest of their models are made in the states. Seems like a great machine and has a 4 year wrnty. but I hate to spend that kind of money on something made in China, even though I hear that thermal dynamic has great machines made in the USA. Anyone have one of 4200 model, I think it's only been out for a few month's and I couldn't find any reviews on it.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2011
  14. [FONT=&quot]I just sent my 50d plasma cutter back to the eBay Seller/Distributor I purchased it from and asked for my money back. Hope I get the refund he promised or I am out $400.00 cash and a whole lot of time and energy![/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]The cutter did not work all that well for me. It cut metal real good when I could get the plasma arc started which was “iffy” at best. Sometimes it took 10-20 tries to get the arc started. Here’s what I concluded from this episode. Maybe I can help you from making the same mistake I did.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]1. With few exceptions, all of these Chinese plasma cutters are BASICALLY THE SAME and come into two basic configurations. Those WITHOUT the “Pilot Start” option and those WITH the “Pilot Start” option. I will never buy another plasma cutter without the “Pilot Start” option. Period! [/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]2. Having said that, each brand name has specific options peculiar to that brand name and each distributor stands behind his or her “Brand Name” independently. Given that, The distributor’s WARRANTY is key. If you open these boxes up you will soon realize that these “Cheap Chinese Plasma Cutters” are not so cheap at all and represent a really sophisticated amount of electrical engineering. (Please see attached pictures). Given that, YOU probably cannot fix it yourself even if you had all the component parts to do so. Keep in mind that the warranty is only as good as the distributor and that distributors come and go all the time. So the question you might ask yourself is “How Long have they been in business” and how sure are you “That they will be in business tomorrow” If they go out of business the warranty is probably worthless.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]3. Since you probably cannot fix it yourself and the repair will have to be made by someone (a Tech) familiar with plasma cutter technology, check to see if there is a repair facility in your physical area (within 50-100 miles or so). Unless you live in San Diego, LA or San Francisco, the answer is probably NO! Given that, every time your plasma cutter needs repair, you will have to box it up and send it to somewhere. In this case 150 miles is no different than 1500 miles. Plan on spending at least $60.00 or more in transportation fees TO and BACK for each repair event. [/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]4. I really do not buy this “Cheap Chinese Crap” argument. Many of your “Old Line Brands” like Miller, Lincoln, Thermodynamics and such are now made in China. The technology is pretty much the same in the “Old Brand Lines” as it is in the “New Brand Lines” like “Longevity”, Lotos, and Everlast just to name a few. The only reason that I can see paying more for the “Old Line Branded” machines is that: (A) they have a solid LOCAL repair infrastructure, (B) they derive their revenue (profits) from a wide range of welding equipment other than plasma cutters, and subsequently, (C) will probably be in business for a long time if not forever. This makes for a solid warranty repair structure and for a solid “After” warranty repair system 3 to 5 years or more down the road. [/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]5. If you wish to gamble on the so called “Cheap Chinese Crap”, here some elements to consider about distributors and “Chinese brand named machines”.[/FONT]

    · [FONT=&quot]Do they have a good telephone number to call for help with repairs and follow on equipment purchases. If they do not have an established telephone number, you may want to cross them off your list. [/FONT]

    · [FONT=&quot]When you call this number, does anyone answer the phone? And if someone does in fact answer the phone, do they just say “Hello” or do they say something like “XYZ company, how can I help you”?. You probably will want to deal with a “Company of People” engaged in “Full Time” sales and support and not one “Single Owner” (who may be selling this equipment part time) with maybe “ONE tech” or possibly “ No Tech support” available.[/FONT]

    · [FONT=&quot]Check to see how long they have been in business. If they have been in business a short time (less that 2-3 years) the risk of dealing with them may be higher in terms of “Warranty Repair” , “After Warranty Repair” and just plain “Old Skool” technical “Hand Holding”. [/FONT]

    · [FONT=&quot]Have they established an independent company web site or instead, only have an eBay or similar virtual “Store”? Again, FULL TIME ENGAGEMENT INTO THE BUSINESS IS CRITICAL. [/FONT]

    · [FONT=&quot]Do they as a company and/or brand have a following? Have they established a user group? Are they advertised by anyone other than themselves? Do they have a good rating by the folks they sold their equipment too? Before you made the purchase, did you get to talk to the sales staff? people on the technical staff? Or possibly even the Owner over the phone?[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]These are my thoughts on the so called “Cheap Chinese Crap” plasma cutters. Please ignore my typos, misspellings and poor English grammar. Hope it helps. [/FONT]
  15. Weldemup
    Joined: Dec 12, 2003
    Posts: 179

    from Central,NY

    Nothing against off-shore plasma cutters...You can get a good deal for the money.
    Now if you really want quality go to your local welding supply and demo a Hypertherm 45.
    Not cheap($1500)but probably the best smaller plasma cutter available.
  16. aldixie
    Joined: May 28, 2008
    Posts: 1,644


    I bought a Miller plasma cutter at a swap meet for $75. It works really well.
  17. Degenerate
    Joined: Aug 5, 2007
    Posts: 239

    from Indiana

    Cheap and plasma cutter don't really belong together if we are talking about a new unit. Only hurts a little while to buy quallity. To many stories of junk going back to the distributor.
  18. 117harv
    Joined: Nov 12, 2009
    Posts: 6,590


    I have a plasma, it's called a cutting torch, it cuts and heats up stuff to bend. I use a chop saw or cut off wheels to cut what i need. A plasma is a specialized tool to do what you can do with other multi use tools. Cut with a plasma, then spend time cleaning and shaping it. I think the best use for a plasma is to remove damaged sheet metal or frame from a wreck or in a wrecking yard....just my opinion.
  19. toolman1967
    Joined: Mar 13, 2008
    Posts: 441


    I wanted one for years and was going to cheap out several times. I saved for a few months more and bought a brand name. I am very happy and my neighbor a few doors down bought a Longevity and has had nothing but problems. I am glad I bought one that was a bit more expensive but works every time I need it.
  20. Sixshooter45
    Joined: Jul 1, 2011
    Posts: 53


    I agree, I am a welder by trade and I use a Hypertherm. They are the best ones on the market. But if it's out if your price range and you are looking for an import, I would check out Longevity or Everlast as mentioned by someone previously. Whatever route you go make sure you run DRY air for long consumable life. Good luck!
  21. Yea I used to think that way until I used one. Still couldn't justify the cost until I got a deal, now I wonder why I waited so long. But it depends on what or how much your doing. Cutting everything with them cutoffs wheels gets messy and it's slow. Virtually no clean up with plasma, and the sparks aren't as wonderous as they are from a torch

    Definitely pilot arc, No other way to go.
  22. CharlieLed
    Joined: Feb 21, 2003
    Posts: 2,460


    I bought a Smiths some years ago...55 amp, will cut most anything. Soon after I bought it they dropped the line. Searched high and low until I could find enough consumables to last the life of the cutter. I have enough electrodes and nozzles now to cover any work I do with it, I just don't use it much. To much hassle for the cutting jobs I do...drag it off the shelf, hook up the air and power, get the right nozzle installed for the gauge metal I am cutting, and then blow sparks all over the place. Too many other options for cutting metal to bother with this tool.
  23. 117harv
    Joined: Nov 12, 2009
    Posts: 6,590


    Yes, a plasma has it's place but i think i would rather spend the money on a band saw. I have alot of stuff cut out at the water jetter, it's not that i'm lazy but making brackets with style and have seen my stuff, is just too time consuming.

    I have used an Esab plasma and it seems to be a good machine, but i can't compare it to others as i havn't used any. I cut some 1/8" and 3/8" plate and the cut was easy and clean. I guess it comes down to disposable $$$, if i had more i would get one....that and a nice cold saw:)
  24. Drakkar
    Joined: Mar 11, 2007
    Posts: 50


    I have a longevity force cut 50i. I acn cut up to an inch no problem. Shes eaten three frames four floors and chewed through a mid 90s f-150 front i beam like it was butter!
  25. chopolds
    Joined: Oct 22, 2001
    Posts: 5,993

    from howell, nj
    1. Kustom Painters

    I've got to agree with the "stay away from it" crowd.
    Yeah thye might work OK when you buy it, but getting parts that wear out (and yes, there ARE quite a few parts, even the handles can melt down!) is a pain, and if you need repairs...FORGET IT. Had a cheapo HF MIG for a while, a friend gave me, thought I'd just use it for the light sheet metal, to save dragging the bigger one around. Forget it! Couldn't get the right heat/wire settings for good welds, and when it stopped working, it needed a circuit board, that was unavailable.
    Get a name brand one, you can get parts, get it repaired locally, and will last a LONG time.
  26. 54cruzer
    Joined: Dec 6, 2006
    Posts: 248

    from florida

    I have a chinese made Longevity force cut 40 amp pilot arc. If your house is paid for, buy a hypotherm, I used one for a while and it worked great, same amps but seemed more powerful, but consumables are very expensive and if it quits bend over, parts and labor are outrageous. ($500 for a new gun plus labor, been there-longevity gun-$120 )
    I bought the "chinese" brand Longevity out of California, 230V/50 amp $500 7 yr. warranty, the first one quit in a week, and they promptly sent me another. It is still going after 3 years. They carry all of the parts, and they are reasonable. It cuts 1/4 inch+ and is great for sheet metal with a straight edge. I've done a frame-off, two chopped model A's from scratch, etc. etc. I couldn't be without it, I love it.
    The company ships out the consumables quick and cheap. If it breaks, they'll send me another machine, or I would even simply by another, still ahead of the hypotherm, miller game. I can buy three or four to one of those.

    My longevity cutter works great, and I would buy another, but if I win the powerball I'll buy a hypotherm and you'll see the snap-on truck stopping at my house. The chinese army is another subject.
  27. Esab is the answer, well, not the cheap part of the question but a damn good machine

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