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Technical Plasma Cutter Question

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Sweet & Low, Oct 8, 2015.

  1. Sweet & Low
    Joined: Feb 13, 2014
    Posts: 234

    Sweet & Low

    Well guy's, I think its about time I buy a plasma cutter for my garage shop and I'm looking for some advise as to get the best bang for my buck, I'm just your typical do it yourself hot rod garage guy and wonder what you guys have had the best luck with.
  2. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 15,662


    I have had and used a Miller Spectrum 375 for over 10-years. It has been great all around. I also have a bigger Hypertherm, but rarely need that, save for big stuff.
  3. Thermal dynamics Cutmaster 52 for about five years.
  4. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 15,662


    I think you will find, when all is said and done, the advice will be to buy a brand name, and the proper output for the desired work (and duty cycle).
    Mike Miller and Hnstray like this.
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  5. KEG-RUN'74
    Joined: Jul 15, 2009
    Posts: 49


    I've got a esab Power Cut 650 for about 10 years now. Small package big power. Love it!
  6. chevyfordman
    Joined: Oct 4, 2008
    Posts: 712


    Just my opinion, I have a Miller plasma cutter but rarely use it as I like to use the Powermatic band saw and Ellis miter saw so much more. So for me, a good used vertical band saw is far better but they have limitations too. My saw has a 20 inch throat so that is the limit on one side. Good luck in making up your mind. PICT3271.JPG
  7. finn
    Joined: Jan 25, 2006
    Posts: 531


    Another Miller Spectrum 375 here.

    It's been superseded by a new, more compact model.

    I was always uncomfortable cutting with an oxy-acetylene torch in the garage. The plasma feels more controllable and safe.
  8. Funny. I have the opposite feeling sometimes. The plasma is very controllable. But the sparks seems to fly twice as far for me.

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  9. I have a Miller and a band saw.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2015
  10. Yep, another vote for the Miller Spectrum 375. I've had mine for about 10 yrs, no problems. They make the Spectrum Xtreme 375 now which supersedes the larger, older Spectrum, pretty compact,powerful unit for the money.
  11. The plasma throws red hot dust,
    Torch throws molten metal shot.

    The dust is usually cooled off before it hits the floor. The shot will burn the floor, bounce, roll, hopefully cool off without troble in the corner some place.

    Plasma will make more smoke that will linger quite a while. Torch cut doesn't smoke much.

    I had to take back 3 before I got a good one, but the 4th HF unit hasn't missed a beat. Does 1/4" no trouble
  12. Rex_A_Lott
    Joined: Feb 5, 2007
    Posts: 837


    Do you already have a O/A rig? It heats, cuts and welds. The plasma really shines on the thin stuff, and on non-ferrous metals, but falls in the luxury tools category, IMHO. I'd stick with a name brand, 220V if you plan on anything heavy, ever.Good Luck.
  13. aaggie
    Joined: Nov 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,510


    I have a Hypertherm that is about the size of a large Lunchbox and it will cut through 3/8" steel with no problem. It came with both 110VAC and 220VAC power cords and is very portable. The consumables like tips are standard with Miller and others so any local welding supply will stock them.
    You need very clean air with any brand so make sure you have access to a moisture free air source. I bought the plasma cutter three years ago and the only tome I have used my O/A torch has been to heat up a frozen bolt. No quality tool is cheap but you will never regret buying the best.
  14. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 15,662


    Must be hard to lift up a body shell, to cut out a floor pan or quarter-panel, and get into that, never mind welding up the blade after.
    shawnsauto1 likes this.
  15. cmichael
    Joined: Feb 14, 2006
    Posts: 148


    I have had a Miller Spectrum 375 for about ten years also great machine. It all depends on what your doing. I use my vertical band saw and Ellis miter saw a lot as well. Just but all three. Lol keep in mind plasma and rust metal don't get along.
  16. Terraizer
    Joined: Jul 18, 2006
    Posts: 428


    I have had a HTP MicroCut 400 for about 10-11 years and it has been a good machine and HTP's customer service is great. I had a trigger problem out of warrenty and called them up and they sent me a new trigger free of charge next day aired to me can't beat that.
  17. R35J1S
    Joined: Jul 20, 2012
    Posts: 141

    from Missouri

    I have thermal dynamics cut master 42 and love it. 110 or 220 volt. Cuts 1/2" easy enough. Can't go wrong with miller, lincoln or even hyperthermia either. I hear the miller has great life cycles on their tips and other consumables.

    Sent from my SM-N900P using Tapatalk
  18. tinmann
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 1,584


    Do yourself a favor and check the prices of the commonly used consummables (tip and electrode) and be sure you don't buy a plasma cutter with ridiculously priced parts. At my last place of employment we had a Thermal Dynamics machine that cost $25 every time you changed tip and electrode. I wouldn't want to pay much more. We were burning through one of each every two weeks or so. Also, do everything you can to ensure dry air to the plasma cutter. Tips and electrodes don't like moisture.
    ems customer service likes this.
  19. R35J1S
    Joined: Jul 20, 2012
    Posts: 141

    from Missouri

    Hypertherm, damn auto correct

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  20. Deuce Daddy Don
    Joined: Apr 27, 2008
    Posts: 4,639

    Deuce Daddy Don

    All good!!!----Just stay away from HF!!
  21. 1-SHOT
    Joined: Sep 23, 2014
    Posts: 1,326


    I have a ESAB and love it. Great in a body shop.
    be sure you can get the consumables for what ever brand you choose. No parts no workie Frank
    gimpyshotrods likes this.
  22. I have a hypertherm 380 and have only used it three or four times.

    I bought it thinking that I would be slingin' slag all the time, but I prefer my saws for most things. Sometimes I look at it and think about the parts I could have bought with the money I spent on it.
  23. The trafimet torch is not cheap toy,

    but the consumables are only $3.00 a round if you but them right.

  24. 34toddster
    Joined: Mar 28, 2006
    Posts: 1,441

    from Missouri

    Chevyfordman, I'm lusting after your bandsaw!
  25. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 15,662


    Amen to that, brother.
  26. vtx1800
    Joined: Oct 4, 2009
    Posts: 764


    We have the smallest Hypertherm, and it cuts thin stuff like butter and heavier stuff when set on 220V, seems to cut pretty well, half inch is as big as we normally work with. A friend that has a blacksmith/repair type shop said that he noticed that his gas (Oxygen/acetylene
    ) bill dropped a bunch after he bought a plasma cutter, he really liked that. If you do very much cutting with a plasma cutter try to ventilate it well, we can tell when doing a lot of plasma cutting it really plugs the furnace/AC filter up quickly.
    Joined: Nov 10, 2005
    Posts: 846

    from Holly

    Had a HTP unit. That I was using for production of golf cart pickup beds/trailers. Decided to get a more powerful cutter. Bought a unit from the people that now make Eastwoods machine. Compact, powerful. Cuts 1/2" steel regularly, will cut 5/8" slowly with a bit of slag. It has been working for many years in a semi-commercial environment. Many different operators.
    One off/on switch. One torch switch. One dryer/regulator unit. I did have to replace the original torch and hose unit, but that was because of a careless dumbass operating the machine.
    Clean and oil internal fan and clean component boards.
    I was amazed at its power from a small unit when it was new. An inexpensive China machine that owes me nothing.. Consumables are dirt cheap and I order quantities direct from manufacturer. They deliver in less than 10 days .
  28. flux capacitor
    Joined: Sep 18, 2014
    Posts: 633

    flux capacitor

    Miller 375 , the newer compact model for me , how did I ever live without it. Considering the price of torch gases these days it's paying for itself quickly. Awesome machine. Flux
  29. Crusty Nut
    Joined: Aug 3, 2005
    Posts: 1,834

    Crusty Nut

    I also have about a 12 year old Miller 375. It's capacity range is perfect for car people. Very good advise about about the consumable prices and availability. Another cool thing about plasma is it will cut anything that conducts electricity. Copper, stainless, whatever. Pretty cool for the artsy type of user.

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