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Projects shopping for a Plasma cutter

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by Sweet & Low, Aug 24, 2017.

  1. Sweet & Low
    Joined: Feb 13, 2014
    Posts: 300

    Sweet & Low

    I had asked the HAMB about an Eastwood cutting and didn't get a good review. What would you guy's recommend. A guy was telling me last night that he had heard good things about Harbor Freight unit, any advice?
  2. How often are you going to use it?????
    I found one on ebay for 200 with shipping. (new)
    I only use it once in awhile. The very very important thing is a very good moisture FILTER for the air, not just a trap.
    They run about $60 but the filter can be dried and reused. (I bought an extra filter). Rick
  3. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 10,972

    Bandit Billy

    You have to consider the consumables and how easy it will be to find them when required. In my opinion "It's Miller time"
    Poh likes this.
  4. Chavezk21
    Joined: Jan 3, 2013
    Posts: 754


    Find a good used Hypertherm power max 30. I picked up one. Done a few art projects with it made some brackets, etc. It paid for itself the first month I had it.
    Uncle Bob and tb33anda3rd like this.

  5. Go with a Lincoln, Miller, or a Hobart.
    Parts and service are readily available, although unless you are cutting a lot of aluminum or stainless steel I don't see the need.

    I work in a large fab. shop (56 employees) most of what we do is aluminum and very rarely do we use the plasma cutter.
    Ol Pasqualy likes this.
  6. Poh
    Joined: Apr 17, 2007
    Posts: 266

    from Quincy,Ca.

    I'll second or third or whatever on named brand , be it red silver , or blue.... i'm pretty partial to blue. All of my Welding equipment is miller

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
  7. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 12,430


    I'll have to go out and see what brand mine is, I bought it used about 20 years ago..takes Miller tips, which are easy to find, I have a small Airco as well that I bought new maybe 30 years ago, I think it was made by Miller.

    What I can tell you is shop like you would a welder,you want a good duty cycle, i/e my little one has such a short duty cycle, after a 12-14 inch cut on sheetmetal, I have to wait a minute or so to cut again.

    I use my plasma's for sheetmetal, Al, and SS only
  8. Flathead Dave
    Joined: Mar 21, 2014
    Posts: 3,920

    Flathead Dave
    from So. Cal.

    I use a HF. It works fine and have not had a problem in the three years of owning it. I paid $300 new.

    Consumables are okay as with any plasma cutter depending on how the unit is used. If you're a novice, you can expect to use more consumables as you learn to operate your machine.

    If you want to spend more $$$ for a unit, go ahead.

    It all really depends on your personal taste.

    Sent from my SM-G930T using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  9. gene-koning
    Joined: Oct 28, 2016
    Posts: 3,663


    The first plasma cutter I bought was a Century. It was pretty small but I used it a lot, and it lasted over 10 years before it retired itself.
    I replaced it with a Hypertherm Max 30. It cuts anything I will ever want to cut. I suspect it gets used nearly every day in my shop, for going on 8 years now. Cuts 1/8" steel at 17" a minute. Consumables produce sloppy cuts and the cuts take longer as they get used up. Consumables are not cheap, but considering how much steel they cut, its cheap steel cutting. Gene
    Chavezk21 likes this.
  10. deathrowdave
    Joined: May 27, 2014
    Posts: 3,312

    from NKy

    NuTech Systems are off my list . I ordered parts , 6 months later wrong parts sent , call them back no response for 5 days , once contacted , " oh we sent wrong parts , you need this new kit " I ordered new parts , 3 months no parts . "We are working on it " what about incorrect parts ? " We'll call you ! No call back no parts ! No more for me , beware !
  11. Dick Stevens
    Joined: Aug 7, 2012
    Posts: 3,594

    Dick Stevens

    Hypertherm would be at the top of my list, followed by Miller, Lincoln or Hobart!
  12. chaos10meter
    Joined: Feb 21, 2007
    Posts: 2,191

    from PA.

    I have a Lincoln for years I like it
  13. Vics stuff
    Joined: May 24, 2014
    Posts: 425

    Vics stuff

    If a person chooses a brand other than the big 4 I would recommend to buy a bunch of consumables that way you will have enough parts to keep going for a few years then throw away the unit.
    I bought a off brand 25 years ago with a shit load of consumables knowing that I would never be able to find any support for this after purchase made . Been real careful using it like all my miller shop equipment and it was the first 115 VAC suitcase style available anywhere and only use it for real light weight sheet metal. My neighbor has a Miller Plasma cutter and he paid $1,600.00 for it and is multi voltage and is not much larger than a shoe box. Cool stuff.
    As mentioned I really do not use mine that much either , maybe that is why it is 25 years old and still like new.
  14. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 22,926


    I have a Miller. It paid for itself, in 90-days.
    64Kaddy likes this.
  15. noboD
    Joined: Jan 29, 2004
    Posts: 8,212


    I second that emotion. Consumables wil kill you if they are not accessible.
  16. southcross2631
    Joined: Jan 20, 2013
    Posts: 4,414


    I bought a CAT unit. Chinese made . Works fine and came with lots of consumables. Have had it for 2 years. Bought it off ebay under $ 200. Just replaced the regulator. Only problem so far. Free shipping when I bought it.
  17. Joe H
    Joined: Feb 10, 2008
    Posts: 1,421

    Joe H

    We just bought a new Snap-on plasma cutter for work. We get government discounts being a school district, but it was still expensive. Matco and a few others all sell the same unit, just rebranded, it's an Italian made unit. I cut a piece of 3/4 plate steel with it, then turned it down to cut sheet metal. It worked great for both. The problem we have is with the tip size, it's so big, it's hard to judge where you are cutting. I still use the little FirePower model we bought years ago. I like the small tip and little gun, you know exactly where you are cutting.
  18. 1gearhead
    Joined: Aug 4, 2005
    Posts: 465


    Don't screw around with junk. Go buy yourself a Miller. Great quality, reasonable price and repairable if it ever needs it. Harbor freight, Eastwood and other off brands look good for the price, but not in terms of quality. It's that old adage, "You get what you pay for." Buy cheap, get cheap!
  19. lucky-13
    Joined: Feb 28, 2011
    Posts: 214

    from Sacramento

    Im going to be the odd man out but if possible try the different brands. Each company has a different handle design. Ive used all of the big boy brands and my favorite by for for price, and comfort was the esab unit.
  20. morac41
    Joined: Jul 23, 2011
    Posts: 530


    If you are just doing the occasional job your wasting your money...there great if you are doing a lot off sheet cutting ...need a good compressor good air drying 15amp outlet...the consumables are expensive and they dont like cutting rust....I've had mine 30 + years used it for rust repairs and cutting 18g sheet ...its been sitting under the bench for 10 years and havent used it...quicker to use 1mm thick cutting disk ..4&5 inch hand grinder and a whole lot cheaper .......
  21. continentaljohn
    Joined: Jul 24, 2002
    Posts: 5,367


    I bought one 15 years ago and got a good one. I was expecting to use it a lot but never did. It's great for a junk yard atmosphere cutting apart stuff . I also found a sawzall and cutoff grinder to work better and just as fast ......
  22. Schwanke Engines
    Joined: Jun 12, 2014
    Posts: 781

    Schwanke Engines

    We started off with an eBay special that lasted 6 years and worked great for what we needed, cost like $200.00 shipped and had a tight welder in it as well. Never used the tig welder part, but plas worked well. Getting a Miller now.

    Sent from my XT1585 using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  23. 4wd1936
    Joined: Mar 16, 2009
    Posts: 1,261

    from NY

    We have two Hypertherms and have had no problems with either. I would suggest you either get one from your local welding supplier or at least one that they can service and get parts for. It sucks when in the middle of a project you have to drive to China for parts for the machine.
  24. fuzzface
    Joined: Dec 7, 2006
    Posts: 1,600


    I was going to buy a Snap on one many years ago whenever my tool guy showed up next time. they are not cheap though. but before he showed up I was at a swap meet and Miller was there and they were selling off last year models dirt cheap. I walked around for a while and decided I grew up with miller welders and that was what I had in my shop for a stick welder and wire feed too so I decided to go back and buy one of them.

    Boy I was happy I did. A lot cheaper than snap on and it held up very well. Haven't replace anything but consumables and I owned this for many years and it gets used every week if not daily. Not sure if I could justify buying it for just car building ( used very little for this) but I have a great gig on the side buying junk medical and restaurant equipment every week that is mainly stainless steel and that is where it gets used all the time. cut the stuff up during the week and then on Friday I go back to the place and pick up whatever I win at auction during the last week and then repeat cycle.

    I noticed when I was in picking up an air filter for my welder I noticed a new plasma like mine now sells for $2500 so they are not cheap anymore. I only paid a little over $300 for it new but like I said above it was at a car show and swap meet where they were giving discounts already but then I also brought one that was last year model tat that time and got an additional big % off just to clear them out. Only difference was at that time was a body design change. that didn't matter to me especially when I was getting it for a third of the price it originally sold for. I even moved up a size bigger than I originally planned for when I came across that deal and glad I did otherwise the small one probably wouldn't cut it for how I use it and what I use it on .
  25. papadaddio
    Joined: Nov 13, 2005
    Posts: 31

    from Minnesota

    ^^^^^^ this
    Joined: Sep 29, 2014
    Posts: 130

    from Newton NC

    Miller or Hypertherm, ............nothing more to say.
  27. vtx1800
    Joined: Oct 4, 2009
    Posts: 1,617


    We are on our second Hypertherm, the first was a model 30 and it was great but we were working with some pretty thick materials and traded it for a model 45. Note, both units were bought at Miller dealers, and they gave me almost full price that I had paid for the model 30 when we traded up for the model 45. They are not cheap but we are very happy with it, and like someone said before, they need clean dry air.
  28. 76ironhead
    Joined: Mar 12, 2009
    Posts: 504


    My wife got me a Campbell hausfeld I had never used one before so didn't want to spend a lot I have used it a lot its a very nice machine and does everything I need it for.
  29. sunbeam
    Joined: Oct 22, 2010
    Posts: 6,127


    20 years ago I bought a Lincoln pro cut 60 It has been a good machine but I would not do it again I would get a smaller machine. When you turn it up to cut thick material consumables have very short life and they are not cheap.
    Joined: Nov 10, 2005
    Posts: 846

    from Holly

    I had an older name brand cutter that was getting tired, consumables had to be ordered and getting $$$$.
    I was producing p-up beds and trailers for golf carts at the time.. About 15 years ago I bought a Simadre cutter for dirt cheap on Ebay. Thinking of using it mostly at my home/shop. Where I teach the local kids how to weld etc. . "Baby cutter".. Since opening the box and powering this thing up. Except for the bad paint finish, I have been impressed.. Wow, this little box will sever 5/8" steel. My old one was hard pressed to cut 1/4" and was five times the size unit. So this little, cheap looking, unit got put to work at the work shop. An impressive unit that sometimes gets used by inexperienced workers and has only required the replacement of the air dryer/regulator and a trigger switch, over the years. Consumables are cheap and delivered in less than a week, when bulk ordered. A few years ago I bought another (damaged unit) on Ebay for parts. So far it is still in the box.

    I was very concerned at the time of purchase (around year 2000). That there was no information on these units. No repair manuals or specs, beyond what the manufacturer sent. I would assume this has improved, but with the very few problems that I've had. I would just buy another unit.

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