WELDING & RELATED > Welding/Cutting/Etc

Plasma cutter

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jpigg55:
Iím considering purchasing a plasma cutter and looking for any recommendations from those of you with them.
I donít think Iíd use one enough to justify the $1,000+ price tag of a Hobart. Thinking more of the budget machine.
From the video reviews Iíve watched, I like the ones with built in air regulator instead of the external mounted ones. I also like the ďNo touchĒ models.
Beyond that, I know very little about them and looking for advice and recommendations.

Uglydog:
I'll be watching this thread.
Sounds like you are in the same situation as I am regarding plasma. However, I'm not yet where you are about spending the $.
Are you thinking about a manual or CNC track system as well, or just a hand held.
I've had very good luck with my OA turtle/track and am thinking about expanding to a tracer for the OA (perhaps shop built).
It's not my intent to complicate this thread.
My question:  is a standard hand held plasma adaptable to a track system should you want to do it at some time in the future?

Daryl
MN

jpigg55:
Boy have I jumped down the rabbit hole on this one. Hereís what Iíve learned so far.
Pretty much every video I watched recommended getting a plasma cutter that has a pilot arc. Hereís a link to a video I found most useful, although I canít seem to find the Bestarc BTC500DP model anywhere for sale.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhZWKc6tFLc
From what Iíve gathered, all the lower priced plasma cutters are all made in China and, aside from some features, are all the same. Regardless of name brand, if it says ďCut 50Ē or ďCut 60Ē on it, itís a Chinese manufacture and all the same internals.
For me, I will most likely use one for manual cutting and am currently considering either the Lotos or PrimeWeld models.
A few things Iíll mention here:
ē   There seems to be 2 different connector types for machines with pilot arc. What they call the ďEuro CentralĒ connection (pilot arc wire integral) and the other that has a separate pilot arc wire and connection. Not sure if one is better over the other or not, Iím liking the Euro connect cable style better.
ē   Warranty and support. The PrimeWeld has a 3 year warranty, the Lotos is 1 year. Customer support sounds to be much better with the PrimeWeld specifically when ordered through Amazon and support request is initiated through Amazon.
ē   IGBT vs MOSFET. It seems the Lotos use MOSFET tech and the PrimeWeld uses IGBT tech. It seems IGBTís work better when cutting thicker material

Right now Iím leaning towards the PrimeWeld Cut60:
https://www.amazon.com/PRIMEWELD-Non-Touch-Plasma-Voltage-WARRANTY/dp/B07BYJPGB1/ref=sr_1_5?crid=2BDDK4NWGV2ZK&keywords=plasma+cutter&qid=1641312618&refinements=p_89%3ALOTOS%7CPRIMEWELD&rnid=2528832011&s=hi&sprefix=plasma+cutter%2Caps%2C329&sr=1-5

One of the videos I watched stated this machine is the closest to higher end machines like Hypertherm and Miller at about a third the price.
That said, if you plan on doing a lot of cutting, everyone seems to agree that going with the higher end models is the way to go. It also seems some of the higher end models have an integral air compressor and dryer eliminating the need for a separate air compressor. For me, I donít foresee doing a lot of field work requiring hauling around a compressor.

Uglydog:
jpigg55,
It's not my intent to attempt to persuade you not to buy a plasma cutter. Not at all.
The reason I was thinking about one is that it'd be handy is for aluminum plate and channel (1/8"-1/2"). As there is alot of repair work for boats and docks up here requiring gussets and replacement supports.
I've been using the vertical and horizontal bandsaws, and have thought about a metal cutting circle saw.
I've noticed some smaller plasma cutters on Craigslist as people find they need more capacity.

If I may ask what is your anticipated application?

Daryl
 

jpigg55:
Hey Daryl,
Iíve been considering buying one for some time. Iíve procrastinated trying to decide between an Oxy-Acetylene torch or plasma cutter and tended more towards Oxy-Acetylene due to the limited cut thickness of the plasma cutters.
Time has shown me that I seldom deal with metal over 1Ē thick which, while it seems to be at the max of plasma cutters in my price range, some are able to cut.
Other videos Iíve watched state a plasma cutter is better suited for cutting metals like aluminum, copper, brass, etc. than Oxy-Acetylene.
Like you, Iíve mostly used small vertical/horizontal bandsaws. My issue is with local availability of blades and the time it can take to cut harder materials.
Anyway, what pushed me is a new project I want to build that Iím planning on using the tank from an old water heater and need to cut a 6Ē hole in it. Too big for my bandsaw for even a straight cut and other components will require cutting odd curves and angles. A plasma cutter seems to fit the bill for this. I also wonít have to deal with tanks and refills like with an Oxy-Acetylene torch as the closest fill/exchange place is 50+ miles away these days.
I checked Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Everything I found close to me were usually the Chinese made ones and asking price close to new price. If I could find a good used Hypertherm, Miller, or Hobart at a good price, I definitely go that way. Iím in no big hurry so Iíll keep my eye out. Iíd also buy a used Chinese model if the price was right, but since they all seem to want close to new price, I figure itís worth spending a few more $$$ to buy new and have the warranty.
The best advice seems to be making sure that the consumables are readily available and fairly cheap for whichever make/model one buys.

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