Best Plasma Cutters- Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

Last Updated on January 1, 2021 by Righteous Daddy (Rehan)

Disclosure: My content contains affiliate links, meaning “As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.”

In this article, we will look at some of the best plasma cutters available in the market. I have done extensive research to assist you in choosing the plasma cutter you desire. I spent a few hours on research for making your shopping experience easy.

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You will never ever see me promoting products just for the sake of commission as you can clearly see that I am transparent about being an associate (affiliate) of amazon. You can find disclosure on top of every post and in my blog’s footer, also on the advertiser disclosure page.

So precisely what you will find in this article?

First thing first, I wanted to answer the most asked questions about the best plasma cutters. So, yes, I took the input from experts to answer those frequently asked questions. The second thing I have listed the best plasma cutter reviews and the third thing is the infographic and text-based buyer’s guide.

I am a consumer just like you. So, I genuinely put my vast effort into making your shopping experience as easy as possible.

Now without any further delays. Let’s get your queries solved 😊

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) About Plasma Cutters

 

I am going to answer everything in layman’s terms.

What are plasma cutter consumables?

The consumables of the average plasma cutter consist of five key components.

  1. The shield
  2. A Nozzle
  3. The electrodes
  4. A Swirl Ring
  5. The retaining Cap
Purpose of the shield?

As its name suggests, it shields other consumables from sparks and heated liquified metal.

What is the purpose of a nozzle?

This plasma consumable has two purposes. Number one, it directs the arc. Number two, a nozzle assists in siphoning the gas movement.

What are the electrodes? 

Ah, this one is simple 😀 it carries the electric current from the torch towards the plate.

What is a swirl ring?

The first thing it does is swirling. It spins the gas. In easy words, the swirl ring keeps the gas moving to keep things cool.

The Retaining Cap what it does?

This plasma consumable basically holds all the consumables in one place.

How long do plasma consumables last?

The life of plasma consumables can vary. As they take all the beating, they can get damaged pretty quickly. If you are a beginner, you can run through consumables quickly. However, if you are experienced and knows a thing or two about plasma cutting, you can get better life out of them. But, one thing is sure the nozzle and electrodes take the most pounding, and they wear out quite quickly than other consumables.

P.S: Always use consumables compatible with your plasma cutter.

What is the plasma cutter used for?

The plasma cutters have numerous uses. Basically, they came into existence to cut through the different types of metals. You will know more about that in its working section.  To precisely answer this question. People around the world the plasma cutter to make designs on metal. These cutters are also used in the construction industry to cut large blocks of metal. Plumbers also use plasma cutters for cutting and shaping pipes. Nowadays, Plasma cutters also get attached to CNC tables for efficient and cost-effective manufacturing of different products.

Can plasma cutter cut aluminum?

Know the basic rule. A plasma cutter can cut through any conductive metal. So, the short answer is yes. It can cut through aluminum.

Can plasma cutter cut wood?

The simple answer is no. I cannot recommend that as plasma cutters are designed to cut through conductive metals. Not for woods. Wood is not electrically conductive at all.

Can plasma cutter cut glass?

Nope. Much like wood. Glass is not electrically conductive, so the plasma cutter won’t cut here. 😉

can plasma cutter cut stainless steel?

Yes. It can easily cut stainless steel.

How does the plasma cutter work?

The plasma cutter creates the fourth state of matter—I.e., Plasma. A plasma state can be achieved by using the gas and heat source.

Plasma cutters use gas, usually compressed air, and an electric source to make plasma. The plasma cutting setup is being used with cutting the workpiece that can be any conductive metal—brass, copper, stainless steel, aluminum, etc.

Okay, so this is how it really works. When the torch of the plasma cutter comes into contact with the metal workpiece. The circuit is created. The negative electrodes pass through the nozzle and get in contact with flowing gas. The connection between these two produces a lot of heat (30 thousand Fahrenheit) to create plasma. Then, this plasma passes through the nozzle to the metal piece you are working on. As I discussed, the purpose of the nozzle above. Its opening gives the arc precision, and it also controls the flow of gas.

If you have set up everything correctly, you will see that the plasma cutter is very precise and will not affect your workpiece.

The following video shows how a handheld plasma cutter looks.

How Hot is Plasma Cutter?

The plasma cutter can create heat of 30,000 Fahrenheit to 45000 Fahrenheit. That’s a lot of heat, and I highly advise you not to look at it directly. Always protect your eyes and head with welding goggles and a helmet.

What are the best Plasma Cutters?

See the table below. These are the best plasma cutters for the money. I have picked them after pervasive research.

Name

Weight

Input Power

BUY

RighteousDaddy Choice


Hypertherm 088079

21.60 pounds

110/240 V

Hobart 500564 Airforce 12ci

27 pounds 

120 V
Lotos LTP5000D

26 pounds

110/240 V

Forney Easy Weld 251

21.5 pounds

120 V

Hypertherm Powermax45 XP

31 pounds

200 V to 240 V

 

I am done with the plasma cutting FAQ. It’s time to look at the reviews plasma cutters.

Hypertherm 088079- Righteous Daddy Choice

best plasma cutter for the money

088079 Powermax30 by Hypertherm is the best plasma cutter you can get in the market. It is among the expensive cutters, but it’s totally worth the money.

Features

Let’s look at its top features.

Adaptive Voltage

Powermax30 comes with adaptive voltage technology that means it can auto adapt the voltage itself. It can range from 110 volts to 240 volts.

Offers Good Grip

The torch is made from sturdy material, ensuring you the excellent quality and strong gripping experience. This feature is handy for beginners as well as hobbyists.

Uses and unsupported functions

You can use this plasma cutter for fine feature cutting, extended reach cutting, extended reach gauging, and drag cutting.

However, Powermax30 is not suitable for mechanized cutting, marking, and fine cutting. Also, not compatible with precision gauging.

Quick and easy to use

This is a handheld plasma cutter and comes with everything pre-built. The consumables are also included, and as I mentioned above, it has an adaptive voltage system. You can carry and connect it anywhere without much hassle. As the plug is included with the product.

Power

It offers 30 amperes of power for both thick and thin metal cutting.

Versatile in power sources

You can use nitrogen or air as a power source to cut electrically conductive workpieces like stainless steel and aluminum.

Long lead

It comes with the 15 feet lead.

Portable

This plasma cutter is exceptionally portable, and you can carry it anywhere you want. It comes with a carrying case and straps to extend its portability.

Lightweight

When I think about plasma cutting, the first thing that comes to mind is the monstrous machine. However, that’s not the case with Hypertherm Powermax30. It weighs only 21.60 pounds.

Works with Rusty Metal

Powermax 30 even works on rusty workpieces.

Precise and fast cutting

Thanks to its Duramax LT torch and nozzle, it allows you to have precision along with speed while cutting.

Accessories

Powermax30 comes with the following accessories.

  • Carry case
  • Shoulder straps
  • Fine cute consumables
  • Standard consumables
  • Gloves
  • Eyeshields

Operations

This machine can operate on the following thicknesses of workpieces.

  • 3/8 inches with a speed of 500mm/minute
  • ½ inches with a rate of 250mm/minute
  • 5/8 inches with a speed of 125mm/minute

If you want to cut using 120 volts of power with a maximum of 25 amps. The following thicknesses and speed you can operate on.

  • ¼ inches with the cut speed of 482mm/minute
  • 3/8 inches with a cut speed of 203mm/minute
  • ½ inches with a cut speed of 72mm/minute.
Note: For the above cutting, you need to use a fine cut nozzle and deflector.

What it lacks?

Above, I have mentioned the good stuff it offers. Now it’s time to look at its shortcomings, aka drawbacks.

There is no doubt that this machine offers precision. However, some people, especially a beginner, need the practice to adjust to its working.

The second limitation can be its price. As it is an expensive plasma cutter and if you are just beginning, I recommend you to look at other options.

I got highly disappointed when I knew that it does not come with an air compressor. As it has a premium price, it should have been included in the package? Don’t you think?

To sum it up with the pros and cons.

Things I Liked

Things I Disliked

  • Impressive cutting

  • Works on Rusty Metal

  • Comes with a lot of accessories

  • Easy to store

  • You need to go through a learning curve to use it properly

  • Air compressor not included in the package

Conclusion

Powermax30 by Hypertherm is among the best plasma cutters because it offers precision, control, sturdy built quality, and a lot of accessories despite not being in competition with pro plasma cutting machines. Moreover, It is lightweight, and storing it is also easy.

On downsides, it demands you to learn some basic stuff before getting into more accurate plasma cutting. And, the most disappointing downside, I think, is that it does not come with an air compressor.

Hobart 500564 Airforce 12ci- Best plasma cutter with built-in air compressor

Best plasma cutter with built-in air compressor

What Hypertherm 088079 is missing is the built-in air compressor. So, I have found and listed the Hobart 500564 Airforce 12ci. This is the best plasma cutter with a built-in air compressor.

Features

 

 

Let’s look at its features.

Comes with built-in Air Compressor

Duh, I have mentioned it already, but this is the most important feature it has.  It comes with a built-in air compressor. This plasma cutter has piston-driven air compressor technology that makes it portable as well.

Pilot Arc Start

Hobart 500564 has a pilot arc start, which means it will not burn the nozzle quite quickly. The pilot arc start before cutting and prevents any damage to the nozzle.

LED lights

It has led lights that indicate a few different things. Those things are power, torch preparation, and temperature of the plasma cutter.

Can withstand harsh working conditions

This plasma cutter is durable. It can stand the most stringent operating conditions thanks to its thermal overload protection. The thermal overload protection feature also increases the duty cycle when the external temperature is low. It has a 35 percent duty cycle on 104 F.

Inverter

It has an inverted design that makes it lightweight compared to many other plasma cutting machines. Hobart 12ci plasma cutter weighs around 27 pounds only.

Cooling Circuit

Hobart 500564 Airforce 12ci comes with a cooling circuit so, the consumables can last longer. Whenever you release the trigger, the post flow cooling circuit system gets engaged and cool down the consumables.

Power

The best thing about this plasma cutter is that it can run even on 120 volts. You do not need a 220v to 240v circuit breaker or any additional plug to run.

Featured Fan

Hobart 12ci has a fan that runs on demand. Meaning it will suck less waste and dust during operations.

Beginners friendly

This plasma cutter is beginners friendly meaning you can start cutting straight out of the box. As it has a built-in compressor. The accessories are included, and all you have to do is pull the trigger, and it will start operating in no time.

Accessories

  • It comes with a 12 ft. handheld torch
  • Hobart 12ci offers 12 ft. work cable with clamp
  • The 7 ft. power cord also included in the box
  • You will also get 2 nozzles
  • The electrode is also included
  • And the guide to make your working more accessible

What it lacks?

It’s time to look at its shortcomings, aka cons. The first thing it lacks is its ability for professional use. The second thing that can put you off is its non-versatility. It is good at cutting 1/8 inches of steel. However, if you are looking for a powerful machine, this plasma cutter is not for you.

To make more sense out of it pros and cons are below


Things I Liked

Things I Disliked

  • Lightweight

  • Built-in air compressor

  • Beginners Friendly

  • Consumables are included in the box

  • Not suitable for professional use

  • cannot cut through thick materials

Conclusion

Hobart 12ci plasma cutter comes with a built-in air compressor. It is beginners friendly, and you can use it straight out of the box. It weighs less compared to many other plasma cutters in the same range. That means you can easily carry it anywhere. Also, it runs on an ordinary 120v current.

If you are a beginner or hobbyist, I would highly recommend this plasma cutter. However, if you are a pro or looking for a cutter that can cut through virtually anything, do not buy it.

Lotos LTP5000D- Best plasma cutter under 500

Best plasma cutter under 500

This is another excellent plasma cutter on my list. It offers a non-touch plasma arc cutter, meaning? You can cut through even rough and rusty stuff. Hobart 500564 Airforce 12ci lacks versatile cutting. So, I have added Lotos LPT500D to this list for those who want to cut through everything.

Features

Let’s take a look at its features.

No-touch arc

This is the most outstanding feature you will get with the LPT5000D. The no-touch arc is precisely what it’s sound it cuts through the surface without arc touching it. It has two benefits. First, it increases the nozzle’s life, and second, you can cut through even rusty materials.

Clean cutting

It also offers clean cutting compared to other cutters in the same pricing range. No one came near LPT5000D. This machine is a beast. It can clean ½ inches, and for maximum severance thickness, it offers ¾ inches.

Multiple Voltages

As I reviewed Hobart 500564 above. That machine can run even on 120 volts. However, the Lotus plasma cutter offers dual voltage technology. You can run this plasma machine at 110 volts and 220 volts. Yet, 110 volts available with a pigtail, and you have to buy it standalone.

Duty Cycle

It offers a 60 percent duty cycle on 50 Amps and at the temperature of 104 F.

Portable

It weighs only 26 pounds that is even one pound less compared to Hobart 12ci.

Accessories

There are only two other things you will get in the box that are torch and power supply.

What it lacks?

It’s time that we discuss its downsides. Kindly note that this is the best plasma cutter you can get for under 500. However, As it is budget-friendly, do not expect it to perform as a commercial plasma machine.

Some users also complained that it uses the consumables extremely fast except for the nozzle. As it has no touch. Again, it does not come with consumables. You have to purchase them separately.

To help you decide better, I have listed the pros and cons below.


Things I Liked

Things I Disliked

  • Best for home use

  • Easy to carry

  • Can cut through rusty and painted materials.

  • No-touch Arc

  • Cannot operate in the harsh commercial environment

  • Uses Plasma consumables pretty fast

  • You have to buy accessories separately.

 

Conclusion

This plasma cutting machine is highly suitable for home use. Also, it is lightweight that makes it easy to carry. This machine can even cut rusty and painted surfaces. And the best feature is its no-touch arc. However, it cannot withstand harsh working conditions. Also, it exhausts the consumables pretty quickly and the accessories do not come in the box.

If you are looking for the best plasma cutter under 500 then you should get this one. If you have more budget and wanted to have the best experience than this one you should not purchase.

Forney Easy Weld 251- Another plasma cutter under 500

Another plasma cutter under 500

Forney’s comfortable weld 251 is another excellent option if you are looking for a budget-friendly plasma cutter.

Features

 

It can cut. Alright!

This plasma machine is not made for heavy-duty purposes. It is for beginners and hobbyists. However, Forney’s easy weld 251 can cut through mild steel and aluminum quite easily.

Drag Torch

Another feature worth mentioning is its drag torch technology. That can make direct contact with the cutting material and allows you to have more precise cutting.

Lightweight and easy to carry

Forney easy weld 251 weights only 21.5 lbs. It has dimensions of 15.125 x 8.125 x 12 inches. This weight and size make it portable.

Built quality

It is made of robust material. You can use it daily without much hassle.

Power

It runs on 120 Volts.

Cutting material and capacities

  • It can cut through stainless steel ¼ inches
  • For ordinary steel, it offers ¼ inches
  • It supports cutting of aluminum 3/16 inches
  • It can also cut through ¼ inches brass
  • Forney easy weld supports cutting of ¼ inches galvanized steel
  • This plasma machine can also cut through brass of ¼ inches
  • And ¼ inches copper is also supported by this machine.

Accessories

  • It comes with 13 inches cutting torch
  • Forney also includes 8 inches ground clamp
  • It also has 20A to 15A power adapter in the box
  • 1 spare electrode
  • And 1 extra nozzle is also included with it.

What it lacks?

As it is another easy to use and budget-friendly machine. You cannot expect heavy-duty work from it. Secondly, it is not suitable for fast cutting.

To help you decide better, I have listed the pros and cons


Things I Liked

Things I Disliked

  • Easy to use

  • Lightweight

  • Good for mild cutting

  • Sturdy built

  • Does not support fast cutting

  • Cannot cut through heavy material

Conclusion

One of the best plasma cutter for beginners and hobbyists. Moreover, it is cheaper as its pricing is under 500. It is suitable for easy to mild cutting; its weight is another feature you want to look at. The built quality is exceptional in this pricing. To be honest, I was not expecting it to be sturdy.

If you are a beginner and hobbyist, I would highly recommend this machine. However, for those who want fast, precise heavy cutting, they should not get this one. For them, the much better option is Hypertherm 088079.

Hypertherm Powermax45 XP- Most Powerful Plasma cutter. Period!

most powerful plasma cutter for the money

This is one of the most powerful plasma cutters you can get. It can cut through anything without sacrificing speed. If you are into more power but prefer portable machines then, nothing beats it.

Features

Let’s take a look at its features

User friendly

This plasma cutting machine is one of the most powerful yet easy to use the machine I have came across in my life. It offers a wide range of cutting. Its cutting rate is 5/8 inches, yet it is portable. It can also be used by the first timer and those who are already using plasma cutters.

Smart Sense

It has this smart sensor technology that makes the air pressure right all the time.

CNC supported

Hypertherm Powermax45 XP can be connected with CNC machines.

Handheld supported

You can also use Hypertherm Powermax45 XP as a handheld cutter.

Fast speed on mild cutting

Powermax45 XP offers more speed on mild cutting compared to other plasma cutters. Its speed higher on ¼ inches steel surface.

More Durable

It is more durable, more efficient than its preceding models. The torch is also very sturdy and gives you more precise cutting than Hypertherm 088079.

Eco Friendly

This plasma cutter is designed in a way that it consumes less energy. Also, all of the mechanisms are biodegradable.

What types of Cutting does it support?

It can do most of the cutting types, from drag cutting to precision gauging. It can mark, offers mechanized cutting, it also can do max control gauging. You can also use this cutter for flush and extended reach cutting. So basically, it can do everything except for max removal gauging.

What it lacks?

This is the most powerful plasma cutter. Period! But it has two downsides. It does not support max removal gauging, and second, it does not have any CPC port. The third thing is that it is costly.

To assist you better in your decision making, I have listed the pros cons below.


Things I Liked

Things I Disliked

  • Easy to use

  • Durable

  • enormously powerful

  • wide arrays of cutting

  • No CPC port

  • It is expensive

Conclusion

Hypertherm Powermax45 XP is one of the best plasma cutter you can get for the money. It is the giant of all plasma cutters I came across. It offers plenty of cutting options without sacrificing quality and precision. However, it is one of the most expensive plasma cutter on my list. However, If you can afford it, I would highly recommend you get this one.

What to look for when buying a plasma cutter?

I am going to share everything you need to consider while shopping for the plasma cutter. If you are in a hurry, I would recommend consuming the knowledge via the infographic I created and shared with you. But if you have time to read. In that case, I will highly recommend sticking longer with me and get all the necessary information in text form.

With that said, let’s get to the point.

what to look for when buying a plasma cutter infographic

Duty Cycle

Maybe you have heard this numerous times. If you are a newbie like me, you perhaps did not know what the duty cycle is. The duty cycle is in plasma cutter and in some other machinery is particularly important. In this article, we are talking about plasma cutting. So, we will take a look at the duty cycle of plasma cutting machines.

To explain in simple terms, the duty cycle is the time the machine runs for. It can vary with amperage and voltage. Duty Cycle gets calculated in the percentage. As you probably have seen that in the reviews section.

Suppose the duty cycle is 40 percent; it means the plasma cutting machine will run for 4 minutes. 100 percent duty cycle means 10 minutes. So, you can easily estimate the duty cycle for how long the machine will run.

Air Compressor

If we go into a general recommendation, the bigger the air compressor, the better. However, you can also determine the air compressor requirement by applying this CFM rule (cubic feet/minute). The major manufacturers of plasma cutting machines recommend getting an air compressor that is 1.5 times bigger than your plasma CFM.

Suppose the CFM is 5, the air compressor with 7 to 7.5 CFM would be sufficient for you. Also, there are plasma cutters with built-in air compressors.

Power input and output

The input and output power varies with machine and cutting. Input power can range from 110v to 240v. Some plasma cutters have multiple input power options. While output power is measured in amps. For lighter ¼ inches, the amp can be 25. For ½ inches, the recommended amperage is 40. And if you are into very thick materials, it can go up to 80 amps.

Portable

This is the age of compact things. You need to get a plasma cutter portable enough to carry anywhere and powerful enough to cut through anything.

Durable

You need to get a plasma cutting machine that is durable. The plasma cutters are not cheap so, for saving some bucks, don’t sacrifice the quality and durability.

Cooling System

The plasma cutting machines with a cooling system are always preferable because things can heat up quite quickly. No pun intended 😉

Air filtration

The filtration system is also essential in plasma cutting machines, so the debris and dust do not get stuck.

Consumables

The consumables are the most important because they are the one that completes the plasma cutting machine. And you will be changing them more often. So, the first thing goes for a plasma cutting machine that can support most of the consumables. Second, get the machine whose consumables last long.

Wrapping it up!

Okay, I am going to conclude this article now. It has become longer than I intended, but I needed to share everything I know about plasma cutters. In this article, I have answered the frequently asked question. listed the best plasma cutter reviews and shared the detailed buyer’s guide in the form of infographics and text.

Hope I have cleared everything in this article. If you still have some questions unanswered, you can ask me in the comment section below.

See You in another article.

Righteous Daddy (Rehan)
Righteous Daddy (Rehan)

My name is Rehan, and I am the dad of one cute little boy. And I have got a very supportive and lovely wife. For a living, I write content. The best thing about me is that I love reviewing consumer products. And I founded this blog to share the list of best products, unbiased reviews of items, buying guides, how-to articles, and information.

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