The Best Plasma Cutters: Top Pick, Reviews & Buying Guide
Plasma cutters look similar to welding machines, but instead of joining metal materials, a plasma cutter is used to cut through various metals quickly and accurately. Plasma cutters have continued to gain popularity in the metal fabrication industry due to their ability to cut any conductive metal with the desired speed and precision. It is a versatile tool and a must-have tool for any metal fabricator, and the best part is today's machines are more powerful and lighter, and there are models for both professionals and hobbyists.
A plasma cutter uses an ionized gas torch to make a neat and accurate cut through electrically conductive materials. Ideally, your choice of the best plasma cutter will depend on the maximum thickness of the materials you'll be cutting most and the scope of your projects, i.e., home use or industrial use. Working with a plasma cutter is a lot easier, and you don't have to deal with a messy workplace, loud grinding, or rough and inaccurate cuts.
Ideal Cut Thickness
1. Lotos LTP5000D Plasma Cutter
The Lotos LTP5000D plasma cutter is designed with rich features that allow it to deliver outstanding performance in its compact package. Its pilot arc feature is especially handy for cutting on rough or dirty surfaces, while its air filter regulator enables the user to connect to the air compressor quickly. That's not all. The machine advanced cooling system gives you peace of mind knowing that your machine won't overheat, so you're well protected.
The LTP5000D continues Lotos's tradition of bringing down the price for entry into the plasma cutting world. It provides smooth and clean cuts, effortless to set up, and it is a perfect choice for light-duty and DIY projects.
2. PrimeWeld CT-520D
The PrimeWeld CT-520D is a multi-purpose machine that offers a whole range of cutting and welding processes. It is also among the best plasma cutters for individuals who are just starting to use a plasma cutter for its cutting and welding performance. Additionally, it is very efficient and offers the desired cuts with relative ease without pausing or requiring you to slow down occasionally.
Features of PrimeWeld CT-520D
The PrimeWeld CT-520D is a quality triple threat machine, and it has earned this spot for both its welding and cutting performance. It works great on steel and aluminum, and it is an excellent machine for beginners.
3. Amico CUT-50 Plasma Cutter
With the capability of handling materials up to 1-inch maximum severance thickness, the Amico CUT-50 shines in both personal and heavy-duty use, and it is undeniably great value for money. The newly designed model is exceptionally user-friendly and more convenient. And although it may share similar features with other models, it provides more consistent cuts, and it involves less cleaning.
Main Features of the Amico CUT-50 Plasma Cutter
If you are looking for an affordable and reliable plasma cutter for home use, you should try out the Amico cut 50 plasma cutter. The machine is ready to cut right out of the box, and it is a great unit for first-timers.
4. Lotos LTP5500D
The LTP 5500D is an upgrade of Lotos LTP5000D, but the former is far more superior. This machine uses IGBT while the LTP 5000D uses MOSFET, which is a significant upgrade. Also, this unit supports CNC applications, and it is ideal for general use. It is suitable for cutting stainless steel, mild steel, alloy steel, copper, among other color metals.
Other Key Features of Lotos LTP5500D
The Lotos LTP5500D is an excellent CNC cutter, and it will last a long time as long as well maintained, i.e., changing the consumables as needed and keeping the compressed air dry and clean. The blowback start is unbelievable, and it does a great job of cutting through rust and paint.
5. SUNGOLDPOWER 50A Plasma Cutter
If you are a hobbyist looking for a machine for home use, then you may want to consider the SUNDGOLD 50A plasma cutter. It belongs to the CUT 50 'family' machines, and it provides sufficient power required for cutting a variety of metal materials. In addition, the digital LCD display makes it easy for you to read air pressure gauge so you can make the most out of it.
Features of SUNGOLDPOWER 50A Plasma Cutter
SUNGOLDPOWER 50A plasma cutter is definitely not a heavy-duty machine, but it is an incredible tool for a hobbyist on a budget. It exceeds expectations, cuts clean, and it is a solid unit for a home shop.
6. SUPER DEAL CUT 50 PLASMA CUTTER
The Super Deal Cut 50 plasma cutter is yet another multifunctional machine which comes as a cutter and a welder. The duty cycle of this machine is impressive, and it features a space-saving design. What's more, this unit's performance is also stable, and it can cut through materials of up to 1/2 inch (12.7 mm) thick accurately and precisely.
This compact cutter is a workhorse, and it features a much better build quality at this price point. It is dependable for light to moderate use, and just like other Super Deal tools, it is engineered to deliver reliable performance at home or the workshop.
7. Forney Easy Weld 251
The Forney Easy Weld 251 is a powerful yet easy to use plasma cutter. It may take a bit of time to get a clean cut, but once you get the hang of it, it does a great job. The unit weighs only 21.5 lbs. which means it is easily transportable for use around the house, in your workshop, or as a job site tool.
Features of Forney Easy Weld 251
Forney Easy Weld 251 may not be the most powerful machine, but it is perfect for light shop work. It is engineered to perform day-to-day, and it is a time saver for contractors dealing with HVAC, plumbing, auto body, etc.
8. Hypertherm 088079 Powermax30 XP
The Hypertherm 088079 Powermax30 XP is a highly portable and compact plasma cutting system, and it comes with everything you need to start cutting. It produces minimal slag, and you only need to do very little grinding sanding to clean the cut. Besides, it can handle a wide range of applications, and it is worth the extra cost than the less expensive models all over the place.
Key Features of Hypertherm 088079 Powermax30 XP
Hypertherm plasma cutters are unrivaled when it comes to quality and reliability. The Hypertherm 088079 Powermax30 XP will enhance your cutting and gouging processes by performing reliably time and again.
How to Choose the Best Plasma Cutter
A plasma cutter greatly improves your metalworking skills, but getting a cheap one may not get the job done. Choosing a high-end model may cost higher up-front, but this often translates into a lower cost of operation and better operation in the long run. So, this buying guide will help you understand some crucial factors that will help find the most suitable plasma for your needs. These are;
i. Cut thickness
The maximum cut thickness is one of the very first specifications you'll want to consider when buying a plasma cutter. Ideally, cut thickness is presented into two different ratings, i.e., the clean cut and maximum severance cut. Clean cut is the maximum thickness the machine can comfortably accommodate while achieving smooth lines. On the other hand, the max severance cut refers to the absolute thickness that a machine can achieve when pushed to the limit. The max severance cut, however, results in a rough finish, so it is not recommended if you want clean, smooth cuts.
ii. Compressed air or gas?
Most traditional plasma cutters use gases such as Argon, Nitrogen, or Oxygen to initiate the cutting process. However, technology has made it possible to use compressed air, which much safer and easier to use. A plasma cutter can either have an inbuilt air compressor or a separate compressor, so it depends on your needs as to choose. When using compressed air, you'll need to check the airflow and air pressure requirements of your plasma cutter and find a compressor that meets requirements. The air compressor should be able to offer sufficient CFM, usually 1.5 times more than the needs of your plasma cutter.
iii. The type of torch
Plasma torches serve a general purpose of slicing through metals come, but they come in different forms, with each type featuring a different approach of striking the arc. They include;
Consumables are parts of a plasma cutter that require replacement after wear due to regular use. They include the nozzle, electrode, retaining cap, shield, and swirl wheel. The main consumables that require frequent replacement are the nozzle and electrode. When buying a plasma cutter, you'll need to consider the life and cost of replacement of these consumables so that you can be able to determine the cost of operation.
Important tips when using a plasma cutter
Plasma cutting is a relatively straightforward process to learn, and it does not leave much debris compared to oxy-fuel cutters. That said, it is important to choose a plasma cutter that is compatible with your projects to ensure that you'll not have a hard time performing your projects. Furthermore, it will pay off to compare portability and durability features of different models to ensure that you can use your machine on-demand and hassle-free.
Lotos is a known giant in the plasma cutter and welding industry, and that's why we selected the Lotos LTP5000D as the overall best plasma cutter in our list. The LTP5000D has the capacity to do detailed work with its high-frequency non-touch pilot arc and an air filter for a cleaner and drier air. More so, this unit does not compromise on quality, and it represents great value with unrivaled cutting performance.