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  • Questions about Plasma Cutters

    So I just bought my first Mig welder (Lincoln Power Mig 180C Dual) and I have cast my eye toward a plasma cutter. I have spent months reading, researching about the machines, but would love to get some advice from people who have actually used the things. Is there a big difference in performance of the machine with an internal compressor verses one that hooks to an external air supply? I had a gentelman at the LWS tell me that what ever the CFM on the machine say's is needed in reality you HAVE to double what it says to get a good result. I have my eye on a Cutmaster 42, seems from what I read it is a great unit, but finding reviews can be tough. I based my descision on what mig to buy from using both brand of machines, and liking the Lincoln performance better. I do not know anybody with a plasma machine, except the little Hobart which seems to get either killed in the ratings or 5 stars. I see myself using it for thin stuff, expanded metal, home hobby, repair, home art, things like that. Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    I think the main subject governing the size of plasma you will need is the question of how thick is the metal you will be cutting and wanting a clean edge?

    The models with the built in air compressor will be working hard to cut 1/8 inch steel.
    I have owned two different plasma machines. The first one I bought was an HTP 625 Microcut.
    I used this for 11 years cutting anything I came across, from sheet metal up to 3/4 inch thick steel.
    The Microcut was an inverter plasma and as a result had a small footprint.
    It was about 21 inches long.....10 inches wide...and 13 inches tall, weighing 39 lbs.
    I gave it to my brother-in-law a couple months back because I bought myself a Miller Spectrum 625 X-treme plasma.
    My main reason for buying was due to it's smaller size.
    Same power, but 5-1/2 inches wide, 9 inches high and 13 inches long, weighing 21 lbs.
    The X-treme is also an inverter plasma.

    I like the 625 X-treme better than the HTP.
    The HTP had a regulator
    and a filter attached to the back.
    The Miller has only a hose connection on the back. The regulator and filter is automatic and is housed inside the case on the X-treme.
    The main drawback to the X-treme compared to the HTP is the Miller does not have detachable cables, where the HTP does.
    Those cables are larger rolled up than the lunch box sized X-treme. That is a pain!

    Either machine will cut 5/8 inch steel cleanly at 12 inches per minute.
    They both will sever cut 7/8 inch steel at 4 inches per minute.
    Each requires 90-120 psi at 6 SCFM. I do not buy the view that you have to double the stated SCFM rating. That is a lot of bull.
    If you have a compressor with an output of 7 SCFM at 100 psi you will be fine.

    If all you will ever cut is 1/4 inch steel then you want to look at a 375 machine.
    Many different companies offer plasma in either power range.
    I cannot recommend one brand over another, but I will recommend you buy nothing smaller than a 375 machine.
    This will of course need 220 V power supply.
    You will need an air regulator.
    A dryer downstream of the regulator/filter is a very worthwhile item and well worth the cost.
    Plasma likes dry air!
    Good luck. A mig and a plasma go together like cookies and milk.
    pg
    Last edited by piniongear; 11-05-2011, 05:32 PM.
    Dynasty 200 DX_set up on 3 phase
    Coolmate 3
    MM 251 w/ Spoolmatic 30A
    HTP 625 Micro Cut Plasma Cutter
    Victor O/A Rig
    Bridgeport Mill_3 phase (w/ Acu-Rite 4 axis DRO)
    10 inch South Bend Lathe_3 phase
    Baldor Double Cup Tool Grinder_3 phase
    Baldor 10 inch Buffer
    Rockwell 12 inch Disc Sander
    Cyclone 2ft X 3ft Bead Blast Cabinet
    Quincy 325 2stg- Air Compressor_3 phase
    Graymills Built-in Parts Washer
    Rockwell/Delta Planer, HD Shaper, Uni-Saw etc.

    Comment


    • #3
      Miller or Hypertherm are the best options.

      Miller and Hypertherm are the BEST and MOST RELIABLE units on the market and consumables most available unless your LWS doesn't stock parts.

      Use the Search and Advanced Search here on the site and you will find everything you need to know about choosing a Plasma Torch and selecting an Air Compressor to meet your needs. You can search my post to find out what I learned from people here and what I learned on my own. Also, in the unforseen event that you get a potential lemon, you can find out who to contact at Hypertherm if you have an issue. Plus, looking through post, you can get good support from Miller. Thermal Dynamics doesn't have the support track record that Miller and Hypertherm do. I have heard more complaints about TD about support and product compatibility than anyother.

      I will be purchasing another plasma unit to go on my service truck in the next 3 to 6 months and will be leaning toward Hypertherm to keep my consumable compatibilty between the two unit as I will want the same torch head on both, RT-60.
      '77 Miller Bluestar 2E on current service truck
      '99 Miller Bobcat 225NT for New Service Truck
      '85 Millermatic 200 in Shop

      '72 Marquete 295 AC cracker box in Shop
      '07 Hypertherm Powermax 1000 G3 Plasma Cutter in Shop
      Miller Elite and Digital Elite Hoods

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      • #4
        Always heard good things about hypertherm. Never had an issue with mine, performs great. Hypertherm offers profit sharing for their employees so they have an interest in how the company and products perform. They make a good product.
        sigpic

        Dynasty 200 DX
        Millermatic 350P
        30A Spoolgun
        Lincoln Pro Mig 140
        Hypertherm Powermax 30
        14" Rage Evolution dry saw
        40 ton press brake
        Evenheat Heat treat oven

        1x42 / 4x48 belt grinder

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ja baudin View Post
          Always heard good things about hypertherm. Never had an issue with mine, performs great. Hypertherm offers profit sharing for their employees so they have an interest in how the company and products perform. They make a good product.
          My HT1000G3 was subject to RECALL for bad circuit boards due to change in manufacturing technique (trying to become GREENER in manufacturing) thus bad solder joints. Although my supplier Airgas didn't want to help (mostly salesmen) the store Manager took the bull by the horns while Hypertherm took care of fixing my plasma torch. It has worked like a dream since I got it back. Hypertherm public relations sent me a Fine Torch consumables kit for my agrivation. Also, Hypertherm has been in touch with me a few times since they fixed my plasma torch to make sure everything is still working fine. Yes, you could say I'm a bit biased, but I love my Hypertherm and will get another one.
          '77 Miller Bluestar 2E on current service truck
          '99 Miller Bobcat 225NT for New Service Truck
          '85 Millermatic 200 in Shop

          '72 Marquete 295 AC cracker box in Shop
          '07 Hypertherm Powermax 1000 G3 Plasma Cutter in Shop
          Miller Elite and Digital Elite Hoods

          Comment


          • #6
            Hypertherm

            I really like hypertherm. Great company and a great product. I would buy another in a minute. My powermax can really cut some thick stuff for its size. Thought about upgrading to a 45 but didnt think i would be worth the 700 bucks or so it would cost between selling mine and buying a new 45. I have yet needed anything bigger but ya never know when you will need the amps. The other 1/2 of my thinking is that I have a A/O torch for really thick stuff.

            I mostly use it for sheet cutting or odd non straight cuts. Most of my metal cutting is on my HF band saw.

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            • #7
              I too have to add my voice to the chorus, about Hypertherm I won a 600 And their response to problems even when it is about the cutting shield they brand but don't make. They resolved the problem by sending me a replacement shield.
              Their employees are on the forums some are more active than others.
              Jim Colt/ user name is always on the Hobart forum and answers questions and takes care of problems.
              As it has been said the 3 most important things are thickness of metal you are planning to cut with a nice edge, not hack off! Get the next size up form what you think you need. Even if you have to save up longer for it. As you can lose a lot of money selling one when they find out you bought a larger size!!
              Air make sure your air compressor is larger than you think you need also, since the small will apply for them lose money when selling an too small unit. Make sure the output volume of air SCFM is above what the cutter calls for along with the pressure. As some spec's on compressors are just advertising hype and dreams. DRY, DRY air is a must we have had that discussion many times. It also will pro-long consumables life span. Search function is great on this forum.
              And finally can you get consumables easily.
              hypertherm company web site

              hypermaxonline consumables when you can't get them any place else

              Training_and_Education/index By Hypertherm but works with and brand

              how to choose an air compressor good for any compressor they have great equipment but it is expensive. The info will work on any brand.

              motorguard dryers/filters a favorite of a lot of people one of the favorites

              ingersoll rand products I have a 5hp 80 gallon vert for the shop.
              Check out tractor supply-5hp-air-compressor-80-gal--3496129

              I have nothing to do with the above companies other than a staisfied user and owner
              glen, If your not on the edge, your wasting space

              Comment


              • #8
                Good info

                Sounds like lots of good things about Hypertherm, I will need to do more research on them. Not sure if my LWS carry Hypertherm or not, will have to check that out. I know between the two of them they carry Miller, Lincoln, Esab, Thermal Dynamics, but like I said I will have to check out what they carry. What I liked originally about the Thermal Dynamics Cut Master 42 unit was the ability to run it off 110 or 220, for a variety of sizes of metal, I think it was up to .50 on steel, more then I will ever need. Also I liked the price and the way the torch felt in my hand. So access to consumables will come into play or just order off the internet and stockpile them if needed.

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                • #9
                  Praxair !

                  Have you tried Praxair ?
                  My Praxair dealer, sells - Miller , Lincoln & Hypertherm products !

                  ........Norm
                  www.normsmobilewelding.blogspot.com

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                  • #10
                    I've got a Cutmaster 52... my only complaint is that my Bobcat 225NT doesn't have *quite* enough nut to run it in the field.... plug it into the wall though.... yessah!
                    Bobcat 225NT
                    Cutmaster 52
                    Lincoln Weld-Pak 100 buzz box
                    Caterpillar TH63
                    '07 Kawasaki ZZR600

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                    • #11
                      nfinch86
                      Praxair !
                      Have you tried Praxair ?
                      My Praxair dealer, sells - Miller , Lincoln & Hypertherm products !

                      ........Norm

                      No Praxair here in Bozeman, American Welding and Gas, and General Distributing, GD is a dealer for Hypertherm.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Stand by Hypertherm

                        We make automated plasma cutters for heavy structural steel - overkill for what you need. But in developing the product line we had to evaluate the major plasma providers on reliability and value. We chose Hypertherm and have never been disappointed. Here's how we use them:

                        Structural Steel Fabricating Machinery

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