Best Plasma Cutter for You- 2022 Buyers Guide

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Best Plasma Cutter

Any job that requires working with metal is often going to leave you with the hassle of how to actually cut through the materials that you are working with. It may be that you are trying to shorten a piece of material, or perhaps you are completing more delicate jobs and wanting a more precise and professional finish. Either way – the best way to cut through pieces of metal is with a plasma cutter. A plasma cutter isn’t something that can just be replaced with a cheaper alternative – it uses the fourth state of matter to cut accurately and neatly through a range of metals up to around 4/5cm in depth!

There is a lot of science and technicalities that come together to make a plasma cutter as good at its job as it is – which is why this article containing some of the best plasma cutters and all the features you need to know about, is so essential!

The Science Behind A Plasma Cutter

Before we go any further, we feel it’s best to explain how a plasma cutter actually works. Plasma (not the kind linked to your blood) is a type of gas which allows electrons to move freely. 

They work by sending an electric arc through a type of gas known in the metalwork world as cutting gas. This heats up the gas to incredibly hot temperatures – sometimes up to around 18,000℃! This extreme temperature causes a fourth state of matter to be created, known as “plasma”. We understand this is probably a bit much to take in if you have spent your life thinking it is as simple as solids, liquids and gases! 

Whilst all of this is happening, an additional shielding gas is released from the nozzle of the plasma cutter, to protect the surrounding area and keep the rest of the metalwork safe from the cut. As the piece of metalwork that you are pointing the main arc at is also a conductive material, the gas and plasma push through the opening at such a high speed that they cut through the heated and now molten metal.  The accuracy and design of these tools mean that they are able to cut within 1mm of a marker – despite all of the complex science that is going behind the scenes! 

If you are looking for a little more information on the science behind plasma cutters then this video should do the trick!

Our Pick Best Plasma Cutter – Sealey PP40E Plasma Cutter

Sealey Pp40E Plasma Cutter Inverter 40Amp 230V
  • Features:Inverter power supply fitted with plasma cutter control circuitry
  • Features digital Amp display and 2 LEDs on the front panel indicating overload and mains power
  • Supplied with a 4
  • 6mtr plasma torch, 2mtr earth cable, 2mtr gas hose and regulator
  • Ideal for cutting steel, stainless steel, galvanised steel, aluminium, copper and brass

Last update on 2024-05-26 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

In A Hurry? 

If you have a job in hand but no way of cutting the metal needed to crack on then you need a plasma cutter – and quickly! But what size of plasma cutter do you need? What currents of electricity should you be looking for and what temperatures too? All these questions will be answered right here! 

What Parts Make Up A Plasma Cutter? 

Unfortunately with a complex, clever machine like a plasma cutter, there is alway going to be multiple parts that are needed to help it do its job effectively! There are many manufacturers that will sell all of these parts together to make your purchase easier and more cost efficient, but it is always important to check that you have everything you need! 

  • DC inverter – This part of the machine is there to change the alternating current going into the cutter into a direct current that can be used to create the arc.
  • Cutting head – This is the part that you are going to hold and where the magic is going to happen to form your cut. 
  • Compressor – For most everyday plasma cutters this will be integrated but for larger models you will find yourself having to purchase a separate compressor to pump the correct type of gas into your tool. The compressor is there to supply the air into the torch which will then combine with the arc to provide the plasma needed! An integrated compressor is obviously going to be easier for you to transport around and require less maintenance but an independent model is going to offer more air and therefore be able to work at a quicker rate! You also want to look at the air support you are using. Some will use nitrogen as this is going to be a cheaper option and can produce less oxidation. 
  • Consumables – You are going to need enough arc to be able to get the job done so look out for models that come with additional to save you having to pause in the work you are doing! 

Power and Thickness 

The power that is offered by your plasma cutter is obviously going to determine the thickness of metal that you are able to cut! Plasma cutters are going to come with two main power types….a 220V and a 400V. A 220V plasma is going to be able to cut between 0.2mm and 8mm in thickness, whereas a 400V plasma cutter will be able to cut up to around 40mm and still have the flexibility of going back down to 0.2mm. There are some much smaller plasma cutters that work from a 110V power outlet but these are obviously only really going to be suitable for smaller jobs and thinner pieces of metal. You will even find that some of the professional models can cut up to 70mm thickness but this is in much more expensive models. 

Remember it is also important to consider the amperage that you are actually able to offer your plasma cutter depending on where you are working from. All plasma cutters are going to have a minimum amperage requirement, so you will need to know that you have the power to provide this. For example, a standard plug socket is usually designed to be able to work with only around 13amps. 

NOTE: The more power you are going to get from your plasma cutter and the thicker the metal that it is going to cut the hotter it is going to get! This is important to take into consideration as you are going to need a work environment that can handle it! 

Cutting Speed and Quality

If you are working with strips of metal on a regular basis then you are going to need to think about the cutting speed of the plasma cutter as well. The cutting speed is obviously going to be affected by the piece of metal that you are cutting, so this is an important factor to remember, but you still want to compare how quickly different models are going to be able to cut and get the job done! 

You will often find that the cutting speed impacts on the quality of the cut that you are able to achieve too. But, some of the best plasma cutters will offer different settings that will allow you to adjust this depending on the job that you are completing! They offer three different levels of cut;

  • A rated cut will provide the best quality cut that you are going to be able to achieve. These cuts are achieved by using high speeds on thin sheets of metal. 
  • A quality cut is your middle of the road cut, this type of cut is best used for thicker sheets of material. The plasma cutter will slow down and take a little longer to cut through the metal, but you will still achieve a relatively neat finish! 
  • A sever cut is the cut that you will find when you are working to the maximum thickness capabilities of the machine! These cuts won’t be as neat so may need some work afterwards to neaten up the edging. You will also find that the cut will be at a slower pace as you are working to the maximum capacity of the machine! 

Best Budget – Dirty Pro Tools™ Professional 220v Plasma Cutter

Dirty Pro Tools™ Professional 220v 50 Amp Plasma Cutter Steel Copper Dc Inverter Air Machine Digital
  • 1.8 x greater cutting speed capacity compared with conventional flame cutters
  • digital display, machine is equipped with a large cooling fan for a longer life span
  • suitable for use on stainless steel, copper, iron and aluminium, etc
  • wide working voltage range, strong adaptability to electricity power grid, high ability of interference resistance,
  • automatic voltage compensation, stable cutting current and steady arc

Last update on 2024-05-26 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Duty Cycle 

The duty cycle of your plasma cutter is essential if you are planning on working with your machine for any reasonable amount of time. The duty cycle is the amount of time that your plasma cutter will be able to work for before it needs time to cool down. This is essential if you are wanting to avoid unnecessary damage to your plasma cutter. Many will also automatically shut off when they reach that point in their duty cycle, which could cleave you half way through a cut which is really less than ideal! If you know that you are going to be working for more extended periods of time then it is essential that you opt for a plasma cutter with a much longer duty cycle as well! 

Cutting Nozzle

Known as the cutting nozzle or the cutting head, this is the part of the plasma cutter that you are going to be using and controlling to create the cut, but it is made up of a number of different aspects that work together to get the job done! The torch is the main part of the cutting nozzle which combines the elements together to create the plasma. 

You also want to check the design of this so that it is a suitable size and isn’t going to be too long or too short to allow you to get the job done! You won’t want a cutting nozzle that is going to be too long as this is going to be really difficult to control and produce an accurate cut, but equally too short and you are going to have to break off from your cut regularly! 

Best of the Rest

CUT50 Digital Display Air Plasma Cutting Cutter Inverter 50Amp 230V CUT 50A Voltage
  • 1.IGBT soft-switch technology, more stable performance. High duty cycle result in less power consumption. More economical and effcient than the traditional cutting machine due to the high speed, high temperature and high energy plasma draught
  • 2.IGBT inverter soft switch, DC output Digital LCD Display, Easy Read Front Panel Air-Pressure Guage, save energy and no noise, High cutting speed, Cutting smoothly and no polish demands
  • 3.Adjustable cutting current to satisfy the cutting demands based on different kinds of material and thickness of working plate
  • 4.Built-in over-heat protection, over-voltage protection, under voltage protection and over heat protection and lack of compressed air pressure protection
  • 5.Suitable for cutting carbon steel, stainless steel and alloy steel, copper, and aluminum etc. Widely used

Last update on 2024-05-26 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Last update on 2024-05-26 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

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The Best Plasma Cutters Have…

Once you have a better grip on the main features that you need to consider when looking for a plasma cutter, there are always going to be additional features that are worth looking out for so that you are getting the best value for money and a tool that is going to allow you to achieve a professional finish every time. 

  • Cutting guide – We like plasma cutters that come with a cutting guide, this will make it so much easier to judge the line that you should be cutting to make sure that it is straight (and more importantly in the right place!)
  • Double cutters – Double plasma cutters are perfect for anyone that is trying to create that truly perfect cut! They will use additional gas to cool to cut to form a neater line! 
  • Water-cooled plasma cutters – These plasma cutters use water to cool down the metal instead of the second gas found in double cutters to reduce the heat of the metalwork. 
  • Start – There are two different starting options that you will be able to choose from, a contact start of a high frequency start. A contact start is going to be your better option if you are new to working with plasma cutters as they release a visible pilot arc which allows you to position the torch and therefore complete the cut much more accurately. Your other option is a high frequency start, which has the benefit of having a much quicker start up, but if you are working anywhere near any other electrical appliances such as a television, telephone or computer then you could find interference occurring with the appliances. 
  • Built in fans or wind tunnel technology – As you need air flow to be able to work your plasma cutter, the environment that you are working in is incredibly important. If you have a relatively small workshop or maybe are working in a room that has a lot of dust or debris, then we would definitely recommend investing in a model with build in fans that will be able to cool the air and channel it so that dust and debris cannot get into the machine and cause damage. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What metals will a plasma cutter work with? 

A plasma cutter works with metals that are conductive – without this it isn’t going to be able to complete the cut. This means that it will work with most types of steel, stainless steel, aluminium, copper, brass and titanium. However, it is a little more complicated than that as it will also be determined by the heat that the metal is able to withstand so you may have to check whether the metal will be able to cope! 

Do you need gas to use a plasma cutter? 

Yes! A plasma cutter needs gas to be able to work – without this you will not be able to create the plasma to get the job done! The most commonly used gases are oxygen, nitrogen and argon. Each have their benefits depending on the metals that you are planning on cutting.

What air pressure does a plasma cutter need?

This can vary slightly depending on the model and the metal that you are cutting but generally you are going to need is between 4 to 8 SCFM with 90-120 PSI. This can be accommodated by most air compressors so shouldn’t cause you too much of a problem.

  • Performance
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About Thomas Paxton 368 Articles
Hey there, I'm Thomas Paxton, your Tool Guru with a Twist! I've been knee-deep in the world of tools since I was a little tinkerer in my dad's shed. Now, I'm running my own website where I share my passion for tools and gardening products through buyers guides and insightful tips. I've got the knowledge and experience to break down complex concepts into simple, easy-to-understand language. I purchased Tools Review from Mike Jones at the start of 2023, he has done a sterling job of building the site and I hope I can continue in his success! When I'm not writing guides, you'll find me in my garden or garage, putting my skills to work and pushing the boundaries of creativity. So, whether you're a pro or just starting out, join me on this adventure, and let's conquer DIY projects together!

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