Guide to buying an effective plasma cutter
A plasma cutter provides you with an optimal combination of speed, efficiency, fuel frugality and safety for achieving excellent cutting.
Seen since 1960’s, they offer the finest, least erroneous and fastest metal cuts. Even though costs and risks have reduced, choosing the best plasma cutter is needed to avoid any unnecessary threats to your health.
Here, we discuss how to choose one and also list the best products available in the market for your convenience.
What is a Plasma Cutter?
It is basically a type of metal cutter that uses plasma to melt the metal. It has a nozzle through which air is passed, an electrode and a handle for guiding the unit.
When electricity is supplied, an electric arc is formed. Since the electrode wraps around the nozzle, the air gushing out is exposed to it’s high temperature. The heat transforms air or gas into plasma. When this plasma comes in contact with the metal, the area meant to be cut weakens.
Some metals are difficult to cut and hence, require an assist gas to act as catalyst so that the main gas transforms into plasma.
Categories of plasma cutters
Manual Cutters – They require the user to guide the cutter by hand. They are light weight, affordable and can be easily transported. No specialized training, multiple personnel or installation of special circuit is required for its usage. However, they cannot be operated for long periods. The smoothness of the cut depends on the steadiness of a user’s hand.
Automatic Cutters – They have pre-set cutting tables and a pre-programmed circuit system that drives the motor. They are used for industrial operations. They are fast and uniform cuts are obtained. They can handle thick metals. However, they are often costly, and require special training and large space.
How to find the most appropriate plasma cutter?
The following factors can help you determine the type of plasma cutter you should purchase
- Duty Cycle – The number of hours a cutter is used at a stretch is the duty cycle.
- Inverter – An inverter provides for smaller housing, improves the overall portability and makes it more conducive to faster and precise cuts.
- Cutting Speed – By keeping this in the middling range, good quality cuts can be attained.
- Input Power – Three phase input current is more desirable.
- Air/Fuel Supply – Mobile units use bottled air/bottled nitrogen. Assist gases should be avoided as they reduce mobility.
- Contact VS HF Start – If it is used near to TV’s, radio’s etc. contact start unit should be used else HF start unit.
- Dirty Areas – If used in dirty areas, they should come with Fan on Demand and Wind Tunnel Technology to keep the dirt out.
- Cooling System – It should have a cooling system to maintain a steady temperature at peak performance.
Some popular plasma cutters are as listed below.
- LT5000D Lotos 50A Air Inverter
- Hobart 500548 Airforce 500i
- Lotos LTP5000D Pilot Arc
- Ramsond CUT 50DY
- Hobart Airforce 500534 250ci