You're new to plasma cutting, working only on light tasks to see how it goes. During the maintenance period, you notice that the consumables wear out easily. In addition, your cuts are not as clean as you'd want them to be.
You wonder where it went wrong: is it the machine's quality or my plasma cutting skills? Any of that is possible, but have you thought about air quality? Yes, the air we breathe is a crucial factor in plasma cutting.
Air hardly comes untainted. It involves moisture and particulates that can negatively affect the quality of your machine and your cuts. Unfortunately, air quality is completely out of your control.
“What can a welder do then?” you ask. There's a tool that can solve this inevitable problem. You can't control the air, but you can filter particles out using an air dryer for your plasma cutter.
The Role of Air Dryers in Plasma Cutting
If you're not familiar with air dryers yet, you will naturally question their importance. Hence, here's an overview of how they work and why it's better to have one.
How It Works
Air dryers filter the air from the air compressor to the plasma cutter, catching any contaminants (solid or liquid) and moisture to prevent contact with the torch.
Why You Need It
Air dryers ensure that the air from the compressor is clean, which helps produce better cut quality. Moreover, they prolong the lifespan of the plasma torch consumables.
The Top 3 Air Dryers for Plasma Cutting
Do you want to make clean and high-quality cuts? Check out the three models below and select the best air dryer for your plasma cutter based on your needs:
Motor Guard M-30 Plasma Cutter Filter
The M-30 is the go-to for most plasma cutters. It doesn't break the bank, is easy to install, and is low-maintenance. Constructed with a single filter cartridge, it traps moisture and contaminants so they don't enter the air supply line.
- Weight: 3.2 lb
- Dimensions: 8.25 × 5.5 × 5.5 in
- Filtration rate: .01 micron
- Max. Supply Pressure: 125 psi
- Maintenance: replaceable cartridge after extended use
If you're looking for a well-performing air filter on a budget, the M-30 compressed air dryer for plasma cutter is an excellent choice. The 125 psi maximum pressure is good enough to eliminate unwanted moisture, oil, or particulates seamlessly. Moreover, it makes a better air dryer replacement for a Hypertherm plasma cutter.
You will have to clean the Motor Guard M-30 air dryer more thoroughly and frequently than usual. If not, it can cause some moisture problems.
56-081 Plews & Edelmann Desiccant Dryer
Here's a candidate for the best desiccant air dryer for plasma cutter. It comes with two extra filters: a 70-micron polypropylene for the inlet and a 40-micron sintered bronze filter for the outlet.
- Weight: 6.18 lb
- Dimensions: 9.29 × 9.17 × 5.83 in
- Main Body Material: aluminum
- Airflow Rate: 10 CFM at 90 psi
- Max. Pressure: 300 psi
- Maintenance: replace/regenerate when the desiccant bead changes from dark blue to pink color
The Plews 56-081 desiccant dryer has an exceptional build and efficiency in eliminating water from the air passing through it. Thanks to the two filters, it reduces drying effort and guarantees high-quality results. Moreover, it comes with a total airflow of 10 CFM at 90 psi for a competitive advantage.
With outstanding qualities come higher costs. Unfortunately, this dryer is on the expensive side, so you must prepare to spend over $100 on this item.
DeVilbiss 130525 QC3 (Air Filter and Dryer)
The DeVilbiss air dryer has three filtering stages to eliminate water and oil. It comes with a pressure gauge, a shut-off valve, and a regulator. Additionally, it has a huge filter media and a draining system composed of a removable bowl to collect contaminants.
- Weight: 1.4 lb
- Dimensions: 4.7 × 8.5 × 13
- Filtration Rate: 0.1 micron
- Max. Pressure: 150 psi
- Maintenance: rechargeable filters for draining
The DeVilbiss dryer is a durable tool for plasma cutting hobbyists, DIYers, and those who work in small shops. It's easy to install and reliable, indicating when the filter needs to be changed. One of its best features is the draining system, easily removable for the disposal of particulates.
Moreover, the desiccant cartridge of this air filter is super durable. It's a great tool if you want to prolong the life of your machine.
The DeVilbiss air dryer might be unable to withstand too many and heavy-duty tasks.
Bonus Question: Is a Homemade Air Dryer for a Plasma Cutter Advisable?
There's no flawless air dryer in the market, so it's natural for some to customize their tools. For example, some test different air dryers on one plasma cutter, while others use pipes at home to build their own.
If you have adequate knowledge and expertise to build one, that would be great. Sometimes, a few changes can make the parts work even better. But, at the same time, know that experimenting on your equipment always comes with a risk.
We hope this article has helped you redefine your choices on finding a good inline air dryer for your plasma cutter. The key is to understand the purpose of air dryers and find a product that works best for your needs. Best of luck with your crystal clear quality cuts!