Do you enjoy doing things with your own two hands? Surely, you didn’t become a DIYer overnight. Your journey might have started by fixing a broken light switch. As soon as you saw the light turn on, you were suddenly filled with a rewarding sense of accomplishment. Indeed, every hero has a humble beginning.
After fixing your light switch, you sniffed your home for anything that you could work on. From a leaking pipe to a squeaky door hinge, you spent your weekends fulfilling your role as the handyman of the household. However, your thirst for DIY was unquenchable and you wanted more.
Instead of merely fixing broken things around the house, you have finally decided to create new furniture and whatnot with your own two hands. You want to work with various kinds of metal and create passion projects over the weekend. But do you have the appropriate tools for the job?
If you want to work with unbelievably strong materials like metal, you need a specialized cutter that can cut through them like butter. As such, a plasma cutter can be your best friend. But, unfortunately, not all plasma cutters are designed and made equally.
Let us help you familiarize yourself with the JEGS Plasma Cutter and other quality plasma cutters on the market!
What Is a Plasma Cutter?
For most people, the word “plasma” invokes images of lightsabers and laser guns. However, plasma cutters are not a work of science fiction. They’re a very real thing! In fact, they’re widely used in the manufacturing industry to work on different types of metals.
But how do they work? To understand how they work, we have to dust off our physics textbooks and review the four states of matter. Most of us are familiar with solid, liquid, and gas but are not even aware of the fourth one—plasma.
Plasma cutters work by using an electric arc to increase the temperature of a gas (such as nitrogen), thereby transforming the gas into the fourth state of matter, plasma. As a result, plasma can slice through most metals in an unbelievably short amount of time.
How Do I Use a Plasma Cutter?
Like any other equipment, you have to learn how to use the plasma cutter properly to get the most out of it. Aside from wasting your raw materials with bad cuts, equipping yourself with the proper know-how can save you from accidents. Remember, a plasma cutter is a very powerful tool that can easily slice your fingers off.
Using a plasma cutter is fairly easy and simple. Follow the instructions below:
- Find a safe and open space to work in.
- Plug the plasma cutter into a power source.
- Securely connect the compressed air to the cutter.
- Turn the compressed air on.
- Put the metal piece on your workbench.
- Stick the ground clamp to the metal piece.
- Switch on the plasma cutter.
- Configure the plasma cutter to your desired settings.
- Pull the trigger on the cutter and start cutting.
- Turn off the cutter and remove the ground clamp.
Where Can I Buy a Plasma Cutter?
If you key in the words “CNC plasma cutter” on a search query, you will end up with thousands, if not hundreds, of options to choose from. However, you have to be wary of scam websites and fake listings. Plasma cutters are expensive pieces of equipment, making them a target for bad elements such as scammers.
The good news is that there are a lot of reputable companies that have put up their respective online stores. So you no longer have to worry about getting scammed in third-party marketplaces. However, nothing beats driving to the hardware store and purchasing your plasma cutter right there and then.
Take JEGS for instance. The company has both an online store and physical retail store locations in the United States. They cater to DIYers who prefer their plasma cutters delivered to their doorsteps and to those who want to drive it home from the store.
What Should I Look For When Buying a Plasma Cutter?
If you’re looking to acquire a plasma cutter, there are countless options sold in the market. As a discerning consumer, you should first check the specifications (such as the voltage, cut rating, duty cycle, and operating cost) before splurging on a plasma cutter. So be sure to consider the following specifications as you browse through product listings on the internet:
- Shape and length of the cutting torch: When working with a plasma cutter, your hands will be gripping the torch most of the time. As such, the torch should be long enough to reach hard places. In addition, you should also take care of your own comfort and how it feels in your hand.
- Consumption rate: Do you know that cheaper printers are actually more expensive when you take into account how costly their ink cartridges are? This happens with plasma cutters too! Thus, more expensive plasma cutters can be cheaper in the long run due to how efficient they use consumables.
- Portability: If work demands that you move around a lot with your cutting torch in hand, you should consider how much the plasma cutter weighs. Other manufacturers specifically design their units to be easily moved and carried.
- Duty cycle: Plasma cutters run really hot. As such, it needs some time to cool down to avoid overheating. How long you can continuously use a plasma cutter is called a duty cycle. There could be jobs that require you to be able to use the cutter for longer in one instance.
- Voltage: As they are very powerful tools, plasma cutters demand a lot of juice. Great care should be taken in making sure that your cutter works with the power outlets you might have at home or at work. A 110-volt cutter is best recommended for beginners and hobbyists, while a 220-volt can cut thicker metal pieces—more appropriate for professionals.
- Cut rating: Different plasma cutters are built for different jobs. For example, some plasma cutters can slice through thick metal sheets without any fuss, while others are only rated for thinner ones. Check the cut rating to see if it’s appropriate for you.
- Reliability: While reaching incredibly high temperatures, plasma cutters are also often used for long periods of time. The high temperatures combined with long usage can drastically affect the durability of your cutter. See long-term reviews of the product before taking it home.
- Air compressor: As explained above, a plasma cutter heats up compressed air to transform it into plasma. There are different configurations that allow air compressors to feed air through the unit. Some can do it more efficiently than others.
JEGS Plasma Cutter (20–40 Amp)
Specs at a Glance
- Affordable, especially for hobbyists; priced at $304.99
- Available in both 40-amp and 60-amp versions
- Compatible with both 110V and 220V power outlets
- Cuts most metals, including mild steel, iron, stainless steel, and aluminum
- Slices through materials with ⅜ inches thickness (40 amp variant) and ⅞ inches thickness (60 amp variant)
- Weighs light enough to carry around at 26.5 lbs.
- Comes with a power cable, cutting torch, and a grounding clamp
- Extends compatibility to 220V outlets using a plug adapter
- Comes with a handheld mask for eye protection
- Prevents damage and poor performance due to moisture with a built-in moisture separator
- FIts comfortably on your workbench with a 21” x 11” x 13” dimension
Fit For Use In Any Situation
The JEGS Plasma Cutter is designed to withstand the demands of both indoor and outdoor use. Whether you’re a weekend hobbyist or a seasoned professional, you would appreciate the level of versatility that this plasma cutter can offer. That’s why the brand’s plasma cutter is widely regarded as one of the go-to plasma cutters for beginners in the metalworking field.
Depending on the variant you choose to take home with you, it can cut through different kinds of metals of varying thickness. For example, the 40-amp variant can cut ⅜ inch thick metals, while the 60-amp variant can easily slice metal up to ⅞ inches thick. As a result, the JEGS Plasma Cutter can help you work on a wide variety of metal materials.
Pick It Up And Go
Beginners and hobbyists would appreciate how intuitive the JEGS Plasma Cutter is. You don’t have to read through thousands of pages of the instructions manual to understand how it works. If you’re already familiar with the fundamentals of plasma cutting, you can simply pick it up and work on your metal materials.
You can also literally “pick it up” with its built-in handle on the top of the unit. Only weighing 26.5 lbs., the JEGS Plasma Cutter can easily be repositioned around your workshop. This comes in handy when you need to make slight adjustments to your workspace to improve your workflow. For example, the power outlet could be out of reach, making it necessary to relocate your unit.
A few customers reported that their units had leaks, which could have stemmed from a manufacturing defect. Besides being a safety issue, leaks inside the machine result in poorer performance. So better make sure that your unit is in tip-top shape before giving it a go.
Fortunately, JEGS provides an impressive customer service experience. If you reach out to them and tell them that there’s an issue with your unit, they will send out a new unit together with a shipping box that you can use to send back your defective one.
Hypertherm Powermax30 XP
Specs at a Glance
- Sold anywhere from $1,520.00 to $1,739.75
- Features a “two-in-one” design for cutting thicker metals
- Utilizes patented consumables for precise cuts on thin materials
- Compatible with both 120V and 240V power outlets
- Rated at 30 amps, perfect for all sorts of metals, such as gouge metal
- Place it anywhere in your workspace with its 14” x 6.6” x 12” dimensions
- Can be easily picked up as it only weighs 21.4 lbs.
- Allows you to move freely with its 3-meter long cable
- Comes with a 1-year warranty for the torch, and 3 years for the power supply
- Cuts through ⅜” thick metals at a pace of 20 inches per minute
Dual Voltage Flexibility
Your home might be outfitted with 110V power outlets, which is the standard for homes in the United States. However, your workplace might have 220V, which can provide more power for your equipment. If you wish to use the same plasma cutter in either situation, you might face some difficulties with compatibility.
Fortunately, the Hypertherm Powermax30 XP features a dual-voltage configuration, allowing you to use it with either a 110V or 220V power outlet. With this plasma cutter, you wouldn’t have any problem finding a compatible electric socket to be able to use it.
Comes With A Duramax LT Torch
Unlike other plasma cutters, the Hypertherm Powermax30 XP comes with a full-featured hand torch. The Duramax LT hand torch features a patented design from Hypertherm, making it stand out among the competition. This premium hand torch works with patented consumables from Hypertherm such as the electrode, swirl ring, retaining cap, nozzle, and shield.
The patented consumables that come with the Duramax LT hand torch help you achieve superior cut quality. The hand torch is also more efficient than its competitors by 70%, lowering the cost of each cut. You can rely on the Duramax LT for long-term durability as it is certified to last long even with intense use.
If you’re a hobbyist or a novice, the Hypertherm Powermax30 XP might not be the right plasma cutter for you. There are other plasma cutters in the market that can do the same things that the Powermax30 can without carrying a thousand-dollar price tag. As a newcomer to the metalworking field, you should use the money for other equipment and consumables instead.
Hobart Airforce 40i
Specs at a Glance
- Carries a hefty price tag of $1,779.99
- Weighs only 21 lbs., making it lighter than its previous iteration
- Can be stored conveniently with its small form-factor
- Features MVP technology that allows it to be used in either 120V and 240V sockets
- Comes with a hand torch with dependable safety features
- Features a cooling system that only triggers when needed
- Comes with Hobart’s 5/3/1 warranty that covers different components
- Has helpful LED indicator lights that help troubleshoot issues
- Prolongs the life of consumables by cooling them down
- Optimizes its own performance with an automatic consumable detector
Every metalworker knows that the cost of a plasma cutter doesn’t stop with the unit itself. The plasma cutter comes with consumable parts that degrade over time and have to be regularly replaced. As a result, the cost quickly piles up after frequent use of the plasma cutter.
The Hobart Airforce 40i features technologies that can help you save consumables which, in turn, also saves you money. This plasma cutter features a Fan-On-Demand cooling system that cools down the torch and the consumables, prolonging their lifespan. In addition, the Pilot Arc Controller also allows you to work on perforated materials without lighting up the torch again and again.
Straightforward Warranty Policy
The Hobart Airforce 40i comes with a 5/3/1 Warranty Policy. The company issues a five-year coverage for the transformers, stabilizers, and main rectifiers, three years for generators, PC boards, and drive systems, and one year for torches. Under this warranty policy, almost every part of your unit is covered.
If you ever have a problem with your unit, you can rest easy knowing that Hobart has your back—for a limited time, that is. Customers report a painless experience when seeking after-sales support from the company. They’re fast and easy to coordinate with.
While the Hobart Airforce 40i does have an impressive array of features, it comes with a hefty price tag. As such, it is hard to recommend this plasma cutter for newbies and hobbyists. Instead, you can spend your hard-earned cash on consumables and other metalworking equipment.
However, if you do metalworking as a source of livelihood, you can greatly benefit from the features that this plasma cutter can offer. The Hobart Airforce 40i can pay for itself in a short amount of time. So if you’re a professional who works on metal every day, you can rely on this plasma cutter to live up to your expectations.
Specs at a Glance
- Directly sold by the manufacturer for only $399.00
- Saves consumables with its non-touch pilot arc technology
- Costs less than the leading brands in the market
- Delivers reliable performance despite the relatively low price
- Comes with a 30-day money back guarantee and 3 years limited warranty
- Has a digital inverter air plasma cutter rated at 50 amp
- Can adapt to both 110V and 220V power outlets with its automatic dual-voltage system
- Lowers the overall temperature of the system with its German cooling system
- Effortlessly cuts through different kinds of metal including stainless steel, alloy steel, copper and aluminum
Fast and No-Fuss Setup
When you first buy a plasma cutter, you might want to go straight into the action. Untangling long cables and reading the instruction manual can get in the way of you working on your project as soon as possible. In addition, poor design can reduce the speed and efficiency of your workflow as well.
Luckily for you, the Lotos LTP5000D can be set up in a single minute! Connecting the unit to your air compressor is made quick and easy by the pre-installed NP ¼” D plug. If you want to get working on your project right away, you can be sure that this plasma cutter starts ASAP with zero fuss.
Friendly Price For Hobbyists
Those who are seeking to get into metalworking as a hobby can get the most out of the Lotos LTP5000D. Priced at only $399.00, this plasma cutter can be your best friend in the garage while you work on your weekend projects. As such, hobbyists would definitely agree that this plasma cutter is a great bargain for the price.
It’s hard to complain about the Lotos LTP5000D considering its price point. However, there are small improvements that the company could make in its next iteration. A new and improved version could include an air-test button, a longer ground clamp, and a redesigned stand-off. All these small things combined can greatly improve your workflow.
Metalworking can be a rewarding and enjoyable hobby. If you have a garage and a weekend to spare, you can easily get around to building your own home-based workshop. Among the essential equipment that you have to acquire for your workshop is a plasma cutter.
The JEGS Plasma Cutter or other competing plasma cutters on the market can be your next best friend in the workshop. So what are you waiting for? Grab yourself a plasma cutter today!