So, you’ve invested in an angle grinder and an oxy-fuel. You’re happy with them. They’re doing the job, and you’re reaping the benefits. As you’re doing cutting projects here and there, you realize your overhead costs are adding up. There must be a better way to do things—a more efficient and profitable way.
We’re introducing to you the Powermax 45 Plasma Cutter. A machine that cuts not only metals but costs as well. It can cut metals faster and better than your angle grinder and your oxy-fuel, and is truly a professional fabricator’s must-have.
Plasma Cutter vs. Angle Grinder
If you already have an angle grinder, you’ve probably asked yourself whether it’s worth it to buy a plasma cutter. Both can do the cutting you need. While that is true, there are certain advantages that the plasma cutter has over the angle grinder.
The plasma cutter has reduced noise
The angle grinder uses an abrasive disc to cut through metal sheets, and the abrasive disc is commonly made of another metal such as zirconium or aluminum. The friction caused by the grinder and the workpiece metal creates a loud noise which can be quite a nuisance and may also pose a risk to your eardrums.
On the other hand, the plasma that comes out of your torch produces tremendous heat that penetrates through the metal instantaneously and reduces the noise.
The plasma cutter is faster
Given the plasma cutter’s ability to conduct concentrated energy, this cutter pierces the metal workpiece faster and allows it to slice the metal workpiece at the rate of twenty inches per minute (ipm). The angle grinder, on the other hand, requires several rotations per minute to get through a metal sheet before it can perform the slicing function. This makes the plasma cutter faster and more efficient.
The plasma cutter can do intricate cuts
Because the angle grinder’s abrasive disc is a flat solid, it is limited to cutting straight lines. The angle may vary, but the cut will always be straight.
Unlike the angle grinder, the plasma torch is very flexible. You can move the torch around the surface of the metal, and it will cut through regardless. This makes the plasma cutter capable of doing intricate cuts or holes on the metal surface. You can use it to draw curvatures or and shapes if your project involves cutting simple metal rods and sheets into a complex component.
Plasma Cutter vs. Oxy Torch
Oxy-acetylene has a broad range of uses. It can be used to fusion weld, solder two different metals, heat them, and most importantly, cut metals that are several inches thick. This is something a plasma cutter can’t do.
However, there are several things which a plasma cutter has an advantage in, especially when it comes to the metal cutting ability.
Plasma cutters can cut through any electricity-conducting metal
One of the advantages of the plasma cutter is that it can cut through any metal as long as it is conductive. Just clamp a work lead to your base metal and the plasma cutter will do its work.
Oxy torches can only cut through certain ferrous metals and require a higher degree of heat transfer on the base metal before it can cut.
Plasma cutting doesn’t have any slag leftover
The oxy-fuel torch may generate a slag (also called dross) during the cutting process. This will require additional work as you will have to chip off the slag to get the finished cutting result.
The plasma cutter has a cleaner heat distortion
If you’re looking for that nice and clean cut, the plasma cutter delivers it. The heat that the plasma cutter produces is concentrated only to where the plasma torch is directed, resulting in a clean edge. The oxy-fuel torch would have a hard time matching this given the torch spits out fire; it tends to spread the heat on the surrounding areas where the cut is being made and distorts it significantly, making the edge rugged with molten metals on the fringes.
The gas requirement is inert and less risky
The oxy-acetylene is a flammable gas. The health and occupational risks of acetylene are numerous, so you should take proper handling and care with this combustible gas.
The plasma cutter only uses inert gas to shield the base metal and the cutting plasma from elements. This inert gas shield is less risky because it isn’t combustible. In addition, the plasma cutter can run all day as long as it is plugged into a power outlet because it gets its heat source from electricity. The oxy-fuel torch relies on the oxy-acetylene gas cylinder for the heat it produces.
Unpacked: The Hypertherm Powermax 45 Plasma Cutter
The Hypertherm Powermax 45 is an easy-to-use, multi-function plasma cutter that has a minimum amperage setup of 10 and a maximum of 45, hence its name. It uses compressed air and electricity to make the plasma and can cut through metals with ease and speed.
Most Hypertherm Powermax 45 plasma cutters for sale come with the following items along with the machine unit:
- Hypertherm Powermax 45 plasma cutter manual
- A 20-foot plasma cutter torch
- Drag cutting parts and consumables
- Extended cutting parts and consumables
- Ground cable
- Air filtration kit
- The drag shield allows you to put down the torch on the workpiece metal instead of hovering over it for more accurate cutting power.
- The drag-cutting feature allows you to drag the torch down the metal easily.
- The 45 XP version automatically calibrates the air pressure according to the amperage.
- Portable and lightweight. The Powermax 45 weighs only 14 kilograms (31 pounds).
- Has both a handheld and automated torch connection option.
The Many Functions of the Powermax 45 Plasma Cutter
The Powermax Plasma Cutter has a wide range of use in your workspace.
Cutting is the most common use of the Powermax Plasma Cutter, as the name suggests. Here are the different cutting methods you can do with the Powermax.
The main function you will often find yourself using the Powermax for is what is called drag cutting; a simple motion of dragging the plasma torch across the metal you’re working on. This is for tasks like cutting a metal sheet in half.
This is also known as fine cutting and typically involves a pattern that you’ll follow. This cutting method is intricate because the cut is not linear. There are different cut lengths and curvatures involved. Usually this cutting method is for thinner metal sheets, like in stencilling.
This cutting method allows you to extend the plasma beyond the main surface to cut through the inner surface. This can be accomplished with the use of an extended reach consumable that you attach to the plasma torch. Extended method cutting is commonly used for cutting out-of-reach metal angles and surfaces.
This cutting method is possible with the Powermax plasma cutter as it allows a forty-five-degree angle tilt or to “flush cut” metals that are vertically attached to another base metal. One good example is removing welded supports from a metal frame.
This is the act of removing metal from your workpiece by applying heat to the chunk of metal that you want to remove until it becomes soft enough that the gas from the plasma torch blows it off the workpiece metal.
You can achieve a clean surface with the use of the Powermax Plasma Cutter. It is achieved easier and with much less practice than other kinds of gouging methods, such as using a carbon arc.
When you’re fabricating metals or projects involving several pieces of metal, marking them will always be necessary. There are certain pieces of metal you’re working with that should be marked permanently. Soapstones won’t last, and a manual etching using a punch would be time-consuming, especially if the metal requires a more detailed marking.
The Powermax allows you to put both permanent and temporary marks on your metals by placing it on the gouging mode. You can control the depth of the plasma’s cut to superficially etch the surface of the metal you’re marking on.
The Hypertherm Powermax 45 Plasma Cutter Price
This extraordinary plasma cutting machine will cost around $1,000 to a little over $2,000 per unit plus additional items. Currently, this plasma cutting machine has been upgraded to the Powermax 45 XP with automated settings for cutting, gouging, and marking. You can get these new features at the same price range as the old Powermax.
Pros and Cons of the Powermax 45
- Makes precise and clean cuts on metals as thick as 16 millimeters
- Faster cutting and piercing speed than an angle grinder or an oxy-torch
- Can work on different metal shapes
- Can cut any metal as long as it is electrically conductive
- Can also be used underwater to prevent fumes and sparks
- The limited range makes it hard to cut thicker metals
- Generates fumes
- Expensive—a complete set can set you back a thousand dollars
Recommended for Pro Fabricators
The Powermax 45 is a plasma cutting machine that’s made for the professional fabricator. If you’re someone who does heavy cutting work when fabricating metals and you want to get professional-level cutting, then the Powermax 45 is for you. The reason why we recommend this for professionals is that it is pricey for a hobbyist fabricator. Professionals will get the most out of the Powermax 45; if you’re a contractor, this is an excellent investment that saves you a lot of money on labor cost per hour, and it will more than pay for itself.