Hobart Plasma Cutter 12ci Review

welder setting up plasma cutter

Welding Buddy Experts

June 11, 2021
hobart plasma cutter 12ci

If you don't have the time to fidget with airflow settings, the Hobart plasma cutter 12ci might be on your wishlist. The Hobart 12ci is incredibly compact yet lightweight, thanks partly to its fantastic inverter technology. It also comes with plenty of handy features to make your metal fabrication experience fun and safe, as well as keep your machine in top form day in and day out. For example, the machine's diagnostic LED lights give users a heads up whether the machine is ready to cut or not. The thermal overload protection feature also prevents user error by turning off the machine automatically in the event of an overheating. 

Despite its limited size and weight, the Hobart Airforce 12ci with built-in air compressor comes with a 5-year warranty. That's something to think about when the occasional manufacturing defect arises.

Who should get the Hobart airforce 12ci plasma cutter?

For beginners or DIY enthusiasts who love metal cutting designs, the Hobart 12ic plasma cutter is a decent option. It is also appropriate for those pursuing a career as a mechanic. You'll have to keep in mind that the convenience of a built-in air compressor cuts into the power capacity of the machine, so you'll have to preclude heavy metal work from your plan if you want to use the 12ci continuously. Aside from that, it has user-friendly features to make it suitable for both novice and seasoned metal fabricators. For example, the air pressure is automatically set, so you don't have to worry about fiddling with it mid-operation. The unit is also equipped with diagnostic lights that will notify you whether there are any issues, such as torch readiness, overheating, or overall status.


  • A lightweight plasma cutter with an inverter configuration results in reduced size and weight.
  • A low-cost system with an integrated air compressor (piston-driven) encourages greater mobility in the workplace.
  • A minimal heat-affected zone ensures that the metal being cut warps as little as possible.
  • Pilot arc to ensure stable arc begins every time and reduce torch tip burnout.
  • Gas pressure handling does not necessitate any manual action.
  • Thermal overload safety for maximum duty cycle efficiency.
  • Fan-On-Demand technology allows the fan to run only as needed.
  • A post-flow cooling circuit is used to extend the life of the torch and its consumables.
  • Several LED lights indicate the torch's readiness, temperature, and power delivery.


  • No dual voltage capabilities (120v only).
  • XT12R torch can't compare to the more advanced XT40R.
  • It doesn't come with consumables.
  • Incompatible with CNC operations.

Hobart plasma cutter 12ci review:

Main Features and Benefits


The Airforce 12ci is highly flexible in the type of materials it can cut, mainly due to the pilot arc design, which allows you to cut metals without touching the torch tip to the surface. This innovation allows the 12ci to cut through even rusted, painted, or rough surfaces without damaging the tip. The 12CI can also cut through brass, copper, aluminum, galvanized, steel, or stainless steel. This feature is perfect, especially for hobbyists or artists who use a broad selection of materials for their art projects.

Considerable cutting power

When you consider how lightweight the unit is at 31 lbs, you'd be amazed at the amount of power it can muster. This compact plasma cutter has no problem cutting 1/8 -inch to 1/4 inch mild steel. Though you expect to be cutting even thicker, you'll have to look farther up the ladder for a higher amperage output. 

Safe and durable

A plasma cutter is more than just its cutting capacity. While plasma cutting may be enjoyable, both as a leisure or professional activity, it comes with plenty of hazards that could endanger you and those around you. Hobart believes in prevention before cure, which is apparent in its safety designs that place the burden on the technology rather than the operator, minimizing fatigue and preventing possible errors. Here are a few features that distinguish the 27i:

The Hobart 12ci is equipped with handy diagnostic LED light warnings that assist you in checking the status, torch readiness, and temperature and troubleshoot any power problems. As a result, the light helps to minimize needless downtime and allows you to determine the machine's condition at a glance quickly. You don't have to make guesses with your cutter.

Post-flow air cooling system

The 12ci is equipped with a handy cooling system crucial for maintaining optimal temperatures during operations. The post-flow is activated after releasing the trigger and helps cool down the torch and other parts efficiently, extending the lifespan of your Hobart 12ci plasma cutter consumables.

  • Fan-on-demand technology

The fan-on-demand only activates when necessary, minimizing the number of contaminants that could enter the system and ruin the machine's internal components.

  • Thermal Overload Protection

The Airforce 12ci's duty cycle average of 35% at 104°F will rise as the ambient temperature falls, while thermal overload safety lets the cutter cope with harsh work conditions. If the cutter overheats, the mechanism will automatically shut down to protect the internal components.


Plasma cutting doesn't have to be intimidating. A plasma cutter worth its salt should be easy to set up and operate right off the bat. Besides its performance and safety features, here are a few design factors that make the 12ci user-friendly, especially for novice cutters:

  • Built-in air compressor

A piston-driven air compressor is integrated into the instrument. The machine is incredibly light due to the inverter. There is no reason to buy a second air compressor. This is incredibly advantageous for those who cut metal in non-conventional spaces. An external compressor may be cheap and accessible, but it's not the easiest or the lightest to use in tight spaces.

  • Non-touch pilot arc start

The tool generates an internal mini-arc inside the nozzle until beginning the actual arc. The tip would not need to contact the metal surface because of this pilot arc process. As a result, it prevents the tips from being burnt out. This mechanism also makes it easier for the cutter to begin on rusted, dirty, greasy, or painted surfaces.


The Hobart 12ci has an XT12R Plasma Torch that provides the user with a firm grip. The XT12R torch's finger contours are so easy to handle that it avoids exhaustion and allows you to get the job done.

  • Operates on a 120v, 20 amp circuit

The Hobart 12ci performs admirably when powered by a regular household current. Add it to a 120V (standard household power) and 20 amp circuit in your home, garage, or workshop, and you're ready to go. There is no need for a 240V extension.

Compact and lightweight design

In terms of portability, this unit is straightforward to transport because it weighs 27.5 pounds. It also has a more lightweight style than most related versions. If you operate in many locations, this cutter is the most convenient because it comes with a torch, batteries, and a cable control strap.

Technical Specifications

  • Input voltages: 120v
  • Input current: 20A at 110-220v
  • Output current: 10-50A
  • Air supply: Clean, moisture and oil-free air
  • Duty cycle: @ 40° C (104° F) CSA
  • 35% 
  • Dimensions with handles: 12 x 6 x 15 in.
  • Weight: 27.5 lbs.
  • Rated cut: 1/8 -inch mild steel at ten inches per minute.
  • Severance cut: 1/4-inch mild steel
  • Accessories: Torch, 6 ft. power cord, ground clamp, two torch tips, one electrode


Look no further than the Hobart 500564 airforce 12ci plasma cutter for advantages such as ease of use, convenience, quicker and more precise cutting efficiency, transportability, and versatility.

Without question, this is one of the most delicate cutting instruments on the market for small shops or home DIY enthusiasts looking for a high-quality, lightweight plasma cutter.

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