Help choosing a plasma cutter for my home shop.

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737mechanic
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Help choosing a plasma cutter for my home shop.

Post by 737mechanic » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:34 pm

I am in the market for a plasma cutter for my home shop. I would like to be able to cut up to 1/2". I want a good name brand that consumables are easy to get. I have both 110v and 220v available. I was looking at the Hypertherm Powermax 30 and thought it was a sweet machine. Is there a better choice? What would you guys go with? Any advise will be appreciated

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platypus20
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Re: Help choosing a plasma cutter for my home shop.

Post by platypus20 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:27 pm

I have 3 Hypertherms, a PM30, a PM 45 and a PM1250, IMO they are the Cadillac of the plasma cutter market. The PM 30 is a great machine, the consumables are cheap ($7 a set, for electrode and nozzle) and has very good cut quality.


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calgator
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Re: Help choosing a plasma cutter for my home shop.

Post by calgator » Fri Jul 30, 2010 8:36 pm

I “had” a miller spectrum 3080 until it got stolen and I may say it was great with its ability to work 110 or 220 volt in 20, 30, 40, 50 amps that could cut up to 7/8”. But since then I got an inexpensive Chinese import for $550.00 and the ability to cut 1-1/4” these depths are all with a single pass if you are a hobbyist and will only use the unit occasionally I would recommend saving the money but if you are going to do a lot or thick cuts greater than ½” then go with a big unit like the miller 3080 or the Hypertherms pm1250 they are both great for the heavier use in a more commercial application.

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Scott
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Re: Help choosing a plasma cutter for my home shop.

Post by Scott » Mon Aug 02, 2010 10:26 am

I know Thermal dynamics is coming out with a new unit in the 120/240 class. Small case and 45 amps output. CNC use, I would probably lean towards Hypertherm in the Powermax 45 size. Not because the machine is all that better then a Esab/Miller/Thermal Dynamics, only the torch/consumables are a new design. The new Esab torch is a nice working unit too. Sometimes the older torch designs (Esab, which a lot of the china stuff has on it) works way better for art work type of cutting. Small head and flexible cable, has as much as importance as flat out cutting performance.

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Re: Help choosing a plasma cutter for my home shop.

Post by revrnd » Mon Jun 22, 2020 8:37 pm

calgator wrote:
Fri Jul 30, 2010 8:36 pm
I “had” a miller spectrum 3080 until it got stolen and I may say it was great with its ability to work 110 or 220 volt in 20, 30, 40, 50 amps that could cut up to 7/8”. But since then I got an inexpensive Chinese import for $550.00 and the ability to cut 1-1/4” these depths are all with a single pass if you are a hobbyist and will only use the unit occasionally I would recommend saving the money but if you are going to do a lot or thick cuts greater than ½” then go with a big unit like the miller 3080 or the Hypertherms pm1250 they are both great for the heavier use in a more commercial application.

Charles Field
Care to mention the brand? I'm pondering the purchase of 1 in the future. We have both 110 & 220 in the shop. Pros & cons of the 2?

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BadDog
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Re: Help choosing a plasma cutter for my home shop.

Post by BadDog » Tue Jun 23, 2020 1:23 am

I've had a Hypertherm 380 in use for the better part of 2 decades (don't recall exact year) with no complaints. I've managed to "sever" (very poor cut) 3/8 plate when needed, but it easily handles up to 1/4 with a clean cut, and almost too fast on 16 ga and lighter. Even with settings appropriate, If your nose gets an itch and you scrunch your nose in response, expect to see the impact on a freehand cut along with each heartbeat, sorta like sound recordings on an old wax spool (predecessor of vinyl record). However complex to achieve, with my increasingly shaky hands, I've found it advisable to setup guides for anything where I want a nice smooth minimal (or no) grinding cut.

It has worked exceedingly well for me, with the exception of a few time I could have used heavier, though certainly not enough to support having paid for more capacity way back then (that's ok, I've got 2 O/A cutting rigs too). It's really going to depend on what you want to do, and how much you want to do for how long. Beyond that, I can't say anything other than pay attention to consumables. That was a big part of my choice all those years ago, and even my most recent consumables were very inexpensive and readily available from multiple sources. Not sure about parts, I've never needed any...
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Re: Help choosing a plasma cutter for my home shop.

Post by liveaboard » Tue Jun 23, 2020 4:37 am

Jeez, I'm still cutting with an oxy-torch.

RMinMN
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Re: Help choosing a plasma cutter for my home shop.

Post by RMinMN » Thu Jun 25, 2020 6:06 am

revrnd wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 8:37 pm
calgator wrote:
Fri Jul 30, 2010 8:36 pm
I “had” a miller spectrum 3080 until it got stolen and I may say it was great with its ability to work 110 or 220 volt in 20, 30, 40, 50 amps that could cut up to 7/8”. But since then I got an inexpensive Chinese import for $550.00 and the ability to cut 1-1/4” these depths are all with a single pass if you are a hobbyist and will only use the unit occasionally I would recommend saving the money but if you are going to do a lot or thick cuts greater than ½” then go with a big unit like the miller 3080 or the Hypertherms pm1250 they are both great for the heavier use in a more commercial application.

Charles Field
Care to mention the brand? I'm pondering the purchase of 1 in the future. We have both 110 & 220 in the shop. Pros & cons of the 2?
I bought an import plasma torch, supposed to be 50 amp and can run 110 or 220. Forget the 110. It just doesn't have the cutting capacity. With 220 I have cut 1/2 inch steel but it is slow going and I'm not steady enough with my hand motion to get a clean cut. I had an oxy-acetylene rig before but once I started with plasma I didn't renew my tank lease or refill. One mistake I made was to go with the drag start instead of the pilot arc. I don't do a lot of cutting or else I would buy another torch with pilot arc.

shpxnvz
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Re: Help choosing a plasma cutter for my home shop.

Post by shpxnvz » Fri Jun 26, 2020 11:32 am

I have the Hypertherm Powermax 30AIR with the built-in air compressor. Works great and I'm totally happy with it, but that said I think 1/2" would be a bit of a stretch for mine. Does a good job on 3/8" I just don't think I'd personally push it much beyond that.

The regular PM30 may have a little extra capacity, though, not having the draw of the compressor on the same line.

It also does pretty well on 110 but obviously with a lower capacity.

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Re: Help choosing a plasma cutter for my home shop

Post by Glenn Brooks » Wed Jul 01, 2020 9:00 pm

I bought a hypertherm45 last year from the local welding supply house. They carried two other brands- one was the house brand, but they said the hypertherm was the best of the lot, plus had easy to replace consumables. So I went with it and have been a happy camper ever since. You might need a bigger unit to do 1/2” cuts on a regular basis. Plasma cutters often exceed their stated cutting depths, but you loose the distinct, sharp edges when you gouge out the deeper material.

BTW, took me a couple of projects to figure out you get rid of the left over slag with a few sharp blows from a ball peen hammer, rather grind it off. Whack, whack, whack, your all done!

I figure the machine pays for itself every time I use it!

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Re: Help choosing a plasma cutter for my home shop.

Post by whateg0 » Tue Jul 14, 2020 3:34 pm

late to the game, but I have had good experiences with HT, but you do pay for it. My TD is decent, but in a plasma table application, it seems like torch height is far more temperamental and if wrong causes a bad bevel on the cut. I don't mean the bevel that results from the cone shaped stream, but like the torch is being held at some angle to the work. I haven't run into that with the HT.

Dave

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