Plasma cutters are used for precision cutting of metals. These cutters use electricity to operate, with the voltage needs varying according to the thickness of the metal they are required to cut. They can cut anything from a sheet metal to materials with a thickness of ¼ inches. More…
So you’re thinking of buying a Plasma Cutter? Good choice. But it’s not one size fit all, so here are four essential things to think about before you buy.
Fabricators, contractors, artists and DIY weekend warriors who have experienced the benefits of plasma cutting can never go back. It cuts faster, without the need for a pre-heat cycle. It can cut any metal that conducts electricity. A plasma cutter can be portable around the job site. And it’s relatively simple to use.
The only challenge comes long before you begin cutting – you need to select the right plasma cutter for the job.
First, let’s look at how a plasma cutter works. The plasma cutter uses an inert gas blown out of a nozzle at high speeds and, at the same time, an electrical arc is applied to the gas, turning the gas into plasma. This super-hot torch is hot enough to cut through metal quickly and easily. It’s that simple.
So how do you choose the right plasma cutter for the job?
1. Duty Cycle
The first thing you need to think about is how many hours the plasma cutter will be used for. This is the duty cycle, and you’ll find it listed in the product or owner’s manual of the plasma cutter. If it’s going to get frequent but not continuous use, look at the maximum cutting ability of the machine. If it’s only going to be used now and again, choose according to the average thickness of the items you plan to cut. (You should find this listed in the specs).
As a rule of thumb, you’ll find the plasma cutter with a higher amperage output has a great duty cycle at lower amperages.
This feature is only important if you are planning on moving the cutter to the material that is to be cut. If the plasma cutter is going to have a permanent home on one place, you don’t need to worry about whether it’s easy to move and transport. The good news is today most plasma cutters can be carried by a handle and are relatively compact.
3. Electrical Outlets
Don’t underestimate the importance of electrical outlet when choosing your new plasma cutter. The majority of plasma cutters need a great deal of power to work at their best. The power outlet must be able to support the minimum number of amps required by the plasma cutter. As a guide most single-phase 40amp plasma cutters require a 15amp plug.
Also, if there are other tools plugged into the same circuit, they will draw on the plasma cutter’s power source. Ideally, it’s best to have a circuit dedicated only to operating the plasma cutter.
Some plasma cutters come with a built-in inverter. These are generally a bit more expensive, but on the upside, they provide additional portability you might be after. Inverter-based plasma cutters are housed in smaller designs, making them idea for mobile use.
One of the first things you’ll notice when browsing plasma cutters is that there’s a wide price range, from a few hundred dollars up into the thousands. Take the time to work out what you really want in your plasma cutter and you can never pay too much.
Worked out what you need in your plasma cutter? Browse our range of plasma cutters at www.eWelders.com.au.