Plasma Cutter Best for Workshops
Plasma cutting is now one of the fastest-growing steel cutting practices among the diy homeowners, repair and restoration shops and even in large scale metal production industries.
Unlike with oxy-fuel cutters that cut metal by oxidizing and burning it, plasma cutters can almost cut any type of metal by melting it as long as it is conductive to electricity.
There are 3 different types of plasma cutters.
There are the 3-phase units like the CNC types that require high-frequency current and used generally in industrial settings,
the mid-range machines that are capable of TIG or MIG or Stick welding and the cheap plasma cutters that are mainly for cutting metals and suited for the hobbyists and DIY guys.
If you are looking for a plasma cutter for your home use, the budget plasma cutters are right for workshop use. However, most of them are best only for metal cutting and have limited cutting capabilities with regards to metal thickness.
The mid-range plasma cutters are for the multitasker because they offer more features like TIG, MIG or Stick welding.
These cutters are in general more expensive than the cheap plasma cutters. But they can compensate you with better quality cuts and more versatile use. But don’t get us wrong. There are also cheap plasma cutters under 500 that are also versatile, have a high-duty cycle, and robust in their construction.
So if you are into a serious metal work which means you have to have the best plasma cutter and a welder in one unit, you can settle for the mid-range plasma cutters that can do various types of welding.
Before we go looking for the best plasma cutter suited for multi-tasking jobs and do the plasma cutter reviews, let us first identify what should you consider when choosing the best plasma cutter suited for your workshop.
Practical Tips When Buying a Plasma Cutter Best for Workshops
Consider the thickness of the metal you will most likely to cut. Low amperage units are best for thinner metal sheets while higher amperage are perfect for thick metals. For example, 80 amperes can cut up to 0.75-inch thick metal, 60 amperes can cut 0.5 inch and 25 amperes for 0.25 thickness.
Prefer those that have fastest cutting speed. Speed is measured in inches per minute (IPM). Since higher amperage units can cut faster than lower amperage units, prefer the best plasma cutter that has twice the cutting power as against the thickness of the metal you want to cut. For example, 60 Amps plasma cutter can cut a .25-inch metal twice faster than a 25 Amp plasma cutter.
Consider the Duty Cycle. Mid-range and budget plasma cutters generally have a duty cycle of 10 minutes which means you cannot use the torch continuously for more than 10 minutes or the machine can overheat. That’s why some manufacturers indicate in their machines the duty cycle in percentage. For example, a 40% duty cycle means you can cut continuously for 4 minutes but have to rest the machine for 6 minutes.
Check the portability features. You may want to consider mobility or portability. If you are looking for a plasma cutter best for workshops and to bring to your job site, it should be easy and light to carry and can be hooked up on standard electric outlet. You can find such machines that have adapted the inverter technology.
Availability of consumables. Make sure your unit has a lot of available consumables that could match its accessories and easily available for order. Take note that some brands are very specific with their consumables. That’s why a plasma cutter that requires generic plasma cutter consumables including TIG and MIG consumables should be on your priority list.
If you are on a budget and only need a metal cutter for your workshop, the cheap plasma cutters can be the right units for you. But if you wanted to take plasma cutting to the next level, we recommend the mid-range units.
Their price ranges from US$500 but should not be over US$1000. As we have said, they are a bit more expensive than the budget types but these are packed with additional features and have more useful functionalities.
So here are some of our plasma cutter reviews and we’ll focus on the mid-range units.
Best Plasma Cutter for Home Workshops
This plasma cutter uses the blowback system which means the electrode is pushed back to let the air pressure to pass thru the nozzle to create a spark and eventually form an arc between the nozzle and the base metal. In this process, a low amperage arc is formed.
The advantage of a blowback feature is that it doesn’t require the High Frequency to start up an arc which can interfere with the electronics connected to the wires. It also enables the arc to cut on painted and rusty metal without the need to tap the nozzle torch to the base metal.
This unit can also be used with generators with up to 11,000 Watts to get clean power. It is also equipped with IGBT (inverter) modules from Infineon which makes the unit lighter, more portable and yet high performing in all aspects. So not only that this small machine is perfect for home workshops but it can also be your best plasma cutter if you are running a fabrication shop.
This machine can deal with metals up to ¾ inch thick at high speed. It is also capable for 1-inch thick to 1 and ¼ inch severance cut. It can virtually cut almost any type of metal like stainless, steel, copper, aluminum, nickel, nickel alloys, cast iron, and even titanium.
So how does this differ from the 50 amps unit that the DIY users prefer? Well, this unit has a 60% duty cycle at 60 amps so it’s actually a CNC capable unit. It can cut cleanly and smoothly using a genuine iPTM 60 CNC torch.
So this is a hard-core, heavy-duty unit that is capable of industrial use but should be perfect for home workshops without disrupting the flow of current.
For its price that is less than US$1000, this machine can be your good investment especially if you’ll use it for restoration shop and even for your metal assembly shop.
Blowback start technology without requiring High-Frequency current for start-up
Pilot arc suitable for 11,000 W generators
IGBT inverter module for portability and reliability
With CNC socket for CNC use on plasma tables
Cut capacity: ¾ inch for daily cut @ 15-20 ipm (inch per minute), 1-inch clean cut at 8-12 ipm, and up to 1-1/4 inch severance cut at 3-5 ipm
With adjustable “postflow” timer to maximize the life of consumables
Comes with a Euro quick-connect central adapter work clamp with 10 ft cable, 15 ft iPT 60 torch (Italian design), air pressure gauge, and consumable starter kit
Arc disruption when no cut is taking place for 3 seconds to prevent consumable wear
AC cord should have been longer
Hobart 500564 Airforce 12ci Plasma Cutter with Built-In Air Compressor 120V
They say that if it’s from Hobart, it must be reliable. And this Hobart unit is really nice to keep. Why? It is very portable and very convenient to carry anywhere you need some metal cutting jobs. For the air compressor requirement, this is where this machine is worth its price.
This unit comes with a built-in compressor and has a duty cycle of 35% @ 12V. Weighing only 27 pounds and with a dimension of 10x13x8.25-inches, you can easily take it to your worksite and do small-scale cutting. It can do 1/8-inch cut with a severance cut of ¼ inch.
Note that the maximum output power of this unit is 12 Amps and only runs on 110V. But even this unit seems to be perfect only for light cutting jobs it can do what it specifies in its manual.
Very portable and ready for action right out of the box, this Airforce 12ci is also using inverter technology. So every essential part that a plasma cutter best for workshops should have is compacted in this one small plasma cutter unit.
For those who are looking for a very portable plasma cutter for small cutting jobs but wanted to produce a quality cut, why not try this one as it comes complete with a built-in air compressor.
For beginners and hobbyists, this unit is very easy to use, perfect for you to enhance your skills and even the professional welders would need it for their light cutting tasks. With this unit, you don’t have to worry about where to source out your compressed air anymore.
Air compressors are also expensive and they also need maintenance to keep them going and produce clean air. This Hobart unit has an air filter in its built-in compressor so all you got to do is just take it out of the box, plug it in a 110 V outlet and you are ready to cut.
With a built-in air compressor
Can cut faster than oxy-fuel
Adapted the inverter technology for portability, mobility, and usability
No need for gas pressure setting when tuning the arc
Can produce precise cut and thinner kerf on thin metals with less slag
At 12 Amps it can perfectly cut 1/8 inch thick metal plate
1-year limited warranty
Operates only on 110V
Can consume consumables faster than other 12 Amps units
PrimeWeld Ct520d 50 Amps Plasma Cutter, 200 Amps Tig Welder and 200 Amps Stick Welder Combo
We know that some of you are looking for the real mid-range best plasma cutter that can do more than plasma cutting. Well here is the 50Amps PrimeWeld CT520D model that has multifunctional 3-in-1 features. It can do DC TIG welding, DC Stick welding and of course best for plasma cutting up to ½ inch thick.
So how does it operate its TIG and Stick welding capabilities? That can happen with only a flick of a switch and it quickly changes into a 200A for TIG and Stick welding. Primarily, these features are already built into this machine.
Very portable and weighs only about 32 pounds (14.5 kgs), this is a dual-voltage (110/220), dual-frequency (50/60Hz) unit that can save you 85% of your energy consumption due to its 60% duty cycle that lets you cut at a faster speed.
If you want value for your money, this unit may satisfy your needs. Everything that you need for a multifunction feature is all pack in this machine so it’s a never say die for this unit. Those who have purchased this machine are generally happy about it and you can read their reviews at Amazon.
3-in-1 functions: DC TIG welder (200A), DC STICK welder (200A), PLASMA cutter (50A)
60% duty cycle on all functions
Dual voltage: 110/220
85% power efficiency
Lightweight at 32 pounds
Consumables are USA-based
Grounding clamp lead cable needs to be longer
Lotos CT520D Air Plasma Cutter/Tig/Stick Welder 3 in 1 Combo Welding Machine, Argon Regulator Included, ½ Inch Clean Cut, Brown
Here is another product from Lotos. We know that we have shown you already a lot of Lotos products with varying amperages and we did this because these machines never cease to amaze us including, of course, those who are using them right now.
This unit, for example, is the first in the market made by Lotos that allows 3-in-1 functions with the flip of a switch. You have the option for a plasma cutter, TIG welding, and Stick welding. Primarily, this unit was made as one of the plasma cutters best for workshops and DIY users.
But because it can able to do 3 different kinds of tasks, people now wanted this for their construction sites, fabrication shops, repair shops and by small-scale businesses that regularly do the cutting and welding jobs.
In spite of this unit’s portability, it can cut a variety type of metals: stainless steel, mild steel, aluminum, alloy steel, copper and other metals that are conductive. It can cut up to 1/2” with the 50A pilot arc function and you just plug it in a 120V AC if you want to use it for Stick welding.
You don’t have to worry using it in your garage or any common building that has 110 or 220 volts current because this is an absolute dual voltage machine. However, you can optimize its use if you can plug it on 220 volts outlets.
For TIG welder it is capable to utilize 15-200A on DC. For Stick welder, this is also capable of 15-200A as well as on AC plug. It has an adjustable striking arc current which you can adjust during arc-starting and can weld using different types of acid or basic electrodes.
It also has a pre-installed NPT ¼” industry type D plug for air compressor plug and a built-in front compressor gauge.
This unit is a brown model so the compatible consumables for it should be the “LCS22” or “LCS33” types and you can order these at Amazon.
3-in-1 functions: TIG, Stick, and Plasma cutter
Plasma cutter is rated to ½” cut and ¾” severance cutting
Dual voltage: 110/220V
Argon regulator included
Built-in pressure gauge front panel
Dual frequency: 50/60Hz
DC TIG output current: 10-200A@220V and 10-150A@110V
DC Stick/MMA Output current: 10-200A@220V and 10-150A@110V
Comes with power supply, air filter regulator, plasma cutter torch, and ground cable
Plasma and TIG cable including ground cable are all sorts of short
No pedal included and also no 120 plug (pigtail)
TIG torch not very flexible
Non pilot arc
Almost all welders need plasma cutters. But not all welders work in large welding facilities and require the HF rated CNC plasma cutters. This is why we have shown you four of the plasma cutters that are perfect for workshops and home use.
The best plasma cutter should not be too large for your personal use. If you only need a budget size unit, we have already shown you a number of them that are under the 500 dollar range in some of our blogs. So this time the units we have are the more improved versions of them and they can do a lot of things for larger projects.