Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters
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  1. #1
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    Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    What has the community at large here found to be a "good", "cheap" (inexpensive) plasma cutter?
    Looking for something that will do hobbiest/construction/fab work. Seems like alot of us fit into this description, and it'd be good to get a compilation going on this topic.
    Feel free to add different thickness ratings too.
    ThermalArc 185
    MillerMatic 180 w/ Autoset
    Victor Cutskill Oxy/Acetylene
    Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster 38
    and spite!

  2. #2
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    Re: Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    I dunno about cheap, but I like my Miller 375. I was looking at ebay for them, but decided that parts and service availabilty was worth the extra money. My *only* regret is not getting a bigger one, but wanted portability.

  3. #3
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    Re: Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    Good...and inexpensive is tough to find. I was contemplating over the Mitech 40's and over Chinese variants on eBay, then I was thinking, "well, what if they aren't around in 8 months or a year...where do I get parts, consumables and service?" Then, for the money, I decided it might be better to get a Miller 375. I was about ready to buy when a gentleman on this board offered up his 625 for sale. Needless to say - I am VERY happy I waited and got this unit.

    Hope that helps...
    John
    - fabricator extraordinaire, car nut!
    - bleeding Miller blue!

    http://www.weldfabzone.com


  4. #4
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    Re: Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    Okay, how about
    BEST COST BENEFIT?
    Dont mind spending a bit of extra $ for quality, but dont want to be throwing away $ either!
    It looks like a 40-60A unit is sufficient for most applications.
    ThermalArc 185
    MillerMatic 180 w/ Autoset
    Victor Cutskill Oxy/Acetylene
    Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster 38
    and spite!

  5. #5
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    Re: Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    for me, it's parts and consumables availability.. In my town I have two LARGE welding supply houses. So chances are, if I nuke a tip, they'll have one in stock. But then again, they're cheap, so I buy them 5 at a time.

  6. #6
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    Re: Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    I would get a Miller or Hobart. They are easy to get consumables for and have been around for at least 30 years. I've heard too many horror stories on the Chinese units. Those that do end up with a good unit, which hasn't failed upon arrival, say they are satisfied with them. It is my understanding they have only a 1 year warranty on the Chinese variants. After that...then what? Who repairs it? Where do you get repair parts?

    That is why I went with a Miller. Hope that helps...
    John
    - fabricator extraordinaire, car nut!
    - bleeding Miller blue!

    http://www.weldfabzone.com


  7. #7
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    Re: Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    Yeah, that's the decision I gotta figure out now myself. Unfortunately I just bought a Smith MD O/A kit, and dont know if the Mrs will let me swing for plasma now or not (though it IS my birthday next month)...
    Im leaning towards the Miller 375 Xtreme. Figure it'll match my DyNasty nicely. Seems like for the extra $ its worth the step up.
    ThermalArc 185
    MillerMatic 180 w/ Autoset
    Victor Cutskill Oxy/Acetylene
    Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster 38
    and spite!

  8. #8
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    Re: Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    Roger that, I think you'd be extremely happy with the 375-X. After all, you deserve it for your b-day!

    Tell your honey you'll make her some ornamental yard stuff just like Jam made for his wife.
    John
    - fabricator extraordinaire, car nut!
    - bleeding Miller blue!

    http://www.weldfabzone.com


  9. #9
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    Re: Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    i've got the little miller 125 c and it does just fine cutting sheet metal. 1/4 inch is too much for it, but . . . the price was right. i got mine barely (if at all) used for right at 500 on ebay.




    but if my wife asks, it was 100 dollars : , )
    ________________________________________
    millermatic 130 XP
    spectrum 125 C
    gas gas gas

    can you tell how much I need a 220 outlet in the garage?

  10. #10
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    Re: Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    Quote Originally Posted by kw48653
    i've got the little miller 125 c and it does just fine cutting sheet metal. 1/4 inch is too much for it, but . . . the price was right. i got mine barely (if at all) used for right at 500 on ebay.




    but if my wife asks, it was 100 dollars : , )

  11. #11
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    Re: Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    I like my Riland just fine. Some folks will rip on them, but I can point you to twice as many people who have nothing but good things to say.

    www.rilandusa.com

  12. #12
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    Re: Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    I got the Hypertherm Powermax 380 new, not used, not reconditioned, not a demo or display, on ebay with factory warranty from GJS GAS for about $850 shipped. I'm very happy with it! It uses the same torch as my neighbors Miller 357 Extreme and cuts just as well. My neighbor paid about $450 more for his at the local Air Gas. Both machines are dual voltage and have the same input current requirements and output/duty cycle specs. For some reason, the Hypertherm machine is listed with less air pressure requirement. Mine says it takes 4.5 cfm@60psi. My neighbor's Miller is the same@90psi. The more air I get to mine, the better it cuts. The Miller Extreme is smaller and lighter than mine, but mine is still easy enough to move around and the torch is twice as long so I dont need to move it as much.

    On both machines, they run better on 230v. They take alot of amps on 115v to run on high. I only have 20 amps of 115 available, but the machine will run on high on only 15 amps of 230v so that is what I use.

    The only bad thing I have to say about mine is it came with the cheesiest ground cable I've ever seen on a welding machine. It's about 12 gauge. My neighbors machine has a thicker ground cable with a tougher jacket. The clamps are the same.

    Hypertherm also makes the Powermax 30 which is the same machine as the Miller 375 Extreme for about $100 less than the Miller.

    The Powermax 380 and Miller 375 non-extreme are the same machine and the Hypertherm is about $100 less than the Miller too. I believe the warranties are the same. Consumables for the torches appear to be the same. The torch bodies are the same.

  13. #13
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    Re: Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    I'd definitly stick to a name brand. I've used Hypertherm and thermal dynamics and both work great.
    Dewayne
    Dixieland Welding

    MM350P
    Lincoln 100
    Some torches
    Other misc. tools

  14. #14
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    Re: Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    I have been asking myself the same question. Do I really need to spend a lot? If you guys have the time ckeck out this thread, let me know what you think about these cutters. There is a lot of talk in this thread of a good quality piece of equipment with good customer service. They make combo units plasma, tig & stick. Looks pretty good to me.

    http://pirate4x4.com/forum/showthread.php?t=539511

    Thanks for your time

  15. #15
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    Re: Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    Quote Originally Posted by FJ40
    I have been asking myself the same question. Do I really need to spend a lot? If you guys have the time ckeck out this thread, let me know what you think about these cutters. There is a lot of talk in this thread of a good quality piece of equipment with good customer service. They make combo units plasma, tig & stick. Looks pretty good to me.

    http://pirate4x4.com/forum/showthread.php?t=539511

    Thanks for your time

    The salesperson needs to buy a dictionary, and it looks like a "rebadged" Cut40. Interesting though. Where are you able to get consumables, etc? I know the Cut 40 is pretty much limited to Ebay and the home office for the consumable parts (and have been out of parts for the 60A model for months on end on occasion).
    ThermalArc 185
    MillerMatic 180 w/ Autoset
    Victor Cutskill Oxy/Acetylene
    Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster 38
    and spite!

  16. #16
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    Re: Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    I'm not sure about the consumables. I have a feeling that you have to order them from them.

  17. #17
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    Re: Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    Parker is the Rhiland clone that has been made with fishing line, and they have had poor service for afew people.
    Avoid Parker. Rhiland, and some of the other rhiland clones are good tho. They just need little tweaks...
    Oh, and you gotta be dumb to buy the Parker 40amp plasma cutter @ $700usd. For $550-650 you can buy the 40 amp plasma / tig / stick that runs 110v & 220v. That's what's listed on their website, but apparantly they've dropped them down to $400 to suite.




    I would avoid them like the plauge. Get someone else's that's assembled better.

  18. #18
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    Re: Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    Quote Originally Posted by Toysrme
    Parker is the Rhiland clone that has been made with fishing line, and they have had poor service for afew people.
    Avoid Parker. Rhiland, and some of the other rhiland clones are good tho. They just need little tweaks...
    Oh, and you gotta be dumb to buy the Parker 40amp plasma cutter @ $700usd. For $550-650 you can buy the 40 amp plasma / tig / stick that runs 110v & 220v. That's what's listed on their website, but apparantly they've dropped them down to $400 to suite.


    I would avoid them like the plauge. Get someone else's that's assembled better.
    Since the owner seems to feel that half-a$$ed responses are appropriate for a professional...Im not too impressed. Read through the thread and he comes off indifferent to his customers (ie: if you want it buy it, but dont worry we'll take care of you). I get "edgy" when there are people out there having problems with the product while the distrib is saying they are taking care of it. After months there are still members having problems.
    Seems to be ALOT of Riland knock-offs out there carrying various badges. From all the varied reviews about Riland (alot of bad and some good-with some "isms" to support the cons).
    One thing that is agreed on by even the Riland fans is that they are cheaply made with subpar materials and parts. This fact has'nt changed in any reviews Ive seen. For some reason I also cannot order a product made of inferior materials from a company that has a grade school English education. I had trouble even looking through the website.
    For me, I decided on the Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster 38 50th Anniversary Edition (comes with a Victor torch/regulators) for $1058 usd out the door. I really wanted to go with Miller, but the cost-benefit is currently with the TD38.
    ThermalArc 185
    MillerMatic 180 w/ Autoset
    Victor Cutskill Oxy/Acetylene
    Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster 38
    and spite!

  19. #19
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    Re: Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    Quote Originally Posted by DesertRider33
    I got the Hypertherm Powermax 380 new, not used, not reconditioned, not a demo or display, on ebay with factory warranty from GJS GAS for about $850 shipped. I'm very happy with it! It uses the same torch as my neighbors Miller 357 Extreme and cuts just as well. My neighbor paid about $450 more for his at the local Air Gas. Both machines are dual voltage and have the same input current requirements and output/duty cycle specs. For some reason, the Hypertherm machine is listed with less air pressure requirement. Mine says it takes 4.5 cfm@60psi. My neighbor's Miller is the same@90psi. The more air I get to mine, the better it cuts. The Miller Extreme is smaller and lighter than mine, but mine is still easy enough to move around and the torch is twice as long so I dont need to move it as much.

    On both machines, they run better on 230v. They take alot of amps on 115v to run on high. I only have 20 amps of 115 available, but the machine will run on high on only 15 amps of 230v so that is what I use.

    The only bad thing I have to say about mine is it came with the cheesiest ground cable I've ever seen on a welding machine. It's about 12 gauge. My neighbors machine has a thicker ground cable with a tougher jacket. The clamps are the same.

    Hypertherm also makes the Powermax 30 which is the same machine as the Miller 375 Extreme for about $100 less than the Miller.

    The Powermax 380 and Miller 375 non-extreme are the same machine and the Hypertherm is about $100 less than the Miller too. I believe the warranties are the same. Consumables for the torches appear to be the same. The torch bodies are the same.

    How is your hyperterm at cutting 3/8 material? Thanks

  20. #20
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    Re: Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    Quote Originally Posted by DirtyLittleSecret
    Since the owner seems to feel that half-a$$ed responses are appropriate for a professional...Im not too impressed. Read through the thread and he comes off indifferent to his customers (ie: if you want it buy it, but dont worry we'll take care of you). I get "edgy" when there are people out there having problems with the product while the distrib is saying they are taking care of it. After months there are still members having problems.
    Seems to be ALOT of Riland knock-offs out there carrying various badges. From all the varied reviews about Riland (alot of bad and some good-with some "isms" to support the cons).
    One thing that is agreed on by even the Riland fans is that they are cheaply made with subpar materials and parts. This fact has'nt changed in any reviews Ive seen. For some reason I also cannot order a product made of inferior materials from a company that has a grade school English education. I had trouble even looking through the website.
    For me, I decided on the Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster 38 50th Anniversary Edition (comes with a Victor torch/regulators) for $1058 usd out the door. I really wanted to go with Miller, but the cost-benefit is currently with the TD38.
    Eh, it's also the internet too, so all attitutes previal. I give an endorsement to buy from someone like storts that's been around awhile that won't be going anywhere very soon.



    And it's no different a sintuation than you found yourself in. You want a miller, but didn't want to pay 35% more to get it it. Just alike alot of hobbyest people would rather pay 50% of the price you paid for your '38 & have a 40amp cutter that can do alittle more work, plus can DC TIG to boot.











    I've been happy with my Riland clone. Use it to cut & tig almost every day.
    It's all relative, is the problem. Relative to anything else, the price VS performance of about anything you can buy from Riland atleast double, to quadruple what you could get with other things.

    All you're really giving up alot of times are the name brand & 2 years off a warranty.



    btw I'd like to have a miller too...

  21. #21
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    Re: Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    Agreed.
    I didnt want to throw out any "isms" regarding who manufactures the Riland & clones, and tried to keep my posting neutral. Again, its alot of relative material in making this kind of decision. Pro's and con's to every purchase.
    I hope Riland can make a better product (as I hope all companies would), and wish them prosperity. They may not have the best cost-benefit out there, but they allow some the opportunity to get into the market who might not otherwise be able to. There are also alot of people who buy this equipment as garage booty (even a once a year usage the Riland would be worth it).
    As for my wanting a Miller it didnt happen simply because I am certain now that Thermal Dynamics has them beat on quality, design, and price. Just a little on each of these characteristics makes for a better total package.
    I dont want any company to be bashed just because they are imported. Heck, we export a bunch of junk overseas though care little as to what they think of us! Vis-a-vie.
    ThermalArc 185
    MillerMatic 180 w/ Autoset
    Victor Cutskill Oxy/Acetylene
    Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster 38
    and spite!

  22. #22
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    Re: Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    I personally love my Miller Spectrum 625. We can all sit here and say one is better than the other but who here actually owns all 3 or 4 make/models of the same amperage? Unless we can conclusively do a side by side comparison, it really isn't fair to the new readers to say one is better than the other in YOUR opinion.

    Back to my blue happy place.
    John
    - fabricator extraordinaire, car nut!
    - bleeding Miller blue!

    http://www.weldfabzone.com


  23. #23
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    Re: Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    Like Micro says if you haven't tried all of them then it's really not fair to say one is better than the other.

    So I'll just say that I am really happy with my Miller 375 Extreme ....

    and what the heck it is a Miller product which I'm kind of partial to.

    Washman

  24. #24
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    Re: Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    The Parker crew finally called me back yesterday as I was enjoying my new toy (Cutmaster). I kept asking them what the difference was that made the Parker product so special. I was being as nice as possible when the fella told me that either I should either buy thier product or quit asking questions...After the sixth time of asking the same question they realized that they were gonna have to fess up.
    They (Jr) admitted that they are identical machines (with same part numbers), and there is nothing different between them except the father/son customer service which is debatable at best.
    I do know that Jr was pretty rude to me over the phone while I asked sincere questions. I wouldnt expect them to be around long enough to maintain the business (hence all the recent sales-trying to keep it going).
    It kinda disturbed me in that IF they are having a bunch of issues with a bunch of thier products (and they willingly accept that they do) this also means that the Rilands have the same issues. Essentially, they admit that they have inferior quality control and are producing product before it is properly R&D and tested.
    I really dont care either way as Ive already gotten my product, and am just sharing what I learned during this buying process.
    ThermalArc 185
    MillerMatic 180 w/ Autoset
    Victor Cutskill Oxy/Acetylene
    Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster 38
    and spite!

  25. #25
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    Re: Good Inexpensive Plasma Cutters

    Quote Originally Posted by MicroZone
    I personally love my Miller Spectrum 625. We can all sit here and say one is better than the other but who here actually owns all 3 or 4 make/models of the same amperage? Unless we can conclusively do a side by side comparison, it really isn't fair to the new readers to say one is better than the other in YOUR opinion.

    Back to my blue happy place.
    Agreed.
    ThermalArc 185
    MillerMatic 180 w/ Autoset
    Victor Cutskill Oxy/Acetylene
    Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster 38
    and spite!

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