View Full Version : Which plasma for CNC?

03-09-2010, 02:27 AM

I am looking for more information on deciding which plasma cutter would be a better fit. I don't know that much about plasma cutters. I am just starting to learn. The top contenders are a barely used Powermax 1250 or an older HD-1070 HyDefinition plasma. Is this older unit good? Does anyone have reasonable estimates of the costs to operate (electricity, consumables, etc.)? Has the HyDef evolved significantly and is it still much better than newer non HyDef? The plasma will supplement a waterjet, and the majority of the work it would see would be 1/4" or thinner.

Thanks in advance for any insight.


03-09-2010, 09:10 AM
The 1070 is an industrial, high definition multigas plasma system.....it is designed for high production cutting 3 shifts a day, with long consumable life and high accuracy......assuming the cutting machine and torch height control that it is being used with are designed for high duty cycle and accuracy as well. This system, like all of Hypertherm's industrial plasmas, is a high frequency start plasma....which cannot be used on many PC controlled entry level cutting machines. The 1070 is older technology, originally introduced in 1993 or so.......it has been replaced with Hypertherm's HPR130xd high definition system.....with better consumable life, tighter tolerances, faster cut speed, and more power.

The 1250....as well as all of the Hypertherm Powermax series, are air cooled air plasma systems...these are not 100% duty cycle, do not have the ability to use a variety of different gases to fine tune the cut quality. The Powermax units are a fraction of the cost of the HPR units, yet cost a little more to operate and do not produce the same cut quality from a metalurgical, edge angularity and cut part accuracyt point of view.

What do you need to cut, how many shifts a day, how many parts, at what cost......these questions need to be answered to determine which plasma system would work best for your application.....I'd be glad to help!

Jim Colt Hypertherm

03-09-2010, 12:19 PM
Hi Jim,

Thanks for the response.

This will be used in a job shop environment and will not be used all the time, so the duty cycle is not a huge concern. The main purpose is to reduce costs and increase speed on jobs better suited for plasma that are currently done on a waterjet. The better the accuracy, the more work the plasma would be suited for. If I understand correctly, the HyDef plasmas also produce less slag so would require less processing after cutting. I have found a HyDef system for sale for about 50% more than the Powermax system.

What is needed for cooling on the HyDef plasma? And can it be used with compressed air from an air compressor like the Powermax or must one use higher pressure tanks for air cutting?


03-09-2010, 02:09 PM
If the high definition plasma you are referring to is the HD1070, it has an internal recirculating liquid coolant system. You can use a variety of gases for the HD1070.....air is normally only used as the plasma gas for cutting some thicknesses of aluminum, along with methane for a shield gas.

For cutting steel with the 1070, oxygen is the plasma gas and nitrogen is blended with oxygen for the shield gas. The HD1070 was originally built as a 70 Amp plasma, it was the first high definition plasma ever built. There was a later upgrade kit that brought its power level up to 100 amps. The unit was rated at 3/8" production cutting at 70 Amps, and 1/2" production cutting at 100 Amps.

You can download a .pdf manual for the HD1070 from the www.hypertherm.com website.....go to the library tab, serach manuals, then search for HD1070 operators manual. It will have many pages of cut charts that will tell you about the gases used, the different materials and thicknesses it can cut, and all of the specifications for setting up a cut.

The HD1070 sold for about $25,000 when new. There are no high definition class cutting systems that use air for cutting steel.....for high definition, dross free cutting and clean square edges....oxygen is required. Inlet pressure is 120 psi.

Jim Colt

03-09-2010, 02:38 PM
I don't see the HD1070 listed. There is the 2070 and 3070.

03-09-2010, 03:05 PM
You are right....I just looked. The 1070 was likely right before we went online with manuals......so it is not available. The 3070 with manual gas console is very similar......the difference will be a quick disconnect torch and 100 Amps output.....both of which your unit may have as they were offered as upgrades. The cutting charts and so forth are essentially the same.