Plasma or O/A?
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Thread: Plasma or O/A?

  1. #1
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    Plasma or O/A?

    So I am pretty much a newb to metal fab. and welding. I recently bought a little Lincoln/Century FC-90 flux welder. I am mostly going to be doing little projects at home as a DIYer/Hobbyist. I am wanting to add cutting ability to my tool stable. I was dead set on a little home use plasma cutter, but have since retreated and now considering maybe a O/A setup instead. It would seem from the reading I have done so far an O/A setup would provide the best flexibility. Looking for some input form the community on which setup to go with. Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by Snyperx; 08-09-2019 at 04:06 PM.
    Regards,
    SnyperX

    ==========================

    Lincoln 140HD
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  2. #2
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    Re: Plasma or O/A?

    Plasma is cutting ONLY. The torch has better flexibility as to what you can use it for. Not only does it cut, but you can braze or weld with it, too. A decent torch will weld thicker steel than the FC90 will. If you need to make a sharp bend in a piece of metal it can help there as well, by allowing you to heat the metal hot enough to make bending easy. With your little FC90 you will find times when you need to preheat pieces before you have any sort of chance of making a weld hold well. So I say opt for the torch over the plasma, for those reasons. And look for something bigger than the FC90, you will soon be disappointed with it and it's severe limitations.

  3. #3
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    Re: Plasma or O/A?

    As per usual it depends. It depends on what specifically you hope to do and what your skill level is or what it becomes. What type of risks/hazards you are comfortable with. Even small plasma cutters do a good job on thin material which will match your welder's capacity and they can cut a wider variety of metals than O/A. They also require a compressor unless you buy one with an on-board compressor. I wouldn't. O/A, on the other hand, can cut and weld more steel than your flux core can, ( other things too,depending on the outfit you purchase) but requires purchase or rental of cylinders and transport and storage of same. Either could make your insurance agent nervous if you let him/her know you are risking your whole neighbourhood with you recent hobby.
    ---Meltedmetal

  4. #4
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    Re: Plasma or O/A?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bistineau View Post
    Plasma is cutting ONLY. The torch has better flexibility as to what you can use it for. Not only does it cut, but you can braze or weld with it, too. A decent torch will weld thicker steel than the FC90 will. If you need to make a sharp bend in a piece of metal it can help there as well, by allowing you to heat the metal hot enough to make bending easy. With your little FC90 you will find times when you need to preheat pieces before you have any sort of chance of making a weld hold well. So I say opt for the torch over the plasma, for those reasons. And look for something bigger than the FC90, you will soon be disappointed with it and it's severe limitations.
    I mainly went with the Fc90 because I only have access to 110/120v at my rental. I don't have an option of moving to 220/240v source. I also didn't want to over invest if I only will be welding a few times a year etc.
    Last edited by Snyperx; 08-09-2019 at 04:21 PM.
    Regards,
    SnyperX

    ==========================

    Lincoln 140HD
    Lincoln/Harris O/A

  5. #5
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    Re: Plasma or O/A?

    Quote Originally Posted by Meltedmetal View Post
    As per usual it depends. It depends on what specifically you hope to do and what your skill level is or what it becomes. What type of risks/hazards you are comfortable with. Even small plasma cutters do a good job on thin material which will match your welder's capacity and they can cut a wider variety of metals than O/A. They also require a compressor unless you buy one with an on-board compressor. I wouldn't. O/A, on the other hand, can cut and weld more steel than your flux core can, ( other things too,depending on the outfit you purchase) but requires purchase or rental of cylinders and transport and storage of same. Either could make your insurance agent nervous if you let him/her know you are risking your whole neighbourhood with you recent hobby.
    I can't see ever working with anything beyond 1/4". Someday? Maybe.
    Regards,
    SnyperX

    ==========================

    Lincoln 140HD
    Lincoln/Harris O/A

  6. #6
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    Re: Plasma or O/A?

    Given your lack of electrical power, the obvious candidate would be O/A. From my point of view anyway. Maybe pick up some Valium for the insurance agent and the landlord too. Is your rental a residence or a work/storage area?
    ---Meltedmetal

  7. #7
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    Re: Plasma or O/A?

    Quote Originally Posted by Meltedmetal View Post
    Given your lack of electrical power, the obvious candidate would be O/A. From my point of view anyway. Maybe pick up some Valium for the insurance agent and the landlord too. Is your rental a residence or a work/storage area?
    My residence. Just looking at DIY/Hobby type work. Nothing commercial.
    Regards,
    SnyperX

    ==========================

    Lincoln 140HD
    Lincoln/Harris O/A

  8. #8
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    Re: Plasma or O/A?

    Does your rental have an electric clothes dryer and/or electric stove? If so, then you have access to 240V power, just need to get or make a proper extension cord for it.

  9. #9
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    Re: Plasma or O/A?

    Quote Originally Posted by Snyperx View Post
    I can't see ever working with anything beyond 1/4". Someday? Maybe.
    The FC90 will barely be able to stick 1/8" together, if you're lucky.

  10. #10
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    Re: Plasma or O/A?

    Let us know how it works out with your landlord if you decide to go o/a. Most will crap their pants if/when they find out.

  11. #11
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    Re: Plasma or O/A?

    All I have is a O/A welder, had the Henrob type torch in use for 8 years and added a few conventional style torches since last autumn for the jobs where the Henrob isn't suitable (I love it, but it's big and heavy, it simply can't fit everywhere). I don't really cut with it, so I can't say much about that, but for everything else I love it. In the last few weeks I've welded, brazed, silver soldered, and it can do more than that. I'd like to have a MIG and stick welder too, but like you I have a limited electrical supply so even if I did get them they would be limited in what I could use them for.

    I haven't regretted choosing O/A for a second, there's so much I can do with it - it might not be the best tool for many jobs, but it probably is the single tool that does the most jobs. Since I don't cut with it I can't tell you anything about how that works, but just for being able to do everything else I really recommend O/A.

  12. #12
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    Re: Plasma or O/A?

    Snyperx,

    You live where you live and you have what you have for power. I lived in an apt at one time and ran a little Lincoln HD 100.

    Besides what others have mentioned in what the landlord will allow:

    At this point I wouldn't look at O/A because the price of a one that can actually cut will be pricey. You need decent size bottles and I'm not talking about big ones but medium size. They're $$$ these days.

    Sure, you'll see small little kits but those are not exactly the best for the money spent.


    For anything you'll be welding with the 90amp FC machine a Porta-band style saw would be better.

    Unless you have a specific need to cut sheet metal into shapes or something I would pass on the O/A kit.
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  13. #13
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    Re: Plasma or O/A?

    Quote Originally Posted by Broccoli1 View Post
    Snyperx,

    You live where you live and you have what you have for power. I lived in an apt at one time and ran a little Lincoln HD 100.

    Besides what others have mentioned in what the landlord will allow:

    At this point I wouldn't look at O/A because the price of a one that can actually cut will be pricey. You need decent size bottles and I'm not talking about big ones but medium size. They're $$$ these days.

    Sure, you'll see small little kits but those are not exactly the best for the money spent.


    For anything you'll be welding with the 90amp FC machine a Porta-band style saw would be better.

    Unless you have a specific need to cut sheet metal into shapes or something I would pass on the O/A kit.
    I know the O/A kit I was looking at was the Lincoln Pot-A-Torch for like $320. It has 20 cu. ft. Ox and MC size Acetylene tanks.
    Regards,
    SnyperX

    ==========================

    Lincoln 140HD
    Lincoln/Harris O/A

  14. #14
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    Re: Plasma or O/A?

    I know the O/A kit I was looking at was the Lincoln Pot-A-Torch for like $320. It has 20 cu. ft. Ox and MC size Acetylene tanks.
    They will cut for a bit, but they won't weld anything. Perhaps you don't care about that? To get the most out of OA, you need larger tanks. Acetylene flow is limited for safety reasons, by the size of the tank. Small tanks won't safely flow enough fuel to get a large enough flame for welding.

    I would say get an OA if you can find a good used set on CL, since I really think everyone needs an OA kit in their arsenal. But if money is tight or the landlord is not cooperative, get a saw. There are very good metal cutting circular saws as well as hand held "portaband" style band saws. At the thickness you can weld with a FC-90, the saw or saws will be a much better answer anyway.

    https://www.milwaukeetool.com/Produc...r-Saws/6370-20

    https://www.milwaukeetool.com/Produc...orking/2729-20

    https://www.milwaukeetool.com/Produc...g-Saws/2722-20
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  15. #15
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    Re: Plasma or O/A?

    Louie left out my favorite metal cutter I use this baby almost daily Only downside is the blades can get a little expensive if you're not careful... which happens when I get in a hurry unfortunately.
    Name:  2782-20_2.png
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    https://www.milwaukeetool.com/Produc...utting/2782-20

  16. #16
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    Re: Plasma or O/A?

    One tip for buying tanks is to not buy them full. Now that may sound counterintuitive, but you can pick tanks that are test from cyberweld for a decent price, you just have to make sure they're stamped and up to date. Just bring them to an airgas and they'll swap them out with full ones for a small price, it changes depending on your area.

    This is more a hassle than buying the tanks from a supplier full, but it will save you $$.

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk

  17. #17
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    Re: Plasma or O/A?

    Given a choice between O/A and plasma, I'd go for O/A first, always. Way more versatile, and cheaper, too. Then I'd get a portaband. Those two will cover a lot.

  18. #18
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    Re: Plasma or O/A?

    Yep, it depends.

    Both setups can cut, and gouge with the right tips(and depending on Plasma machine)

    O/A is good for cutting, welding, scarfing and heating. Drawbacks are as mentioned related to tank size, for a hobbyist who is just working primarily with steel, and maybe doing some brazing/welding a small torch kit may be best for you.

    Plasma is great, if it’s electrically conductive you can cut it, the big kicker here is that means aluminum can be cut with ease. Operation of a plasma system is pretty simple. Plug it in, turn the dials and pull the trigger. You will need a compressor as mentioned, the size and expense of that compressor depends on how long you want to cut for un-interrupted, and the material thickness. Plasma offers more precise cutting, at the cost of reduced cut depth when compared to an O/A system.

    In your situation I would purchase a smaller torch set, with the 02 bottle being in the 125cf range, buy a decent torch and a set of hoses and you’re off to the races as far as cutting and welding goes. Having the ability to heat metal is a huge factor too, flame straightening is a useful skill that you should invest time learning.

    Plasma is for precision cutting fast, on a variety of materials. Inherently there are less risks involved in a plasma system, because you’re just dealing with electricity, and compressed air.

    O/A has the added risks of high pressure cylinders, and precautions that must be observed every time you operate it to mitigate the risks as much as possible. O/A has the added benefit of portability since it’s not dependent on electricity.

    Owning both, I can say I wouldn’t want to work metal without either. That being said I got my O/A setup first, browse craigslist, and learn to identify “Owner” tanks and read date stamps to ensure that the tanks are in date. Check the torch, hoses and regulators for integrity then haggle on price from there.
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  19. #19
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    Re: Plasma or O/A?

    Get both if you can swing it. I'd be asking questions like what would be the best plasma cutter for xxx $ budget.

    OA sets come up ocasionally listed on cl for next to nothing, usually when pops passes and children want to get rid of the dangerous explosive out of date cutting system before there is an accident. I purchased two full Victor ca100 set ups this way with victor tanks, cart, regs, torch sets etc. Both times for less than $100 for the whole set and both times the tanks were out of date but that's no biggy. New tanks would cost me three times what I paid after having tanks re-hydro tested and filled. Most of the time the children dont know the actual value and never took interest in fathers dangerous hobby. They just want gone. Sad but that's the way it goes some times.

    As mentioned if you have an electric dryer/oven then you most likely have a 220/240v hook up.

    I'm selling a decent plasma cutter in the for sale section. It would probably be perfect for your type of use but you will most likely need an air compressor to run a plasma and definitely to run the one I'm selling. There are some decent 120v air compressors out there. Any real man cave/hobby shop needs air any way.
    Last edited by N2 Welding; 08-09-2019 at 11:21 PM.
    Lincoln, ESAB, Thermal Dynamics, Victor, L-tec, Miller, Dewalt, Makita, Kalamzoo. Hand tools, power tools, welding and cutting tools.

  20. #20
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    Re: Plasma or O/A?

    Quote Originally Posted by N2 Welding View Post
    Both if you can swing it. I'd be asking questions like what would be the best plasma cutter for xxx $ budget. OA sets come up in cl in occasion for next to nothing, usually when oops passes and children want to get rid of the dangerous explosive out of date cutting system before there is an accident. I purchased two full Victor 100 set ups this way with victor tanks, cart, regs, torch sets etc. Borh times for less than $100. Most of the time the children dont know the actual value and never took interest in fathers dangerous hobby. Sad but that's the way it goes some times.

    As mentioned if you have an electric dryer/oven then you most likely have a 220/240v hook up.

    I'm selling a decent plasma cutter in the for sale section. It would probably be perfect for your type of use but you will ost likely need an air compressor to run a plasma and definitely to run the one I'm selling.
    I have a 27 gal. Compressor I am sure can run a plasma no problem. Will do 6.4 scfm @ 90psi.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Regards,
    SnyperX

    ==========================

    Lincoln 140HD
    Lincoln/Harris O/A

  21. #21
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    Apr 2018
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    Re: Plasma or O/A?

    I am a hobby welder/metalworker, and I have both. I got the plasma as more of a toy, since I already had several ways to cut, including an OA torch. The plasma is cool, and it will cut parts quick. You can spend time making accurate measurements, then use a guide to cut them quickly, which allows for great fit up. You can also cut metal without putting as much heat into it, so given the same lack of skill, the plasma will cut cleaner when using it freehand. I also like using it for piercing and quick small cuts.

    All that said, if I could only have one it would definitely be the OA rig. I’ve used it to:
    1. Cut plate steel with a guide,
    2. Cut rod and bar freehand,
    3. Braze parts together,
    4. Heat square rod then bend it with my HF bender,
    5. Heat frames back straight where I’d distorted something from too much welding heat.
    6. Heated rod to make a blacksmith’s braid,
    7. Heated and straightened a go kart steering arm
    8. Heated steel to create a multicolor rainbow finish


    There’s so much more you can do with the OA setup, plus its fun



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  22. #22
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    Re: Plasma or O/A?

    16 posts since joining up in 2008? Where you at in sconsin?

    I'd throw my vote in for both too. Probably start with the torch so you can weld and heat stuff but its hard to beat a plasma for cutting.
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  23. #23
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    Re: Plasma or O/A?

    Quote Originally Posted by VPT View Post
    16 posts since joining up in 2008? Where you at in sconsin?
    Down near Madison. Will probably pull the trigger on the Lincoln/Harris porta O/A rig.
    Regards,
    SnyperX

    ==========================

    Lincoln 140HD
    Lincoln/Harris O/A

  24. #24
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    Re: Plasma or O/A?

    Quote Originally Posted by ronsii View Post
    Louie left out my favorite metal cutter I use this baby almost daily Only downside is the blades can get a little expensive if you're not careful... which happens when I get in a hurry unfortunately.
    Name:  2782-20_2.png
Views: 244
Size:  91.9 KB
    https://www.milwaukeetool.com/Produc...utting/2782-20
    I have this saw. i recommend it. This, along with a portaband will do nearly everything a home hobbiest might need to do, especially given your limited power situation.

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