Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 26

Thread: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Posts
    27
    Post Thanks / Like

    Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    I'm just getting started. I have a Lincoln ProMIG 180 and that's it. The next step is to purchase a 4x8 sheet of 1/4-inch plate steel, cut it into 2-inch by 6-inch pieces, and start practicing. I have a 50-amp 220 volt power outlet. My next purchase will be a plasma cutter. eBay lists dozens of 50-amp models for around $200. Normally, I don't bother with the cheap stuff, but this time, it's 1/10 the cost of a new Hypertherm. So, what will be the difference in quality? Is it cutting quality? Or is it durability? Something else? Will I regret buying the $200 model?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    CT
    Posts
    4,058
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    why a plasma cutter? If all you are doing is cutting coupons, then get this: https://www.milwaukeetool.com/Produc...r-Saws/6370-20

    Also those are going to be some pretty expensive coupons. If you some decent, cheap coupons, look here. Order them 10 at a time and it is much cheaper. https://www.jflf.org/ProductDetails....ductCode=METAL
    Syncrowave 250
    Purox Metalmaster

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    central Wis.
    Posts
    4,936
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    Why not just buy some 1/4"x2" flat bar and cut the lengths you need. I wouldn't buy a plasma cutter just to cut coupons. A porta band , 4x6" bandsaw, chop saw even a grinder with cutting discs will accomplish the vast majority of cutting.

  4. Likes Lis2323 liked this post
  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    4,152
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    It will be hit, and miss with the $200 units.. Most will have somewhat ragged cut in anything above 3/16/,250 MS. Don't get me wrong on cheap units, but one step above can be worlds away in cut quality/etc..
    Esab/Lorch ET-220i
    Esab 160i caddy
    Thermal LM-200 Lincoln feeders
    Thermal Pee-Wee 85s
    Thermal 60i- 3phase /RPC powered (Beast)
    Thermal Drag-gun 35C
    INE 1500
    Klutch 140i

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    2,706
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    Why would buy a 4x8 sheet of plate to cut up for coupons? That has to be one of the most bizarre ideas I've ever seen. A $200 plasma cutter is a waste of money.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    9,457
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    Cheap tools and equipment is just that. Cheap ! Depending on what type of projects you are planning on many cutting tools are available. Skip the cheap plasma for sure.
    If doing small stuff like artwork, a Milwaukee portaband is great. Either handheld or on a stand. Depending on location, a used one can be $100.00. Money well spent.
    Chop saws can be found too used for a $100.00 . Many buy these, use a few times and then sit.
    A 4x6 horizontal bandsaw is great as mentioned IF you have the room.
    A 4 and 1/2" / 5" grinder is a must. Metabo is my favorite. Cutting discs will go through anything . A variable speed grinder is what I suggest. They're great with wire wheels and running at slower speeds extends life. Those bristles will stay where they should.
    The Milwaukee Metal saw as mentioned is great for almost anything but excells for sheet goods.
    And skip the full sheet and buy flat stock from local steel supplier. Call for prices and ask about cutting in half for transport if needed.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    162
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    If you already have the 1/4" plate, keep it for projects. Buy flat bar as said or go get drops from a steel merchant or scrap yard.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Long Island, NY
    Posts
    2,195
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    There is a reason its 1/10 the cost of the hypertherm...

    And what everyone else said. Not gonna repeat it.
    www.FirehouseFabricators.com

    Zach

    Lincoln 210mp
    Lincoln SW200
    Hypertherm Powermax 45xp
    2x4 CNC Plasma Table.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Posts
    27
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    Okay. Nobody likes the cheap plasma cutter. The metal cutting circular saw is a good idea. I'd still like to know what the difference is in quality between the $200 and $2,000 plasma cutter. What makes the $2,000 one better? (I'm not disagreeing. I just want to know.)

    The reason for the 4x8 sheet of 1/4-inch plate is because I need a welding table. I want to make one, but I'll wait until my welds look a lot better. So for now, I'll just cut a 4x4 square, put it on top on some cement blocks, and that's what I'll practice on. I'll use the rest of the plate for the coupons. The 4x8 sheet in only $230 at Metals Depot. That's pretty cheap per square foot. However, like everyone said, the 20-foot 2-inch wide flat bar is a better idea: a lot less cutting. And I can buy different thicknesses.

    Thanks for the advice.
    Last edited by UserJB; 05-26-2020 at 12:57 AM.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Posts
    27
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brand X View Post
    It will be hit, and miss with the $200 units.. Most will have somewhat ragged cut in anything above 3/16/,250 MS. Don't get me wrong on cheap units, but one step above can be worlds away in cut quality/etc..
    What would one step above be? I don't think I'll ever be able to justify a $2,000 plasma cutter. What would you recommend for a hobbyist?

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    4,152
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    Quote Originally Posted by UserJB View Post
    What would one step above be? I don't think I'll ever be able to justify a $2,000 plasma cutter. What would you recommend for a hobbyist?
    Just have to watch Amazon for deals. They show up now, and again.. E-bay too.. I like Klutch for a good solid warranty, and very good little power units..

    I generally use my Thermal Dynamics 35c that I paid $675 new on Amazon.. Built in air compressor/Korean made. Sweet precision gouging unit, and will do anything a Hypertherm 45XP or Thermal 60i will do there. Just without a lot of fanfare/programing hype about it. I have had have both, and a 65 too.. In fact I think I have better control with the 35c, just pealing away one layer of sheet-metal at a time. There are Italian brands that are top notch power supplies too.. Just want to look for something with a true 3 or 4 year warranty that is real. Cost a bit more, but built better, and should suit your needs perfect.
    Esab/Lorch ET-220i
    Esab 160i caddy
    Thermal LM-200 Lincoln feeders
    Thermal Pee-Wee 85s
    Thermal 60i- 3phase /RPC powered (Beast)
    Thermal Drag-gun 35C
    INE 1500
    Klutch 140i

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Posts
    20
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    Ebay plasma cutters are only good for a 3/16 cut.
    If you get one that lasts it would be worth 200$, mine let the smoke out in a few hours. Shipping takes so long that when it dies paypal dosent cover you.

    The 45xp i replaced it with cuts 5/8 at the same speed the ebay one does 3/16, cuts much cleaner, has a gouging nozzle, and should last 20 years as the electronics are sealed and only the heatsink is exposed to potentially dirty air

    Keep an eye out for a used name brand one that isnt ancient. I have seen lightly used 30xp go for 800$

    For practice metal find a scrap yard that sells to the public, where i go theres tons of flat, angle, pipe, sheets, and square tube for 35 cents a lb, much better than paying 2$ a lb for new stuff.

  14. Likes Rondo liked this post
  15. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Long Island, NY
    Posts
    2,195
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    An example of what you get with a better cutter

    My 45xp

    -can source consumables locally
    -self regulates air pressure
    -can do "marking" and gauging
    -quick disconnect torch
    -fine cut consumables for CNC
    -different types of torches (I have machine and hand)
    -Exceptional customer service (you pay a lot for this in any good brand)
    -Higher quality long lasting consumables

    The cheap ones basically turn on and cut. No more, no less. If they go bad you're gonna fight for support.

    For many of us, we can't afford for critical equipment to have downtime. The risk of being without the tool for a few days or a week outweighs its initial cost.
    www.FirehouseFabricators.com

    Zach

    Lincoln 210mp
    Lincoln SW200
    Hypertherm Powermax 45xp
    2x4 CNC Plasma Table.

  16. Likes yellowfin liked this post
  17. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    CT
    Posts
    4,058
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    I think this plasma cutter is going to be the best deal you see for a while (while it lasts). $1100 https://store.cyberweld.com/thermal-...-1-5130-1.html
    Syncrowave 250
    Purox Metalmaster

  18. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Posts
    27
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    Quote Originally Posted by BrooklynBravest View Post
    For many of us, we can't afford for critical equipment to have downtime. The risk of being without the tool for a few days or a week outweighs its initial cost.
    I think that's the key difference between myself and many of the people that replied. I just don't have that requirement.

    Thanks to all the replies. Here's the current plan:

    • Hold off on the plasma cutter purchase until I need it.
    • Purchase a metal-cutting circular saw instead. (I also have a few 4-inch grinders with cutting wheels) (I also have a sawzall)
    • Purchase the 4x8 sheet of 1/4-inch plate. Make a temporary 4x4 welding table top for practice.
    • Purchase multiple 1-inch and 2-inch wide strips of flat bar. Cut out coupons from this.
    • Practice practice practice.

    Then start building projects.

  19. Likes yellowfin liked this post
  20. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    2,706
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    What do you need a plasma cutter or metal cutting circular saw for? Get a 5" grinder with some cut off discs. 4" grinders are generally pretty light duty but will still work to cut flat bar for practice coupons. You don't need a 4x4 table to practice on. A metal work bench would work. Once you figure out what you're doing get some 2" angle iron and make a frame for your table. 2x3 would be a decent size. If you want a steel fabrication table you need at least 1/2" thick and preferably thicker.

  21. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Posts
    27
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    Quote Originally Posted by Welder Dave View Post
    What do you need a plasma cutter or metal cutting circular saw for? Get a 5" grinder with some cut off discs. 4" grinders are generally pretty light duty but will still work to cut flat bar for practice coupons. You don't need a 4x4 table to practice on. A metal work bench would work. Once you figure out what you're doing get some 2" angle iron and make a frame for your table. 2x3 would be a decent size. If you want a steel fabrication table you need at least 1/2" thick and preferably thicker.
    I have decided against the plasma cutter. The circular saw is for cutting steel plate: I expect it will be difficult to cut a straight line more than a couple of feet with a hand-held grinder. I could potentially buy a 1/2-inch thick sheet of 4x8 foot plate steel and use a section of that for the initial welding top. I'll make it into a table later. There's plenty of welding table projects on YouTube. I also might want a bench-top 14-inch metal cutting saw for square/rectangle tubing.

  22. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    2,706
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    Very very few shops use metal cutting circular saws. What's wrong with an oxy/fuel cutting torch? If you can follow a line you can cut straight with a cut off wheel in a grinder. A chop saw is a handy tool to have.

  23. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Long Island, NY
    Posts
    2,195
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    I think your money would be best spent on either a small bandsaw or dry cut saw...

    The metal cutting circular saw isn't the solution either. The blades are also not cheap.

    A dry cut saw will be the quickest way to cut up a variety of stuff with ease, and with a good degree of precision.

    Example - https://www.amazon.com/Slugger-MCCS1...0534898&sr=8-1

    If you need a piece of plate cut that badly, usually the steel supplier offers the service. I have all my plate sheared to 24x48 at the supply house to fit my 24x48 plasma table and they do it at no charge.
    www.FirehouseFabricators.com

    Zach

    Lincoln 210mp
    Lincoln SW200
    Hypertherm Powermax 45xp
    2x4 CNC Plasma Table.

  24. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Posts
    27
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    Quote Originally Posted by BrooklynBravest View Post
    The metal cutting circular saw isn't the solution either. The blades are also not cheap.

    If you need a piece of plate cut that badly, usually the steel supplier offers the service. I have all my plate sheared to 24x48 at the supply house to fit my 24x48 plasma table and they do it at no charge.
    At metalsdepot.com, the price for a 4x8 sheet of 1/2 inch plate is: $470.40 ea. The price for a 4x4 sheet of 1/2 inch plate: $477.76. The pre-cut piece is half the size but costs more! The same is true for 3/8-inch thickness (but not for 1/4-inch). So, if I cut it myself, I'm saving money per square foot.


  25. #21
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    2,706
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    I think you're getting too far ahead of yourself. Moving a 4x8 sheet of plate is not easy without an overhead crane.

  26. #22
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Tucson Arizona
    Posts
    248
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    Quote Originally Posted by UserJB View Post
    (I also have a sawzall)

    go to home depot... buy a 6" Diablo metal cutting blade for your saw zall $2.97, it will do what ya needa do with ease and alot more...

    https://www.homedepot.com/p/DIABLO-6...8BFD/202049533

    and if ya want that blade to last a really long time buy a tube of lube

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    the tube will last till ya get around to buyin a porta band then that same tube will still be plenty full by time ya buy a 4x6 bandsaw and... ya'll probably have that same tube of lube when ya start shoppin for a mag drill to run Annular cutters etc..
    Last edited by monsoon-mech; 05-27-2020 at 01:45 AM.

  27. #23
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    9,457
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    Metals Depot ?? You don't have any steel suppliers in your area ??
    Check with local suppliers, they may have odd size cutoffs . Maybe like 46x52 or something weird. You could get that less money as is.
    I've bought odd sizes for welding table tops and they work fine.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  28. #24
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    269
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    Quote Originally Posted by UserJB View Post


    At metalsdepot.com, the price for a 4x8 sheet of 1/2 inch plate is: $470.40 ea. The price for a 4x4 sheet of 1/2 inch plate: $477.76. The pre-cut piece is half the size but costs more! The same is true for 3/8-inch thickness (but not for 1/4-inch). So, if I cut it myself, I'm saving money per square foot.

    That company adds on shipping, and the freight on a 4X8 sheet could be More than the steel itself.

    Agree with other posters- Find the (or 1 of the) local Metal supplier(s).

    Looked up a 4X8 sheet of 1/4" and shipping to me was quoted as between $312 and $531 depending on carrier...

    How will you unload the sheet when the truck delivers ?

    that sheet of 4X8 x 1/2 is around 650#




    ps. i did buy a cheap plasma cutter, a Lotos LTPDC2000d-paid $400

    Other than using quite a few consumables (which are also cheap) and having to replace the torch switch it has been a solid unit after 4 years of use. It also does a decent job as a DC TIG welder. and OK stick welder.

    I baby it in the sense of not being rough transporting/dropping it because of the way the circuit boards/transformers are mounted-

    Knock one of these around and my guess is failure would be likely.

    Plasma cutters can be handy when working on old equipment to. I like to use it more than my oxy/acetylene torch but am probably in the minority on that choice.

    If I bought a 1/2 4X8 sheet I think I would use the Oxy/acet to cut it. these cheap cutters may cut 1/2 but with a long cut the Oxy torch would be faster and do a better cut. 1/4" I would use my cheap Plasma Acetylene aint cheap

    But, I do not regret buying the 3 in 1 plasma cutter/welder.
    Last edited by 455dan; 05-27-2020 at 02:03 PM.
    1962 Idealarc Tig 300 300
    1974 Idealarc Tig 300 300 ( till owner needs it back)
    1988 Power Mig 150 (.112 f cap mod)
    2015 Lotos Ltpdc2000d plasma/arc/tig
    Victor 100 torch, 200- 210 Oxy/Acet gauges

  29. #25
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Posts
    27
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Cheap Plasma Cutters: Are They Worth It?

    Quote Originally Posted by BD1 View Post
    Metals Depot ?? You don't have any steel suppliers in your area ??
    Check with local suppliers, they may have odd size cutoffs .
    I'm not committed to Metals Depot. I only checked with them because that was easiest at the time.

    I just found a local supplier with online ordering and then are 5-10 percent cheaper overall. That looks like the best option.

    On that note, CoreMark in Minnesota had the cheapest online prices by far. But, shipping costs negate any price advantage. Are there any dirt-cheap suppliers in Southwestern Ohio?

    I do not have a loading dock. I cannot unload the steel from the truck. However, once the steel is off the truck, I can use a portable gantry crane to move the heavy plate.

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Page generated in 1,606,161,498.32784 seconds with 12 queries