Plasma Cutter Reviews – from Portable to Dual Voltage and Beyond
Metalworking is a serious task that actually dates back thousands of years, when ancient civilizations used primitive tools to shape raw ore. Today, we have the benefit of technology to help us cut and shape a huge selection of metals, with plasma cutters being one of the most effective tools for the job.
But, as with any type of technology, finding the right plasma cutter for your specific needs isn’t as simple as heading down to the local hardware store and snagging one off the shelf. I learned this the hard way when I decided to take on some hobby metalwork projects. I was so overwhelmed by all the options and terms out there that I almost gave up completely. There was no single, reliable resource for plasma cutter reviews and guides that I could find.
So, after sifting through a ton of information and finally figuring out the differences between all the different models and technologies, I decided to create this website. Here, you can find reviews of the most impressive plasma cutters on the market, informational guides to help you understand the terms and considerations of different situations, and much more.
Best Value Dual Voltage Plasma Cutter
Ramsond CUT 50DX Portable
The nature of welding and metal work often calls for travel to a wide variety of locations, including some international travel at times. If you do plan on using your plasma cutter in other countries or various areas that have different power ratings, then you want a dual voltage plasma cutter. This model from Ramsond offers everything necessary to meet those specific travel needs seamlessly.
Automatic Dual Voltage Configuration
A dual voltage device is made to handle two different voltage ratings, in this case 110 volts and 220 volts, automatically without the use of an external voltage regulator. With this model, all you need is a plug adapter, which will ensure that you can safely plug the power cord into the correct electrical outlet, and you can start using the plasma cutter. You won’t need to operate any additional toggles or switches to change between voltages, since it all happens internally. The model is also dual frequency, so it can operate at either 50 or 60 hertz. On top of it all, it also has an internal inverter, so it functions on both alternating current and direct current settings. All in all, it has everything you need to travel virtually anywhere and complete your metal cutting tasks.
High Thickness Threshold
In case you were worried that this unit wouldn’t be able to handle the different types of metals that you might encounter while traveling, there’s no need because it has a maximum severance thickness of 1 inch. For those of you not familiar with the term, this means that if you absolutely have to, you can cut a piece of mild steel (which is what’s most commonly found in building materials, as it has a carbon composition low enough to allow for welding) with a thickness of up to 1 inch. Now, you won’t want to do that very often because at that range you’re going to experience a rougher cut. The maximum cut thickness rating on this unit is ¾ inch, which means that you can expect a clean and precise cut at metals up to that thickness.
Most Professional Plasma Cutter
Hypertherm Powermax 45
Working on a construction site or in any type of industry setting requires a completely different set of features and functions than when working in a home or hobby environment. Of all the plasma cutters I came across, this model from Hypertherm really caught my eye for the professional metal worker, toting a sturdy build and great output – two things you absolutely need for that type of work.
Designed for Construction Work
The last thing you want is for your equipment to give out on you when you’re working on a serious commercial project, since it can translate into lost time, project setbacks, and a decrease in profit. This is especially problematic for a device such as a plasma cutter because malfunctions mid-cut can render the entire piece of metal useless.
Hypertherm made this stalwart model to withstand a lot of heavy use in rugged conditions, since a setting like a construction site can have all manner of hazards and unexpected issues come up. It’s easy to operate, ultra portable and delivers top speeds at 30 – 125 amp to cut and sever up to 12 – 25 mm, making this a versatile machine that’s perfect for industrial use.
This model is made to take full advantage of drag cutting technology, which helps you achieve a faster cut with less mess. This Hypertherm patented system allows you to move through the metal at a higher pace while still keeping the cut clean and precise. Thanks to its design, you can achieve a stronger and more constant arc that minimizes slag and also allows you to work with thicker metals. Additionally, the Powermax 45 comes with enough plasma torches to reach tight areas that other cutters can’t reach, giving you the perfect amount of flexibility and versatility that you would need in a commercial setting.
Best for DIY Projects
Lotos LTP5000D Arc Plasma Cutter
More and more people are starting their own home businesses or taking up hobbies that involve metalwork and welding, so there’s a huge demand for plasma cutters that are capable of operating in home settings. This model from Lotos was made with the DIYer in mind, as it has several features designed to enhance ease of use while also keeping it safe for non-commercial operating environments.
Made with Home Use in Mind
First of all, this model is very lightweight compared to most other models, with a base weight of under 20 pounds. On top of that, it also has a relatively slim profile, which helps make it the perfect device for use in a small shop or even in your garage, where space is going to be at a premium. Another feature that I really like is that it uses non-hazardous compressed air to power to create the arc, which is very important because most home project settings don’t have the proper facilities to handle something like an oxyacetylene torch. Finally, it includes a MOSFET transistor, which allows users to achieve a steady arc for precision cuts on this metals, while also being capable of achieving a high output to allow for cuts on thicker metals, all without the need to make cumbersome changes to the equipment.
Produces Minimal Slag
Lotos designed this plasma cutter to produce as little slag as possible when operating under recommended conditions, thanks to the presence of a pilot arc, the MOSFET transistor, and a high frequency inverter. All of this comes together to give you a consistent output that’s designed to reduce the chances of sputtering, which would leave you with rough cuts or metal debris built up around the cut, known as slag. This is incredibly useful in a variety of settings, many of which are common for at-home, DIY, or small business metal cutting needs. For example, if you had to cut through rusted metal, such as for restoring a classic car or repairing gardening equipment, then you can do so cleanly and without fear of creating unsightly cuts that would compromise your end goals.
Best Portable Plasma Cutter
Miller Spectrum 375 Review
Portability is often a top concern for anyone working in a dynamic construction environment, where there’s a need to reach different areas and spots that aren’t always easily accessible. While this unit does require an external air supply, as all plasma cutters do, it’s designed to give users more freedom to move and maneuver around the worksite; so as long as you can connect it to a compressor you’ll be all set to cut through many different types of metals.
Easy to Carry Around
Some of the smaller plasma cutters have built-in handles, which are great for moving the unit between spots but still don’t offer as much freedom to move around, since you need to either hold the unit in your hand or set it on a flat surface in order to operate it. Instead of a handle, the Spectrum 375 gives you a shoulder strap, so you can actually sling the unit over your shoulder and carry it with you to different locations. This way, you don’t have to have a dedicated surface for it to sit on, and you can also keep both of your hands free to operate the torch or use any additional tools. This really helps add to the portability and flexibility, making it a great choice for anyone who needs a versatile cutter for different jobs.
Made for Mobile Cutting
One of the biggest reasons other plasma cutters aren’t suited for mobile work is their larger size, which is often tied directly to the power output because they need to have heavier machinery in order to achieve such high amp ratings. I came across a lot of plasma cutters that were small in size, but didn’t have the right mobility features to allow for the right amount of working freedom. Also, these units typically had such low outputs that they wouldn’t be very useful in most industrial settings. That’s why I was so impressed with the fact that this unit has 30 amps of power. That gives it the ability to work through a lot of different metals with a good duty cycle, so you shouldn’t get held back while you’re in the middle of a project.
Most Versatile Welding / Cutting Unit
Lotos CT520D 3 in 1 TIG/ Stick /Plasma Machine
Sometimes you might find yourself in a situation where you’ll need to perform specific welding tasks in addition to cutting through sheet metal, which would usually require you to switch between different pieces of equipment. However, if you have a combination welding unit like this model from Lotos, then all you need to do is toggle a switch and you’re able to switch to the exact type of tool you need.
Powerful Plasma Cutter
Even though the Lotos CT520D is actually three different machines in one, it doesn’t compromise any of them in the process. First and foremost, this unit is a powerful and capable plasma cutter that comes with all the functionality and control that you would expect it to. With a power rating of 50 amps, you’re going to be able to cut through a huge variety of metals with a maximum cut thickness of ½ inch. When operating at maximum output, you can achieve a 60% duty cycle, which would be able to make very quick work of most cutting jobs without having to constantly start and stop midway through the cut. There’s also a carrying handle, and since the unit only weighs around 32 pounds, it’s possible to transport it between locations so you aren’t limited to cutting in a single spot.
TIG and Stick Welding Capabilities
When the need arises, you can effortlessly change modes to turn the unit into a TIG welder or stick welder by simply moving the mode switch on the cutter’s face. Both welding options function in a DC setting, and each are able to achieve a high energy output so that you can work with thick or thin types of metal. The TIG welding option is designed to give you the ability to weld stainless steel with precision, so you don’t have to deal with sloppy seams that are unsightly and take away from the beauty of whatever you are creating. You can even purchase an optional foot pedal to give you even more control over output for super precision welding.
Best High Capacity Plasma Cutter
AHP AlphaCut 60
Plasma cutters are just like any other type of power tool or industrial equipment in that there are certain models specifically made for those serious and massive tasks that call for an extreme amount of power. This is the best high capacity plasma cutter I’ve seen, as it has the power and features that would make it the best choice for anyone working on a heavy-duty metal cutting project.
60% Duty Cycle
This plasma cutter has a 60 amp output, which is definitely enough power to get you cutting through some serious metals at a great rate. But amps aren’t the only thing that determines your cutting speed, as you also need to know about the duty cycle on the unit. I was very impressed to learn that this model has a 60% duty cycle, which means that in a 10 minute period you could continuously cut through metal for 6 minutes straight. Since a heavy duty cutting project typically involves thick or rusted metals that you have to move through carefully, this high duty cycle gives you the ability to accomplish a lot at an even pace. Being able to have a duty cycle like this while also having a high power output is a winning combination that should definitely give you what you need for those difficult cuts.
Continuous Pilot Arc
This model features a pilot arc, which is a special configuration on the torch that allows the plasma arc to run continuously as long as you hold the trigger down. It’s incredibly useful in a wide assortment of situations, and it can definitely be your biggest asset when working on a demanding cut. For example, if you need to work through a rusted piece of steel, the continuous pilot arc will be capable of slicing through it without causing jagged edges or other issues when it comes into contact with that rust. Also, the pilot arc means you don’t have to start and stop when you run into holes in the metal. Whether it’s a mesh grid, a chain link fence, or a metal sheet with existing holes or gaps, you can cut through it all seamlessly thanks to the continuous pilot arc technology in play with this model.
Best for the Money
Lotos LT5000D Plasma Cutter
Plasma cutters can be very powerful and versatile machines, so it’s very useful when you find a model that’s small enough in size that it doesn’t weigh you down and limit how you handle your work. This model from Lotos manages to give you a great amount of power while still keeping the price from creeping into the high range that many other industrial tools feature, all while including some nice features to keep the workflow moving forward.
Sized for Easy Use
With a total weight of just over 22 pounds, this plasma cutter is definitely light enough to pick up and move around between worksites or jobs, unlike other types of cutting machines that are too heavy to allow for much movement. There’s also a convenient handle on the top of the body, so you can literally pick it up and move it whenever you need to transport it. This plasma cutter also includes a grounding clamp and six air hose connections, so you can hook it up to your compressor and secure the metal you need to cut with little hassle. When you’re ready to cut, you just need to attach the consumables and you can start working on your project in virtually any setting.
In most cases, less expensive plasma cutters are going to feature a lower power output and thus will only be able to cut through thinner metals. This is a standard convention across most power tools and industrial equipment, as it’s one of the most direct and simplest ways to reduce cost. However, this model manages to squeeze in an impressive 50 amps, making it a tiny powerhouse. At that rating, it allows you to cut through stainless steel and aluminum with a maximum thickness of up to ½ inch each, with mild steels eking up just a tad with a maximum thickness of ⅝ inch. At that level, this powerful and price-conscious plasma cutter will allow you to work with a great assortment of metal types, which is something you don’t always see in models at this price range.
Best Exotic Metals Arc Cutter
LONGEVITY Forcecut 40D Pilot
I know that a lot of you reading this are going to be using your plasma cutters to work with standard metals like stainless steel, but there are definitely going to be some of you in the market for a model that can work through some non-standard materials. If that sounds like you, then you’re definitely going to want to chose the Forcecut 40D from Longevity.
Wide Range for Metal Types
Determining what type of metal you can cut with your plasma cutter isn’t always a simple process, as you have to take a lot of different factors into account, including metal thickness, carbon composition, and more. Since not every plasma cutter can handle every type of metal, I was very impressed to learn about the specifications on this model and what it’s capable of doing. When you connect an external air compressor that is capable of delivering between 45 PSI and 65 PSI, you can ensure that the powerful 40 amp cutter receives a steady air supply, enabling it to create a consistent arc that’s able to cut through a huge array of exotic metal types. The key is paying attention to the air pressure and other factors to ensure the cutter is functioning at optimal levels, which is much easier thanks to its digital display.
Built-in Digital Display
Surprisingly, most plasma cutters don’t include much in the way of readouts or gauges to help you track the performance of the unit, and when they do they’re typically analog dials that aren’t always easy to read. Here, you have a clear digital display right at the front of the machine, so you can easily keep track of its state. There’s also an air adjustment knob on the front, which is paired with a pressure gauge. Since it’s so important to maintain consistent air pressure at the correct level for the type of metal you are cutting, this up-front display is a huge benefit. It gives you a tremendous amount of control over performance compared to other models, allows you to ensure the best output possible to keep your cuts clean and free of deformities or irregularities that could affect its use in future projects or builds.
After reading through these reviews, I hope you feel like you know more about plasma cutters than when you started. These are serious pieces of equipment that really show you what kind of amazing feats you can accomplish thanks to modern technology.
There are still many other topics and aspects of these plasma cutters that can affect your final purchase decision beyond what I covered here, so make sure you check out the other articles on the site. You can also find some in-depth buying guides for a few special situations, particularly if you’re looking for a plasma cutter for a DIY-type project or business.
Wishing you the best of luck on all your future metalwork projects!