What to Look for in a Portable Plasma Cutter
Being able to operate a plasma cutter in different locations and environments is sometimes a must-have feature for certain businesses. Since it requires a different means of use, it also carries a different set of considerations from what you would have in a stationary plasma cutter. Below are the top factors you should look at in a plasma cutter to guarantee maximum portability.
As you might expect, the weight of the plasma cutter is among the most important factors to consider when it comes to portability. Plainly put, the heavier the unit is the harder it will be to move it. There’s no blanket value to cite what dictates whether or not a unit is too heavy to be portable, as it all comes down to the strength and comfort levels of the operator. While a 35-pound unit might be too heavy for one person to reasonably move between locations frequently, another person might be able to handle it without a problem. Generally speaking, though, you should aim for as low a weight as possible to maximize portability potential.
There are actually many units that come with built-in features to make carrying the plasma cutter easier, with the most common being one or more handles attached to the top of the device. These handles allow you to easily pick up the entire unit and transport it from one location to the other, or even hold it in one hand while operating the torch with the other. For even more portability, you can look for models that support a shoulder strap, which would free up both hands for the operator and also completely remove the need for there to be any kind of resting surface for the unit near the exact work site.
Appropriate Power Output
You should also consider the actual output of the plasma cutter to determine if it’s going to be enough to accomplish the tasks you have planned. In some cases, portable units don’t produce as much power as others, with some falling in the 30 amps or less range, which can translate into less overall performance during operation. This most commonly means a lower duty cycle and lower cut thickness, which may be very important depending on the needs of your project.
Special Torch Features
In some cases, certain portable plasma cutters may support torches that have additional features well suited for use in a portable setting, such as smaller profiles or a continuous pilot arc. Since portable plasma cutters are often necessary for working on projects in hard to reach areas, or that have unique structural issues, these special features can become a major benefit. If the unit doesn’t come with such a torch, it might be necessary to check its compatibility with these types of torches from different models or manufacturers.
Finding the Balance
It’s important to take all of the specifications and features of each plasma cutter into consideration so that you can get a complete picture across models, especially since some portable models don’t have the same features as stationary units. That’s not to say that all portable plasma cutters are less powerful, but just that you should pay attention to every facet and component to make sure that you can actually get the job done with that model.