Anyone know about plasma cutters?

Discussion in 'Other Skills' started by Mikewood, Jul 29, 2018.

  1. Mikewood

    Mikewood Supporter Supporter

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    I picked up some welding craft work and it’s enough to buy an inexpensive plasma cutter. I am looking at the cutcoo 50. It’s a 220v-50a rig for $250. I see them going for $150-2,500 and up. I can’t go with a high end machine. Just wondering how well these little machines run and if I am better using my chop saw. They look cool and a lot safer than the saw. Also any tips and advice on how to use one.

    Thanks!
    mw
     
  2. CivilizationDropout

    CivilizationDropout -MOA #17-MYOG #71- Supporter Bushclass I

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    I used and was trained on a personel back carried and operated plasma cutter in the Marine Corps.

    I cut the tail section off of a C-130 in training. I'll say this, they're fun :D
     
  3. MTplainsman

    MTplainsman Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I used a Hypertherm for many years on an almost daily basis. They make the best out there IMO. For you budget, I am not sure, but for hobby use, all the brand name ones would probably get you by. I will say though, that a plasma cutter is a tool you will always wondered why you never had one!
     
  4. dirt7

    dirt7 Supporter Supporter

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    What model did you find? Can you find electrodes and shield cups easily? I have heard some of the lower end consumer models can be a real pain to replace the small parts on.
     
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  5. VtBlackDog

    VtBlackDog Supporter Supporter

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    Fwiw....I don't know anything about this stuff, but Hypertherm has a factory near me, seems like a great company, well regarded in the community...

    My ex worked for Thermal Dynamics, they relocated to Mexico and have cut way back on quality control...

    Not sure if this is relevant but hope it helps
     
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  6. southron

    southron Guide

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    Oldest son has and uses em in the metal shop he owns, but those free hand use ones kinda leave me thinking you would have to cut it large and then grind it to size since they wouldn't be easy to cut to close with. I'll try to remember to ask him.

    The ones he has are programmable and once you load the metal and the program it cuts out real accurate and fairly close tolerances. For some uses it is the right tool for the job.

    Just like a milling machine has a high skill level, but the CNC ones a bit less once set up because it does a lot of the work for you. Still lots of set up however.

    They can be fun to play with, but you can also hurt yourself is you mess up. Be careful and make sure you know what you are about.
     
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  7. DarrylM

    DarrylM Supporter Supporter

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    @dirt7 has it right on the money regarding consumables. If there's a local vendor for the brand you're looking at find out if they stock the parts locally for the unit you're purchasing. Also find out how many similar units are in the area. If your part is on backorder you get hosed.

    Also, you need to be aware of the quantity of high pressure gas required by the unit. Again, no gas - get hosed.

    As far as accuracy, there are lots of ways to build fixtures to trace your cut path to minimise clean-up.
     
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  8. USMCPOP

    USMCPOP Scout

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    I'd love to have a Hypertherm. Some of the Thermal Dynamics/Victor stuff is very good. For a less expensive unit, either a Razorweld cut45 (around $800) or a Vipercut30 (around $400) is about as cheap as I would go. These latter ones are from Razorweld, which is connected to Jasic, the manufacturer. The Gamble Garage and CNCplasmadude on eBay are the same guy. "Gamble" posts a lot on WeldingWeb.com and is legit reseller of the Jasic stuff. Avoid the $200-$300 junk units.

    http://www.gamblegarage.com/index.php?route=product/category&path=110

    https://www.ebay.com/p/Vipercut30-P...p-110v-220v/622905970?iid=323354335308&chn=ps

    http://www.razorweld.com/ JASIC Technologies America Inc is a Washington based Importer and Distributor of High quality welding and cutting equipment and is part of the JASIC group of companies.
     
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  9. Mikewood

    Mikewood Supporter Supporter

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    Thanks for the info guys. I have been reading and watching YouTube and think I might go Harbor Freight Tools on this one. It’s self striking which I hear is a big plus. Also they have a great warrantee and parts are just down the street. I think I can go a bit more for better quality. Just can’t go $2,000 for a pro grade machine.
     
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  10. Guttersnipe

    Guttersnipe Supporter Supporter

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    I would run a good quality air dryer/ water remover on the inlet of the cutter.
    Moisture is the enemy.
    Good luck, and please let us know how the harbor freight unit works out. I for one, am interested in acquiring one in the near future.
     
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  11. USMCPOP

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  12. Mikewood

    Mikewood Supporter Supporter

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    Earlier this week I purchased the Harbor Freight plasma cutter. It was incomplete and today I received all the parts to make it work.

    You need an air compressor. If you have a little pancake style they say an extra 3 gal air reservoir is a big help. Then you need an air dryer. It’s basically some desiccant beads in a plastic bottle. Throw in some quick connect pneumatic fittings and a 220 plug adapter for your drier receptacle ad you are set. A rolling cart is nice but not required. This is a 40a unit. What does that mean? Well from reading up it means I can cut 1/2” plate easily and maybe a bit more given you take your time.

    So I plug in the air, power, hook up the ground, check the air pressure and amperage. 40Amps and 60 Psig. Clamp some 1/8” plate to a work table and hook up the ground and the moment of truth. I touch the end of the cutter or torch to the metal and hit the trigger and nothing... recheck everything and nothing.

    Check the plasma cutter box the third time and sure enough there is a small switch set to air and not cut. Lol, flip the switch and the cutting wand stops hissing air. Ok, so touch the tip of the torch to the metal and press the trigger. A small arch lights for a second and then the air hits it and the plasma fires off and blows sparks all over the floor. I begin to move the torch down the length of the steel and seemingly effortlessly I am cutting steel as easily as making a mark with a sharpie marker.

    This is a guy who has used grinders, sawsalls and cut off machines. They are all difficult to use and require cutting oil with the blades or lots of sparks with the wheels and might sling your work across the room or into you. Hard, jarring and dangerous work. The plasma cutter by contrast is like gliding a hot knife thru butter. I know that’s a tired eufamism but it’s wickedly efficient. Honestly like a Star Wars light saber. I am giddy as a school boy.

    I need a lot of practice but WOW, I wish I had this many years ago. The results are quite spectacular.
     
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