Do YOU know how to pick the best plasma cutter

Do YOU know how to pick the best plasma cutter?

Plasma cutters are tools that are used in cutting steel and other metals. Extremely powerful and versatile, they are capable of cutting through inches of steel as if it were made of butter. Useful for many, this tool is mainly used in welding workshops or industrial sites, but not exclusively.

If you are in the market for a new plasma cutter, it is likely that you are familiar with the tool. You are aware of the way it works, and you know the things it can do. But do you know which is the best plasma cutter on the market?

An amazing tool only improved over time

Plasma cutters are very useful tools and are used far and wide. They've come a long way since their introduction to the world, too. You might say that the technology of plasma cutting has evolved a lot over the years, starting with the welding technology of the 1960s. Back then, plasma cutters were massive and difficult to operate.

What you get these days is something portable, immensely powerful, and most of all - readily available. You don't need to be a professional to use a plasma cutter, as they are available to us all. While of course, you need to stay safe, even a hobbyist is allowed to own a plasma cutter.

Which brings us to the problem… How do you pick the best plasma cutter? There are many, and if you are in the market for your first one or you're looking to upgrade, you might be wondering what to really look for.

Each brand will tell you that theirs is the best plasma cutter on the market - but as we all know, that's not necessarily true.

The purpose of this guide is to present you the plasma cutters we, after hours of research, have deemed to be some of the best currently available. However, we're not just here to show you the product - we are here to help you choose.

More than just plasma cutters

As plasma cutting and welding go hand in hand in many workshops, we will also cover the topic of flux core welders for your convenience. We want to be sure that you know about all the tools that might interest you, whether for your hobby or for your job.

In our extensive buyer's guide, we will cover everything you need to know to make the best possible choice - an informed choice. Plasma cutters and flux core welders are a purchase that you want to hold on to for years and years. With our help, we are certain that you will be happy with your decision.

Below you will find our list of the best plasma cutters currently on the market.

Category One: Four fantastic plasma cutters to revolutionize your workshop

THE WINNER - HEROCUT Plasma Cutter

THE WINNER - HEROCUT Plasma Cutter

OUR RATING: 

At the top of the list is HEROCUT'S CNC Plasma Cutter, which we firmly believe to be the best plasma cutter currently on the market. It's an impressive tool, powerful, durable and versatile. But those are just words. Why is this HEROCUT plasma cutter so great?

First of all, this product is one of the most portable single phase inverter cutting machines available right now. This is the type of product that can be used anywhere - in a large industrial workshop or in your own garage. Immensely ergonomic and easy to carry - and these are the words of people that already use and enjoy this machine.

This is a CUT55 machine with a non-HF pilot arc. It was made with advanced, reliable and cutting-edge digital IGBT inverter technology, which allows it to deliver the best performance we have seen.

As mentioned, this is a compact plasma cutter that packs a lot of punch for its manageable size. It only weighs a light 16 pounds, which means that you will have no problem maneuvering it as needed. It's very well suited to work with CNC tables and will function well in such a setting.

This HEROCUT product has an aircheck function, and it is fan cooled to ensure durability. You are at no risk of this machine overheating when you use it, even if you intend to use it for longer periods of time. It's also a non-touch plasma cutter, which ensures a longer lifespan of consumables.

Specifications and performance

Specifications and performance

As far as plasma cutters go, this one has a lot of cutting power. It's suitable for cutting copper, iron, aluminium metal, stainless steel and more. The cutting process is easy and simple, and the cut surface comes out perfectly smooth.

This CNC plasma cutter is easy to operate in terms of settings. The display shows cutting amps and helps you adjust the current to cut a different metal. It delivers a 20mm clean cut under 70PSI, and a 25mm severance cut - and it does so with ease.

It has an input voltage of 110/220V, and a current range of 20A-50A. The torch length is impressive and presents another great perk of this machine - it measures at 5 meters, while the earth cable measures at 3 meters.

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Pros
  • Great cutting power – cuts through stainless steel, aluminium metal, iron, copper & more with an ease.

  • Comes with everything you need – in the box, aside from the plasma cutter, you’ll find a Non-HF pilot arc cutting torch with cable, air regulator, earth cable, 5 electrodes, 5 tips, an air hose and a comprehensive manual.

  • Light – weighing only 16 lbs, this is a very portable plasma cutter.

  • 20mm clean – cut, 25mm severance cut – both smooth

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Cons
  • The packaging of consumables could be improved.

This is our winner for a reason. If you are looking for the best plasma cutter for the money, this HEROCUT machine is worth a solid look.

RUNNER-UP - Lotos Plasma Cutter

OUR RATING: 

Our runner-up presents an almost equally solid choice to HEROCUT, and has an advantage over the former - it's extremely affordable. In fact, we are able to say with confidence that this is the best plasma cutter under $500 - and we are here to explain why.

While still portable, this plasma cutter is a little heavier compared to our winner and weighs in at 26 lbs. It does, however, have a very ergonomic design with an easy-grip handle that will make carrying it a breeze. It was made out of durable material, and has a few features that ensure a longer lifespan.

This is a non-touch pilot arc plasma cutter. Pilot arc technology means that you will be able to cut without touching the tip to the metal. As a result, you can expect excellent cutting quality and a longer consumable life out of this plasma cutter.

It's impressively efficient at cutting through rough, painted, and rusty surfaces. There aren't many things that this machine won't be able to cut, and when it does, it produces minimal slag. Some of the things this machine can effortlessly cut through are: alloy steel, copper, mild steel, stainless steel, and aluminium.

Lotos uses a non-hazardous compressed air technology for cutting through metals. This makes it safe to use for both the user and the metals you're working on. You can freely expect clean cuts from this machine.

Safe, affordable, and powerful

Those are the three words we would probably describe this plasma cutter with, if you asked us to. Here's why.

It also comes with a PAPST advanced cooling system that ensures the cutter has a stable and reliable high performance. The rated output was measured at 100 volts. It also has automatic dual voltage and frequency, rated at 110/120 V and 220/240 V, 50/60Hz.

This Lotos plasma cutter has a pre-installed NPT ¼" industry type D plug. It also has an air filter regulator that allows you to swiftly connect to your air compressor. To do this, you will be using the stand coupler that comes with your air compressor.

For the above reasons, the whole machine is incredibly quick to setup - you can expect that to take only one minute. This is a machine that will save you time in your workshop, be it at work or at home.

The thing you probably care about the most is the cutting power of this affordable machine. Luckily, a budget product doesn't mean a bad product - definitely not in this case. This machine delivers superior performance.

When you start your work with Lotos, you will receive a 10-50 A DC output, ½" perfect clean cut and ¾" maximum severance cut when under 220/240V. When under 110/120V, expect ⅓" ideal clean cut and ⅖" maximum severance cut. You can rest assured that this machine will plough through metal like it's nothing.

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Pros
  • Non-touch pilot arc for efficient cutting through rough, painted and rusty surfaces.

  • Produces minimal slag.

  • A great choice for a hobby cutter, as it’s very easy to use.

  • Safe and low cost to use.

  • Quick to set up

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Cons
  • The ground cable is a little short.

  • This machine may use more consumables than some of its counterparts.

OUR FIRST ALTERNATIVE - Hypertherm Plasma System

OUR RATING: 

If our first two picks didn't catch your attention, we are certain that this Hypertherm machine will be a strong contender.

While this is not the most important feature of a plasma cutter, this is a good looking, sturdy machine that has an unconventional shape and color scheme. It's well made, using good materials, and you can expect it to be durable.

The Duramax LT torch design grants you a steady, comfortable grip. The whole machine was made from heat- and impact-resistant material, making it suited for any type of workshop scenario. To further ensure your safety, Hypertherm includes a pair of eye shields with this product.

Other than the eye shields, you will receive a hard carry case, gloves, a shoulder strap, standard consumables and fine cut consumables. This is definitely one of the better-equipped plasma cutters on the market, and it comes with a lot of extras.

Hypertherm's Powermax line is well-known in the industry. The manufacturer states that this line will help you get your cutting and going jobs done faster, with ease, and with the utmost reliability… Not to mention low cost.

Excellent performance in a 2-in-1 package

Excellent performance

This plasma cutter has an innovative two-in-one cutting design. It provides high-power capability for cutting thick metals, plus FineCut consumables for precise, thin metal cuts.

It comes with the plug adapters already included and has an auto-voltage that automatically adapts to 110 V - 240 V input power depending on what you're doing. As far as cutting power goes, the high-power cutting setting goes up to 16 mm (⅝") plus Fine Cut consumables for detailed, thin metals.

Hypertherm is capable of cutting through any kind of metal with ease. You can expect it to effortlessly deal with stainless steel, mild steel (even rusted or painted), aluminum & more.

This machine is considered to be very easy to use. It has a single-knob interface and is extremely portable, small in size and light, weighing in at only 9.8 kg. The carry strap only improves the portability rate of this product.

For extra protection in demanding environments, you will find strain reliefs on both ends. It's also worth noting that this machine only uses safe compressed air, which means that no expensive and explosive gases will be needed.

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Pros
  • Comes with an array of extra equipment, such as eye shields, gloves, shoulder strap & more.

  • Perfect for hobbyists, while still being suitable for a workshop environment.

  • Safe to use

  • Excellent cutting performance

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Cons
  • This is a small portable plasma cutter and may not be suited for everything.

OUR SECOND ALTERNATIVE - PRIMEWELD Plasma Cutter

OUR RATING: 

While this is our final choice on this list, it is by no means bad. In fact, this PRIMEWELD product is, in our opinion, the best cut 50 plasma cutter currently on the market.

This 50 amp digital air inverter plasma cutter is capable of handling up to ½" (with a maximum severance thickness of ¾") without any problem. PRIMEWELD designed this one for both commercial users (such as those working in industrial or construction environments) and hobbyists working at home.

Whether you work in an industrial workshop or in your own garage, you will find that this plasma cutter comes in handy in all sorts of scenarios. The machine itself is handy too, and you can tell right away that it is durable.

Covered in a shiny black coating, it weighs in at an acceptable 26 lbs. It has an ergonomic handle that makes for easy and safe portability.

Another upside of this product is that it is very affordable. If you are looking for a portable plasma cutter that won't break the bank, consider this one. It's a lot of things, but it's most definitely not pricey - but it still manages to pack quite a nice punch.

Ultimate performance and reliability

Ultimate performance and reliability

This powerful tool is capable of cutting stainless steel, mild steel, copper, aluminium, alloy steel, and other metals without as much as breaking a sweat. Another great thing is the dual voltage capability of this machine, which allows it to run directly on 220 V 50/60 Hz power, or on 110 V 50/60Hz.

PRIMEWELD based this high-quality plasma cutter on the optimized design of state-of-the-art MOSFET transistors. They firmly believe in the reliability and durability of their product, which is why they offer a three-year solid warranty. This is actually a major plus - a lot of plasma cutters come with limited warranties, some even shorter.

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Pros
  • Handles up to ½” (and max severance thickness of ¾”) with ease

  • High-quality materials made with durability in mind. All parts and service are handled in the USA.

  • Very portable and safe to carry.

  • One of the best 50 amp plasma cutters on the market.

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Cons
  • This is not a non-touch plasma cutter. As you have to touch the surface, the tip may wear out faster.


Category Two: The best flux core welder on the market

Now that you've acquainted yourself with our top plasma cutter picks, take a look at this fantastic flux core welder - the sole winner in Category Two of our listing.

We know that plasma cutting and welding go hand in hand, and you may need both - whether at work or at home. For your convenience, we have tried out a few different MIG welders and we are happy to recommend the one listed below.

OUR WINNER - Hobart MIG Welder

OUR WINNER - Hobart MIG Welder

OUR RATING: 

Having covered the best plasma cutters, we move on to the best flux core welder out there. As we know that most workshop workers or enthusiasts are versatile, we firmly believe that this Hobart welder will prove useful.

This is a powerful machine that is known on the market and loved by many. It's a wire feed welder that provides an affordable alternative to weld aluminium with a small frame MIG welder. It's very convenient and quick to use, also due to the spool gun circuitry. It is already built-in, so you won't be needing any extra kits or controls.

The machine itself weighs a hefty 78 pounds, but it's still quite light for a MIG welder. When you pick up this welder, you'll be getting the whole package.

As mentioned above, you won't be needing any extras with this welder. It comes with an impressive number of necessities, lowering the need to spend any extra money.

In the box, you will find:

  • Handler 190 with its built-in gas valve,
  • a 10 ft. MIG gun,
  • a 10 ft work cable & clamp,
  • a dual gauge regulator with gas hose,
  • 10 ft power cord,
  • extra .030 contact tips,
  • a sample spool of .030 flux-cored wire,
  • an 8-inch spool adapter,
  • a comprehensive manual,
  • a setup guide.


For welding projects that require exceptional power

For welding projects that require exceptional power

This is a heavy-weight welder that will be able to handle almost anything. While it is perfectly suited to smaller projects, you will also be able to tackle heavy-duty jobs with this one.

You can use it for welding:

  • exhaust systems,
  • mower decks,
  • auto body panels,
  • trailer frames & hitches,
  • tool carts,
  • lawn & garden equipment,
  • metal sculpture,
  • farm equipment,
  • fences,
  • and hundreds of other D-I-Y or commercial projects.

It is spool gun ready for welding aluminium. You can also directly plug-in the optional (not included) SpoolRunner 100 spool gun to eliminate all sorts of feeding problems that come with aluminium wire welding. You won't need any additional control box or adapter to connect the SpoolRunner 100.

This is a 230 volt wire welder with industrial performance. It has a 25 to 190 output amperage, making it quite powerful. For your convenience, it comes with 7 voltage selections and infinite wire feed speed control for precise control of the output parameters.

You can use it as a MIG welder (with gas) or a flux core welder (no gas). Lastly, this product comes with a lengthy 5-year limited warranty.

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Pros
  • Powerful, but suited for both industrial and home use.

  • Enhanced magnetics.

  • Suited to heavy-duty welding projects.

  • 5-year limited warranty.

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Cons
  • The included wire is only a flux core wire. If you want a standard wire, you need to get it separately.

  • The cooling fan makes a little noise.

Buyer's Guide

We hope that our comprehensive review of the top four plasma cutters and the best flux core welder on the market helped you in making your decision. However, we firmly believe that a decision should be based on more than just a review, even if the review comes from a reliable source.

The importance of choosing carefully

Your future plasma cutter or flux core welder is going to serve you for years. We can advise you on the best products on the market, but we can't know what you are specifically interested in. That's why, in order to pick the best of the best for you, you will have to ask yourself a few questions.

What do I need my new machine to do? How powerful does it need to be? Am I going to use it at work or at home? Do I need it to be very light and portable, or will I mostly keep it in one place?

These are just some of the questions you should consider prior to making your purchase. However, even knowing exactly what you need may not suffice - this is where we come in.

When choosing your new machine, be it a plasma cutter or a welder, you will need to consider a whole array of factors. It's important not to rush this process, to carefully review all the products you're interested in, and make an informed decision.

We want you to make a decision that you will be happy with for years. For this reason, we ask that you consult our comprehensive buyer's guide.

What to pay attention to when choosing your new plasma cutter?

As said above, a plasma cutter is a purchase that is made once and held on to for many years. Many factors come into play when you choose the best plasma cutter. Here are the most important ones.

Cutting speed

Cutting speed

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This is an obvious one. Different projects require different speeds, so first, ask yourself what kind of things you will be making. Your goal is to get the machine that is most tailored to your needs.

Before making your purchase, you will need to determine the thickness of the metal, as well as how fast you want to cut it. Some plasma cutters provide cutting qualities such as a quality cut, rated cut, and severe cut. But what do those mean?

Quality cut gives excellent quality cutting of thick materials. However, it also takes up a little more time.

Rated cut is the best of all three - it is known to provide the best and highest quality cut. In this situation, the plasma cutter will be used for cutting through mild and less thick steel. This will be done at the maximum cutting speed. Due to the relatively light metal, the cut will come out smooth and clean.

Severe cut is the slowest of all three, but it is capable of cutting through the thickest of materials. This is a heavy-duty type of cut that will withstand almost anything. The speed, slow at first, increases as your machine cuts through the metal. It's worth noting that this cut requires the most clean-up of the three.

While most plasma cutters can handle all of the above, some are better suited for a specific type of metal. This is why, before you make your choice, try to decide on which metals you will be using the most of all.

Duty cycle

This is yet another crucial feature that you must consider before making your decision. Some may even call it the most important of all. What exactly do you need to consider?

This all depends on how often you will be using your new plasma cutter. If you are a hobbyist, it's likely that you won't use it as much as a person working in an industrial setting would. This means less general wear-and-tear, but it also affects the duty cycle.

The plasma cutter that has a higher maximum amperage output will generally have a longer duty cycle. Those with lower amperage, on the other hand, will have a smaller duty cycle. If you plan on using your plasma cutter consistently during long shifts at work, you definitely need a one with a high maximum amperage rating.

Input power

This is a factor that is often overlooked when purchasing a new plasma cutter, but it definitely shouldn't be. That's why it's quite high up on our list.

Almost every plasma cutter requires high amounts of electricity to be used. That's just how it is - they are powerful, industrial machines that will rack up a bit of a power bill. Fortunately, in a home setting, you won't notice it as badly due to the lower use. In an industrial setting, the power bills are equivalent to the amount of work being done and aren't a major issue.

plasma cutter requires high amounts of electricity

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Plasma cutters are generally designed to operate at 110 volts or 220 volts. As said above, they all have amperage ratings. You have to make your decision based on the minimum amperage requirement of the plasma cutter. It has to match the electrical outlet that you will be using - the outlet has to be able to handle the plasma cutter.

A handy tip is to dedicate an entire separate outlet for the plasma cutter. Why? Because if you also plug in other appliances, they will be taking power away directly from the plasma cutter. This can be problematic, so ideally, you will want to have a dedicated outlet.

Air supply

The vast majority of handheld plasma cutters use normal air for the cutting process. Some users, especially in industrial settings, may opt for using bottled nitrogen as opposed to bottled air. The reason for that is bottled nitrogen is less expensive, but that's not all. Nitrogen is believed to be drier than compressed air, which makes it suited for stainless steel cutting projects. It's also assumed to produce less oxidation.

If you intend for your plasma cutter to be portable, it might be troublesome to have to also carry a bottle of gas along with the machine. In those situations, if you're cutting thinner materials, you may consider getting a plasma cutter that comes with a built-in air compressor. This feature makes the plasma cutter light and portable, and also saves some money.

Start

Plasma cutters usually have two kinds of start-ups: contact start and high-frequency start which initiates the pilot arc. Why is this important? Because if you are planning on using the plasma cutter near any electronic devices (such as a telephone, computer, television), a high-frequency machine may cause several disruptions and interferences on those appliances.

A plasma cutter with contact start technology does not cause any interferences. It also grants you a visible pilot arc, which helps you position the torch.

If you don't plan to use your plasma cutter around any type of electronic devices, you can freely pick a high-frequency cutter. Otherwise, consider one that uses the contact start technology.

Surroundings

The environment and the surroundings are two key factors in choosing the right plasma cutter for you or your business. A dirty environment will provide dirty air supply to the plasma cutter, which affects a plethora of factors.

As an example, a lot of dust and dirt will affect both the cutting accuracy and how clean the cut is, but also the durability of your device. How to prevent that?

There are specialty plasma cutters on the market, built for environments with heavy dust and metal shavings. They come with a built-in fan or wind tunnel technology which works to prevent issues and increase accuracy even in dire circumstances.

When it comes to the wind tunnel design, the cooling air is flown through the device without blowing over any electrical components. It blocks the dust and dirt from settling on the PC board of your plasma cutter.

With the fan-on-demand design, the cooling fan only runs when necessary, once again preventing dirt from entering your machine. If you work in a dirty environment, such as a workshop full of heavy metal shavings, consider purchasing a plasma cutter that uses these technologies.

Portability

Although portability may not be the most important factor, it is still something to consider. How often you may need to move around with your machine will affect the type of plasma cutter you might want to purchase. Some plasma cutters can weigh a lot more than others. The lightest cutter on our list weighs a mere 16 lbs, making it suited for those that are often on the move.

Whether you move around a lot largely depends on not just the setting that you work in, but also the type of material you will be dealing with. If you can see yourself often needing to walk from one job to another, consider buying a plasma cutter that is on the lighter side.

Consumables

This is a quick one, but definitely worth considering. Your plasma cutter will come with a few consumables already included, but there will come a time when you need to restock. Before you order your new machine, make sure that the consumables are readily available too.

What to consider when buying a flux core welder?

What to consider when buying a flux core welder

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While we have one flux core welder on our list, we still want to make sure that you are familiar with the things you should consider prior to making your purchase. Much like a plasma cutter, the welder is a machine that you will not be buying again for many years. This is why it's so important to pick one that you will be happy with.

Below you will find a quick list of things to consider when picking up your new flux core welder.

Input power

A typical welding machine can run on 110V or 220V circuits. A lot of welders - including the one you found on our list - offer a dual voltage capability, which greatly increases welding flexibility. This is definitely something you will want in a new welder.

Material type

If you are going to be welding thicker material, input power once again plays a key role here. For thicker material, we recommend picking a 220V capable machine with a high maximum amp rating. Keep in mind that higher voltage doesn't necessarily mean more power.

Amp rating

When it comes to welding machines, the amp rating will give you a good idea about the potential of the welder. It shows how thick or thin the material has to be. If you know you will be working with thick materials, consider a machine with high maximum amp rating.

Duty cycle

Just like with plasma cutters, the duty cycle for flux core welders measures how long within a 10 minute period the welder can produce a welder current. If you need a machine that can continuously operate for longer periods of time, you should take a good look at the duty cycle.

Heat protection

This is a fantastic feature that is definitely worth keeping in mind. Welding machines operate under extreme conditions sometimes, and heat overload is not that rare. A machine with a built-in heat overload protection system will make sure that the MIG machine is shut off if it overheats.

Heat protection systems defend both the machine and your workplace. If possible, especially for the welders that are going to be used frequently, consider this feature.

Other factors

Other minor factors that we highly recommend you consider are:

Wire size & type

Budget

Conclusion

Whether it's a plasma cutter that you need or a flux core welder, our aim with this article was to properly acquaint you with both of those machines. We know that workshop environments aren't easy - whether you cut or weld for a living or as a hobby. Choosing the right machine is more crucial than ever in such places.

If your mind is still not made up, we invite you to once again review our list of best plasma cutters. Our winner, the 120/240v CNC Plasma Cutter Non-HF Pilot Arc Blowback Arc Starting Inverter Plasma Cutter 50Amps Dual Voltage 120v, is a powerhouse tool fit for an industrial or home setting.

 Take the time to review all the particulars, consider every factor, and we are confident that you will make a decision that you will be happy with.

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