How to Choose a Plasma Cutter

How to Choose a Plasma Cutter

How to Choose a Plasma Cutter

If you need to cut through metal, a plasma cutter may be the way for you to go. The oxy-acetylene torch is another viable alternative, but it’s only effective or cutting ferrous metals. The plasma cutter doesn’t care what kind of metal you need to cut, so long as it is electrically conductive, the plasma cutter will cut through it without any problems.

But how do you know where to start when choosing the right plasma cutter for your needs? The first thing to consider when choosing a new plasma cutter is what type of work you’ll need it for. More specifically, how thick will the thickest metal be that you will be cutting?

Cut Capacity

Plasma cutters are rated by output amperage. Mgder plasma cutters are available in either 40 or 60 amp output designs. Typically speaking, the higher the amperage output, the thicker the metal they can cut.

Additionally, each amperage version is available in two different start types. While all versions of the Mgder plasma cutters incorporate “Pilot Arc” which is a small starting arc circuit that allows the main cutting arc initiation without having to actually touch the plasma cutting tip to the work to establish that cutting arc, how that pilot arc starts differs between the Mgder models in two variations.

The first variation is called high-frequency start where an electric current actually initiates the pilot arc by triggering a high-frequency circuit when the user depresses the torch trigger. The other method is called Non-High frequency or “blowback”, which uses a mechanical means within the tip of the plasma cutter to start the initial pilot arc. In this design, the air pressure “blows back” a conductor which is held open by spring tension. Overcoming the spring tension and forcing the conductor back onto its seat, completing the pilot arc circuit.

In some cases the Non High frequency start version (NH) is preferred over the High frequency Start Version (Hsv) when use on CNC tables raises concern that (Hsv) would possibly interfere with computer circuitry, although today’s computer equipment is usually shielded from electrical noise.

Our Arccaptain CUT50 and our YesWelder CUT-55DS 60 Amp Inverter Contact Pilot Arc Plasma Cutter, for example, can cut through stainless steel, aluminum, copper, cast iron, carbon steel and all kinds of metal as thin as 24-gauge, or as thick as 0.787 inches, whereas our CUT40NH and our CUT40HSV 40 Amp Inverter HF Pilot Arc Plasma Cutters, (which comes at a lower price point), can cut through metal as thin as 24-gauge or as thick as 1/2 inch. Which amperage and which pilot arc design you choose is an individual choice based on your needs and or preferences.

Cut Quality

Cut quality is just as important as cut capacity. While you want to be able to cut through metals of your desired thickness, you’ll also want the cuts to be clean, especially for jobs where the overall appearance really matters. Smooth, clean cuts with a good plasma cutter can also save you a lot of time later in more detailed welding jobs as you won’t have to waste as much time cleaning your metals to give them a smooth appearance.

Our CUT40NH and CUT60NH 60 Amp Inverter Contact Pilot Arc Plasma Cutters both have blowback/contact pilot arc start, which helps make clean, fast cuts.

Voltage

Plasma cutters come in three main voltage options: 115V, 230V, or dual voltage. 115V should be fine for beginners who are using a standard home outlet, but if you are looking for a machine with more power for professional use, you may want 230V. Dual voltage plasma cutters are best for those who switch back and forth between different locations and need a machine that can adapt to different power sources. If you switch back and forth between home and a shop, dual voltage is definitely the way to go. You’ll also want to opt for a lighter weight and more portable plasma cutter if this is the case, as some machines can be quite heavy and difficult to transport.

Duty Cycle

Like with any welding machine, a plasma cutter’s duty cycle refers to how long it can be used continuously at maximum voltage. The higher the duty cycle is, the longer the plasma cutter can be used without having to rest.

We have plasma cutters with 60% at 60 Amp rated duty cycle and 60% at 40 Amp rated duty cycle.

Pilot Arc

A pilot arc feature can help you cut metal more precisely with a more stable arc. It can also help you cut through more types of metals including those that are a little bit rusty or have been painted. All of our plasma cutters have pilot arc features for maximum efficiency

Other Features

There are many other features that can make a plasma cutter more effective or easy to use.

Most of our plasma cutters have 2T/4T modes, which is useful when having a long cut to do as it saves work of holding the trigger down the whole time. You can also use any air compressor that puts out 50.7-65.3 psi with any of our plasma cutters to cut all exotic metals fast, clean, and effectively. Likewise, all of our plasma cutters also have high temp and overload protection with indication to prevent overheating.

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