Best plasma cutter for the money?

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I recently had a burglury at my home. I lost a Miller Spectrum 625 and
a Millermatic 251.  The Miller Spectrum 625 was o.k. but always seemed
slightly underpowered.  I operate a feedmill and a couple of retail
stores.  Maintenance is in-house and we fab a lot of our own parts and
some products(gates, panels,round pens etc.)  Occasionally I or my
employees need to cut or sever plate greater than 1/2".  I have heard
good things about Hypertherm and Thermaldynamics, and I know the
quality of Miller. But can anyone help me narrow my choice?


Re: Best plasma cutter for the money?

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For cutting power you can't beat Hypertherm.
They rule the plasma market.
Look for a Powermax 800 or 1000.

--
Welding Instructor - South Seattle Comm. Coll.
                   - Divers Institute of Technology
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Re: Best plasma cutter for the money?
Hypertherm makes the Miller Plasma cuters.  The 380 costs about $150 for
blue paint.

--
J Miller
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Re: Best plasma cutter for the money?
Thank you.  I appreciate your advice.

w


Re: Best plasma cutter for the money?


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I have read on the spec sheet that it has a 3/4" capacity.  I like to buy
for more than I need, planning for the unexpected.  If I was to need a
machine for mostly cutting, say, 1/8" to 1/4" materials, would this be a
good one?  Or, would its bigger size make it cut more ragged?  Or could I
use this equally well for thin as well as thicker metals?

Steve



Re: Best plasma cutter for the money?

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The bigger the torch the more the parts cost, so too big of a cutter can
be more expensive to feed.

The 800 can cut 3/4" clean and sever 1".
The smaller 650 cuts 1/2" and severs 3/4", but also cuts sheet metal
cleaner than the 800.

--
Welding Instructor - South Seattle Comm. Coll.
                   - Divers Institute of Technology
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Re: Best plasma cutter for the money?

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Thanks.  That about answers my question.  In reality, I would be cutting
sheet metal to 3/8" materials.  I have long ago quit horsing steel due to
two shoulder surgeries, two neck injuries, and a sternum dissection from
CABGX5.  The 650 would be nice for when I DO need it for 1/2", but that
would be probably a couple of times a year.  Is there one you would
recommend for 3/8" and less, or would the 650 be the one?  And just have
that reserve capability in case?

Thanks, man.  You're a jewel.

Steve, an ex commercial diver



Re: Best plasma cutter for the money?
On Mon, 20 Mar 2006 19:25:49 -0800, "Steve B"

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  The one thing about plasma cutters is that power corresponds with
the speed of the cut. If you try to size the plasma cutter to just
barely enough then you must travel slow (about the same as a cutting
torch). For me this makes it difficult to maintain a even cutting
speed when using a straight edge guide thus I might as well use a
torch. Personally for 3/8" I'd rather use a Powermax 1000 than a 650.

  In addition to this I was just involved in a change over of a torch
on a Powermax 900 being used on a plasma cutting table. The old torch
was the same design as is still used on the 650 while the new torch is
the same as the one that came with my 1250. It was a night and day
difference in cut quality and the owner has already reported better
consumable life to me. This is in addition to the new torch has better
visibility and easier straight edge guide use than the old design.

  From what I've managed to find so far the new torch design is only
shipped on the Powermax 1000 and larger cutters so far. I'm sure
they're eventually going to upgrade the smaller machines but at the
moment I feel that the extra money for the 1000 is worth it.

Re: Best plasma cutter for the money?


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Thanks for the great info.  I tend to buy more than I need for that once in
a while occasion.  But, it is good to hear that the torch will cut smaller
stuff, too, and do it well, as this will be the bulk of my cutting.  And, at
some time in the future, I may need a torch for a CNC table.

Steve



Re: Best plasma cutter for the money?
On Mon, 20 Mar 2006 21:59:53 -0800, "Steve B"

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 They've got some new tips out for 10ga and thinner called Finecut and
from what I hear they work very well for fine detail work. I've not
used the ones I bought yet myself for a first hand experience but
those tips where one of the reasons that my friend changed his machine
torch from the old to the new design.

  The large tips (mine uses 80 amp tips) will cut the thin stuff just
fine and very fast. But they do leave a larger kerf than the smaller
tips. I've got some 40 amp tips for really thin work and they do work
well if cutting thin stock and you don't travel to fast. But I prefer
to use the big tips and cut fast for most of my work.

Re: Best plasma cutter for the money?

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If you are going to cut a lot of 3/8" then I would stick with the 650.

I have a Thermal dynamics Pak38XL which is equivalent to the Hypertherm
380.

It is a dual voltage machine which was very important to me since at the
time I bought it I was doing a lot of onsite stainless sheet metal.
It can cut up to 1/4" on 110 volt and up to 3/8" on 220 volt.

3/8" is really it's upper limit.

The Hypertherm 380 does the same thing but with a little more power.

Traditionally Thermal Dynamics had a finer cut and Hypertherm had more
power.

Not sure exactly how they compare now, but they both make good plasma
cutters.

If running off of 110 volt isn't important, then stick with the larger
650.

--
Welding Instructor - South Seattle Comm. Coll.
                   - Divers Institute of Technology
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Re: Best plasma cutter for the money?

Ernie Leimkuhler wrote:
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Re: Best plasma cutter for the money?
I trust that you know your stuff on Hypertherm. I stopped over to the
local shop yesterday to see what they had on special. They were
offering the 1000 for a few hundred off list. But, the difference
between that one and the 1250 was about $800. Not so online. Much
better pricing. Sure, get your parts, consumbables where you can, maybe
local, maybe not.

That is another topic for a post.. Sure, we all want to support our
local shops, but I have mixed feelings about these guys, in particular,
with the bogus HazMat fees I have been hit with.

OK BACK TO BURNERS!!!  Can it be said that I will get a decent thin
metal cut if I reduce the amperage and use a smaller?? Electrode, cup,
torch???  I don't have any reall experience with plasma cutters. But, I
want to be able to cut just over a inch. When looking at the prices, on
line,, I am tending to thing I want the 1250. Even as a home owner,, I
like to play with metal. I have a Bobcat loader that could use some
hard facing on the general purpose bucket. And probably on the backhoe
bucket, when I actually get one. Blasting holes into 1" steel for the
pins, etc is a very real possiblity. Only the mind presents the limit
(actually, the service to my house does :-((  )

The T80 torch comes with the 1250, and the t60 with the 1000.. I will
go look up the difference for prices for the consumables. I will admit,
most of the cutting will be around 3/8-1/2. On occasion I will need
thicker, and on occasion I will need thinner.

Regards, glad I found this site.


Ernie Leimkuhler wrote:
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Re: Best plasma cutter for the money?
wrote:


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  I have the 1250. It'll do a clean cut on 1" but you have to go
pretty slow. As for the thin yes you can put a 40 amp tip in the torch
and cut thin metal. My experience has been that you only want to do
this with really thin metal. The 80 amp tip with a fast travel speed
does a really clean cut on 16ga and thinner but has a slightly bigger
kerf.

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  The parts are the same in both torches. The only difference is in
the largest nozzles used. In fact you can use any of the nozzles in
either but for the 80amp machine you need the 80amp nozzle. I believe
that the only real difference in the two torches is in the size of the
wire running from the machine. They need to use a slightly larger size
for the 80 amp machine.

Re: Best plasma cutter for the money?
I wasn't sure about the 1250 after reading some of the posts, but I
figure I would rather err on the side of thick than thin.. If I read
your post correctly, I can get the machine to cut lighter effectively
with some adjustments, and/or minor changes. But,, if  the machine
doens't have the power to begin with, the thicker material won't be an
option at all.

The max input current is 70 with the 1250 and 50 with the 1000. Just
one more reason to get my service changed to the house.

Thanks Wayne, I did my taxes last night (Mr. Procrastinate) and it
looks like it is going to be PARTY TIME!!!!!!!!!!

I will have just enough to score a 1000, and I will kick in some extra
to get the bigger box. Just about anything you put onto a Bobcat starts
at $1000. The forks are one of the least expensive add-ons, but what do
you give someone who has it all?? A dumpster!!! That be said, having a
plasma to create some home brew attachments using the universal
mounting plate would be great. Cut clean and square, weld as needed,
AND GET'ER DONE!

Now it is just a matter of figuring which dealer to get it from. The
Ebay crowd(one of) kind of makes me a bit leary because I didn't see a
phone number offered. Where as the more mainstream dealers, who sell
on-line in addition to brick and morter, have the two machines of
interest for a couple of hundred more..

Anybody have preferences, or bad experiences to share??

Thanks.
BT


Re: Best plasma cutter for the money?
wrote:

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  All I can say is that after using plasma cutters of various flavors
(including some previous Hypertherm models) for 12 years is that the
new torch design they have (the T-60 and T-80) is like night and day
compared to all of them including Hypertherms former torches. Better
visibility, better cut quality, better consumable life, etc. A short
while back I cut a piece of 1" mild steel with a more than acceptable
cut and then without changing anything other than travel speed I cut
some 16ga sheet metal with a perfectly clean very little slag cut.

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  Yep.

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  Great.

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  Sounds like the 1250 is for you. The higher amperage capability
allows for faster travel during the cut. The only time I've wished for
higher capacity on mine was today. But then you don't cut notches in
2" thick wheel weights everyday. I got it done with the gouging tip
but it took some time.

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  I priced it online and then found that my dealer could get it to me
cheaper than they could. I saved about $200 going with my dealer.
However I'm what they call a drop dealer for them which gives me a
price break. But if you push them many dealers are able to cut you a
break on the price.

Re: Best plasma cutter for the money?
I wanted to give the business to the local guy, but the company is not
set up for the weekend warrior. They want the commercial accounts
before they talk discounts. I have a Miller Legend, an LTeck250 mig,
lincoln buzbox, CRAPsman junk, and various other buz boxes, gas
torch/tanks combos. My goal is to get into hifreq, tig, or something so
that I can weld up some underwater toys too. But,, if I had to pay the
prices around here, I wouldn't get much for the buck..

I may try one of my other big dealers. He may have some specials.

Thanks for the tips.


Re: Best plasma cutter for the money?
I wanted to give the business to the local guy, but the company is not
set up for the weekend warrior. They want the commercial accounts
before they talk discounts. I have a Miller Legend, an LTeck250 mig,
lincoln buzbox, CRAPsman junk, and various other buz boxes, gas
torch/tanks combos. My goal is to get into hifreq, tig, or something so
that I can weld up some underwater toys too. But,, if I had to pay the
prices around here, I wouldn't get much for the buck..

I may try one of my other big dealers. He may have some specials.

Thanks for the tips.


Re: Best plasma cutter for the money?
thanks for the tips Wayne. The local dealer doesn't seem to budge on
prices.

I have a Miller legend, Ltec MigMaster 250. tanks torches, and a bunch
of buzz boxes. I have been playing with welders since highschool.  I
don't do it for a living. Not sure if I would want to. My eyes are
going as it is. One part of getting older that really sucks.


Re: Best plasma cutter for the money?
thanks for the tips Wayne. The local dealer doesn't seem to budge on
prices.

I have a Miller legend, Ltec MigMaster 250. tanks torches, and a bunch
of buzz boxes. I have been playing with welders since highschool.  I
don't do it for a living. Not sure if I would want to. My eyes are
going as it is. One part of getting older that really sucks.


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