Plasma cutter advice needed

Looking to buy a Plasma cutter. Probably will never need to cut anything over 3/8 of an inch thick (I'll use my O/A set for thicker materials).

Any and all recommendations, advice etc. appreciated.

Ivan Vegvary Sandy, Oregon

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Ivan Vegvary
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I have a similar question about amperage. For my stuff I would like to get a clean cut up to about 3/4" material. This takes a lot of amperage. Unfortunately, the advertising for these things specifies a cut ability and then specify they can sever up to some higher figure. What is the reality on this? how do they justify where a "cut" changes to a "sever" (which I assume is one hell of a sloppy cut that one makes out of desperation).

Any input would be appreciated.


Ivan Vegvary wrote:

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In a word, Hypertherm, they are the best IMHO

Dave G.

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A 55 amp plasma cutter is typically rated to clean cut 3/4 inch mild steel. The cut rating is actually a speed rating. It is the thickest material the machine can cut with the torch moving at a rate greater than 10 inches per minute (optimum manual cut rate is considered about 100 inches per minute). You can sever thicker material by going slow, but the cut will be ragged.

These somewhat arbitrary numbers arise because the typical person's ability to maintain a smooth even torch movement is speed dependent. A machine driven cutter table can exceed these limits, but when cutting by hand you probably won't be able to do it.

If you look at the cut edge, you'll see a series of fine near vertical striations left by the plasma. They should lean back a bit along the direction of torch movement, but if they start to curve excessively, ie start looking like a series of 'J' shapes, then you're moving too fast for the material thickness and amperage, and the cut may not fully separate.

If you move too slow, these striations start to be large channels with grapes hanging off their lower ends, and the cut will be really nasty, a sever rather than a clean cut.


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Gary Coffman

--Get one you can carry without getting a hernia; some of those suckers are *heavy*. Get one that has qa place to store sundries, too or you'll be losing them all over the place.

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Hey all, Rule of thumb: "get a machine capable of handling the thickness you cut 80% of the time". Another consideration is cost and life span of consumables. I am going with a Hypertherm PowerMax 380.

1/4"happy cut, 3/8"max cut, 1/2" sever cut It lists for $1395 but you can get it for around $1150. The next unit up costs $500 more but is happy cutting 3/8, max 5/8 and will sever 7/8. Units with greater capacity get big heavy and expensive. Lots of shops and suppliers swear Hypertherm rules
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