Do I need a plasma cutter?

Hi all,
Got a couple of pennies burning a hole in my pocket, and was thinking: how much do I need a plasma cutter? So I'm asking the gurus: you
peeps.
I do basic metal-working, just learning and for my own amusement. Have patched up the odd car, do bits on me motorbikes. Got a lathe, MIG welder and a bandsaw. Always fancied a plasma cutter to save the tedium when sawing up bits of metal by hand and shaping them with a file/mangle grinder.
What other entertainment can be had with one? Is it essential for some jobs? Cutting circles/shapes out of plate steel? What can't or shouldn't be cut?
Cheers,
Zed
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we have a plasma at work not that much use in home workshop unless you cut a lot of sheeting and from my experience the cut on thick material is never square now a TIG is another mater just my two bobs worth
Andrew

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I don't know - I just got one and am well impressed. Haven't done a lo
with it yet except for cutting some 2X2 box that I had lying around bu it is seriously quick and neat once you find the right setting for wha you are cutting. I would consider it as a good replacement for an angl grinder and a lot more flexible for awkward shapes. (But then I did ge a Tig first)
Then of course you start looking at CNC tables for the plasma hmmmm...
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I do quite some stuff like furniture, doors, frames and that. And I never had the feeling I need one. I have a hose-saw (AKA OA-cutter) and I used it 2 times IIRC. If you have only TIG, buy a MIG, then you *could* crank out enough steel constructions to justify a plasma cutter. And still I don't have a plasma cutter.
Nick
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Zed
I've got a 150A baby inverter TIG which I wouldn't want to be without, but the BOC account/argon cylinder rental is a cost I could well do without. (66 a year rental and refills about the same price) I like the idea of a plasma cutter to play with, but I believe I am better off paying for commercial laser cutting when I need a fancy bit cutting out. (All amateur/hobby use)
Steve (Sheffield)
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On 1 Mar 2007 08:11:05 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I've had plasma cutters for years, they are great for cutting thin plate with minimal distortion. I used to do quite a bit of steel boat cabin work in 3mm & 4mm plate, ideal for that. To be honest, for thinner stuff you're probably better with a shear or nibbler, & for thicker stuff O/A is easier unless you have lots of power and money. It's harder to cut shapes, and to a line, with an ordinary hand-held plasma torch than it is with Oxy/Acetylene, partly because the kerf is much thinner but also because the torch isn't so easy to guide. If you're cutting a lot of 'thicker' material (plate rather than sheet), the cost of consumables becomes quite significant. I don't think I've used mine for at least 6 months, I now use a portable circular saw for jobs where I might have used the plasma before. Don't forget they need a supply of good dry air. I don't know how good the machines with built-in compressor might be. O/A is pretty good for circles in plate, don't forget there are sheet metal nozzles for cutting thin stuff with less distortion. For very thin stuff, the sheer speed you have to move a plasma torch can be a drawback to getting a good controlled cut. Plasma will cut most electrically conducting materials. Yes a plasma cutter can be very useful. No it wouldn't be high on my list of equipment to buy for a home shop, or even for my boat repair work now if I didn't already have one.
HTH
Tim
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Thanks all. I've got a fair sized compressor, but looks like plasma isn't the way forward.
TIG is also very interesting, but I would want to weld aluminum: borken engine casting etc.
but I understand TIG welding to be quite difficult to master, much more so than MIG. Or am I just being a wuss & should just learn?
Cheers,
Zed
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

This will set you back a lot! 200A AC/DC TIG is *not* cheap, but the minimum for such work and certainly will prevent money burning holes in your pocket for the rest of the year. Got an offer for a used 150 AC/DC TIG but won't help me. 40A per mm thickness if you want to do Al. Got OA already for preheating? :-))
Thick Al is cheaper with MIG, but doesn't look that nice. I have welded 10mm Al (from both sides; bit of preheating for the start) with my 200A MIG/MAG. Feel it would go even higher.
Nick
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On or around 1 Mar 2007 13:11:19 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com enlightened us thusly:

Tig is like gas welding, you use a filler rod, just that you use an electic arc for heating rather than a flame. It even looks a bit like a flame.
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On Fri, 02 Mar 2007 13:55:57 +0000, Austin Shackles

I've known two welding pros enthuse about TIG as the best welding process since sliced bread, etc. It is very similar to gas welding, but the heating is more intense/localised which can be a bonus or a disadvantage according to circumstances. Also control of the torch is rather more critical than with a gas torch, to avoid contaminating the electrode etc. I don't pretend to be very good at either, but am more relaxed about gas welding.
Cheers Tim
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Thanks all. I have a MIG machine that I sometimes make a disgusting mess with and sometimes produce nice welds. I hadn't previously considered OA, but I'm now looking at a small kit on ebay that's quite local.
Aldready got an account with BOC, not used much tho. One bottle of argoweld has lasted me some time.
If I get OA kit, I can use it for brazing / silver soldering as well? lower heat / different filler rods? Or am I being thick again?
Cheers,
Zed
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Yes. And for heat treating, cutting, forging, blackening, bending, pulling things straight, demolition of a house within a second, loosening rusty nuts, getting ball bearings off a shaft, ...
Nick
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wrote:

well?
pulling
rusty
you forgot to add - opening bank vaults when the cash runs low <G>
AWEM
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Andrew Mawson wrote:

Nick
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See, it's the exploding of my house bit that's always put me off before.
Seems like an inappropriate tool for a bank job too:
"hands up! give me the muney or I'll weld all yer tills shut...."
P'raps there's a manual for that too?
Cheers,
Zed
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On 3 Mar 2007 03:25:08 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Yes and yes. Far better that struggling with a propane torch. There's probably a good book for beginners on this sort of thing, maybe worth looking out for one? If you do go for TIG, there are a couple of useful online guides. Maybe something similar for O/A.
Cheers Tim
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On Sat, 03 Mar 2007 14:05:50 +0000, Tim Leech

Sorry that should read yes, yes and no. I wasn't suggesting you were being thick <g>
Cheers Tim
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LOL I wouldn't have taken any offence Tim!
Thank you for your help. I'm reading up on the interweb about OA.
Cheers,
Zed
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