Is this for a home shop or production environment? Any compressor that supplies the volume of air the cutter requires will be fine. Use a good filter and drier to clean the air. Your cutter will like you for it. Paul
This is for a home shop environment. It will be used 2 or 3 times a week for a few hours at a time. I'll be cutting lots of small to medium sized pieces and the occassional large piece. I must have the ability to produce nice clean lines through the metals.
The 3/8" steel requirement kicks you up to a 1/2" machine, like a Hypertherm 600. Otherwise I would recommend the Hypertherm Max30. It is tiny, portable, and will cut UP TO 3/8". So no extensive 3/8" cutting, but it will do it. They run around $1200 new.
1/2" machines jump up to $1800.
Hypertherm is the current king of plasma cutters. They share technology with Miller, so Miller's machines have similar specs, but Hypertherms tend to be a little better. Miller makes a similar machine to the Max30, but the Max30 has a newer torch design.
Thermal Dynamics is the second best plasma company . I have had one of their Pak38XL's for about 8 years and it has been a great machine. My plan is to sell my machine to the Divers Institute, where I teach , so I can get a Max30 for myself. I just really like the size and the torch design.
The unit is 'tiny' ! I like the compact size of it all.... Yeah, that Deluxe unit with the hardcase looks pretty sweet. It has the consumables and the circle guide with it as well. One of the guys at one of the dealer locations has one and swears by it.... Looks like the perfect unit for me !