Which Plasma Cutter is right for your application?
A plasma cutter provides a simple, clean, and efficient way to safely cut metal. They are particularly popular with large cutting operations because they don’t require a pre-heating cycle, cut a wide variety of metals, and cut with a small kerf (the name for the area that is cut) that doesn’t warp or damage the metal. Perhaps the biggest drawback to a plasma cutter is the up front cost that ranges from $1,200 to $4,000. This means you’ll need to carefully plan your purchase, making sure you make the best choice possible.
How to Choose a Plasma Cutter?
A Miller plasma cutter can cut through up to 7/8 inch steel and stainless steel and up to 5/8 inch aluminum.
How Much Cut Capacity do you need?
The type of metal and its thickness will determine what kind of plasma cutter you’ll purchase. Thinner metals can be cut at fast speeds, while thick metals will be cut at a much slower rate. The amount of power you need depends on the metal’s thickness, which is determined on an Inch Per Minute ratio based on cutting 10 inches per minute manually.
Miller Electric offers a variety of options depending on your material thickness. The most portable unit is the Spectrum 375 which has a cut rating of 3/8-in. The next step up would be the Spectrum 625 which is rated to cut up to 5/8 and next the Spectrum 875 which will cut up to 7/8 inch material.
A plasma cutter’s IPM ratio will determine how fast you’re able to work, and therefore if speed is a priority, learn more about the IPM rating that will work best for your projects. Two popular metrics used to describe the cuts:
Cut Capacity- the maximum thickness the plasma cutter is rated to cut (10 inches per minute clean quality precise cut)
For example at 6 IPM, the Spectrum 375 X-TREME can cut 1/2-in. mild steel. The cut capacity on the unit is 3/8 inch material.
Severance Cut- the maximum thickness the plasma cutter can achieve (slower and not a sharp clean cut)
For example the Spectrum 375 X-TREME maximum sever is 5/8 inch.
Where Will You Use Your Plasma Cutter?
This basic question will make a significant difference right off the bat if you’re shopping for a plasma cutter. Portable units that can be moved around by hand range in weight from 45 to 18 pounds, while units designed for your shop or garage will need to be moved around on a cart or table with wheels. Make sure you purchase a plasma cutter that fits the uses you’re planning for it.
Also keep in mind the power requirements. The nice thing about Miller Electric plasma cutters is many are 110/220 power which gives you the flexibility to power in spaces that do not have 220 power.
Compressed air is required to plasma cut. It is basically the compressed air and electricity that create plasma gas.
How Long Will You Use Your Plasma Cutter?
Making a few cuts for small home projects is quite different from a high capacity metal cutting operation that continuously uses its plasma cutters all day to cut large pieces of metal.
The duty cycle of a plasma cutter will tell you how long you can use a plasma cutter within a ten minute cycle before you need to stop to let it cool off. Keep in mind that the numbers listed for a machine’s duty cycle take into account the unit’s maximum output. Using a plasma cutter at a lower power will mean that you can cut for longer than specified by the duty cycle. Also take note that the temperature of your environment can either enhance or take away from the length of your duty cycle.
What Else Do You Need to Consider for a Plasma Cutter?
Make sure your plasma cutter is going to cut more than you need right now. The biggest feedback we receive is customers wish they had a more cut capacity or power. So size up and do your research. If we can help please reach out to our support team. At Baker's we have a great selection of plasma cutters in stock. Both hand and machine torch options!
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