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B-Man

Plasma Cutter

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Any of you guys have or use them ?
 
If so, I would appreciate any personal recommendations, especially regarding suggestions on use.
 
I am thinking I want one for working on stuff around the house and farm. I don't see myself cutting anything thicker than 1/2" - 5/8", but you never know with tractors, bush hogs, planters, etc. 
 
Thanks in advance for any useful feedback, experience, etc.
 
Brian 

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I use them on a regular basis - although mostly larger industrial units.
 
If you are thinking of buying one, check the price and availability of the consumables - electrodes, caps etc.
 
The other thing you need to worry about is the quality of the compressed air supply.  Clean DRY air is a must. Water in your air will make short work of a plasma cutter. Also make sure your compressor is rated to supply the required amount of CFMs. Running out of air pressure during a cut is annoying, messy and hard on the electrode.
 
My experience with the smaller units has been: if it's not a known national brand, avoid. They are prone to pricey repairs otherwise - if you can have them repaired at all.
 
A cutter rated to do 5/8" will usually just do 5/8" under ideal conditions. Generally the limits are tight. Don't know how often you'd need a big one, but when I do, I just rent one.
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I'm a Lincoln fan. My cutter experience is limited, but I've been welding for decades. The people who make the best welders are making the best plasma cutters, as it's similar technology. It is a tool that can be damaged easily, so I'd be wary of used. Prices are all over the board- But this one is under $2K, will do 3/4"
30012_700x700.jpg
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I've used a few portable plasma cutters, and have done a little work on a big gantry one. From my limited experience:
 
- Great for cutting titanium, stainless, yellow metals, aluminum, or anything else you can't use an OA torch on. You may need a gas besides compressed air, though (if you can use it with your rig). 
 
- Obviously they make a hell of a mess with sparks, unless you're cutting over water. A firewatch is a good idea... 
 
- Usual warnings about fumes apply, but seriously! Plasma cutting *really* makes fumes and/or smoke. Ventilation! I cut lots of stainless without a mask when I was younger, now I wish I hadn't.
 
- Plasma cutters are air hogs! You'll want a "for real" air compressor, rated for at least 10 CFM, if you're cutting more than a few seconds at a time. 
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+1 on the Lincoln.
 
Also check out the Hobart 700i - great warranty.
 
Fill35u is right about the breathable hazards. Copious quantities of ultra fine metallic dust.  Plasma cutting stainless also creates the conditions to release airborne hexavalent chromium - bad Juju! A quality dust mask is a must.
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Nice to see some Lincoln guys on the site, have both stick and mig by Lincoln in the garage. Picked up a Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster 52 about 3 years ago for $1,400.00 for helping my brother and a buddy out with side projects, thing cuts through shit like butter. I'll post photos later if you would like, it's a nice piece of equipment.

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Thanks for the info guys !!
 
I know about the fumes - even welding makes some bad stuff. I have a 3M mask with replaceable filters that I wear whenever I do any appreciable amount of welding, grinding, painting, etc.
 
I have a small 220VAC 170 amp Lincoln MIG welder that has been a great machine, so I was happy to see Kevin's recommendation.
 
Any opinions on whether a machine with it's own air supply vs. a compressor connected machine ? I do have a smaller compressor - 1.6 HP, 33 gallon, 150 PSI, 5.1 SCFM @ 90 PSI; 6.3 SCFM @ 40 PSI.
 
FWIW - I only cut stuff like 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" x .125" angle iron, 3/8" thick flat steel, etc.
 
Thanks again for the help and advice. I appreciate it. 

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There you go, throwing logical thinking into the mix...   emteeth.gif
 
Now that you mention it, I probably DON'T do enough cutting to warrant buying one. I guess I just want one.
 
I recently bought a kick-ass Milwaukee metal chop saw - it DOES cut 2" angle like it is nothing.
 
Thanks for ruining my plan - I guess I will wait and see if I really do need plasma.  emsad.gif 

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There is a closely related disease to OCCD.
 
It might be called OTCD, or Obsessive Tool Collecting Disorder.
 
As I look at my grandfather's tool box..., I think I inherited this, too.
 
Go ahead, pick up the plasma cutter...    Party!

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And once you have the plasma cutter, think of all the tools you can *make* with it! emdgust.gif
 
And then you can make boxes to put them in! Taz.gif 

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There is a closely related disease to OCCD.
 
It might be called OTCD, or Obsessive Tool Collecting Disorder.
 
As I look at my grandfather's tool box..., I think I inherited this, too.
 
Go ahead, pick up the plasma cutter...    Party!
 
You guys are pretty funny !!!
 
I already suffer from OTCD - I have all kinds of one-use tools, specialty tools, etc. in addition to regular hand tools.
 
It is unreal how much better it is to work on things when you have the proper tools...
 
On CL now, searching for plasma !!!! 

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OTCD , Just another variation on HE WHO DIES WITH THE MOST TOYS WINS. My wife looks at my metal lathe, and milling machine and 3 roll around cabinets with chests full of tools and can't understand why I need some other tool.Then I make her something for her garden and she understands.

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I loved my Lincoln Plasma cutter but I could not justify it and someone one day loved it enough to make me an offer I could not refuse. I did have a 20HP 250 gallon compressor with moisture filters though. Op did I say did-I still have that compressor.:) Course now I want a Water Jet Cutter!:-)

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There you go, throwing logical thinking into the mix...   emteeth.gif
 
Now that you mention it, I probably DON'T do enough cutting to warrant buying one. I guess I just want one.
 
Don't let logic and practicality get in the way of a great new toy like a plasma cutter. There is too much fun to be had here. 

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I'm still debating Gene, although as I was finishing up a project yesterday I was thinking I should have bought one already. I am making a sleeve hitch for my ATV so I can use a plow, disc, grader, etc.
 
The first thing I had to cut was some existing 3/8" plate, followed by a bunch of 2" x 1/4" bar stock, 2" box tubing, 3/4" solid bar stock, etc.
 
I had to drill four - 11/16" holes in 3/8" & 1/2" steel. I broke one drill bit and one stepped drill bit before I finished.  eusa_wall.gif
 
I looked at a Hobart unit that has a built-in compressor. I read mixed reviews online. I HATE thinking about spending north of $1,000 on something that I don't have a 100% "good feeling" about.
 
On the other hand, I bought my welder on my brother's recommendation and I have been very happy with it's performance so far. When I read reviews on it, they were mixed as well, so I followed my brother's advice and stole it. I say stole it because I gave $375 for a "new" Lincoln SP-170T (220VAC) with a Holox regulator and a 4' - 75/25 bottle. ("New" is quoted because it was sitting in an old guy's shop, but it hadn't ever been used. I even had to put a power cord plug on it to try it out)
 
You are probably wondering why I haven't bought what he recommends for cutting, but he is a Miller guy and their "cheap" plasma cutters are far more than I can justify spending for my home shop use.
 
Wow, sorry for the book - I bet you don't ask me another question for a while !!!  emteeth.gif 

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Cool, no worries. See if you can get one without an internal compressor. You can put an external regulator on the plasma if you have a decent air supply. I would seriously check out the Thermal Dynamics line, they do make solid equipment and hopefully one in your price range. I bought by brother a 10 year old model locally from an artist 3 years ago for $800 (think its a 400 model) uses it just about every day at his fab shop modding commercial trucks. I'm a huge Lincoln guy but TD was a smart choice for my brother and I.

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When I said my brother is a Miller guy, I should have clarified - he is a Thermal Dynamics guy for plasma cutters but he said I would be hard pressed to find a good one in my price range.
 
I have been watching Craigslist but everyone seems to know what they are worth when they post them...  emsad.gif
 
I am not in a hurry so at least that is on my side.
 
Good to know you & your brother are happy with the machine. I've read nothing but good about them on the web. 
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