When you’re in need of a tool that’s able to cut through a wide variety of materials, such as steel or copper, what you’re looking for is a plasma cutter. But there’s no reason why you have to spend huge sums of money to find a plasma cutter that’s able to do the job for you. As we’re about to prove, there are lots of fantastic solutions for all budgets.

We’re going to look at the very best plasmas cutters on the market to see what their key benefits are. You can then survey the options and make an informed decision regarding which of them is best suited to your needs. Read on now to find out more about each of these plasma cutters.

We review each of the units in our roundup of the best plasma cutters below, but for those of you in a hurry here is a comparison chart of all them:


Preview

Product

Duty Cycle

Max Cutting Thickness

Check Price

Hobart 500566 Airforce 40i Plasma Cutter 240V

Hobart 500566

Airforce

50% @ 40A

3/4 ”

Forney Easy Weld 251 20 P Plasma Cutter,Green

Forney Easy Weld 251

35% @ 20A

1/4 ”

PrimeWeld 3-in-1 50 Amp Plasma Cutter, 200...

PrimeWeld Ct520d

60% @ 50A

1/2 ”

Plasma Cutter, Spectrum 625, 90PSI, 12ft.

Miller Spectrum 625

X-Treme

50% @ 50A

5/8 ”

Hypertherm 088079 Powermax30 XP Building...

Hypertherm 088079 Powermax30 XP

100% @ 15A

1/2 ”

Goplus Plasma Cutter Cut-50 50A 220V Electric...

Goplus Cut-50

60% @ 50A

1/2 ”

Lotos LTP5000D 50Amp Non-Touch Pilot Arc...

Lotos LTP5000D

60% @ 50A

1/2 ”

VIVOHOME 3 In 1 Multi-functional Plasma...

VIVOHOME 3 In 1

60% @ 50A

1/2 ”

SUNCOO Plasma Cutter, Portable Pro. Cut 50...

SUNCOO Cut-50

60% @ 50A

1/2 ”

Plasma Cutter 50A 110V 220V Dual Voltage...

Plasma Cutter 50A

50A

-


How Does a Plasma Cutter Work?

The plasma cutter sends an electric arc through a specific gas while passing through a restricted opening. The gas used can be nitrogen, shop air, argon, or oxygen. As the gas passes through the restricted opening, it comes out at high speed to cut through the metal. Some modern plasma cutters use a pilot arc between the nozzle and electrode instead.


Key Features to Look for in a Plasma Cutter

As you read through the plasma cutter reviews, you want to evaluate each model according to these specifications.

Power Specifications

You need to pick a plasma cutter based on the metal you will be cutting. The power output shows how thick the material can cut and how long the duty cycle is. You also need to evaluate the machine for compatibility to a 110v or 220/240v outlet.

  • Duty Cycle
    The duty cycle of the plasma cutter shows the amount of time in one hour that the cutter can operate safely. It is usually expressed in a percentage format and comes from how much amperage this cutter draws. The duty cycle won’t be important if you are only using the cutter briefly. Some shops require a 50% duty cycle for high production purposes, but many households can get by with a 35% duty cycle.
  • Amperage
    Twenty amps tend to be the most practical standard for any basic plasma cutter. It will cut up to 1/8 of an inch. From there, you add ten amps for every 1/8 of an inch you want to cut. This isn't ideal for all situations but serves as a general guide. If you're going to make a ½-inch cut, you will choose a 50-amp cutter.
  • Dual Voltage
    Dual voltage devices accept both 110-120V as well as 220-240V. This increases the versatility and allows you to access more power when you need it. You can find more about dual-voltage and if it is right for you with this helpful YouTube video.
  • Output Current
    The output current is the maximum load that the power supply can provide at specified temperatures. Power supplies cannot supply more current than its rated output current. If there is an overload, the power supply detects the fault and shuts down. If it doesn’t, running it at a higher output current can damage the equipment.

Metal Type & Thickness vs. Plasma Cutter Tier Type

The Low Tier plasma cutter cuts 1/8-inch thick metals. It isn’t good to use it for much more. If you want to cut 1/4-inch or 1/2-inch materials, you would rather have the Mid Tier machine. Anything beyond these measurements would require a Top Tier unless you want low-quality cuts.

Cut Quality & Cutting Speed

If a machine can cut ½-inch thick metal with a 20% duty cycle and at ten inches per minute, it can cut 20 inches before you have to let it rest for eight minutes. As you evaluate the cut quality and cut speeds, you have to determine what is too slow, too fast, and just right for your work.

Build Quality & Portability

If you plan to carry the plasma cutter around to various job sites, you will need something portable. Along with the weight, you want to see if the build is rugged enough to handle on-the-go transport. You also want to make sure it has a sturdy carrying case, so nothing happens to it in transit.

Consumables

This includes your electrode and nozzle. You want to look at the manufacturer's specs regarding the consumable's expected lifetime. If you plan to use your plasma cutter often, it might make more sense to purchase the higher-priced plasma cutter with a longer consumables life. In the end, you might save more money.

Price & Warranty

You can purchase a primary plasma cutter at a low cost if you only need to use the machine occasionally for small projects. If you are a professional, however, it might be best for you to invest the extra money and purchase a machine that will last. Make sure you also check the warranty terms to make sure you have adequate coverage. 

Other Features

  • Indicators & Controls
    The cutter should have a power switch and adjustments to the settings. Other than that, you can also find plasma cutters with LED indicators, high-quality inverters, and digital control. Just remember, every feature added also increases the price.
  • Housing
    If you plan to use your cutter indoors at all times, you won’t need to worry too much about the housing. A secure housing unit is going to cost more but will be versatile for a variety of environments. If you plan to work outdoors, you will want to spend a little more and get the upgraded housing.
  • Automated Functions
    Modern plasma cutters have automated functions, but each one of these also adds to the cost. One of the most important ones to consider is a cooling fan. When the fan is automated, it will only run when it is needed.

9 Best Plasma Cutters Reviewed

No matter what type of plasma cutter you are looking for, our in-depth reviews will help guide you to the right model.

1. Hobart 500566 Airforce 40i

Best for 240V

Duty Cycle

50% @ 40A

Input Voltage

220V - 240V

Cut Speed

14 inches per minute

Max Cutting Thickness

3/4 ”

Weight

31 lbs

Warranty

Yes, 3-year

The Hobart AirForce 40i is the ideal plasma cutter for at-home use. Hobart is a trusted name in machinery and continues to produce high-quality products, even after almost 100 years in business. While this model is economical, it also works well with most conductive metals. The inverter technology is reliable and helps you to achieve quality cuts.

You can use it to cut 5/8” steel cleanly, so there’s nothing this cutter won’t handle. The duty cycle with a 5/8” material is 50% at 40A, so it’s best for 240V. As long as you are giving it the power it needs, it won’t quit on you. It’s also a simple machine to use and extremely intuitive.

The consumable price is low in comparison to the cheap plasma cutters. It's suitable for industrial use or at a commercial location, but might be a little much for the average home user. Still, it's on the heavy side, so you won't want to carry this beast around with you.

Because Hobart is a leader in the industry, they can offer a three-year warranty. That gives you plenty of time to ensure everything is working correctly with the cutter. It's often worth paying a little more for a product with a more extended warranty.

Pros

  • Durable construction
  • Perfect for commercial loads
  • Clean cuts to 5/8”
  • Low consumables cost
  • 50% duty cycle

Cons

  • Not portable
  • Lower cutting speeds

2. Forney Easy Weld 251

Best for 120V

Duty Cycle

35% @ 20A

Input Voltage

120V

Cut Speed

N/A

Max Cutting Thickness

1/4 ”

Weight

21.1 lbs

Warranty

Yes, 1-year

If you don’t need something with industrial-strength, then you want the best plasma cutter under $500 instead. This Forney model is an excellent option if saving money is your top priority. It cuts mild steel, stainless steel, galvanized steel, copper, brass, and aluminum up to ¼-inch. To get started, just plug it into a 120-volt power source and attach it to 1.5 CFM of compressed air. The built-in regulator combined with the air dryer makes using this machine simple.

With the drag torch technology, you can make direct contact while dragging the cutting tip to make a clean cut. What’s best about this machine is the portability. At just a little more than 20 pounds, you can take this anywhere with you for jobs on the go.

The rugged case design helps protect the machine, no matter what stress it endures. With your unit, you also receive a 13-inch cutting torch, 20A-15A adapter, 8-foot ground clamp, an additional electrode plus an extra nozzle.

Because you are paying a lower price, you have to expect that the warranty only lasts for a year. Still, this cutter makes a great choice for any casual user and continues to receive exceptional reviews.

Pros

  • Portable
  • Low cost
  • Rugged case
  • Drag torch technology
  • Reliable

Cons

  • Basic machine
  • Doesn’t cut thick materials

3. PrimeWeld Ct520d

Best Plasma Cutter & Welder Combo

Duty Cycle

60% @ 50A

Input Voltage

220V

Cut Speed

N/A

Max Cutting Thickness

1/2 ”

Weight

35.7 lbs

Warranty

Yes, 3-year

If you have multiple jobs to perform, you will be interested in this plasma cutter & welder combo. It includes the capability to plasma cut as well as TIG/stick and arc weld. The power efficiency on this unit is rated at 85%, and the price is extremely reasonable for all that you receive.

You can use it to cut up to ½" various metals with the 50A cutting functions. When you are done with that, seamlessly switch between the DC STICK or DC TIG welder to get your jobs done. If you need a portable machine, this one is a little heavier than most, but you could take it with you.

The duty cycle is 60% at 50A during any process. With the easy to use controls and gauges, you will have precise control over any task you take on. Not only is PrimeWeld a reputable company, but they provide a three-year warranty with this machine. That should bring you peace of mind, but so should the fact that the company is based in the United States. They use parts from the US and are available for customer service seven days a week. Where else can you find support like that?

Pros

  • Combo machine
  • Cuts up to ½-inch
  • Efficient
  • Easy to use
  • Strong customer support

Cons

  • Heavier

4. Miller Spectrum 625 X-treme

Best Plasma Cutter Under $2,000

Duty Cycle

50% @ 50A

Input Voltage

110V or 220V

Cut Speed

22 inches per minute

Max Cutting Thickness

5/8”

Weight

38.6 lbs

Warranty

Yes, 3-year

This isn’t just your typical high-end plasma cutter, but it comes directly from a company with a solid reputation that you can count on. Their welding equipment and plasma cutters continue to lead the industry reviews. When nothing short of the top of the range plasma cutter will do, this is a fantastic option and the best plasma cutter under $2,000.

This particular model is rated to cut 5/8-inch mild steel and 1/2-inch max for Hypertherm. What's exceptional about this small machine is that it offers both 110V and 220V capability so that you can take it anywhere.

The machine comes complete with an XT 40 handheld torch that measures 12-feet. It also includes a 20-foot heavy-duty quick-connect work clamp, 12-foot power cord, power adapter, and additional consumables.

While this is one of the best dual-voltage machines around, you want to remember that you won’t receive maximum capacity when using it on 110V. Aside from that, you really have nothing to worry about while cutting. This plasma cutter includes a three-year warranty, so you are completely covered against manufacturer defects.

We recommend this Miller cutter for anyone in a commercial or industrial environment. It’s meant to be used regularly and isn’t the best choice for the occasional hobbyist.

Pros

  • Superior power
  • Dual voltage
  • Efficient
  • Fast, clean cuts
  • Quick restarts

Cons

  • Heavier
  • Expensive

5. Hypertherm 088079 Powermax30 XP

Best Plasma Cutter Under $1,500

Duty Cycle

100% @ 15A

Input Voltage

110V or 220V

Cut Speed

20 inches per minute

Max Cutting Thickness

1/2 ”

Weight

21.9 lbs

Warranty

Yes, 3-year

Among the best plasma cutters for stainless steel, this option ranks at the top. Sure, it costs a little more than most, but those who need to cut regularly will be thankful they invested in the best plasma cutter under $1,500. This dual voltage cutter handles 3/8” metal at 20 inches per minute. If you want to cut 1/2”, that speed does reduce down to ten inches per minute.

What we really like is the two-in-one design. With FineCut consumables, you can make high-quality cuts on thinner materials, while the high-power consumables allow you to create precise, neat cuts on the thicker materials. What’s most surprising about this powerhouse is the weight. At just 21.9 pounds, it might even be one of the best portable plasma cutters.

This Hypertherm cutter also comes with a durable carrying case with room to hold the consumables, cutting torch, and paperwork. The only downside to this machine may be the price. Still, by investing a little more, you know you have a reliable cutter that will last. Even the company backs that up with a two-year warranty. If you need the best commercial plasma cutter with a built-in compressor, you can’t go wrong with this option.

Pros

  • 2-in-1 design
  • Powerful
  • Durable case
  • Lightweight
  • 3-year warranty

Cons

  • Expensive

6. Goplus Cut-50

Best Plasma Cutter Under $1,000

Duty Cycle

60% @ 50A

Input Voltage

110V or 220V

Cut Speed

N/A

Max Cutting Thickness

1/2 ”

Weight

26 lbs

Warranty

Yes, 1-year

This sturdy and durable plasma cutter is very popular among people looking for a machine that’s going to offer endurance and versatility. It’s great at dealing with all sorts of metals and can be used in all sorts of setting thanks to the way in which it’s built. Here are some of the key qualities that you should know about.

When you consider the price of this plasma cutter, the fact that it performs so well and so reliably really is a big deal. Many people who buy this model don’t go into it with particularly high expectations. But it does the job, and it does it very well indeed. So if you’re hesitant about buying a Goplus plasma cutter, maybe you shouldn’t be.

The price point attached to the Goplus plasma cutter is extremely impressive. At less than $200, you’re not going to find a plasma cutter of this quality at a cheaper price, that’s for sure. It makes buying one and using it pretty much risk-free because even if it’s not perfect, you haven’t spent much money at all on buying it.

Another major selling point of the Goplus is that it’s made to be weatherproof. So if you’re planning on doing any cutting outside of a covered area and you want the versatility that comes with that option, this is definitely a plasma cutter that you should be considering right now. It makes outdoor use possible.

Pros

  • Low cost
  • Durable construction
  • Portable
  • Efficient
  • Low noise

Cons

  • Only 1-year warranty

7. Lotos LTP5000D

Best Value for the Money

Duty Cycle

60% @ 50A

Input Voltage

110V or 220V

Cut Speed

N/A

Max Cutting Thickness

1/2 ”

Weight

26 lbs

Warranty

Yes, 1-year

The Lotos LTP5000D 50Amp plasma cutter is one of the most compact and lightweight plasma cutters on the market right now. It’s very good for light cutting jobs and doesn’t require much effort or expertise to use effectively. It might not be ideal for heavy usage but there’s a lot to like about it, so find out more below.

The fact that you can pick up and start using the Lotos LTP5000D is one of its greatest selling points. Even if you have never used a plasma cutter before, it won’t take you long to get to grips with it. There isn’t a better cutter out there for complete beginners, and the price point makes it easy to recommend as your very first plasma cutter.

As well as being durable, buyers have also noted its durability. Even people who’ve been using it most days for a few years have experienced no problems with it and carry on using it. It’s definitely a durable machine, which not everyone expects considering its reputation as a good option for beginners combined with its affordable price.

Another great thing about this machine is how lightweight it is. It takes no effort at all to pick up and carry it to where you need to take it. The compact design was clearly created with portability in mind. It weighs less than 23 pounds, so you won’t struggle to carry it around and the sturdy handle on top makes it even easier to do so.

Pros

  • Compact
  • Durable construction
  • Portable
  • Low cost
  • Quick setup

Cons

  • Only 1-year warranty

8. VIVOHOME 3 in 1 

Best 3-in-1 Plasma Cutter

Duty Cycle

60% @ 50A

Input Voltage

110V or 220V

Cut Speed

N/A

Max Cutting Thickness

1/2 ”

Weight

35.3 lbs

Warranty

Yes, 6-month

This 3 in 1 multi-functional plasma cutter is ideal for anyone looking for versatility. It’s great for all kinds of cutting jobs, as well as offering various welding capabilities. It’s a machine that works for hobbyists while also being suitable for people looking for a more reliable, professional machine as well. Here are its main benefits.

There might not be too many fancy frills here, but the VIVOHOME plasma cutter gets the job done without any problems at all. It’s the kind of machine that you can simply rely on to get the job done, no questions asked. That kind of reliable, solid performance is what many people are looking for in a plasma cutter like this.

Lots of people who use this plasma cutter use it at home in their garage. That’s because the design, its multi-functionality and it’s easy to use nature make it perfect for home projects. It’s not complicated to use; instead, you can get to grips with it pretty quickly after using it for a while. And then you’ll feel confident using it on a variety of home DIY projects.

We all know that it can sometimes be a hassle to have to deal with metal that has a rough surface or that’s rusting. However, this plasma cutter makes easy work of that kind of metal. You’ll have no trouble cutting through metals with rough surfaces, paint or heavy rust on them. It makes light work of just about anything you throw at it.

Pros

  • 3-in-1 design
  • Clean cuts
  • Portable handle
  • Low cost
  • Versatile

Cons

  • Only a 6-month warranty

9. SUNCOO Cut-50 

Best Cheap Plasma Cutter

Duty Cycle

60% @ 50A

Input Voltage

110V or 220V

Cut Speed

N/A

Max Cutting Thickness

1/2 ”

Weight

25.2 lbs

Warranty

No

The SUNCOO Cut-50 plasma cutter offers a smooth finish and the ability to cut most of the metals you’ll need to cut. It’s made from a very strong heavy duty iron, providing it with protection and offering you reliability and durability for longer. Read on to find out more about why it stands out from the crowd.

The automatic voltage system of the SUNCOO Cut-50 makes it so you don’t have to worry about voltage issues much at all. It can adapt to the power output, whether it’s 110V or 220V. This might seem like a relatively small thing but it does make a pretty significant difference when you just want to start using it right away while not risking safety.

One of the things that people most often comment on after using this plasma cutter is the clean nature of the cuts it makes. It has a strong reputation for producing cuts that are cleaner and more precise than you might imagine from a plasma cutter in this price range. That’s a big deal for anyone who wants their cuts to be as clean as they can be.

This is another very lightweight model that’s easy to pick up and carry around when you need to. It weighs 25.4 pounds, making it one of the lightest plasma cutters you’ll find anywhere on the market right now. That, combined with the price point that makes it one of the most affordable models available, is a compelling reason to consider it.

Pros

  • Durable construction
  • Budget price
  • Dual voltage
  • Lightweight
  • Efficient

Cons

  • No warranty

Types of Plasma Cutters

You can find a variety of plasma cutters on the market, each with a specific kind of job in mind. Look for a portable, semi-portable, or heavy-duty model. You can also find multi-purpose machines that operate beyond a plasma cutting capacity, but also include a welder. Also, some cutters come with a built-in compressor, or you might need to supply it with your standalone compressor.


Expensive vs Cheap Plasma Cutters

  • Under $2,000 (Top of the Range)
    If you invest in one of the best plasma cutters without worrying about the cost, you should receive maximum power and plenty of features. It’s expected that these will be dual voltage and have additional functions. You will be able to cut through more than 1/2” thick materials with ease.
  • Under $1,500
    Most commercial establishments can find a model that works for them in this price range. It’s a professional-minded cutter, but for a lower price. You might sacrifice one or two features from the top of the line but probably won’t notice the difference.
  • Under $1,000
    With a plasma cutter under $1,000, you might not have dual voltage capability. In addition, it's likely that you will only receive the plasma cutter and not the welding ability. Make sure you look into the price of consumables on these models to see if that's why they are cheaper.
  • Under $500
    These are the lowest price plasma cutters you can find on the market. They won’t cut through thick materials and often have minimal features. If you only need to cut occasionally, this might be the best option for you.

Safety When Setting Up a Plasma Machine

When you first receive your plasma cutter, you will want to set it up right away. Before you get started, consider some of these safety tips.

  • Ensure the cutter is grounded with proper wiring.
  • Put on eye protection before using it.
  • Make sure you understand how to use the machine before testing it.
  • Keep a distance between you and the cutting area at all times.

For additional plasma cutting safety tips, watch this helpful video.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

What are some uses for plasma cutting?

There's no end to what you can do with a plasma cutter. It's used for automotive, industrial, and artwork cutting. In addition, many hobbyists use a plasma cutter for their crafts. You will even find the cutter used around the home and for fabrication purposes.

What can plasma cut through?

The plasma cutter is used with electrically conductive materials, such as stainless steel, brass, copper, or aluminum. Because plastic and wood are not electrically conductive, you can't use a plasma cutter to get through these materials.

What is pilot arc technology and its significance with plasma cutting machines?

Pilot arc technology makes it simple to cut without touching the tip to the metal. What you receive is a better cut and longer consumables life.

What are the different types of torches that are used with plasma cutters?

Torches are judged by their angles. Most plasma cutters use a 75- or 90-degree torch. This is the ideal option for most cutting jobs.

What other equipment will I need with these machines?

You will want to have the proper safety gear before getting started. You might also need pressurized air or an air compressor if the machine doesn’t have one built-in. In addition, look for a wide selection of consumables, such as the nozzles and electrodes plus a desiccant air dryer and filtration system.

What are some tips when using plasma cutters?

MillerWelds provides an extensive guide to using plasma cutters. From this resource, a few of the top tips include making sure you have read the manual, using a drag shield when it is provided, and using the right tip to match your amperage setting.

Where is the best place to buy plasma cutting machines?

Amazon has the largest selection and tends to have the best prices on plasma cutting machines. The other perk to shopping with Amazon is that you can read through the customer reviews to see if the model will work for you.


Conclusion

Each of the plasma cutters mentioned above comes with its own benefits. You need to decide which of them you feel best meets your needs. They’re all high-quality, reliable and affordable plasma cutters though, so you shouldn’t be disappointed with whichever one you put your trust in.

However, we highly recommend the Hobart Model as the best all around plasma cutter.

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