You may think that plasma cutting equipment costs thousands of dollars, and some of them do. But you can get your hands on a quality plasma cutter for less than $500. However, at this price, you are also likely to find some crappy plasma cutters as well.
So how do you separate the good from the bad? Well, we scoured the sub-500 plasma cutter market in search of the best cheap plasma cutter Under 500. We eventually narrowed down to six plasma cutters.
Below are our reviews of these six plasma cutters. In our selection, we considered the power output, input plug, and cutting thickness. We also covered all the main topics relating to plasma cutting.
For our number one spot, we picked the LOTOS LTP5000D. The latter is the portable plasma cutter and can be used on thin and thicker sheets of metal. The runners up are the SUPER DEAL DC Inverter Plasma Cutter, which is also portable and powerful enough to cut through thicker metals.
All the other models on our list are worth considering, though, as they each have something to offer.
A Quick comparison Of Our top Picks!
Reviews Of Best Cheap Plasma Cutter Under $500
Lotos LTP5000D 50Amp Non-Touch Pilot Arc Plasma Cutter
One name that kept coming up in our search was the LOTOS LTP5000D plasma cutter. The latter is highly rated by many and for good reasons. We found it to be a versatile cutter ideal for small industrial projects and home use.
With this unit, you can cut any metal surface that is less than ¾ inch thick. Also, it features a dual input voltage. Thus you can use it with either a 110v or a 220v power outlet. This is one of the reasons it can be used for industrial tasks as well as home use.
As for the power output, it ranges from 10 to 50 amps. The torch is another great feature of this plasma cutter. It has a low head profile, which makes it easy to use in tight spaces. And while it may struggle to cut thicker sheets of metal, it excels when it comes to thin sheets.
This plasma cutter can cut through 0.1mm thin sheets of metal, which is impressive. Its 60% duty cycle is also quite respectable.
This is the perfect choice for automotive repair, plumbing, light salvage, and construction jobs. It can handle thin sheets of metal pretty well.
SUPER DEAL DC Inverter Plasma Cutter
Another name that frequently came up in our search was that of the Super Deal DC inverter plasma cutter. The latter is yet another budget cutter with plenty to offer.
When it comes to power output, it is rated at 50 amps, which is expected for a machine of its caliber. That being said, it has no problem cutting through ¼ inch sheets of stainless steel. However, it does struggle when presented with ½ inch or thicker sheets of metal.
Also, similar to other plasma cutters on the list, this one has a dual voltage plug. It can work with both a 110 and a 220-volt power source. Furthermore, it utilizes the drag torch technology found in other pricier models.
As for its weight, it weighs 24.4 pounds, which is not a lot. It is easy to carry, and it will be a great option for DIYers.
For welding metals that are ¼ inch or less in thickness, this is a great option. It is lightweight and compact. More importantly, it can be used with either a 110v or a 220v power plug.
HeroCut 35i Single Phase plasma cutter
For those looking for a best budget plasma cutter, the HeroCut 35i single phase plasma cutter is one we would recommend. Priced at slightly below $200, it uses IGBT inverter technology, so you can expect it to be lightweight.
In terms of weight, it weighs 6.5 Kgs, which is pretty lightweight. Also, it uses a 110-volt input plug, which is standard for most homes. Moreover, while it is a small cutter, it has a fan to cool it, ensuring longevity.
With a 30 amp max power output, it may not be ideal for tough cutting tasks. Instead, it can cut metal 8 mm in thickness. It can also cut a wide range of metals, including aluminum, stainless steel, copper, and carbon steel.
Its duty cycle of 60% at 30 amps is also quite impressive. There is also a power breaker in this unit.
You are getting a pretty decent plasma cutter that should serve you well for small around the house tasks for the price. It is also lightweight for easy carrying and will not take up a lot of space.
Display4top CUT-50 DC Inverter Plasma Cutter
The Display4top CUT-50 plasma cutter is a great cutter that many first-time metal workers will love. It also comes packed with many useful features.
To begin with, you can plug it into either a 110v or a 220v power source. This means it is a versatile cutter that can be used in different settings. It also features a display where you can monitor the machine’s settings as you use.
It comes with several components included that have to be installed. This may take a bit of time before you can start working, but it is one time. The 60% duty cycle is impressive but is to be expected for such a plasma cutter.
While it is not the most lightweight plasma cutter out there, it does feature an overheating protection. It will automatically shut off when it approaches damaging levels of use.
This is not a lightweight machine. However, it does offer up some exciting features to balance out things.
AMICO CUT-50, 50 Amp Pro. Plasma Cutter
One of the best plasma cutters under $300 for industrial use is the Cut-50 Amp pro plasma cutter. This is one of a few plasma cutters that cut metals of up to 1 inch in thickness and is a great budget option for industrial use.
It has a max power output of 50 amps. Also, it can handle voltages of up to 230volts. However, you can also plug it into a 110 v power source. In our tests, it made clean cuts. Also, it uses inverter technology.
As such, while it is a powerful plasma cutter, it is not bulky or large. Moreover, it comes with a plastic handle that makes it easy to carry. This is, therefore, a portable unit you can carry around with ease.
This is a DC air plasma cutter and can cut through ⅝ inch mild steel. For aluminum, you can cut aluminum sheets of up to ½ inch thick.
This is a heavy-duty plasma cutter that is portable enough to be carried. It is also offered at an affordable price and offers better performance than some other pricier models.
PrimeWeld 3-in-1 50 Amp Plasma Cutter
The prime weld 3-in-1 plasma cutter is a machine that gives you a lot of value for your money. This is a 3 in 1 plasma cutter that doubles up as a stick welder and a TIG welder. But how does it fare as a plasma cutter?
This unit can only cut metals of up to ½ inch in thickness. Furthermore, it uses the same drag torch technology as the Super Deal welder. This allows it to cut through rusty or painted metal surfaces.
The Primeweld is compatible with both a 110v and a 220v power plug. This makes it a great choice for home use as well as industrial tasks. But what makes it stand out is its 3-in-1 abilities at its price.
This plasma cutter and welder has a max output of 50 amps, which is standard for most cutters in this price point.
The Primeweld plasma cutter is a machine that can do the work of three machines without breaking the bank. It can be used for TIG welding, stick welding, and plasma cutting.
Plasma cutting: what is it?
Plasma cutting is a process of cutting electrically conductive metal using an accelerated hot jet of plasma. Plasma is ionized gas heated at high temperatures of up to 20,000 degrees celsius.
The three main plasma cutter types
Plasma cutters can be classified into three main types, pilot arc plasma cutters, high-frequency contact cutters, and computer numerical controlled cutters. Let’s take a look at each one of these three types of cutters and what they offer.
- High-frequency cutters: These cutters use a high-frequency circuit to get the arc started. When using these cutters, the plasma cutter has to be in contact with the metal being cut.
- Pilot arc cutters: These types of cutters require an electric source, and an electric current strikes the arc, typically Direct Current.
- CNC cutters: These plasma cutters are used in industrial complexes and use a computer to make clean and precise cuts.
Plasma cutting applications
Plasma cutting is a process that is commonly used in metal workshops and out in the field. There are many things you can do with a plasma cutter. More importantly, there are many different types of cutters to choose from to suit your needs.
You will want something portable and has 15 inches to 20-inch leads for field use. This will allow you to reach your work and connect to an electricity source and air.
Below are some of the things you can do with a plasma cutter
- House renovations that require cutting of metallic components such as removal of ductwork
- Installation of art pieces, especially metallic art pieces
- Overall machine maintenance and repair of automotive parts
Plasma cutters can also be paired with a CNC machine for intricate in-house projects. A CNC machine will allow you to produce cuts that are extremely precise and accurate.
Which is better plasma cutting or Oxyacetylene?
Plasma cutting and oxyacetylene are used to cut through metals. So how do the two processes compare, and which is the better of the two? With regard to precision, plasma cutting takes the day.
Oxyacetylene involves melting the workpiece, which results in slag and will require some clean up afterward. Where oxyacetylene comes out on top is in the power department. While powerful plasma cutters can cut 2 inch thick metals, oxyacetylene can cut 24 inches thick.
The process you pick between the two will depend on your needs. If you need to cut 18 inch thick metals, oxyacetylene is the way to go. But if you want clean and precise cuts on different types of metal, go with plasma cutting.
What metals can I cut with a plasma cutter?
There are several different kinds of metals you can cut with a plasma cutter and these include
- Stainless steel
- Mild steel
What equipment do I need for my plasma cutter?
While a plasma cutter alone can achieve its intended function, it is always good to pair it with other equipment for efficiency. The main equipment needed are;
- Plasma cutting table: This table allows you to support your workpiece. It is also a better surface to cut on than on the floor or any other kind of surface.
- Magnetic guide: this guide will come in handy when you want to make curved cuts. The magnetic guide will give you an accurate guide of a metal that you are cutting.
- Eye protection: When plasma cutting, you need to wear a helmet or hood covering your eyes to protect them against sparks. Shaded welding goggles can be a great option for when cutting.
- Flame resistant jacket: A flame-resistant jacket is another thing you will need when plasma cutting.
Steps on how to use a plasma cutter
Using a plasma cutter is fairly easy. There are no complications involved, especially if you are using a standard plasma cutter. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use a plasma cutter.
The first step is placing the metal to be cut on a safe surface. Ideally, you want a surface that allows for freedom of movement. A grate surface makes a great table to place the metal for cutting.
The next step is plugging in the cutter to the power source. Before plugging it in, it is important to ensure that it is turned off.
Step three entails connecting the plasma cutter to the air compressor. The purpose of this is to ensure the plasma jet maintains a high pressure. To connect the compressor, recede the outer flange of the female connection and insert the male connection. Then turn on the airflow.
Next, attach the ground clamp near where you will be working.
Once this is done, turn on the machine by switching the on/off switch to on. Next, set the current level, depending on the thickness of the metal.
Turn on the nozzle of the cutter using the trigger. It is important to note that you will have to lift the trigger’s safety before turning the nozzle on.
Safety hazards to be aware of
- Hot metal and sparks are blown out during the initial piercing of the metal.
- The high temperatures produced heats up the workpiece and cutting torch.
- The plasma arc is hot enough to burn through gloves and skin.
- Sparks and heat generated can ignite any near flammable material.
Clean cut vs. severance cut; what is the difference
When you cut a material smoothly and evenly, the resulting finish will be smooth and even on all sides. This is what is called a clean cut. A severance cut, on the other hand, produces a coarse finish that is uneven.
Plasma cutting consumables
The consumable in a plasma cutter is made up of several components. They include the nozzle, electrode, swirl ring, retaining cap, and shield cap. Each of these five components has a part to play in the consumable’s function.
The swirl ring is found inside the torch, and its main purpose is to swirl the gas surrounding the plasma arc. The purpose of this is to ensure the arc is focused and directed to the workpiece for improved precision.
The electrode is a piece of copper that contains an electrically conductive element known as hafnium. The purpose of this component is to receive the electric current.
On the other hand, the nozzle is the part of the consumable the directs the gas and plasma arc for making a precise and clean cut.
The function of the retaining cap is to hold all the parts of the consumables together. On the other hand, the shield cap’s job is to protect the torch from sparks and molten metal.
How often should I replace the consumables?
The consumables of a plasma cutter wear out over time and need replacing as the nozzle, and the electrode is in direct contact with the hot plasma; they wear out quickly. When these two parts wear out, you will notice the hole in the nozzle becomes larger.
When you notice this hole has increased in size and your cuts’ quality has worsened, it is time to replace the consumable. How frequently it should be done depends on how often you use the cutter.
How much does a plasma cutter cost?
Plasma cutters can range from $50 to over $100,000. However, the average plasma cutter will cost anywhere between $100 and $1000. For most homes, the cost ranges from $300 to $500.
The best plasma cutter under $500 will typically have all the features needed to cut metals that are less than 1 inches thick. On the other hand, the best plasma cutter under $300 will be able to cut thinner metals.
Do I need a plasma cutter with a built-in air-compressor?
Plasma cutters need an air compressor. When the plasma cutter arc heats the metal, the plasma is forced out by compressed air to cut the metal. This is the reason you need an air compressor.
Buying a plasma cutter with a built-in air compressor will save you the time and hassle of having to buy a separate piece of equipment. It is worth noting that plasma cutters with built-in air compressors tend to be pricey.
Nevertheless, a built-in air compressor is a great feature to have in a plasma. After all, you still need to get an air compressor.
110v and 220v plasma cutters: what is the difference
The main difference is in the amount of power a plasma cutter has. A 220v plasma cutter has a higher voltage and can thus output a higher amperage. On average, a 220v machine can output 30 amps and overpower. A 110v cutter is less powerful.
Tips on how to maintain your plasma cutter
- Examine the torch and its parts by removing them and checking for any noticeable damage and also clean out the inside of the torch
- Clean the power supply components using compressed air to ensure they are free of dirt and debris
- Use a degreasing agent to clean the cutter’s components, including the rails, gears, and racks.
Plasma cutters are valuable tools to have around your workshop or even home. They can cut a wide variety of metals. The best thing is that you do not need to spend a fortune to enjoy the benefits of a plasma cutter.
The best cheap plasma cutters we have reviewed above will serve you well without breaking the bank.
Last update on 2020-10-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API