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I have a cheap Chinese plasma cutter that has never performed well and has now quit working completely. I'm pretty sure the torch is at fault and I have ordered a replacement but I'm thinking of buying a better quality machine and scrapping this one. I'd appreciate hearing about other people's experience with their machine and opinions about what to buy.
Hypertherm makes industrial cutting systems, software, consumables and accessories. Information available in 11 languages.
Been flawless for the last 4 years. Ive cut 3/4" with it, but its much better at 1/2". I want to say i paid around 2300....buy once cry once. My Lincoln SP170 mig is going on 30 years of fairly constant use, never an Issue with it. It was the same deal. Glad I spent the money, looking back.
What are you going to do with it John? I want mine under cnc control. I find I just don't use it much. I band saw material or mill it instead. Mine is part of an everlast combo MP welder - maybe it just does not work all that well too. It's a hassle changing the torch, getting the air line going...
You do need really dry air - I found even a hint of moisture will blow up the consumables instantly. Budget for a dryer, beads, or something like that. Those coalescing / condensing filters are not enough.
I have a cheap knock off of some knock off found in the back of a plasma cutter makers knock off pile. It is orange. It is probably a Cut-40 ish type device.
It works great. No issues and the projects it has completed completely re-paid the $250 it cost me to clean it off the street after it fell off a truck . Dry air is HUGE for performance; as is a good ground and nozzle insert.
At work here we have a HyperTherm 45 and so far the abusers have not broken it beyond the ability to quickly repair. It seems like a really good machine and in responsible hands should/would last a long time.
I got a Procut 30, I think, from the discount return pile at PA a few years ago for a hundred bucks. Tag said it was returned because of too low a cycle time. Dude had it running on 110. I switched to 240 and it has been perfect.
Gotta love the discount pile of returns by the back warehouse door.
I had a Miller Spectrum 375 Extreme. Nice unit for two years then it wouldn’t strike an arc. Main board is fried. $1000 for the board. For a plasma cutter i paid $1200 for. Loved the size but what a lemon. Found out that this was not an uncommon problem with the Miller plasma cutters.
I replaced it with a Canaweld Plasma Cut 45. I have used it for two years with no problems. Smooth starting and reliable arc. Canadian made too.
Busy Bee sometimes has one as well. Decades ago I bought a 4x6 bandsaw from one. It had fallen off the forklift and the belt wouldn't tighten anymore. A few spot welds to the cast frame and she worked for years and years. Someone on the forum bought it from me for 25 bucks when I upgraded years ago.
Thanks for the comments and tips everyone, I don't use my plasma cutter that often but that is probably because it is such a POS. It mainly gets used for cutting sheets of plate that are too big to fit in my band saw and I doubt I would ever have to cut something thicker than half inch. Since I have ordered a new torch I decided to disassemble the old one to try and figure out what's wrong with it. The main issue I was having is that the tips get burned up and melted very quickly even though I have the air pressure set up to 90 psi. (recommended pressure is 75 psi) I noticed that the volume of air out of the torch tip seems very low so I disconnected the torch at the machine and when I trigger it there is a much larger volume of air out of the machine when it doesn't have to go through the torch. I disassembled the torch head and cut the crimped clamps off both ends of the hose and when I pulled the head end out of the hose the problem became obvious. The multistranded cable that carries the current to the torch tip runs through the hose and to get it connected at both ends presents a challenge so whoever assembled it just folded about 2 inches of the cable over and stuffed it inside the hose. This was done at both ends and pretty much blocked off the air flow due to the volume of wire inside the hose. I have run out of patience with the torch but I may try to cobble up a hose extension to test the machine with more air flow to the torch head.
I have watched a lot of videos and found a channel where the guy has a lot experience with the cheap plasma cutter PT31 torches and Cut50 style machines like mine. I find his presentation method annoying but I have learned a lot about these cheap offshore machines so it's worth watching a few of his videos.
I'm going to wait until the new torch arrives (about January 12) before I decide about buying a new machine but have made a few observations based on the comments above. Although I would love to have a Hypertherm or Thermal Dynamics machine my budget does not stretch out to $3000, mostly because of how little I use a plasma cutter. If I do buy a new one it will likely be the Canaweld or possibly an Everlast since i have had good luck with my Everlast TIG welder. Both of these companies offer good aftersales support and I like that the Canaweld machine is made in Canada. They both come with high quality torches and ground lead/clamps instead of the junk that comes with the lower priced machines. These machines run $1000 to $1500
I made a temporary repair to the old torch using a short length of 3/8" braided hose split lengthwise and slid it over the uncovered portion of the conductor when it was stretched to it's full unfolded length. I just used electrical tape wrapped around the short piece of hose to seal the split and both ends. After re-assembling the torch I now had lots of air flow but still no arc. After watching this video
I decided to follow his suggestion and check the arc start contacts inside the machine and found they were almost touching. He says in the video to open the gap by bending them. I did that and opened the gap to about 1/8" from about .020" now I have an arc that looks like the one on his machine and it cuts properly. I'll do more performance testing once the new torch arrives. I didn't take any pictures so I used a couple of screen shots from his video to show the arc contacts.