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Let's Talk Plasma Cutters! by katatak
Started on: 09-22-2013 02:54 PM
Replies: 20 (1113 views)
Last post by: 84fiero123 on 10-03-2013 08:19 AM
katatak
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Report this Post09-22-2013 02:54 PM Click Here to See the Profile for katatakSend a Private Message to katatakEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Starting on my long awaited LS/Roadster project and I am gathering some of my "desired" tools to help make the project easier. I just picked up a Pro Tolls 105 HD tube bender for the roll bar / chassis reinforcement. I'm now looking for an "entry" level 120v Plasma Cutter. I've looked at a few locally - I have no idea what I really need other than, I doubt I will ever need it for anything more than sheet metal - something that will handle up to 1/4" steel would be ideal. I've watched all the "testimonial" videos on youtube about all the Chinese cheap 120v units. I'm a little concerned about reliability. My budget has a max of around 700.00. The best "bang for my buck" - I think - is the Hobart 250ci. It has an on board compressor and pre set PSI - Northern Tool sells them for 799.00 which is the cheapest rate I can find for this unit.


Looking to see what others are using - issues. problems, etc. Thanks in advance for your replies.

Pat
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Joseph Upson
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Report this Post09-22-2013 04:06 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Joseph UpsonClick Here to Email Joseph UpsonSend a Private Message to Joseph UpsonEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Check out their prices for comparison. I purchased a new hose assembly for my MIG welder and an aluminum welding kit from them and received good service and quality parts. I was going to buy a Plasma cutter from them but got a deal on a Harbor Freight Special 220 v unit that got the job done and still works.

http://www.htpweld.com/products/index.htm

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Report this Post09-22-2013 08:18 PM Click Here to See the Profile for fieroguruSend a Private Message to fieroguruEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Read the specs close and pay attention to the available travel speed (inches cut/min.... think about that... per MINUTE). I picked up a slightly used 110V Hypertherm plasma cutter and ended up selling it because I could cut through 16ga faster with a cutoff wheel. It said it was good to 1/4", but would only do it at a snails pace.

For metal working tools, bigger is almost always better. I love my 220V Lincoln ProMig 180 welder and now won't consider any plasma cutter unless it is 220V and rated for 3/4" (even though I will probably never cut anything thicker than 1/4 and the vast majority of its use would be on 1/8", but if its big enough to cut 3/4", then it should slice through 1/8" like butter!).

[This message has been edited by fieroguru (edited 09-22-2013).]

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katatak
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Report this Post09-22-2013 08:30 PM Click Here to See the Profile for katatakSend a Private Message to katatakEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Thanks for the replies - I took your advice Guru and did some "in depth" research. That's why I love this place - lots of folks that have "been there - done that" and are willing to offer up responses. There's always something that you don't think about - I would have never thought about cut rate. I'd really like to go as big as possible but I'd have to rewire my old garage to make it happen. I'm thinking for what I want to do, I can get a light duty Victor or Smith torch head and a small tip to cut the sheet metal. Basically going to cut the inside center out of the doors and rework the top of the doors for this roadster. Thought I could also use the plasma for working the tube for the roll cage but I think I'll pick up one of those Tube Notchers.
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Report this Post09-22-2013 08:58 PM Click Here to See the Profile for hcfordeClick Here to Email hcfordeSend a Private Message to hcfordeEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
I was looking at a plasma cutter also but was surprised at what I could do with diamond blades, carbide blades and my pnuematic saw. You might be spending a lot of money for nothing.
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Report this Post09-22-2013 09:25 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Joseph UpsonClick Here to Email Joseph UpsonSend a Private Message to Joseph UpsonEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by hcforde:

I was looking at a plasma cutter also but was surprised at what I could do with diamond blades, carbide blades and my pnuematic saw. You might be spending a lot of money for nothing.


That's why the Harbor Freight unit didn't look so bad to me, unlike my MIG welder, I practically haven't used my plasma cutter since making mounts for the 6 speed and a manifold for the turbo so price is something to consider on an item you may only be using once or twice every year or two or more.

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Report this Post09-22-2013 11:48 PM Click Here to See the Profile for hcfordeClick Here to Email hcfordeSend a Private Message to hcfordeEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
I was looking at the Harbor Freight units also because one of my plans was to make a ChopTop. I have been able to cut through the thickest metal the Fiero has pretty easily with blades. For finer work I use the pneumatic metal saw from Harbor Freight.

[This message has been edited by hcforde (edited 09-22-2013).]

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84fiero123
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Report this Post09-23-2013 01:19 PM Click Here to See the Profile for 84fiero123Click Here to Email 84fiero123Send a Private Message to 84fiero123Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
20+ years under the hood, welding hood that is.

buy something now that is the best you can afford, think down the road when you will be using it to cut even thicker steel, aluminum and whatever ever else conducts electricity. I have a Thermal Dynamics Draggon plus with the built in air compressor, love it but it was 2K when I bought it a few years ago. more than you want to spend, one thing I do not like about it is the internal compressor is limited in that you can't turn the pressure up. as well as when I got mine it didn't have all the new filters the newer ones have to limit water contamination from the air compressor, something you have to put on your own compressor if you already have one in your shop. I did get a free upgrade from them for mine and my consumables aren't getting eaten up near as bad as they did before. so make sure any plasma cutter you buy has a built in water filter system or don't buy it. you will spend a lot of money on consumables. also make sure you can buy those consumables for the one you buy easily, cyberweld has the ones for mine and most other name brands available but not the ones from harbor fright.

http://store.cyberweld.com/thdyplpa.html

As far as rewiring your shop, have you got an electric drier in your home? if you do you can just run an extension cord from that into the shop so you don't have to rewire it, my shop is setup for 240 so I had no problem there, but it is fairly big and sometimes I have to cut things outside so I just went to an electrical supply house local and bought all the stuff I needed, even bought an extra female plug to mount on a peace of plywood so I can plug both my plasma cutter and MIG welder into the same extension cord at the same time, never run them both at the same time but its a pain to pull a 240 plug out and then put another in to just do it all over again when I need to use the other, ether way a heavy duty 240 extension cord is not a bad thing to have anyway.

But back to the plasma cutter, if you have a compressor already paying for the plasma cutter with one built in is a waste of money, I wanted to be able to go portable when I bought mine, but having your own compressor does have its advantages in the shop for a plasma cutter you can adjust the air pressure, the ones that have them built in you can't. sometimes you want just a little bit more, think the thicker the steel the more pressure.

edit to add, mine will cut 1/2" like butter, faster than a torch, less heat and such a pleasure to use, it will cut 5/8" as well but the cut isn't as clean, I have cut bolts, nuts, bearings out with mine, but then I have been doing this more than most people have been alive.

Steve
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Technology is great when it works,
and one big pain in the ass when it doesn't



Detroit iron rules all the rest are just toys.

[This message has been edited by 84fiero123 (edited 09-23-2013).]

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katatak
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Report this Post09-24-2013 07:11 PM Click Here to See the Profile for katatakSend a Private Message to katatakEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Thanks Steve for your input. I ran all over town today "looking" at various Plasma cutters - I'm a little goofy as I like to buy things - especially big ticket items locally as long as the price is fairly competitive. I like to "handle" the item before I buy. I went to Northern Tool and they can "order" the Hobart but they don't carry it in stock- 799.00 w/free shipping. I found the Hobart at Tractor Supply for 829.00 - on the shelf and they said they would match Northern Tools price so now, I can at least put my hands on it before I buy it. After some more "research" and visiting Tractor Supply for a recon, I am now leaning toward a unit without the built in Air Comp. Why pay 200.00 or 300.00 more when I have a 5 hp compressor in the garage.

As for the 220, you have a good point with the extension cord - my only problem is that my Dryer is gas - the stove is 220 but it would be a pain to get to the plug. The real crappy part is that I just remodeled the kitchen and moved the 220 plug for the stove from one wall to another. If I was thinking ahead, I could have left the original plug in place and been able to use an extension cord there. Live and learn I guess. I really should have some updated wiring doe in my old garage - that's probably next on the list!

The "hunt" continues for the Plasma Cutter. I know I'll use it enough to make it worth the expense - all the oxy/acetylene gas I have bough over the years would have bought a decent unit. One reason why I'm looking at the Plasma is because my tanks need a refill right now. I don't do a lot of heavy fab - mostly small pieces and parts and I'd like to do a little metal arts/crafts so I was thinking the smaller unit would work but now I'm not sure. The nice thing is, I'm not in a big hurry so I can look around a bit.
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Report this Post09-25-2013 10:46 PM Click Here to See the Profile for hcfordeClick Here to Email hcfordeSend a Private Message to hcfordeEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Then if you are dead set on getting one, my principle is to get something with more capacity than I currently think I need.

About your 220V outlet. I would try to find an electrician to come in and rewire 220 from the box that is probably in your garage. There are a number of electricians needing work nowadays, just be sure they are licensed. I found one in my church that works for Samsung and he is going to do mine so I do not have to run my wire from the Laundry room to the garage even though they are next to each other. I also need it in the garage for my 5HP 80 Gallon compressor/with air drier & my welder. After reading and doing research I could probably do it myself BUT, electricity is something I do not want to mess with. The extra expense may be worth it also to keep the wife happy.
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Report this Post09-25-2013 10:47 PM Click Here to See the Profile for hcfordeClick Here to Email hcfordeSend a Private Message to hcfordeEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post

hcforde

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Then if you are dead set on getting one, my principle is to get something with more capacity than I currently think I need.

About your 220V outlet. I would try to find an electrician to come in and rewire 220 from the box that is probably in your garage. There are a number of electricians needing work nowadays, just be sure they are licensed. I found one in my church that works for Samsung and he is going to do mine so I do not have to run my wire from the Laundry room to the garage even though they are next to each other. I also need it in the garage for my 5HP 80 Gallon compressor/with air drier & my welder. After reading and doing research I could probably do it myself BUT, electricity is something I do not want to mess with. The extra expense may be worth it also to keep the wife happy.
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Report this Post09-26-2013 09:49 AM Click Here to See the Profile for carbonSend a Private Message to carbonEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by hcforde:

Then if you are dead set on getting one, my principle is to get something with more capacity than I currently think I need.

About your 220V outlet. I would try to find an electrician to come in and rewire 220 from the box that is probably in your garage. There are a number of electricians needing work nowadays, just be sure they are licensed. I found one in my church that works for Samsung and he is going to do mine so I do not have to run my wire from the Laundry room to the garage even though they are next to each other. I also need it in the garage for my 5HP 80 Gallon compressor/with air drier & my welder. After reading and doing research I could probably do it myself BUT, electricity is something I do not want to mess with. The extra expense may be worth it also to keep the wife happy.


Heck... you sound like a handy guy. If your fuse box is in the garage, just look up the code, watch a few DIY's on the web and do it yourself. I had to rewire my dryer outlet from 3 prong 220V to 4 prong for a new dryer, this included running a new cable, and I was scared to death, until I opened the fuse box and was like "that's it?" House wiring isn't rocket science... use the stove circuit as an example and remember to shut off the mains whilst you're in there.
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Report this Post09-27-2013 02:00 AM Click Here to See the Profile for mitchjl22Click Here to Email mitchjl22Send a Private Message to mitchjl22Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
I like Hobart a lot. Hobart is the leader in filler rods for welding and they just recently partnered with Miller Welding equipment. We are partnered with hobart and miller at my school and they haven't ever let us down and we use all miller welding equipment in our welding shop. We have the best contract too because they use our high school shop for training, and in return give us the latest and greatest from miller. Here's the plasma cutter I get to borrow. Miller 625 Xtreme - Runs on 120 and 240...

Harbor freight has never really let me down, but I know the hobart cutter will probably last longer than I will.

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84fiero123
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Report this Post09-27-2013 10:46 AM Click Here to See the Profile for 84fiero123Click Here to Email 84fiero123Send a Private Message to 84fiero123Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
crap, I had a nice long post typed and lost it,

anyway 240 in the shop is handy and not that hard to do, just remember to follow procedures like shutting down the main first.

plasma cutters also have consumables that can get expensive if you get water in your lines and compressors make water so put a filter or 2 in the lines from your compressor to your cutter.

depending on where you buy your consumables they can get expensive, example, mine cost like 8 bucks for a tip and 7 bucks for an electrode. you don't always need to replace both at the same time but it is a good idea if they both show wear.
the cup that holds those in can also be a consumable as it will melt after a while and that is the most expensive to replace, like 30 bucks if I remember right, but I have only had to replace that once in like 5 years. while replacing the tips and electrodes many, many times, hell before they sent me the air filter system for my internal compressor I was replacing them almost every day.

if you are just using yours for thin things you will not need a 40 or 50 amp cutter, but I have learned over the years the better quality the tool the longer the tool will last and you get what you pay for. things you buy can last for a lifetime or just till the warranty runs out so buying local and having service available local is a good thing, thing is TSC doesn't usually service those things so ask about who does their service. my welding equipment was all purchased at local welding supply houses that do their own service but they also cost a premium price, so keep that in mind.

if I think of anything later I will post, short term memory loss from a stroke years ago makes trying to post sometime get hard.

 
quote
Originally posted by katatak:

The "hunt" continues for the Plasma Cutter. I know I'll use it enough to make it worth the expense - all the oxy/acetylene gas I have bough over the years would have bought a decent unit. One reason why I'm looking at the Plasma is because my tanks need a refill right now. I don't do a lot of heavy fab - mostly small pieces and parts and I'd like to do a little metal arts/crafts so I was thinking the smaller unit would work but now I'm not sure. The nice thing is, I'm not in a big hurry so I can look around a bit.


know all about that, but sometimes regret it when I haven't refilled mine because it is so handy when bending steel, so keep that in mind and don't get rid of those, I own mine but bought them in TN when I lived down there so getting them refilled up here in Maine has become a problem for me without a contract and the company I bought mine from is not up here. but like I said they are handy so don't get rid of them.

Steve

------------------
Technology is great when it works,
and one big pain in the ass when it doesn't



Detroit iron rules all the rest are just toys.

[This message has been edited by 84fiero123 (edited 09-27-2013).]

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Report this Post09-29-2013 08:59 PM Click Here to See the Profile for zkhenningsSend a Private Message to zkhenningsEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
I installed a 220v outlet myself in the garage. Costs around 100 bucks to do because the wire is pretty expensive, I forget if I used 10 or 8 gage wire... It was whatever size was recommended. It took maybe an hour to install including conduit. Now I can use any 220v tool I want which is really nice.
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84fiero123
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Report this Post09-29-2013 09:18 PM Click Here to See the Profile for 84fiero123Click Here to Email 84fiero123Send a Private Message to 84fiero123Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by zkhennings:

I installed a 220v outlet myself in the garage. Costs around 100 bucks to do because the wire is pretty expensive, I forget if I used 10 or 8 gage wire... It was whatever size was recommended. It took maybe an hour to install including conduit. Now I can use any 220v tool I want which is really nice.


------------------
Technology is great when it works,
and one big pain in the ass when it doesn't



Detroit iron rules all the rest are just toys.

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katatak
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Report this Post10-01-2013 10:57 PM Click Here to See the Profile for katatakSend a Private Message to katatakEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Well I went and bought the Hobart 250ci! Got home from Vegas Saturday and checked the mail - had a 15% off Tractor Supply coupon so I went over and picked it up - the 15% off the 800.00 price tag was a pretty good incentive plus I had another 100.00 rebate through work so I could not pass it up. Used it for the first time tonight on my Roadster project - don't know why I waited so long to pick up one of these units. For sheet metal work, it's the only way to go - was able to trim out the insides of both doors in about 10 minutes. Cuts like butta!





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Report this Post10-02-2013 10:12 AM Click Here to See the Profile for carbonSend a Private Message to carbonEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Nice.
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84fiero123
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Report this Post10-02-2013 11:02 AM Click Here to See the Profile for 84fiero123Click Here to Email 84fiero123Send a Private Message to 84fiero123Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Love mine great and so much faster than a torch, plus very little distortion to anything nearby because it is so fast.
did that one come with an internal air filter?
Also who does there service on that?

remember to get a bunch of extra tips, consumables so you have them on hand, when they start wearing out they tend to cut thicker metals at an angle instead of that nice clean cut when they are new. and always, always keep a fire extinguisher on hand close by when using it.

enjoy.

Steve

------------------
Technology is great when it works,
and one big pain in the ass when it doesn't



Detroit iron rules all the rest are just toys.

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katatak
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Report this Post10-02-2013 07:02 PM Click Here to See the Profile for katatakSend a Private Message to katatakEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by 84fiero123:

Love mine great and so much faster than a torch, plus very little distortion to anything nearby because it is so fast.
did that one come with an internal air filter?
Also who does there service on that?

remember to get a bunch of extra tips, consumables so you have them on hand, when they start wearing out they tend to cut thicker metals at an angle instead of that nice clean cut when they are new. and always, always keep a fire extinguisher on hand close by when using it.

enjoy.

Steve



Thanks Steve - yes it has an internal air filter and it came with a couple extra tips and electrodes. Service is handled by the Local welding supply company that sells Hobart Welders and Plasma cutters - they wanted 989.00 for the same unit. I can get consumables there but will have to pay the price - I'll start looking for some internet deals and stock up.
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Report this Post10-03-2013 08:19 AM Click Here to See the Profile for 84fiero123Click Here to Email 84fiero123Send a Private Message to 84fiero123Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by katatak:


Thanks Steve - yes it has an internal air filter and it came with a couple extra tips and electrodes. Service is handled by the Local welding supply company that sells Hobart Welders and Plasma cutters - they wanted 989.00 for the same unit. I can get consumables there but will have to pay the price - I'll start looking for some internet deals and stock up.


here are a couple of places online I get tips/consumables.

http://store.cyberweld.com/...bS-rkCFcZ9OgoddxEADw

https://weldingsupply.com/cgi-bin/einstein.pl?Next::10:UNDEF5088298::::PL

first link is free shipping on purchases over 25 bucks I think, but you pay obviously with higher parts prices, second one parts cost less but you have to pay shipping so it just depends. If you find some place you like and cheap parts send me a link in a PM, I'm always looking for a new one. also pay attention to where they are located in relationship to where you live, the first link I get my part in a day or 2, the second it can take a week or more.

and if you need help with how to use some welding equipment.

http://www.millerwelds.com/...urces/tech_tips.html

Steve

------------------
Technology is great when it works,
and one big pain in the ass when it doesn't



Detroit iron rules all the rest are just toys.

[This message has been edited by 84fiero123 (edited 10-03-2013).]

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