Plasma cuts through electrically conductive materials like a hot knife on butter. Plasma cutters are by far the most versatile metalworking tool which delivers flawless professional cutting, in a matter of minutes.
Speed, precision, and efficiency are a few of the reasons we prefer plasma cutters over oxy-fuel torches. The air pressure in plasma cutters is constricted and outperforms any other method even when cutting stacks of metal at once. But, it may be quite daunting when picking one that meets your needs.
Narrow down your search by asking yourself questions like how often you would use it, what material you would like to cut, if you want it to be portable, how you will power the plasma cutter (generator/adapt power), etc.
To save you the effort, we have listed five of the best products so that you can pick the best portable plasma cutter for yourself.
Best Portable Plasma Cutters: Our Top Picks
The Hypertherm Powermax 30 Air is one of the best handheld portable plasma cutters known for its exceptional performance in the most compact packages. It comes with an in-built air compressor, and you can work it with any 120 or 240V circuits.
As the plasma cutter comes with an in-built compressor, you no longer need an external compressor or filter. The consumable design of this plasma cutter allows a consistent airflow and quickly cuts metal across different types and thicknesses.
It offers superior performance without even triggering the continuous arc feature. It has an exceptional cutting speed and quality that is precise and does not leave any slag. The hand torch, on the other hand, is designed to withstand the utmost heat and impact. It has a tapered cap and deflector for better arc visibility.
Even in humid conditions, the Hypertherm Power 30 Air works effortlessly with its built-in moisture removal technology. This is undoubtedly the best plasma cutter with a built-in compressor
Hypertherm Powermax30 Plasma Cutter Pros:
- Variable cut thickness
- In-built air compressor
- Rugged and compact design to withstand extreme environments
- Auto voltage technology
Hypertherm Powermax30 Plasma Cutter Cons:
- Slightly high on the budget
The Hobart Airforce 40i is one of the most reliable and inverter-based portable plasma cutters. The key feature that stands out in this plasma cutter is the cutting speed. It has an exceptionally fast cutting speed up to 52 inches maximum on quarter-inch steel.
Much like its previous version, the Hobart plasma cutter is one of a kind and is priced accordingly, too. The redesigned torch is highly responsive and comfortable to handle, providing ample flexibility during operation. The torch cuts metal clean with minimum slag.
This plasma cutter also comes with a pilot auto-arc feature that uses the auto-refire technology if you lose your arc for any reason during the operation.
This technology also helps in cutting expanded metals, or even coated and painted surfaces effortlessly. The wind tunnel technology prevents any abrasive dust particles from damaging the product or any internal components.
Hobart Airforce 40i 240V Plasma Cutter Pros:
- Exceptional cutting speed
- LED display panel
- Thermal overload protection
- Compact and inverter-based design
Hobart Airforce 40i 240V Plasma Cutter Cons:
- Pretty high on the budget
- Customers complain about short power cords
Surprisingly affordable, the Lotos LTP5000D plasma cutter is one of the best starter kits if you are just beginning metalworking. The plasma cutter operates at 50 amps and 110 or 220V. It has a decent built quality and a compact design.
Like most Lotos plasma cutters, this one also does not require massive set-up before you can finally start using it. It comes with both automatic dual voltage and dual frequency, which means you only need to plug the device, and it will automatically choose the right voltage.
The Lotos plasma cutter has an impressive cutting technology featuring the V-MOSFET transistor, which is known for its exceptional high output for cutting thick and rough materials with ease. It also ensures that the cut is uniform and can be used on thin metals as well.
At this affordable price, this Lotos one is undoubtedly the best portable plasma cutting machine.
Lotos LTP5000D Plasma Cutter Pros:
- Compact and lightweight design
- Clean and smooth cuts
- Durable construction
Lotos LTP5000D Plasma Cutter Cons:
- There is no torch trigger guard
Specially designed for home DIY and small projects, the Miller Spectrum 625 X-treme has a light construction making it extremely portable. It has a sturdy built which can withstand extended hours of both heat and impact.
This Miller plasma cutter is built with auto-line circuitry, which means it does not require any additional tool for power connection. It is also equipped with multi-voltage power adaptors, which automatically chooses the voltage when you plug in the machine.
The auto-refire technology of the plasma cutter further enhances its convenience. This means the user does not need to manually trigger the cutter, whereas it automatically adjusts according to the metal size ad thickness.
It also comes with a quick connect torch with an ergonomic handle for the perfect grip and precision. Also, all the cables in the device are quite flexible and can be maneuvered as per the user’s requirement.
Moreover, wind tunnel technology saves the machine from unwanted dust and debris. It also comes with a built-in fan that works almost simultaneously with the torch, ensuring the utmost reliability and avoiding overheating.
Miller Spectrum 625 X-Treme Plasma Cutter Pros:
- Portable and compact built.
- Wind tunnel technology
- Auto-refire technology
- Versatile application
Miller Spectrum 625 X-Treme Plasma Cutter Cons:
- It cannot withstand hefty metals
- Slightly pricey
The Forney Weld 251 20 P is probably one of the best welder and plasma cutter at such an affordable price range. It is a lightweight, portable, generator-friendly plasma cutter ideal for home DIY or small projects.
This plasma cutter can cut ¼-inch from most materials like brass, stainless steel, copper, aluminum, or galvanized steel, almost effortlessly. It has a quick set-up and a built-in regulator and air dryer, which further aids the operation.
It works on drag technology, which helps cut metals by touching the tip directly to the metal for smoother and precise cuts. This is an excellent product for people who indulge in intricate metalworking.
Forney Easy Weld 251 Plasma Cutter Pros:
- Extremely lightweight and portable
- It can work well even on rough and rusty surfaces
- It uses drag torch technology for precise and smoother cuts
- Affordable price
Forney Easy Weld 251 Plasma Cutter Cons:
- The output is quite low
Q: Is drag technology better than non-touch technology?
A: Yes, drag technology lets you cut materials up to 1/8-inch, whereas non-touch technology only focuses on reducing the higher frequency ground circuit.
Q: As a beginner, is it fine to invest in a cheap plasma cutter?
A: Unlike what most people believe, there is a range of affordable plasma cutters that work as great as any other cutter. Brands like Lotos and Super Deal manufacture a few of the best affordable plasma cutters.
Q: How thick of steel can a plasma cutter cut?
A: Approximately 1 inch
Plasma cutters are used for cutting and gouging operations, with the average hand-held machine capable of cutting up to around 1-inch thick metal. Plasma requires pressurized air and a significant quantity of electrical power.
Q: Can I cut copper with a plasma cutter?
A: Copper is suitable for cutting with a plasma cutter due to its electrical conductivity. You'll need a plasma cutter with a 50 amp output and the exact specifications for plasma cutting steel. Cut slowly at first, and then add a piece of steel on top of the copper to facilitate the operation.
Q: Do you need a welding mask for plasma cutting?
A: Technically, no. When it comes to plasma cutting, many people choose goggles or even darkening safety glasses. However, if the torch you're using has a high enough amp rating, a welding mask is a good idea for safety.
When buying a plasma cutter, there’s more to consider than just versatility and durability. If we were to suggest, the Hypertherm Powermax30 Plasma Cutter is one of the best plasma cutters for its extensive features like the handheld operation, in-built air compressor, and moisture removal technology.