View Full Version : Plasma cutter
07-05-2007, 06:54 AM
Does anyone have experience with the plasma cutter/tig units advertised in Machinist Workshop sold by Parker Metalworking Products?
07-05-2007, 07:11 AM
07-05-2007, 04:37 PM
I think there is a good review and discussion about that unit over on the pirate4x4 forum.
07-05-2007, 05:50 PM
There are several threads in the "shop and tool talk" forum on pirate4x4.com, pretty much every one who has purchased any of the parker products has responded favorably of it in the threads. I personally have serious doubts as to its quality and longevity. It is a rebadged chicom tool, sold by the parker family out of Arizona. HF sells the same units, but the parkers (father and son team if I am not mistaken) claims to go through each of them and tweak and adjust them, and test cut with them to be sure they are up to par before shipping. They also have exceptional customer service from what I have read.
The only comments I have to make on the things are as follows:
1) Their physical size and weight are far smaller/lighter than a comparable quality product for the same current/cut capacity. Parker claims this is due to it being "inverter technology", however, all of the higher end competitors use inverter technology as well. You would be hard pressed to find a transformer based plasma cutter anywhere, with the possible exclusion of very large commercial cutters.
2) Every cut I have ever seen from these critters is the same or worse than a oxy/acetylene cut. In fact, I have seen good gas operators cut much better.
3) From what I have seen, the chicom plasmas are all scratch start, this will be very annoying when cutting something like expanded metal.
4) To get their rated cut capacity, you have to move very, very slow. Watch the videos on the parker site if you don't believe it.
That said, everyone is happy with them, but I question whether or not these users have ever used a higher end machine.
As for the tig capability, they are DC only, and unless things have changed since I last looked, they are scratch start and have no remote current control. While remote control is not absolutely necessary for ferrous metals, it makes life easier. W/o high frequency AC, you wont be welding aluminum with it. You can DC tig aluminum, but it is not something for a beginner.
Good luck w/ whatever you decide.
07-05-2007, 05:58 PM
Here is a link to one of the big threads that have been going on pirate for a while about the parker.
07-05-2007, 08:38 PM
A friend of mine has the HF unit, it is pure junk, it hard to believe that any amount of "tweaking" could turn this into a viable piece of equipment. I have an Hypertherm 100 amp industrial unit, and even though he owns the HF unit, I still do all of his cutting. Last winter when he replaced the rear quarter panels on his '69 Camaro, he said the unit had a hard time cutting out the old panels. The Chinesee are getting better and better, at some of the equipment they make, but I still don't believe that includes high frequency electronics, necessary to build a viable plasma cutter.
07-06-2007, 01:02 AM
Mine is an HT380 and I highly recommend it for home shop use. It'll cut 1/8 steel like a sharp knife through butter, 1/4 is cut quickly and neatly, though you'll need a steadier hand and rate to get a clean cut. 3/8 is the practical limit and not "neet", but I've "severed" (read: gnarly jagged cut) 1/2 plate with it, but that's more gnawing through than cutting. Above 1/4", I'll use one of my O/A cutting rigs...
07-06-2007, 02:30 AM
07-06-2007, 10:58 AM
Well said on all points, especially the part about not loaning out. I would sooner loan out one of my guns...
Also about the O/A goggles, that's what I wear too. I can't see nearly well enough through a #9. I don't recall the goggle rating, but I've cut a pile of stuff and never gotten so much as eye fatigue.
Agreed on the guides too. I've made a set of trammel style and circumferential circle guides. The latter are for smaller holes like bolt holes, basically a largish holder which defines larges hole, roughly 1.5” in this case, and bushings that go inside for smaller holes down to 1/2". I’ve also made various stand-offs, and generally use a piece of 1" x 1/8" angle iron clamped to the material for straight cuts. For one long radius compound curve, I welded some tabs to a piece of 1" x 1.8" strap, shaped the strap to my desired curve, and clamped with the tabs. Without stand-off, my kirf edge is almost exactly 1/2" from the edge of the collar which rides against the guide. So I have bits of scrap 1/2" square tube I use as spacers to line up the guide. Very fast and effective, then I can concentrate on keeping an even rate of travel to get a nice cut.
The HT also has "constant arc" which makes cutting things like perf/expanded sheet a breeze. It will maintain the arc for about 2 seconds without material underneath, but it does cut into consumable life. Fortunately HT consumables are among the cheapest and most readily available (around here anyway).
Also, another forum like this, but focused on welding/cutting: http://www.hobartwelders.com/mboard/
I would be extremely leary of these cheapo chinese tig/plasma machines.
First, they are sold on ebay, and only ebay. Now, I realize that there are some real businesses that do a lot of sales on ebay- but there are also a lot of total fly by nighters.
I noticed Grizzly is starting to sell the chinese tigs- dont know if they have the plasma- but at least, Grizz has a real address, employees, and a parts department. I have been to the Grizz world headquarters, a couple hundred thousand square feet of buildings- they arent going anywhere soon.
I am sure the Parkers are heck of nice guys- but how many years do you expect them to stock parts for your machine?
Who will repair it when they quit selling em?
These are throw away WalMart electronics- Miller and Hypertherm and Thermal dynamics are not just selling the same machine and pocketing the extra thousand dollars- there are real differences between an industrial quality Hypertherm or TD, and these little boxes.
Start with better designs, better quality parts, 800 numbers for tech support, a nationwide network of repair shops and parts dealers, consumables at any welding supply store, resale value, and proven long life.
We hear these great stories- "Its worked great for 4 months!"
My Thermal dynamics has cut without breakdown for about 8 years now, often for 5 hours a day. I know of 10 and 15 year old american made machines still running in commercial shops.
Call us back when the cheapo chinese models, each with a different, more stirring and exciting name (Longevity! Giant! Excitement!- they sound like male enhancement products) lasts 10 years.
As a side note, the chinese are perfectly capable of building high quality inverter power supplies- a buddy of mine is importing inverter induction heat units for blacksmiths and knifemakers.
Made in China. Very high quality- but the catch is, they cost real money.
His starter unit, at Blacksmith Depot here-
cost $4000. He has a bigger one for around 6 grand.
The chinese dont have some magic bullet to make an $800 tig welder- they do it the old fashioned way- CUT CORNERS!
If you wanted a chinese made plasma cutter equivalent to a Hypertherm, it would cost about the same as a hypertherm. But no, we all believe in the tooth fairy, and magically delicious breakfast cereal, and $300 plasma cutters.
You get what you pay for.
07-06-2007, 11:51 AM
Here is a link to one of the big threads that have been going on pirate for a while about the parker.
Doh! Thanks for that thread Jason!
I was seriously thinking about getting the Parker 40A, based on the HSM ads, but I didn't know that they were Harbor Freight cutters!
That thread is an interesting read: this is from one of the owners of the Parker 40A:
"Originally Posted by krombig
I tried cutting again today. Didn't matter what I tried, I couldn't get the fawker to work. Yes, I tried changing the consumables. So many changes that now I'm out of them. I'm starting to think that my money would have been better spent on a blow torch. $400 to cut off two motor mounts. Ya..."
..and here's Phil describing his own machine, before it's cleaned-up. I'm not sure his posted had the effect he was intending :confused:
"Originally Posted by divtec
You see I ALWAYS have the factories send samples...
I was AMAZED at the poor quality! Things like their idea of securing the electronic connectors is by hot-glue. The confirmed reason is that the connector pins and terminals is of such poor quality the they get pushed out of the connectors during assembly... hence the reason for the hot glue to hold them in.
We found lose nuts & washer bouncing around... poor (cold) solder joints... finger prints EVERYWHERE! So... if you do decide to buy one of these... I assure you that we can PARKERIZE it... then put our warranty on it. However... you would be spending $ you wouldn't have if you bought from us in the first place.
Later... Phil Sr"
07-06-2007, 11:37 PM
I talked to the Hypertherm area rep today, the 380 has been discontinued, replaced by the Model 30, which uses the same consumables as the 380, just a newer much smaller power supply, the remain 380s will be sold a a clearance price to clean out the remaing inventory. This is a great machine, and a good chance to get it at a greatly reduced cost.
07-07-2007, 01:26 AM
07-07-2007, 08:02 AM
Thanks, for all the replies.
I contacted Parker and asked for a referral here in Houston to get a first hand look at one of the units in operation and be able to get their opinion. He said he would get back to me but 2 weeks have passed and have received nothing.
After reading all the replies I think I have saved myself some money.
07-07-2007, 10:40 AM
"If you wanted a chinese made plasma cutter equivalent to a Hypertherm, it would cost about the same as a hypertherm. But no, we all believe in the tooth fairy, and magically delicious breakfast cereal, and $300 plasma cutters.
ries, I love sarcasm and that is the funniest statement i have read in a long while..thank you..:)
o and couldnt be happier with my hypertherm 1000.
07-07-2007, 03:12 PM
OT: Glad to help. It is a very good board for those things, and they freely discuss Miller, Hobart, Lincoln, ESAB, and many other brands without brand flaming. I haven't even seen anything too harsh directed at cheap import questions, but I haven't been over there much in a long time...
Good info on the HT380 clearance. I think a person would be VERY hard pressed to find a better unit for a home shop. Yes, on a rare ocasion it would be nice to have a larger unit. But at the scale most guys here work, and that includes almost anything automotive, the HT380 will take it all in stride.
07-07-2007, 04:15 PM
I talked to the Hypertherm area rep today, the 380 has been discontinued, replaced by the Model 30, which uses the same consumables as the 380, just a newer much smaller power supply, the remain 380s will be sold a a clearance price to clean out the remaing inventory.
Does anyone know where there are still 380's in stock? I just checked all the online stores, and it looks like the HT380 was replaced by the Model 30 back in January, so there's none of the 380's in sight, including on Ebay.
I'll try the local Airgas store on Monday, but their clearance prices are usually higher than the regular online prices.
By the way, you can get the new Model 30 for around $1,000 shipped. This is a 20 lb plasma cutter that's rated for 3/8" plate, and can do 1/2" with a new tip! Amazing!