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JRouche
06-13-2008, 10:43 PM
I love my plasma cutter. I have a TD Pakmaster 50. I dont use it nearly enough. So this week I see my neighbor out in his front yard adapting a cargo carrier to his offroad motorcycle trailer. He was welding, grinding and cutting alot of 16ga sheetmetal.

He would be out there for half an hour cutting one small panel for the sides of the new compartment. He was using a disc abrasive wheel on his angle grinder. Works great, I have done plenty of sheet metal cutting that way before plasma. But he was making a huge racket, doesnt bother me but in this suburban neighborhood Im sure some folks were cringing, specially cause he would start working on it at night LOL And he was eating up discs like they were free. Alot of cutting..

So tonight Im sitting out here drinking a beer and see him start on the biggest panel yet, a full sheet of steel for the top. Im thinking five discs and an hour later he would be done..

So I wheel my plasma cart across the street cause I know he has a compressor. And I tell him we can do this hour job in less than five minutes. Sure enough. I plug in to electrical and air and grab a bar of steel for a guide and tell him to hold his end of the bar, and Ill hold mine. He had alreay marked all the cuts with a sharpie pen. At about 10 inches per second the 16ga was being sliced up like butter. In minutes we had about eight different cuts, some really long ones done.. And with the guide they were straight as an arrow, and not slag or HAZ. Fast!!!

I wheeled the cutter back home and it was a done deal... Glad to help out a fellow metal man!!!! JR

rmack898
06-13-2008, 10:54 PM
Did he ask you what brand of beer you like?

torker
06-13-2008, 11:10 PM
I couldn't survive without a plasma cutter. A 10 foot shear would be better. But I can't pick that up and move it with one hand like the HT 600 I use.
JR.. I bet his mouth dropped open when he saw how fast you cut that up?
Russ

wierdscience
06-13-2008, 11:30 PM
Heh,last metal roof I put up I used a plasma cutter to fit the sheets.Cut that 26ga painted stuff so fast it didn't even burn the plastic shipping film.

JRouche
06-13-2008, 11:44 PM
Hey guys.. Yeah, he knows what beer I like cause for some odd reason theres always one stuck to my hand, someone musta super glued it there, Im sure of it!!!!

And yeah, after he spent the entire week and a few trips to HF for new boxes of cutoff discs just to do the small side panels. He couldnt believe it, we just sliced up the top just as quick as he put the cut lines on with a pen..

And a righteous shear would be the sweet tool for me!!! No room :( Mechanical shears have always been my best friend.

I was a sheet metal mechanic (fancy label the boss put on my job for Grunt). I loved the shears we used.. Even here in the home shop I will break out the throatless shear instead of the plasma just for quickness. And for freehand cutting on the plasma Im not all that good. Must be that darn beer can someone glued to my hand LOL JR

lazlo
06-14-2008, 12:50 AM
I love my plasma cutter. I have a TD Pakmaster 50.

I really need to get a plasma cutter. What's the difference between the PakMaster and the CutMaster?

oldtiffie
06-14-2008, 01:28 AM
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. And for freehand cutting on the plasma Im not all that good. Must be that darn beer can someone glued to my hand LOL JR
I'd agree with that JR.

I rarely use mine free-hand as I am better with oxy/acet in that regard. I treat my Plasma cutter as I do my router (big bugger) and use guides and templates. As you say it does a great job - not only quick but the cut face/kerf are really good and distortion on sheet is minimal - but it needs very quick travel of cut. For that reason I always use my "drag" guide or roller-guide.

I went in the see my local metals supplier (who has a very good fab and jobbing shop) and asked him about "free-handing". He was not very kind (very rude actually). He said that the salesman who came to "demo" it was "one trick pony" who was able to cut short straight lines and even cut out names etc. (which is hard to get right). Local supplier reckons that sales-person was just like the US carpet-baggers who were flogging type-writers whose main (and only) claim to fame was that they could type "type writer" without moving off/from the top line of the key-board. Local supplier was an agent for the plasma cutters anyway. But more or less kindly but very directly told sales-person to "f" first himself and then "off".

Local supplier has a very good "sheet" set-up too. He said that he uses his cutter as required - but most of his weldors/"sheeties" are old-school and reach for the powered guillotine or oxy/acet torch out of force of habit.

Me?

The plasma cutter is the way to go as it will cut any metal that is electrically conductive - steel, cast-iron, brass, bronze, copper, aluminium. "mystery metal" etc. - and it is not too fussy about paint or rust either.

Power and air supply may be problems if under-rated and both need to be running simultaneously. So size your plasma cutter according to your "size/thickness" of cut, electrical supply and compressor at required pressure and "free air delivery" (both at the plasma cutter).

A "practice run" is recommended though to keep your eye, hand and procedures "up to sped" if you haven't used it for a while.

Do be wary of the "spark stream" as it can be much bigger than oxy/acet and the air flow pressure and rate is much higher than most oxy-acet rates - be alert.

Would I buy one if I'd didn't have one - damn right!!

The smaller units take up little space and will readily fit on or under a bench or on a shelf. They are quick and easy to set up and dismantle for storage.

Good one are not "cheap" but they are very good value for money.

dp
06-14-2008, 01:42 AM
I really need to get a plasma cutter. What's the difference between the PakMaster and the CutMaster?

I'm starting to get plasma cutter envy my own damn self :)

macona
06-14-2008, 04:02 AM
lazlo, the pakmasters were the series of inverter plasmas that came out before the cutmasters.

I really cant recommend thermal dynamics machines, I have replaced too many main boards in them. There is a new series of machines out from them though, I dont know much as I never got to play with them before I was axed.

If anyone does buy a Thermal Dynamics machine make sure you dont buy it from airgas. They have a thing going with TD that the machines they sell have a special airgas version of the torch that will only use consumables from airgas. You can special order the normal version of the machine if you ask though. Some airgas stores are not carrying the special version too.

Older parts for TD machines are difficult to get sometimes and expensive when you do.

Buy hypertherm. No games. Machines are well supported.

kvom
06-14-2008, 09:21 AM
A few things I've learned:

1) Plasma needs dry air. Best to have an air/water separator or a dryer (some plasmas have them built in).

2) Start a cut with the torch at an angle so the initial blowback doesn't fry the nozzle.

Friends don't let friends buy HF cutoff discs!

lazlo
06-14-2008, 10:58 AM
lazlo, the pakmasters were the series of inverter plasmas that came out before the cutmasters.

But Thermal Dynamics sells both (still). And I've read through the TD web page and I sure can figure out the difference. In a particular series Pakmaster 50, Cutmaster 50, they seem to have the same cut capacities.


If anyone does buy a Thermal Dynamics machine make sure you dont buy it from airgas. They have a thing going with TD that the machines they sell have a special airgas version of the torch that will only use consumables from airgas.

Wow, that's good to know!


Buy hypertherm. No games. Machines are well supported.

That's what I've heard from several pro welders: stay away from the Lincoln/Miller/Snap-On plasmas, and Hypertherm is the best. Problem is, Hypertherm is the most expensive too :)

davidh
06-14-2008, 12:20 PM
so in reading this, i checked with my brother who is a service tech for airgas and a very respected elder in the repair community. here is his take on the air gas comment. . . .bear in mind that RAdnor is Airgas Label

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(Quote)There is a Radnor version made by Thermal Dynamics. It is identical to the Thermal Dynamics branded machine except for the consumables on the torch end. We sell both. Although the consumables are different on the Radnor, we can give people a a better deal on them than the Thermal brand.
Thermal did go through a time where the board used to start the arc (the pilot arc board) would fail. Thermal stood by their warranty and replaced the boards no questions asked. I haven't seen anything noteworthy problemwise for quite a while in either Hypertherm or Thermal machines. Parts for either one are in my estimation too expensive. So is gasoline and milk.
They make Fords, Chev's and Chrysler Co. cars, all of which have had stellar performers and dogs. If you can justify buying one over the other..... do it.
Hypertherm makes a great machine. We sell them too. Airgas stores can pretty much sell whatever they want so far as brand name goes. The idea is to make sure the customers get a quality piece of equipment at a reasonable price, and they can get it in their community so if there is a problem there is a local person you can talk to face to face and get things taken care of. Buy cheap, mail order, EBAY etc and when you have a problem.... well it's really a problem. (un-quote)
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