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Thread: Hobby Plasma Cutter Choice Question?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    Northern Indiana
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    Default Hobby Plasma Cutter Choice Question?

    Yea, the war wagon has relented! Finally time to add a plasma cutter to the shop. As a weekend warrior I cannot justify a Hypertherm or Hobart class machine. As far as I can foresee I will need nothing more than a Chinese 'Cut 50' platform; I'm in the 1/4" and less camp 99% of the time. And most of the metal I cut is clean. So, a stop off at most of the "best of" review sites reveals a recurring pattern of two highly rated weekender models in the under $500 US range. They are:

    https://www.amazon.com/PRIMEWELD-Pre...seaslugteam-20
    and
    https://www.amazon.com/Lotos-LTP5000...seaslugteam-20

    Both advertise 1/2" max cut, more than enough for my tinkering. The question then becomes: do I need or want pilot arc technology? The Primeweld is a contact start and the Lotos is a no-touch model. The 90 bucks difference is not a show stopper but there’s no need to spend it if I don’t need it. Will life be easier with pilot arc? Is there a third unit I have overlooked (keeping in mind I will not be spending more than 5C notes on this purchase)?

    All opinions accepted and appreciated

    Mark
    Last edited by garagemark; 05-03-2019 at 10:06 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Kendal, On
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    Default

    I bought this one back last year and so far it's been awesome. No complaints. Dual voltage, blowback start, Ipt-60 torch. CNC port (for a planned future cnc table)

    https://www.amazon.com/Friendly-Non-.../dp/B076FDQC2P

    I went through all the same research etc that you probably have, and decided to take a gamble. So far it has paid off, and been a very valuable addition to my home shop capabilities.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
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    Tucson
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    I have a Lotos 3 in 1 plasma, tig, stick, with pilot arc. Works great. I did cut 1" mild steel and 1/2 aluminum with it, not the prettiest but it did cut it. Works much better on smaller stuff. Tips and such are cheap and readily available.

  4. #4
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    Jan 2010
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    Germany
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    Get the pilot arc start. Absolutely! You will save the extra money in consumables in no time at all.
    How to become a millionaire: Start out with 10 million and take up machining as a hobby!

  5. #5
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    Feb 2009
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    Northern Indiana
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    Thank you all for your opinions. I sent the link to the Lotos home so I could look it over again this weekend, and I found out just this morning that the War Wagon ordered it! May have to keep her now.

    Indeed just after I wrote the OP I decided that it'd be stupid not to get a pilot arc start machine. What could be the down side? Nothing. So I'm glad I sent the link home that I did. It's on the way.

    Thanks again,
    Mark

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Atlanta, GA, USA
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    I have been thinking about getting one of these. However I already have oxyacetelyne with a cutting torch and can't see spending the money as it would be just for hobby use. Is there any real advantage of a plasma cutter over a oxyacetelyne cutting torch?

  7. #7
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    NJ
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    Quote Originally Posted by Planeman41 View Post
    I have been thinking about getting one of these. However I already have oxyacetelyne with a cutting torch and can't see spending the money as it would be just for hobby use. Is there any real advantage of a plasma cutter over a oxyacetelyne cutting torch?
    You can cut aluminum with a plasma cutter....

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Location
    Tucson
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    Quote Originally Posted by Planeman41 View Post
    I have been thinking about getting one of these. However I already have oxyacetelyne with a cutting torch and can't see spending the money as it would be just for hobby use. Is there any real advantage of a plasma cutter over a oxyacetelyne cutting torch?
    Many advantages. Cost of operation is one, safety if you set it down between cuts, able to cut stainless, brass, aluminum non ferrous metals.

    Safety is a real consideration. If you get an acetylene leak, you have danger of deadly explosion. When doing multiple cuts and having to reposition or set the torch down, the plasma is OFF, won't burn you, won't fall and start a fire, is faster to resume work especially if you had to shut the torch off.

    The gas axe has it's value being versatile and able to preheat items, or heat nuts and bolts for removal. You can weld about anything with a gas torch. But for cutting, the plasma wins hands down on convenience efficiency and cost.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Anderson SC
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    Quote Originally Posted by Planeman41 View Post
    I have been thinking about getting one of these. However I already have oxyacetelyne with a cutting torch and can't see spending the money as it would be just for hobby use. Is there any real advantage of a plasma cutter over a oxyacetelyne cutting torch?
    In addition to what DeDave posted.... I got a plasma a few years back, a harbor freight unit that was nearly new, for $150. The low price is what made me make the jump. I have had oxyacetylene for many many years and it has always served my needs well, so although plasma was always tempting I never justified the plasma. WELL... now that I have had it for a few years, it falls into the category of one of those tools you wonder how you ever lived without it before.

    The qualities I appreciate are the ability to make VERY neat cuts, very little heat induced into the piece being cut and cutting very thin materials. I recently cut some painted sheet metal being repurposed, it only burned the paint about 1/16 of a inch each side ! The cut edges are so prefect they almost look machined (assuming you use a straight edge).

    Just wait, you will become very spoiled with the new toy !

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
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    Talked me into it, been thinking about buying one of the home shop cutters for a while you helped with the decision. Ordered the LTP5000D and with my free Prime trial should be here tomorrow.

    Something that is a little confusing is the package of consumables that Amazon suggests. One of the questions asks if it will work on the new brown version of the 5000D and the answer is no! In another question the answer is yes! I went ahead and ordered it thinking I could always return it if the NO answer was accurate.
    https://www.amazon.com/Plasma-LTP500...548225-4417704

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