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I have an oxy-propane torch. Do I really need a plasma cutter?

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  • I have an oxy-propane torch. Do I really need a plasma cutter?

    Like this, maybe:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xC6J...ature=youtu.be

    (But I think at 11:42 that looks like a sheet of plain old roofing lead. Not so impressive.)
    "A machinist's (WHAP!) best friend (WHAP! WHAP!) is his hammer. (WHAP!)" - Fred Tanner, foreman, Lunenburg Foundry and Engineering machine shop, circa 1979

  • #2
    Having used both, I would say yes.....
    The cut is different for the plasma, considerably cleaner. Not as clean as water jet or laser, but much better than the usual torch cut.
    1601

    Keep eye on ball.
    Hashim Khan

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    • #3
      Do you ever cut aluminum? Stainless? Brass?

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      • #4
        I had an oxyacetylene cutting torch. It seemed like every time I needed to cut something where time was critical one tank would be empty or so close to it that I couldn't finish it without a trip to town to buy more gas. After I got the plasma torch and started using that for cutting the oxyacetylene got used for heating or welding small items that the arc welder wasn't very good for. Eventually I returned the leased tanks and use a carbon arc torch for heating things that need bent, a MIG welder for the little things, and the plasma for cutting. I always have compressed air and electricity when I need to cut things. If the electricity is out I can't see for cutting anyway. When cutting with the oxyacetylene I have to wait until the metal is hot to start cutting. With plasma the cut starts immediately. This seems important when cutting multiple larger items.

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        • #5
          A plasma that can cut as thick as an oxy-fuel torch would be very expensive. I only have a plasma cutter, but it maxes out around 1 inch.

          A small oxy fuel torch can go up to 4 inches and doesn't require power. So I'm getting one of those. I have a torch actually, my fathers, and an oxygen bottle (owned), I am getting stuff piecemeal over time.

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          • #6
            Never own an oxyacetylene setup just have a small plasma cutter. The only time I wish I had one is to heat steel to bend. Plasma is real nice and worth it!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Tungsten dipper View Post
              Never own an oxyacetylene setup just have a small plasma cutter. T
              They are good for tons more than cutting. I'd say cutting is the thing I use mine the least for.
              in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Mcgyver View Post

                They are good for tons more than cutting. I'd say cutting is the thing I use mine the least for.
                Do you gouge with it? What else do you use it for?

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                • #9
                  silver soldering,brazing, forging, bending, disassembly, heat treating, gas welding off the top of my head, probably in that order. I don't like cutting nowadays at home, fire risk is too high with my crammed shop (had a close call and it scared me straight lol). I do most cutting of sheet at work, either shear or cnc plasma
                  in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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                  • #10
                    I look at it sort of the way some ask about which is better, a mill or a lathe. If I could only own one than it would be oxy/act. More versatile. Good for many things besides cutting. But for ease of use and expense to actually run plasma is the way to go. I have never used a cheap plasma cutter only Hypertherm and Esab units. If you want a really good plasma then look at the Hypertherm 45xp. It won't break the bank and is very good.
                    Location: The Black Forest in Germany

                    How to become a millionaire: Start out with 10 million and take up machining as a hobby!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by RMinMN View Post
                      I had an oxyacetylene cutting torch. It seemed like every time I needed to cut something where time was critical one tank would be empty or so close to it that I couldn't finish it without a trip to town to buy more gas. After I got the plasma torch and started using that for cutting the oxyacetylene got used for heating or welding small items that the arc welder wasn't very good for. Eventually I returned the leased tanks and use a carbon arc torch for heating things that need bent, a MIG welder for the little things, and the plasma for cutting. I always have compressed air and electricity when I need to cut things. If the electricity is out I can't see for cutting anyway. When cutting with the oxyacetylene I have to wait until the metal is hot to start cutting. With plasma the cut starts immediately. This seems important when cutting multiple larger items.
                      Sounds like a personal planning problem.

                      -Doozer
                      DZER

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                      • #12
                        Both have their place. I bought a cheap import cut 65 a few years ago, and while I don't use it that much but it's very handy for when I do need it. For the price I paid for it it doesn't bother me to sit there until I need it. I don't own an oxy fuel torch yet (might pick one up tonight if the deal goes through), so I didn't have a cutting alternative besides a jigsaw, hacksaw, grinder etc and I was getting tired of those options.... I'm planning on building another big smoker next year and the little plasma will get put to good use on that project.

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                        • #13
                          If you DO have oxy-fuel, it's a good idea to have outside storage for it..... valves can leak, and the local fire dept , if they know there are oxy and fuel tanks inside, will often just stand back, let it burn, and protect the other property around the building. Too risky to go at it aggressively, apparently.

                          The welding outfits I know of all do outside tank storage, generally in a "cage" so that there is no concentration of gases.
                          1601

                          Keep eye on ball.
                          Hashim Khan

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                          • #14
                            I got a plasma rig about 10 years ago and love it. BUT, imho, one of my more boneheaded mistakes was selling the OA rig. I always seem to be needing to braze or silver solder something, and the Burnz-o-matic just can't do it. Of course I had gotten tired of the always empty cylinder routine. I think the guy that owned the welding supply co I was using was a crook. The tanks always leaked down in a couple of months.
                            “I know lots of people who are educated far beyond their intelligence”

                            Lewis Grizzard

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                            • #15
                              How big are your tanks ???
                              My tanks last me years.
                              I use 2x oxygen for 1x ace.
                              You can't wash a nut off a bolt
                              or a bearing race off a shaft
                              with a plasma.

                              If you can't hold a torch steady
                              in a cut, use training wheels.
                              No need for a plasma.

                              -Doozer
                              DZER

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