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plasma cutters - what one?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by macona
    Hyperterm Powermax 30.
    I have had one for about a year and a half, great machine, cheap consumables, a nozzle and an electrode cost about $7 a set, and with clean dry air, they last a long time.

    Jack
    jack

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    • #17
      Hypertherm is the one I hear about all the time. Everyone seems to love 'em, especially the CNC plasma table crowd.

      I've got a big ESAB that I got cheap. It was a sales demo unit, and they were selling them from the factory on eBay. Don't know if that still goes on.

      It's a real nice unit, cuts well, and is easy as heck. Book says it'll cut over an inch thick. I've had no call to do that, but it cuts 1/2" like butter.

      Cheers,

      BW
      ---------------------------------------------------

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      • #18
        Hypertherm makes the best plasma out there hands down. Thats what we sold the most of.

        The Hypertherm 190C and Hypertherm 380 were both made by Miller. At the time Hypertherm had deemed not enough demand for them to design a small machine like those two so they had miller OEM them. Internally they are the same as the Miller 125 and 375. Just different tin. And the consumables are slightly different so they wont be interchangeable.

        The newer Miller 380 Xtreme was built on the same tech as the Maxstat 150 welder. it was designed in response to the Powermax 30 coming out. Miller wanted to license the PMX30 from hypertherm but HT said no so they rushed to get the 380 out. There were quite a few failures on the 380 after it came out.

        The Esab machines are a mixed bag. The smaller machines like the 125, 25, 550 are all made in Italy and are total crap. The mounts holding the main circuit board are very flimsy and easy to break. The self contained 125 is worthless.

        The larger esabs with the molded round fiberglass cases are derivatives of the old ltec designs and they are pretty decent machines, although the torch sucks big time.

        The thermal dynamics machines are so-so. I have had a LOT of bad boards out of the 38's. Never the same problem too. They replaced all these machines with newer ones with a blue bezel but I never got a chance to look at one before I got canned. The torches are pretty nice though, one problem I found was the joint between the torch head and cable can come undone and ruin the whole torch assy. It is designed for no-tools replacement but just comes undone too easy. As far as I know TD has always designed their own machine. I have one of the old Stak Paks here at home. Bad thing about TD is parts for older machines are unavailable or insanely priced.

        The lincoln machines like the Procut 55 are typical lincoln shoddy design inside. Wrong materials and fittings used internally for the air line make leaks common. Odd torch design is overly complex.

        Most newer plasmas are designed to be drag cut under 35 amps or so. Only when you get to higher currents do you have to worry about double arcing whch will toast your tip. Most machine want about 5 to 6 CFM at about 90 PSI to the machine. The machine have a regulator that is adjusted to a specific pressure for the process with the gas flowing. Air plasma machines will run on nitrogen with a better cut quality and better tip life. Do not use oxygen with a plasma cutter not designed for it. Bad things will happen.

        You can cut non-conductive materials with a plasma cutter, Lay a thing piece of sheet metal over what you want to cut. The resultant plasma stream will cut through most materials.

        If you are cutting aluminum buy a bigger machine than what you thing you need. Aluminum cuts differently for two reasons. First is the thermal conductivity. Heat leaves the cut very fast compared to steel and stainless.

        Second is there is no chemical reaction that occurs like when you cut steel or stainless. When you cut steel or stainless the iron and other elements combine with the O2 and N2 in the plasma stream and burn like cutting with a OxyFuel torch. With aluminum the reaction is minimal and the plasma just melts the metal and blows it away. Copper is similar in this aspect.

        Did I leave anything out?

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        • #19
          More plasma cutting uses??

          Originally posted by macona
          You can cut non-conductive materials with a plasma cutter, Lay a thing piece of sheet metal over what you want to cut. The resultant plasma stream will cut through most materials.
          Well I'll be damned!!

          Thanks heaps macona - that opens up a whole new world!! I will try it out - eventually!

          Just what sort of non-conductive materials does that cover - and what thicknesses?

          I had thought about cutting multiple layers of similar conductive materials with my plasma cutter but didn't try it as I just presumed that I'd get the same or similar effect as cutting laminated/multi-layered steel with an oxy/acet torch - ie not very successful at all. This is the effect used in steel safes to prevent or minimise cutting without an oxygen lance as the heat dissipates at the layer junctions - ie as for a heat-sink.

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          • #20
            For the size material you're going to be cutting you might look at http://www.parkermetalworking.com/. If you call and say that you're a member of pirate4x4.com you'll get a discount.

            I will be buying one of their machines once my shop build is finished.

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            • #21
              I would really recommend agianst buying that machine from Parker. Its the same Chinese machine as sold in ebay. Torch is a copy of a 20 year old ltec design.

              Really the hypertherm 30 is the best machine for what the OP wants. It will cut to half inch if you take your time. Also they figured out how to get rid if that annoying sticky tip action that previous drag plasmas had. also the machine will run off of 120 or 240 so power is not an issue.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by macona
                I would really recommend agianst buying that machine from Parker. Its the same Chinese machine as sold in ebay. Torch is a copy of a 20 year old ltec design.
                I have some pictures, I was asked to check out a 3-in-1 tig/stick/plasma cutter, from China, for a welding supplier, I plugged it in and turned it on, within 20 minutes, it had burst into flames, had to use an extinguisher to put it out, call the wholesaler and asked what to do with it, they said after 2 weeks of dead silence, throw it away, it wasn't worth paying the return freight.

                jack
                Last edited by platypus2020; 05-26-2008, 06:54 PM.
                jack

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                • #23
                  All I can tell you is that the users on pirate4x4.com who have reported on this unit do a lot heavier work the OP is planning, and have mainly had good experience. In addition the warranty work is carried out in the US.

                  I suggest looking at the thread on Pirate before discounting it completely.

                  If budget is not an object then certainly the Lincoln and Hypertherm units should be considered.

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