What You Need To Know When Buying A Plasma Cutter
If you're considering buying a plasma cutter, it's probably because you're doing metal fab or working on a car and you want a really easy way to cut different types of metal. A plasma cutter can slice through any conductive metal like steel, aluminum or stainless. Plus, you'll have nice clean cuts whether the metal is thick, thin or even rusty. Another advantage of a plasma cutter is that there's no more need for gas bottles like you have with an oxy-acetylene torch. This simplifies the cutting process and reduces safety risks. There are several plasma cutters available at Eastwood for auto mechanics, and here we'll help you find the one that best fits your needs.
When selecting a plasma cutter, the first thing you'll want to know is how thick of metal it will cut. You'll also want to look at the voltage needed to run it and the air compressor requirements to make sure your shop is equipped to run it. From there, check out things like the style of consumables, duty cycle and warranty. Make sure you get a good warranty - because if the company doesn't have confidence in the unit, why should you? All three of these Versa-Cut plasma cutters come with a 3-year warranty, so you know Eastwood has confidence in them.
Types of Eastwood Plasma Cutters
The three plasma cutters we're looking at today are the Versa-Cut 20, the Versa-Cut 40 and the powerful Versa-Cut 60. The Versa-Cut 20 is our entry-level model for beginners and basic metal work. It will cut through metal up to 1/8-inch thick. Where it really does a great job is with sheet metal, because it's nice for making thin, fine cuts. If you don't need to cut thicker metal and you're just looking for a great way to cut sheet metal for body panels and patch panels, you'll want the Versa-Cut 20. Because it's so good at cutting thin sheet metal, it's also great for making decorations for around the house or crafts for the holidays.
Next up is the Versa-Cut 40. This mid-range unit will cut through metal up to 3/8-inch thick. This makes it a very good machine for most general metal fabrication or auto restoration where there usually isn't any metal thicker than 3/8-inch.
The Versa-Cut 60 is our most powerful plasma cutter. It can cut up to 7/8-inch metal - and many people have used it to cut thicker metal than that! It may not be often that you'll need to cut metal that thick, but it's nice to know you can. It's very useful for professional mechanics and industrial works who sometimes encounter these thicker materials.
Plasma Cutter Voltage & Compressor Requirements
Now let's see what it takes to power these machines. The Versa-Cut 20 uses 120 volts, which is what's found in most households and home garages. The Versa-Cut 40 operates on either 120 or 240 volts with the supplied adapter cord. On 120 volts it will cut through 1/8-inch metal, while it's full 3/8-inch metal capabilities are seen at 120 volts. Being able to operate on both 120 and 240 volts is great because the unit is light enough to take anywhere. Even if you're working in a shop that doesn't have 240 volts, you can still use this machine. Finally, the Versa-Cut 60 operates on 240 volts, so you will need to make sure your garage is equipped for this.
You don't need a huge air compressor to operate any of these units. In fact, for the Versa-Cut 20 plasma cutter, you will only need 3 cfm at 30 psi, so you can run it on a small compressor. The Versa-Cut 40 and Versa-Cut 60 both only need 5 to 7 cfm at 60 psi, so you still don't need a huge compressor to cut metal. This will save many people the expense of having to buy a new compressor along with their cutter.
Plasma Cutting Consumables & Accessories
All three units use Trafimet™ style torches with common consumables, so you can get your supplies at Eastwood or most places that offer welding and plasma cutting supplies. All three units have long 10-foot ground cables and even longer 20-foot torch cables. These longer cords let you move around a project, like a car, without having to carry the unit around with you. All the units are very light and portable with the two larger units weighing about 45 pounds and the Versa-Cut 20 coming in at about 20 pounds. This means you can bring them with you to a race track where you might suddenly have the need to cut metal.
How Long Can You Cut For?
The duty cycle is basically the amount of time each machine can operate before needing to cool down. The duty cycle for the Versa-Cut 20 is 40 percent at 15 amps, meaning you can cut for four minutes straight followed by a 6-minute cooldown period. The Versa-Cut 40 has a 60 percent duty cycle at the full 40 amps and the Versa-Cut 60 is 60 percent at the full 60 amps. Those cycles are plenty to keep you cutting on most projects. If you don't believe us, hold a pencil and imagine cutting for six minutes straight like the duty cycle for the Versa-Cut 40 and 60.
Buying the Best Plasma Cutter
We hope this buyer's guide to plasma cutters helped you make a decision on which unit is best for you. To summarize, if you want the ability to cut thick metal, check out the Versa-Cut 60 because it can cut up to 7/8-inch thick metal. You may not need to do this often, but's great when you do need to do it. For most work, the Versa-Cut 40 is a great machine and will get the job done, and you can plug it into 120 or 240 volts for added versatility. If you're just looking to cut thin metal or want to make fine cuts in sheet metal, the Versa-Cut 20 is the plasma cutter for you. Each machine has a 100 percent customer satisfaction guarantee from the auto enthusiasts at Eastwood.