To repair, restore, or replace vehicle bodies and frames and other parts, you need freshly cut metal now and then. Plasma cutters are the best tools for the job.
Auto body work is repairing, restoring, refinishing, and replacing vehicle bodies and frames, window glass, and windshields. Plasma cutters are essential for the operation as they enable the auto body repairer to remove damaged parts such as door panels and bumpers.
Plasma cutters blow the competition out of the water – we are talking about oxy-fuel cutting, which is really inferior to plasma cutting. In this article, we give you: the five best plasma cutters for auto body work.
The following are the five plasma cutters reviewed in the article.
|Plasma Cutter||Check on Amazon|
|Zeny Cut 50||check price here|
|Hypertherm Powermax45 XP||check price here|
|Lotos LTP5000D||check price here|
|Super Deal Cut 50||check price here|
|Hobart 500566 Airforce 40i||check price here|
Best Plasma Cutter for Auto Body Work Reviews
1. Zeny Cut 50 Plasma Cutter – Prolonged Consumable Life
The Zeny Cut 50 provides a high rate of efficiency and energy saving. It has inverter technology. While analog plasma cutters use a heavy mains-frequency transformer, inverter plasma cutters rectify the mains supply to DC, feeding it to a high-frequency transistor inverter.
The use of higher switching frequencies enables the transformer to be smaller in size and reduced in weight. There is also an increase in efficiency and energy savings.
Small is generally a good thing as you want something that won’t hog all the space. Furthermore, the CUT 50 is lightweight and portable, so working with it will not be a hassle. It has a handle, to further enhance its portability. It weighs 22.05 pounds.
This machine features improvement in the cutting torch’s cooling method, and that helps prolong the life of consumables.
Thanks to its dual voltage capability, this plasma cutter can operate at 110 V or 220V, in both cases with 60 Hz power.
-Lightweight and portable
-Prolonged consumable life.
-Increased energy savings.
-Ground wire too short
-Power cable too short
View price on Amazon
2. Hypertherm Powermax45 XP Plasma Cutter – With Drag-Cutting Technology
Though a small-sized plasma cutter, the Hypertherm Powermax45 XP packs a lot of cutting power. It cuts a 1/4-inch or 6 mm of mild steel at a speed 1.5 times faster than that of oxy-fuel. The machine has a cut capacity of up to 16 mm (5/8 inches) of metal.
The portability will enable you to easily handle the plasma cutter and be flexible in moving around with it and using it on multiple projects or share it with a colleague. The small size ensures you won’t have a difficult time finding a storage space for the machine or even a space to put it at rest while you work., taking it when you need it.
It features drag technology, a quality that makes it easy to use, even for beginners. Drag cutting is when the tip of the torch does not touch the material. When using drag technology, you do not have to maintain an exceptionally steady hand. If you simply drag the torch along a straight edge, you will more likely than not end up with an accurately cut work-piece. Drag cutting also increases consumable life.
Furthermore, the excellent cut and gouge quality helps minimize time used in grinding and edge preparation.
-Lightweight and portable
-Easy to use even for beginner
-Excellent cut and gouge quality
View price on Amazon
3. Lotos LTP5000D Plasma Cutter – Has Papst Advanced Cooling System
The Lotos LTP5000D is a non-touch pilot arc plasma cutter. It has the ability to cut through rough or rusty or painted surfaces while producing only minimal slag. With pilot arc technology, you can cut metal without having to touch the tip of the torch to the metal. This makes for more precise cutting and also increases consumable life.
The pilot arc enables you to cut more precisely, in spite of your hand not being completely steady. This makes it rather easy to operate the machine, even for someone who has never done it before.
The LTP5000D is a compact and portable plasma cutter, something you can easily find storage space for. Furthermore, it comes with a handle, which further enhances the machine’s portability.
It uses non-hazardous compressed air and can cut metals such as aluminum, copper, mild steel, alloy steel, and stainless steel.
It comes with a pre-installed NBT ¼-inch industry type D plug and air filter regulator. You can therefore quickly connect the air compressor immediately after taking the plasma cutter out of its box. The entire setup process will take about a minute.
In addition, this Lotos plasma cutter features a Papst advanced cooling system which ensures that the machine maintains stable, durable high performance.
The LTP5000D has a rated output of 1000V. It features a dual voltage input with dual frequency: 110/120 V and 220/240 V at 50/60 Hz.
-Easy to operate
-Dual voltage input
-Papst advanced cooling system
-Ground clamp not strong enough
View price on Amazon
4. Super Deal Cut 50 Plasma Cutter – Protection against Overheating and High Voltage
The Super Deal Cut 50 gives a stable performance. It has a high duty cycle and that results in less power consumption, which makes it more economic and efficient than most plasma cutters. Furthermore, it has a high speed and high temperature.
The machine features great workmanship. It is made of heavy-duty iron, a solid construction which makes it durable and reliable. It is ideal for both DIY projects and professional auto body work.
The plasma cutter is safe to use as it has protection against overheating, over-voltage, under-voltage, and lack of compressed air pressure. It is a 240-volt machine. This machine has a low-energy consumption, good heat dissipation, and eco-efficient operation.
This is a compact plasma cutter and a portable one. It won’t be a pain to handle when you are working for extended periods. It has a carry handle for portability.
You can operate it with standard household current to cut stainless steel, copper, aluminum, brass, and more up to a ½-inch thickness with minimal slag or dross.
It has a LCD digital display which enables you to view data with more clarity.
-Heavy-duty iron construction
-Low energy consumption
-You can use standard household current
-LCD digital display
-Instructions not clear enough
View price on Amazon
5. Hobart 500566 Airforce 40i Plasma Cutter
Hobart 500566 Airforce 40i is a plasma cutter with a 50% duty cycle. Duty cycle is a percentage representing how long the machine stays in operation during a specific duration: in this case 10 minutes. 50% duty cycle translates to 5 minutes of operation followed by 5 minutes of downtime during which the machine cools down.
The maximum thickness of mild steel the Airforce 40i can cut is 7/8 inches. It cuts metals faster than oxy-fuel. It operates on 240 V input power, with up to 40 amps power.
It features Auto-Refire technology, which enables an operator to work on expanded/perforated metals and painted or coated surfaces.
It also features wind tunnel technology which protects the internal components of the machine from damage by abrasive dust and particles.
Airforce 40i weighs 31 pounds, portable, easy transport between job sites. Setup is quick. It is ideal for light or heavy industrial use, which includes auto body work.
-Cuts faster than oxy-fuel
-Can work on perforated metals and painted surfaces
-Internal components safe from abrasive dust and particles
View price on Amazon
Plasma Cutter Buying Guide: Things to Consider
Plasma cutters are one of the best, fastest ways to cut metal. They are far better than oxy-fuel cutting systems, especially the ones that use acetylene. The only drawback is that they are pricier than oxy-fuel cutting machines.
Accordingly, plasma cutters are considered significant investments for metal working and welding businesses. The following is a guide on what to factor in your calculations when you are shopping for a plasma cutter:
Power output is important and is measured in amps. It has a direct impact on the plasma cutter’s ability to handle a variety of metal types. It also influences how long you can use the machine and how long each session will last.
Most plasma cutters typically fall in the 30-50 amps range. Models that have a higher rating are best for more heavy-duty projects.
The amount of regular work you get should determine your choice. For instance, if you mostly make cuts on thin metals for DIY projects, it’s almost safe to say that you don’t need a unit with more than 30=50 amps.
- Maximum Cut Thickness
Maximum cut thickness is the upper limit of the metal’s thickness that you can cut comfortably and still retain smooth lines.
Plasma cutters in the 40 amp range typically feature a maximum cut thickness of around ½ inch. Some may push upwards to ¾ inch.
Some plasma cutter models could also indicate a maximum severance thickness. This should not be confused with maximum cut thickness. Maximum severance thickness is the absolute thickest the metal can be with you still being able to cut through it with the plasma cutter.
Note that cutting metal at the severance thickness is not advisable for normal use as it increases chances of producing jagged edges or excess slag.
- Duty Cycle
Duty cycle is the plasma cutter’s ability to operate continuously without having any issues or requiring you to release your hold on the trigger. Duty cycle is represented as a percentage and expresses the number of minutes the machine can remain in operation during a 10-minute period.
If a plasma cutter has a 40% duty cycle it means it can operate continuously for 4 minutes and then take 6 minutes to cool down.
Duty cycle will help you determine the speed at which you will be able to work to meet your output quotas and figure out what your time schedules should look like.
This is not a must-have for all users. It depends on what type of metal you are working on, nature of your cuts, and the demands of your work environment.
High mobility/portability is important for people working in construction, where cuts are needed frequently and in multiple locations of the site. For such an environment, a lightweight plasma cutter with a top-mounted handle would be the best choice. Some even have support shoulder straps.
- Cut Quality
Most manufacturers will claim that their plasma cutters have the cleanest cuts, so how can you tell if a model cuts well?
For one, you can check if it has a continuous pilot arc because that means it will produce an uninterrupted plasma stream
Now that you know what to consider when you are buying a plasma cutter, you can probably judge the five plasma cutters we have presented here and make a decision on which has what you are looking for.
We too had to choose which among the five cutters is the best and we chose the Hypertherm Powermax45 XP. It is a small and lightweight machine, highly portable. It features drag-cutting technology, so even if you are not very experienced in using plasma cutters you will have a relatively easy time using it. It’s a fast machine with cut speeds 1.5 times greater than oxyfuel on 5mm mild steel.
For our second-best pick, we went with the Hobart 500566 Airforce 40i. It has auto-refire technology which enables it to cut expanded or perforated metals and painted surfaces. It has wind tunnel technology which protects the internal components from dust and particles.
Have you made a decision – which of these five will it be?