Here Are The Best Plasma Cutters with Built-in Compressor

Plasma Cutters with Built-in Compressor

Plasma cutters with built-in compressors mean you don’t have to buy an air compressor separately. This article presents the five best such plasma cutters.

Plasma cutters are the best for cutting metal. So many items in modern society are made of metal. You can’t build a house or a vehicle or most things that require strength and durability without using metal. It could be steel, aluminum, copper, or whatever. To be useful, the metal has to be cut.

Plasma cutters are indispensible. They are useful in industrial applications, fab shops, and even for the hobbyist working on DIY projects at home. Air pressure is crucial: too much will blow out the plasma, and too little will make the machine unable to cut anything. Some plasma cutters come with built-in air compressors. In this article we look at some of the best plasma cutters with built-in compressors.

Comparison Table

Below is a comparison table containing all the five plasma cutters reviewed here.

Plasma CutterCheck on Amazon
Hobart 500564 Airforce 12cicheck price here
Hypertherm 088096 Powermax 30check price here
Forney 317 250 P+check price here
Mophorn Cut-40Zcheck price here
Thermal Arc 1-1110-1 Air Cut 15Ccheck price here

Best Plasma Cutter with Built-in Compressor Reviews

1. Hobart 500564 Airforce 12ci Plasma Cutter – Cuts Faster than Oxy-Fuel

Hobart 500564 Airforce 12ci Plasma CutterThe Airforce 12ci is a portable plasma cutter. You can take it with you from place to place. Furthermore, it does not take up much space – storage or working space. The machine provides great cutting ability in a compact, lightweight package: 27 pounds.

Slag or dross is an excessive buildup of hardened metal on the cut. The strong heat creates the slag due to molten metal solidifying around the cut’s perimeter. This typically leads to costly downtime as you have to get rid of the slag. The Airforce 12ci provides a precise cut, with thin kerf, and low amount of slag to clean up.

The other common type of metal-cutting, besides plasma cutting, is oxy-fuel cutting. It uses fuel gases and oxygen – instead of using air to increase the flame, pure oxygen is used. While a typical propane-air flame burns at approximately 1,9800 C, a propane-oxygen flame does so at 2,2530 C. However, the Hobart 5000564 Airforce 12ci is superior to oxy-fuel and cuts metal faster.

Since it has an integrated air compressor, you do not have to go shopping for a separate one. The machine arrives ready to take out of the box and start using right away. It also features pre-set pressure settings and this ensures the device comes ready and easy to use.


-Portable and lightweight

-Space saving

-Less slag

-Cuts faster than oxy-fuel

-Built-in air compressor

-Easy to use

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2. Hypertherm 088096 Powermax 30 Plasma Cutter  – A Rugged, Durable Torch

Hypertherm 088096 Powermax 30 Plasma CutterThe Hypertherm 088096 comes with an internal air compressor. This is convenient because it means you don’t have to buy a separate compressor. You can use this device anywhere that you can plug it into single-phase power. All you have to do to start working is plug it in and attach the work clamp.

If you have a small or crowded working area or storage space, you will like this power cutter because it does not occupy a lot of space. Furthermore, the small size and the light weight make the device super portable. It is one of the smallest and lightest systems in its class.

The torch is rugged and capable of withstanding hard use and tough working conditions, real value for the money.

Thanks to the fast cutting speeds and excellent cut quality, there are less secondary operations (like slag cleanup), and you can therefore do more work in less time.

To operate the cutter, plug into any 120 or 240V power with Auto-Voltage technology and plug adapters.


-Built-in air compressor

-Space saving

-Lightweight and portable

-Rugged, durable torch

-Fast cutting speed

-Good cut quality

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3. Forney 317 250 P+ Plasma Cutter – Precise, Clean Cuts

Forney 317 250 P+ Plasma CutterAn electric arc (also known as an arc discharge) is an electrical breakdown of a gas that results in prolonged electrical discharge.  In the industrial world, electric arcs are useful in plasma cutting, welding, or for electrical discharge machining. The Forney 317 uses an electric arc, as well as compressed air, to cut conductive metals such as steel and aluminum.

It has drag torch technology which enables you to move the torch directly across the surface of the metal and make more precise cuts. Drag cutting is a technique that allows the torch tip to rest on the work-piece. Drag cutting can reduce shaking of hands, allows you to see the tip, and helps make the narrowest kerf (cut width).

Drag cutting also makes the cleanest cut with smallest HAZ (heat-affected zone).With drag cutting, you don’t have to be exceptionally steady with your hand, so it makes the cutting process much easier for you. Furthermore, it helps extend consumable life.

The Forney 317 features a built-in air compressor and a lightweight inverter power supply. For safety purposes, this plasma cutter contains thermal overload protection.


-Easy to use

-Precise cuts

-Narrow kerf

-Clean cut

-Thermal overload protection

-Built-in air compressor


-After pulling the trigger, it takes a bit long before you can begin your cut

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4. Mophorn Cut-40Z Plasma Cutter – Features Safety Protection

Mophorn Cut-40Z Plasma CutterSince it has a built-in air compressor, you can start operating this Mophorn plasma cutter right after taking it out of the box. You will not have to buy a separate compressor. This is convenient and makes the buying process easier as you don’t have to tax your brain trying to determine which is the best air compressor for the job.

When cutting metal, it has a maximum cutting capacity of about 12 mm or a ½ inch in thickness. It has a fast cutting speed and gives a smooth, beautiful cut surface advantage.

This plasma cutter is safe for use. It has safety protection against excess heating and pressure. It has IP21 protection.  It also features a great wind cooling heat dissipation system.

It has a wide range of applications. You can use it to cut mild steel, aluminum, stainless steel, carbon steel, and alloy. It is useful for manufacturing, metal processing, repair and maintenance automotive, and site work.

It is a small-sized plasma cutter, lightweight, easy to find space for, highly portable. This small size and light weight combines with the fact that it has an internal processor to make the system highly portable.


-Built-in air compressor

-Lightweight and portable

-Safety protection against excess heating and pressure


-Leaves a bit more slag than the more expensive devices

View price on Amazon


5. Thermal Arc 1-1110-1 Air Cut 15C Plasma Cutter – Lightweight and Portable

Thermal Arc 1-1110-1 Air Cut 15C Plasma CutterFeaturing a built-in air compressor, this plasma cutter is a convenient buy. You have only one thing to worry about when shopping: the cutter itself. Unlike with other plasma cutters, you don’t have to wade through information about the best air compressors in the market.

Furthermore, the machine is light, weighing only 29 pounds. Transporting it from one location to another is not going to be a problem.

It makes a cut of about 3 millimeters or 1/8 inches – the recommended cut. The largest cut it is capable of making is 5 millimeters or 3/16 inches. The torch has a 70 degree head,


-Built-in air compressor

-Lightweight and portable

View price on Amazon


How to Reduce Dross in Plasma Cuts

When using a plasma cutter on a workpiece, often molten metal will solidify around the cut’s perimeter. Dross is the term that refers to the accumulation of waste and foreign matter due to molten metal created during the plasma cut.

Other terms used interchangeably with “dross” are “slag” and “Spatter”. Whatever term you prefer, this excessive buildup of hardened metal is costly as it leads to unprofitable downtime. It is during this downtime that you do post-cut cleanup to get rid of the dross.

The following are ways you can get rid or reduce dross. We have classified the solutions according to the various types of dross:

  1. Top Dross

The dross forms on the top edge of both pieces of the plate. It may be caused by using worn consumables – for instance, cutting tips that are no longer effective. In addition, top dross can also be caused by cutting a piece too fast. Another cause is incorrect torch height (correct term is standoff).

How to deal with top dross:

-Use a fresh cutting tip.

-Reduce your cutting speed in increments until you see a reduction in dross.

-Lower the height of the cutting torch in increments.

  1. High-Speed Dross

This type of dross forms when you are operating at a too high cutting speed. The higher speeds cause the arc to be left behind by the torch and this leads to hard globs of uncut metal on the plate’s bottom.

How to deal with high-speed dross:

-Use a fresh cutting tip – especially if the orifice of the old cutting tip is showing signs of wear.

-Lower your cutting speed in increments until dross level minimizes.

-Boost the current, but be careful you do not exceed 95% of the nozzle’s AMP rating.

  1. Low-Speed Dross

This is dross that forms when your cutting speed is too slow. In this case, the plasma arc is overworking, reaching a greater width of metal because you the cutting speed is not fast enough.

The arc widens and this naturally widens the cut. The cut widens so much that the gas velocity coming from the torch is unable to blast the molten metal away. The result is thick dross forming on the bottom of the plate.

How to Deal with Low-Speed Dross

-Raise cutting speed in increments until dross is minimized.

-Raise torch heights in increments.

-Lower the current in increments.

FAQ: How to Set Up a Plasma Cutter

Plasma cutting uses a complete electric current. Just like in welding, you will need a ground clamp before you can get to work.

Step one: Ensure that the work surface is safe. You should have enough space to work on your workpiece and also the ability to move with freedom around the work table.

Step two: Ensure the unit is switched off and plug it in.

Step three: The plasma cutters covered in this article all have built-in air compressors, but not all plasma cutters do. If you are using one of those units that need an external air compressor, step three is to connect the compressor. To attach the connection, recede the outer ring and then insert the male connector. To ensure constant air pressure, turn on the air flow.

Step four: Place your workpiece on the work suface, connect the ground clamp to the workpiece. To get the best results, ensure you clamp the ground cable close to where you are cutting. Switch on the unit.

Step five: Ensure you set the current that best suits the thickness of the workpiece metal. Bring the nozzle close to the metal surface, pull the trigger: now start cutting.


FAQ: Can a Plasma Cutter Cut Plastic or Wood?

No. You can only use plasma cutters for cutting non-conductive materials. The electric current flowing back to the unit from the workpiece is what provides the power for the plasma stream. Furthermore, these machines generate too much heat that can damage non-conductive materials      .


Our choice for best plasma cutter with built-in compressor is the Hypertherm 088096 Powermax 30. We picked it because of its dual voltage, portability, durable torch, and fast cutting speed.

Our second choice is the Hobart 500564 Airforce 12Ci. It cuts faster than oxy-fuel and makes a precise cut, thin kerf, and minimal slag.

The best choice if you are on a budget is the Mophorn Cut-40Z. It has safety protection against excess heat and pressure. It has an inverter.

Of these five, which would you purchase?



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