The world of machinery can be a complex one, especially when you are looking to purchase something that will be a perfect fit for your business. With so many specifications and features, choosing a plasma cutter in particular can be a confusing process. Never fear: we have put together a guide of tips to follow when buying a plasma cutter to ensure you make the right purchase.
#1: Think about your needs
There is no way you’re going to be able to select the right product unless you know what exactly you need out of it. Knowing what you’re looking for will mean you can select a plasma cutter that closely fits your needs.
These are some questions you can ask yourself to narrow down the kind of plasma cutter you’re looking for:
- Do you plan to cut by hand or on a table?
- Do you need the unit to be portable (i.e. light and easy to move around the workspace)?
- How often will you be using your plasma cutter?
- What kind of material do you plan to cut?
- What’s your budget?
- How will you power your plasma cutter? Will you use a generator or adapt power outlets?
#2: Look at the output power
The output power level (or amperage) of a plasma cutter indicates the thickness of the material you will be able to cut with it. Often, a plasma cutter will be rated on their amperage and you’ll be able to find out the optimal range of thickness that it will be able to cut.
Make sure this thickness range aligns with the material you plan to cut most of the time. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that the thicker your material is, the greater the amperage you’ll need to be able to cut it.
#3: Look at the cutting speed
Knowing the cutting speed of your plasma cutter (relative to the thickness of the metal being cut) will mean that you can calculate the level of output your machine will be able to produce. This is important because it can mean the difference between efficiency or, if the wrong choice is made, a dip in productivity.
Luckily, you often don’t have to calculate the cutting speed yourself. It is quite common for manufacturers to display this information so that you can easily compare a range of plasma cutters. Look for the Inches Per Minute (IPM) value, or ask the manufacturer about the cutting speed.
#4: Know the duty cycle
The duty cycle refers to the length of time within a ten-minute span that a plasma cutter can operate without a break before it needs to cool down. For example, a three-minute duty cycle means that a plasma cutter can run for three minutes, and needs to cool down for seven. Typically, long duty cycles are ideal for deep or long cuts, while a shorter duty cycle is best for regular small cuts.
It’s important to purchase a plasma cutter with a duty cycle that aligns with your requirements. For example, you may need your plasma cutter to operate for six minutes (with a four-minute cool off). If you purchase a plasma cutter with a four or five-minute duty cycle, rather than a six-minute duty cycle, you are going to find that it will likely overheat and cost you in maintenance.
#5: Consider the operating cost
The operating cost of a plasma cutter relates closely with its consumables. Consumables are parts such as cutting tips and electrodes that need to be replaced over time. A damaged cutting tip, for example, will mean one of two things: either your plasma cutter will either need more time to do its job, or your cuts will lower in quality. Therefore, to have time-efficient and quality driven cuts, you will need to ensure your cutting tip is constantly in top shape.
Consumables are an ongoing cost, therefore, you should consider how your machine will use them – will it wear them out quickly? If so, that could cost you a lot of money in the future.
Buy a quality plasma cutter
Having been a supplier of quality machinery for over 20 years, Acra’s impressive range of high-quality plasma cutters is sure to cater to your needs. Our knowledgeable staff can assist with any questions you might have about the equipment – including output power, cutting speed, duty cycle and operating costs – to ensure you invest in the product that is best for you. Don’t hesitate to call us on 03 9794 6675 to find out more about our plasma cutters.