Because plasma cutters have become more common and are now marketed even for DIYers and hobbyists, prices have also become more affordable. Of course, the price of a plasma cutter will depend a great deal on a specific machine’s characteristics.
Nowadays plasma cutters are available for under $200. That may seem like quite a bargain; however, you need to consider if the plasma cutter meets your metal cutting needs for your projects. If you are a small business owner or shop owner, you may want a plasma cutter with greater capabilities, and this will influence the price.
How Much Are Plasma Cutters?
While prices, especially sale prices are not always indicative of quality, higher-end plasma cutters will cost more. To evaluate the convenience of a plasma cutter price tag, consider these factors that will influence how much you will pay.
- Air compressor. While many plasma cutters use an external supply of compressed air, there are some that have a built-in air compressor. If the compressor is built-in, the price will go up for convenience.
- Cut Quality. How clean the cut is when finished? Plasma cutters usually save you clean-up time thanks to precision cutting.
- Cut Rating. Thickness is the name of the game when cutting metals. Consider the maximum thickness that you need to cut and select a plasma cutter accordingly that can manage that cut. Three cut ratings need to be considered: the rated cut meaning that the thickness can be cut at a speed of 10 inches per minute, the quality cut for thicker metals at a slower speed, and the sever cut which is the maximum thickness that a cutter can handle, but it will be quite slow and not very clean.
Consider that a 50-amp plasma cutter may only cut as much as a half-inch thickness for an ideal cut and perhaps arrive at ¾-inch thickness for a severance cut meaning that the cut will necessitate cleanup.
- Cutting Torch. The torch’s length is important, so you won’t have to move your plasma cutter about.
- Duty cycle. This is the amount of time a cutter can operate before needing to rest. Higher duty cycles mean a longer cutting time.
- Operation cost. Consumption will vary depending on the machine. It is likely that a more expensive machine will in the end save you money due to excellent consumables that last longer.
- Pilot arc. This is a feature that offers a longer life of consumables because the torch tip does not touch the metal directly.
- Reliability. A trusted brand from a trusted manufacturer can offer dependability. You want a cutter that will not cease to work in the middle of your project.
- Voltage. Plasm cutters come with three voltages: 115V, 230V, or dual voltage capability. 115V can use a home power outlet, whereas a 230V may require more such as a generator. This will also determine the amount of power a plasma cutter has.
- Weight. A plasma cutter can weigh approximately between 20 and 100 pounds. But remember that lighter machines will not cut the same metal thickness as heavier plasma cutters.
How Much Does a Plasma Cutter Cost?
Today you can find a smaller, lighter plasma cutter for as little as $200 or plasma cutters that cost several thousand dollars, depending on what cutting capabilities you are looking for. Larger industrial plasma cutters can cost tens of thousands of dollars to more than a hundred thousand dollars.
Where Can I Buy a Plasma Cutter?
Plasma cutters can be purchased from welding supply stores both in-store and online. They can also be acquired at hardware stores such as Home Depot or Lowe’s or directly online at websites such as Amazon to name a few.
How Much Does Plasma Cutting Cost?
To calculate the cost of operating a plasma cutter, there are four main aspects to factor in:
- Cost of power
- Cost of Gas
- Cost of consumables
- Eventual Labor costs
The cost of power will be determined by the amount of energy you consume multiplied by how long your arc is turned on multiplied by the kw energy cost.
The cost of gas will be determined by the amount you consume multiplied by the arc in use time multiplied by the cost of gas for 100 cubic ft.
Consumable costs are determined by the rate of consumption multiplied by arc-on time multiplied by the cost of the consumables.
If you are purchasing for your own use, labor costs may not be pertinent to your overall project.
Estimates place the general cost of operating a plasma cutter at about $15 per hour.
How Much Is a CNC Plasma Cutter?
The CNC plasma cutter distinguishes itself because the machine itself carries the plasma torch. The torch movements will be directed by a computer. CNC signifies “Computer Numerical Control” indicating that the control is indeed managed by a computer program based on numerical codes.
A computer-controlled plasma cutter will be able to cut complex patterns and designs with precision. These machines are used in artwork, ornaments, signs, and more. They are capable of cutting tubes, drilling holes, and gouging. Factors that will influence price include:
- Metal thickness cutting capabilities
- Cutting Speed
- Cut quality
Generally sold to businesses and industry, CNC plasma cutters can be found for approximately $5000 up to well over $100,000. Small CNC units can be found at online stores like Amazon for approximately $500 but have a CNC connection or are CNC enabled and are not an actual CNC plasma cutter.
How Much Does a Plasma Table Cost?
A plasma cutting table consists of steel slats, usually placed two to four inches apart to support the material that needs to be cut. Slats are made of steel and will absorb thermal cutting heat during operation.
A plasma torch will be suspended directly over the slats on a moveable bridge. Thanks to CNC control, the torch will cut the desired design or pattern. These tables are ideal for cutting steel, stainless steel, and aluminum.
As these tables are normally operated in industry or businesses, costs may run anywhere from just under $25,000 to more than $100,000.
A small portable unit for cutting thinner metals can be found for as little as $200. Portable plasma cutters with built-in air compressors will be somewhat more expensive, but some models can be found in the $400 range.
Again, think about the cut rating of any machine that you are considering for purchase. The thickness of the metal you wish to cut will provide you with the basis for the kind of plasma cutter that you need. Consider the maximum thickness that you cut most often and choose your plasma cutter accordingly.
Finally, the three cut ratings must be factored into your choice. Consider the ideal cutting thickness that will provide you with precision and little or no cleanup when selecting.
It is recommended that you select a plasma cutter that can cut slightly thicker than your average cutting requirements. Remember that the severance cut will be the maximum thickness that a plasma cutter can handle, but it will not be clean and will require some degree of clean-up.