Owning a plasma cutter is one of the most versatile tools any metal working shop can have. However, owning a self sufficient plasma cutter that has its own built in air compressor is even better. These machines are incredibly valuable tools that will make mobile metal working projects a breeze! Being that you can use this machine anywhere with a sufficient power source makes them incredibly convenient. This is a serious tool and thus a serious investment. So please keep that in mind as these machines are not cheap. but worth every penny when used to their full potential.
What We Recommend
Today we compiled a list of the top 3 plasma cutters withe built in air compressors. These machines provide incredible value for their price and give the user a quality cutting experience. You’ll that plasma cutters always follow the same rule “The more you spend on a quality brand the better experience you will have.” What we mean by this is you get what you pay for. There many machines out there that claim huge performance for low prices, but don’t be fooled. If you plan on using this machine a lot then you will highly benefit from purchasing a quality machine like Hypertherm or Hobart. If only plan on using this machine 1-2 times a month than a cheaper Chinese brand machine will do the job and get you by. However, we highly recommend you buy a quality machine the first time and have it last forever. Investing in quality tools is always more cost efficient in the long run.
Hypertherm Powermax30 AIR Edition
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Hobart Airforce 12i Plasma Cutter with Air Compressor
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Forney 317 Plasma Cutter w/ Built in Air
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What Do I Need To Run This Machine?
What is great about a plasma cutter with a built in air compressor is that you literally just need your plasma cutter and a power source to start cutting. This makes doing jobs out in the field incredibly easy. If you’re working from home and plan to use this machine in your garage the only thing you need to check is that you have a suitable power source. This will vary depending on what machine you purchase, but generally most plasma cutters with built in compressors operate on a standard wall plug. Very rarely will you find a plasma cutter with a built in air compressor that only runs on 220v. This is because a lot of manufactures figure if you have 220v available than you most likely also have an air compressor close by.
Do These Machines Function Like Normal Plasma Cutters?
The answer to this question is yes with a few small exceptions. The only difference you will find between plasma cutters with built in air compressors and one without is the duration of a single cut. What I mean by this is that some machines with compressors can maintain enough air pressure to cut for a certain amount of time. Meaning that once you for say 45 seconds the machine must rest for a minute to build up air pressure for the next 45 second cut. The amount of time that a machine can cut depends on the size of the machine and brand that you purchase. Each machine is different so it’s worth looking at the specifications of the machine to find this number. Also keep in mind that some machines can maintain enough pressure to cut without having to rest at all. This is a feature that you will find on more expensive machines.
Why Are These More Expensive Than A Normal Non-Air Compressor Plasma Cutter?
You’ll find that machines with built in compressors are more expensive than machines without built in compressors of the same cutting ability. This is simply because the machine has both a plasma cutter and air compressor in one unit thus making it more expensive. If you only plan on using this machine in your shop than it may be worth looking into getting a stand alone compressor and a regular plasma cutter for only a few hundred dollars more. This would give you the benefit of a stand alone compressor for your shop that can be used with a variety of tools. However, keep in mind if you go this route you will not have the portability options that a self sufficient plasma cutter offers. This decision really depends on how you plan to use your plasma cutter and whether or not you would benefit from a stand alone compressor. If you would like to view our recommendations for regular plasma cutter check out our Best Plasma Cutters Of The Year List.
Do I Have To Buy A Name Brand? Will I Be Able To Find Parts For Chinese Brands?
When it comes to purchasing a machine we always recommend buying a name brand machine like Hypertherm, Miller, Hobart or Lincoln. These are all well supported brands that make quality machines with good warranties. These machines will offer better performance, a longer life span and the assurance that consumable parts will always be available. This is a huge factor that a lot of buyers over look when purchasing a machine. You want to get a machine that is made by a well known company to ensure that parts will be available years from now. With companies like Hypertherm, Miller, Hobart and Lincoln you’ll parts no problem. With so many units sold the companies themselves as well as third party vendors will stock parts and consumables for your machine.
If you buy a cheap off brand machine you are running a high risk of not being able to find parts 5-10 years from now. This can turn your machine into a paper weight and make it useless in a matter of no time. Being that plasma cutter have torch consumables that need to be replaced regularly you need to be very careful in what you purchase. These Chinese brand sometimes disappear of the map and never seen again. When this happens their part stay available for a few year and then are never seen again. So please keep this in mind.
Where Do You Recommend I Buy A Machine From?
If you’re in the market for a machine we highly recommend purchasing from Amazon.com. You’ll find that Amazon’s amazing customer service will ensure that you get a fully functional machine out of the box and provide you with the peace of mind that if anything does go wrong you can return the machine without any hassle. This a HUGE benefit to the buyer to ensure that you’re getting what you paid for in a timely manner. Buying machines from places like Ebay can be a huge hassle and the returns can be a pain in the ass. Some sellers have very strict and short return policies making it difficult to make a return if need be. We recommend you stay clear of Ebay and purchase from Amazon simply for the return policy and great customer service.
What Is The Cost Of Maintenance For These Machines?
When purchasing a plasma cutter the only real cost of operation is the torch consumables. These can vary in price and are often times offered at a discounted price from 3rd party manufactures. For the amount of time a plasma cutter will save you compared to an Oxy-Fuel cutting machine or a saw you not be worried about the price of consumables at all. Typically when I purchase a new set of consumable every 8-12 months it will cost me around $80-$100 for my machine. Keep in mind I use my machine quite often. If you take care of your torch and make smart cuts you will find that your consumables will last a lot longer thus reducing the price of ownership. This comes with practice and experience of using your machine. Overall you’ll find that it is a very cheap tool to own.