Thursday, August 18, 2016

10 Factors to Consider When Buying a Plasma Cutter

A plasma cutter is a tool used for cutting metal sheets such as steel or aluminum. Instead of using a saw, this tool implements electricity in combination with pressurized air to create an extremely hot plasma torch. It is available in many different variants and specifications, but to get the best plasma cutter for your needs, please consider the following factors.
1. Power

There are two different types of plasma cutter including big industrial-grade model and the portable hand-held one. The former usually requires 220V power source to produce an output between 50 and 80 amps. Large model can easily cut through up to 2-inches sheet of metal. A small portable plasma cutter uses 110V power source and generates output power of 12 to 35 amps. You can use this for home DIY projects to cut through up to 0.5cm thick metal material.

2. Inverter

A more sophisticated model has built-in inverter. This particular type is usually more expensive, but you get the advantage of portability. It takes DC power and feeds it through the inverter from around 10 kHz to 200 kHz. Higher switching frequencies give greater transformer efficiencies and therefore manufacturers are able to make smaller overall dimension of the tool. Those who offer mobile services usually choose this model. It typically requires more than 2 kilowatts of power to operate.

3. Accessories

A full set of the best plasma cutter may include a variety of accessories, preventing you from purchasing more equipment to get started. However, depending on the brand and models, a plasma cutter may come as a stand-alone product, which means you have to purchase additional accessories before you can actually start operating it safely. Some of the most common accessories used with or attached to a plasma cutter are as follows.
  • Electrodes: it is the hardware that starts the arc and sends it to metals work piece. Electrodes and the housing need frequent replacements.
  • Cutting guides: it has similar functions to lasers circular saws. A cutting guide helps to align the cutting either in straight line or any desired path.
  • Plasma torch: this accessory is attached to the end of plasma cutter tool. It controls the plasma and does the actual cutting function.
  • Cart: non-portable models for high-performance cutting are usually heavy, but you can purchase a cart to make it easy for you to move it around the workplace.
4. Gas Supply

Older models of plasma cutter used two types of gas supplies including nitrogen (as the primary supply) and CO2 (as the secondary one). Such configuration requires bulk containers which can be expensive as well. Modern plasma cutter can use only clean dry air to create plasma and cool the torch at the same time. Many hand-held plasma cutters have on-board air compressors to improve portability value. Shop air is also inexpensive, but it is intended mostly to cut thin stainless steel and aluminum.

5. Torch

The torch on any plasma cutter contains the same things as follows:
  • An electrode to start the arc and transfer it to metal material
  • Gas distributor to stabilize the flow of plasma
  • A nozzle to control or focus the plasma output
There are two types of torches available including HF (high-frequency) and Contact Start. High frequency is used in many hand-held plasma cutters thanks to its efficient transformers and small size. There is also no moving part inside the torch, making it relatively dependable. That being said, high-frequency torch requires regular maintenance to prevent hard-starting issues. In most cases, high-frequencies may interfere with electronic equipment such as computer and audio player. If you are working in a place where there are plenty of electronic appliances, you may want to avoid using this model.

On the other hand, Contact Start torch generates less electrical noise, but a plasma cutter with such torch may not be as portable as its HF counterpart. It starts the arc by allowing direct contact between electrode and nozzle to create a short circuit.

6. Thickness of the metal

Apart from all the technical specifications of the plasma cutter itself, you will also want to consider the thickness of metal material to cut. As a rule of thumb, high amperage means better cutting power for thicker metals. In case you mostly work with thin aluminum or steel, a low amperage one should be sufficient. The best plasma cutter is not necessarily the most powerful because it entirely depends on your needs. It is better to use low amperage for non-demanding application than purchasing the more expensive high-amperage model.

7. Cutting speed

Any product description of plasma cutter should provide information about maximum cutting speed, usually measured in inches-per-minute. Higher amperage means faster cutting. In real world performance, you will also need to consider the duty cycles of the plasma cutter. The terms “duty cycle” means the tool’s ability to perform continuous cutting before it overheats. Duty cycle is measured in percentage of 10-minute. For example, a plasma cutter with 70% duty cycle of 60A means it will do a continuous cutting performance with 60A power for 7 out of 10-minute period.

8. Portability

Working environment is another important consideration. Plasma cutter can be bulky and heavy tool or lightweight and portable. In case you need to move around and carry the plasma cutter, you will need a hand-held model to make your job easier. If you have to work with heavier tool, you may want to purchase trolley-mounted unit to easily carry the tool anywhere. You may also need a trolley that offers storage space for cables, torches, and other accessories.

9. Warranty

Manufacturer’s warranty has always been one of the most important factors to consider when purchasing anything including plasma cutter. Not all plasma cutters are created equal, but it is safe to assume that longer warranty means better durability. A budget-friendly plasma cutter may only offer up to 1 year warranty, but the more expensive models can offer you up to 5 years warranty for parts and labor. However, the best plasma cutter for your needs is not always the model that offers the longest warranty period.

10. Customer reviews

Despite all the impressive specifications and tempting warranty offers, you will need to read customer reviews before purchasing the tool. Better customer reviews also mean better product rating. Although a different store may have different rating scheme, your best bet is to purchase a plasma cutter with at least better-than-half of the perfect score.


Plasma cutter is now widely available in both offline and online stores. Each model is designed to do specific tasks with its own advantages and limitations. Once again, the best plasma cutter is not necessarily the most expensive, but it is the one that fits your bill yet it delivers the performance you want without any frill.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Tips For Buying A Used Laser Cutter

Buying a used laser cutter is an excellent idea if you need one of these handy tools but do not have the money to purchase them brand new. This is a machine that can be used to cut a wide variety of materials like steel, aluminum, copper alloys, and much more. Although they are mostly used in the metal fabrication industry, there are many reasons why a hobbyist or small business would benefit from having one. Because these devices are so highly efficient and accurate they are able to increase the speed and capacity of cutting as well as reduce the costs involved.
Because there are so many types of these machines on the market, it is first important to determine the best type of used laser cutter for you. One of the most popular models is the CNC laser cutterbecause it uses a computer to control the path of the beam and offers a level of precision that could not be achieved by the human hand. This machine itself can use three different types of lasers: CO2, Nd, and Nd-YAG. The CO2 is able to engrave, bore, and cut through most materials, especially metal. Nd and Nd-YAG use the same type of beam, but a different application process.
Some devices are stone cutters which are able to cut through a variety of rocks such as granite and marble which allows them to be used largely in the construction of furniture and fixtures. However, the typical used laser cutter is intended for the cutting of metals. They are usually given a high price because for the most part only large industrial factories have need of them. However, smaller businesses and hobbyists can also benefit from them as well. Recently prices have gone down thanks to technological breakthroughs, and there are some smaller, more compact models on the market as well.
Naturally there are certain risks involved when purchasing a used laser cutter. If you purchase one that has mechanical problems there will probably be no way of getting your money back besides selling to someone else. For this reason it is always a good idea to do a thorough inspection of the machine and ask plenty of questions concerning the usage and any required repairs. Before making a purchase, ask the seller what their policy is regarding returns and if any warranty is offered. It is also crucial that you get any agreement in writing, such as the product description, price, payment terms, and shipping requirements.
Finally, when in the market for a used laser cutter, be sure to visit a wide range of dealers before finally making a purchase. While doing so, compare the prices, added features, and the quality of information you receive from each. Ask for referrals from people you know who have purchased similar machinery in the past.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Why You Should Choose Outback Inverters

Outback inverters are machines used to convert DC energy to AC energy which is compatible with most household systems. They are most often used with solar power panels because they create direct current, DC, power which must first be inverted before it can be used. This is one of the preferred companies to go to when you need this type of device as they are a privately held company that’s making a lot of headway when it comes to manufacturing advanced power electronics for renewable energy. Their products are especially suited for harsh climates and environments and as such they are often used in rural areas in Africa, Latin America, and Alaska.
When it comes to Outback inverters there are many applications where they can be used. The company offers products that have been designed to provide reliable power to households, businesses, and government institutions. When excess energy is produced it can even be sold to electric companies which can be an excellent source of additional income. Their grid tie inverters can be used in both residential and commercial applications by providing energy to homes and businesses as well as small villages. They even work well in areas where several different types of energy, such as wind, solar, and hydro power, are all being used in an integrated network.
Outback inverters are also available for mobile applications which can provide you with a reliable source of power no matter where you are. They can be used to provide electricity to power tools on jobsites such as drills, saws, welders, and even small laser cutting machines. They feature a durable, die cast aluminum construction which allows them to be mounted in any position. These machines even feature a built in 30 amp AC transfer switch which is necessary for a generator hook up. Servicing these units in the field is also made easy thanks to the simple design they offer.
If you decide that Outback inverters are not the best choice for you, there are many other manufacturers that you may want to consider, such as Emphase. This is a preferred company by many due to its innovative nature. They have been able to combine solar panels with the advantages offered by communications technology in order to create products that are more productive, reliable, and effective than the competition. In fact, their products are often able to increase the productivity of most solar panels by up to 25 percent. They are a privately held company that is staffed by experienced veterans of the solar, telecom, and networking industries.
Whether you eventually choose Outback inverters, Emphase, or some other company, you stand to gain a lot by investing in solar power. Just make sure that you do the proper research so you are sure to make the best purchase.