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Discussion Starter #1
Too often I have had a need for cutting metal stuff. Usually end up using the sawsall or angle grinder with cutoff wheel. I want to 'advance' to a plasma cutter. Something sorta cheap (retirement income..) but can still cut maybe 1/2" stuff occasionally. I'm looking at a Zeny right now.
[ Zeny DC Inverter Plasma Cutter Welding Machine With Screen Display Dual Voltage 110/220V AC 1/2" Clean Cut (CUT 50) ] in particular. That's in my price range at 220 bucks.
Also looking at [ CUT-40, 40 Amp Plasma Cutter DC Inverter 120/240V Dual Voltage Cutting Machine ]. And this goes for around 270.
But, are these fairly good ones? I kinda like the second one, as it max's out at 3/4", which I would probably never get to.
Am pretty ignorant about plasmas, so I need some help/suggestions.
 

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I'm not sure what you mean by "good ones". Those are pretty much the cheapest cutters available. They probably will work fine for you, assuming you are planning to use it in a home-shop sense, every once in awhile, for a varying amount of time, and not most of the time every day.

Make sure you can get parts for the torch (there's a couple of parts that are effectively consumable that you have to replace regularly).

You also need a source of clean, dry air for it (of sufficient pressure and CFM).
 

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Get something with a pilot arc. The cheap ones where you have to have it on the metal (contact arc) to start are annoying. Bad news is pilot arc and fixed income don't do well together ($1000+). The reviews on the sub $300 tools are impressive. If going that route I'd buy it and use the heck outta it for the first 30 days of Amazon return window!

And FYI, You can use 120V for 1/2" but plan on a sloppy cut and taking a lot of breaks. That is with any make/model.

Edit: Do you have a sufficient air compressor to run it? If it's all 120V you'll need two circuits - one for compressor and one for the cutter.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
I'll have enough electric, Robhay2. I ordered the cheap one. You're right about the 1k and fixed income.
Another question: can gas welding goggles be used for plasma work? Or is there something else with unique needs?
Just found some auto darkening goggles from another country on the regular bay site. Adequate?
 

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I'll have enough electric, Robhay2. I ordered the cheap one. You're right about the 1k and fixed income.
Another question: can gas welding goggles be used for plasma work? Or is there something else with unique needs?
Just found some auto darkening goggles from another country on the regular bay site. Adequate?
Yes that will be fine. I use my $30 welding helmet with the plasma on the lowest shade of 9. I usually make a pattern and run the gun along that, so the arc is blocked by the cutter head anyway.

Make sure to report back once you've used the plasma a bit. I must admit I am curious about it. For now I can borrow a hypertherm 120/240V from my workplace but can't count on that forever...
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I used it for a bit last Monday. WOWSERS! I LIKE IT! I used the gas welding goggles and they worked very well. No eye strain, no dark spots when finished. I'll try the auto-dark arc helmet soon and see how that works. I had it on 120 for what I was playing with. 1/16 and 3/16 cutting was a lark. I did a 3/4" long piece of 1/2" thick plate, too. That took quite a bit. Two things. My very first time with a plasma torch and it was not getting full power that 240 volts/ 40 amps would have provided. I need a plug for that. Barn has 240, just no lug to accommodate this one.
Should have had this a long time ago.
Still learning, Robhay2.
 

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Glad it's working for you. Cutters are fun and you don't have to buy special gas to use with them. Cut away and enjoy gaining your experience!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Wish the ceramic head were more cylindrical instead of having a taper on the end. Would make it much easier to make a pattern. I take it any pattern stock would have to be high enough that the cylinder part rides it. That puts it at least 1 3/4" high. 2/4 material! Plus having to keep the torch space-from-material at the required 1/8". So....I fashioned a sleeve to fit snugly around the ceramic tip and maintain that 1/8" stand off. Seemed like it would work fine. It didn't. Either the choice of using copper for the sleeve was wrong or there should have been more air gaps at the contact end. A new torch head is on the way. rats.
Will devise something else. Would like to be able to make patterns using something like 1/2" stock. Easy-to-cut-with-sabre-saw type material. How do other plasma users do it?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The torch head is fine. Was a broken O ring. So, After wiring up a special 240 circuit for it I tried it on a piece of 1/2" just now. WOWSERS!! Used a 3/4" piece of ply for a straight edge. This torch cut that metal EASY!!! Straight and smooth, too. I'm really surprised and impressed with how smooth the cut is. Was not a chore for the machine at all. Great way to spend 270 bucks!!!
 
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