Questions to Ask When Buying Your First Plasma Cutter | HobartWelders

Questions to Ask When Buying Your First Plasma Cutter [Guide]

You’ve always wanted a plasma cutter and now you are ready to buy.  Let’s make this easy and step you through the process. A little background helps. 

How does a Plasma Cutter work?

Plasma cutting uses an electric arc and compressed air to cut steel, aluminum, and other conductive metals. There are two kinds of cuts you can achieve when using a plasma cutter: a clean cut or a sever cut.  A clean cut is a faster cut with a smooth finish.  A sever cut is a rougher cut that takes longer and requires more clean-up.  Clean-up may include grinding and chipping away at the rough edges.  

Typically, a clean cut is needed if you’re making yard art or cutting metal pieces to weld.  Whereas, a severed cut is sufficient if you’re simply scrapping metal. 


3 Questions to kick start your buying process:

  1. What material type and thickness will you be cutting?
    The output power needed in a plasma cutting machine depends primarily on the thickness and type of material to be cut.

  2. What input power do you have access to?
    The input power you have access to will determine your maximum cut capacity.

  3. How fast do you want to cut?
    Your cutting speed will be dependent on material thickness and whether you want to achieve a clean or sever cut.

Here are your choices:

Hobart offers a full line of plasma cutters.

  • Airforce® 12ci: Clean cuts up to 1/8”, runs on 120V, and has a built-in air compressor

  • Airforce® 27i: Clean cuts up to 3/8” and runs on 120 or 240V

  • Airforce® 40i: Clean cuts up to 5/8” and runs on 120V or 240V

Once you have determined which plasma cutter you need and have the appropriate safety gear, remember these tips:

Safety Tip:

  • Always wear a jacket, gloves, and #5 shade safety glasses

Cutting Tips:

  • Clean and dry compressed air is important if your machine does not include a built-in air compressor
  • The ground clamp must be grounded to the base
  • Rest hand on opposite arm as a guide
  • Torch should be perpendicular to the work piece
  • To start cutting, touch the torch gently to the end of the work piece, release safety, and pull trigger
  • Adjust speed so sparks go through the metal and out the bottom of the cut 

Now that you’re all set, what are you going to make first?

Welcome Sign




Sunflower Yard Art


Fire Pit


Have more questions about choosing your first plasma cutter?  Hobart is here to help.   Contact us at or 800-626-6420.