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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Louisiana
    Posts
    77

    Default Plasma cutter vs. O/A torch

    What are the pros and cons of a plasma cutter over a O/A torch?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Guam
    Posts
    177

    Default No yellow

    I can cut galvanized steel so fast the zinc does not even yellow, no fumes

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    near rochester NY
    Posts
    9,881

    Default

    thinner cut, no heat up time, no setup time, just pull the trigger and cut, and less heat to the parts being cut. the only drawback is you cant heat with plasma and need an air and electric supply, so O/A can be more portable. thats not to say plasma cant be portable, just that you need to bring air and electric to the site, where O/A is all in the 2 tanks.
    thanks for the help
    ......or..........
    hope i helped

    feel free to shoot me an e-mail direct i have time to chat. james@newyorkmetalart.com
    summer is here, plant a tree. if you don't have space or time to plant one sponsor some one else to plant one for you. a tree is an investment in our planet, help it out.
    JAMES

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    835

    Default

    Plasma is expensive up front and cheaper in the long run, while O/A is cheaper up front and more expensive over time. This can be offset somewhat by using propane for cutting.

    Also, if you are near sensitive computer or radio equipment, a plasma cutter can interfere with it.

    You need a good sized air compressor to run a plasma cutter. The sizes specified are just minimums and for best results, you should use a compressor with 20-50 percent higher output than the minimum required.

    The duty cycle of an OA torch is 100% while the duty cycle of a plasma cutter is limited by its power supply.

    You can cut steel as thick as a railroad track (and thicker) with an OA torch, but you can only cut things an inch or less with most plasma cutters. At less than 1/2 inch, my Spectrum does better than OA. Thicker, and OA does better (primarily because the Spectrum can't cut it at all).

    Try cutting thin sheet metal, stainless steel, or copper with your OA torch. This is where plasma really shines.

    You never have to adjust the flame on a plasma cutter.

    For portable use, you need a generator that will handle the running load of your plasma cutter AND the starting load of your air compressor.

    Humid air supply will tear a plasma cutter up in a fast hurry. They present an electric shock hazard when used in the rain.

    You cannot be electrocuted by an OA torch. They are even used by divers underwater (with a compressed air modification).

    I find that I need both. So I keep both with me at all times!
    Equipped with red and blue... and red and green!
    80% of failures are from 20% of causes
    Never compromise your principles today in the name of furthering them in the future.
    "All I ever wanted was an honest week's pay for an honest day's work." -Sgt. Bilko
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Omaha, NE
    Posts
    447

    Default

    Boddybagger makes nothing but excellent points in his post and i would like to add some things and i guess "defend" the O/A a little in comparison.

    IMO, when it comes to cutting, the plasma leaves the O/A in the dust as far as speed, kerf width, and heat input to the material.

    BUT, the O/A can do so much more than just cut that it more than makes up for it's sloppiness and lack of ability to cut things that the plasma cutter can (I.E. stainless, Aluminum, cast Iron ) and do it as neatly.

    The O/A can weld, heat, braze, anneal, cut and do it all at such an affordable price that i can't believe I've made it so many years without my own. I had to choose between an O/A and Plasma here recently and I went with O/A, i can't say i regret it, as i really love playing with the torch set and it has opened up a ton of other capabilities for me business wise. Especially when you have it at your disposal and not just "available" to use or borrow from some one else when they are home / @ work.

    You can learn to cut some really clean straight lines with a torch setup but it takes practice. Where-as the plasma is much like a MIG welder, being that you can simply pull the trigger with little to no experience and the cut will look very nice, and the cut will be clean enough to use from there without any "touching up" 85% of the time. I have seen some guys that can cut so cleanly with a torch that you'd think it was done with a band-saw or plasma and wouldnt' know the difference if you werent' told. (o.k. maybe not to the seasoned welder/metal-worker but to at least 90% of people out there)

    I tend to post books on this forum, so I'll cut to the point. If you're looking for a dedicated cutting machine and have no need for the other things a torch can do, get the plasma. If you just need the ability to cut and don't have an O/A setup yet, well, go buy one! As said earlier, it can do so many more things than the plasma can, and do them so much cheaper than all the electric machines it would take to do the same jobs that it really doesn't make sense (at least in my eyes) to own a plasma before owning an O/A setup.

    I hope this was helpful, my posts usually end up being too darn long because i try to be as informative as possible and word everything where it can't be taken or understood in any other way than how i intend them to ( and yet i still can't hit a 100% success rate LOL )
    Last edited by turboglenn; 11-06-2008 at 11:04 PM.
    Dynasty 200DX
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    Just about every other hand tool you can imagine

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Iuka, Mississippi
    Posts
    29

    Default

    A plasma is lighter to move than bottles. And less likely to do any serious damage if improperly handled.

    In the event of a fire at your location, a plasma is going to pose much less risk to people around it

    You can remove a siezed bearing from a shaft or nut from a bolt without damaging the underlying surface with a torch.

    Though I suggest handling all equipment with care, Oxy fuel equipment is sturdier, more weather resistant, and less costly to repair.

    Portablity was earlier addressed but one thing about bottles is that the portability only requires longer leads. The plasma must be moved to the location you are cutting or within the distance of the lead. This would be an issue doing field work especially above the ground floor. Power could be run but the power cable would be something to haul around.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Belle Plaine Iowa
    Posts
    270

    Default

    A plasma cutter wont go thru your neighbors walls if you knock it over. This is possible if you knock the top off an oxy bottle. Handle them carefully and keep the lid on when not in use.
    Who do you call when the lawmakers ignore the law?

    Miller AC/DC Thunderbolt 225
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    Old cutting torch on LPG

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    near rochester NY
    Posts
    9,881

    Lightbulb

    best to have booth. i started with O/A and then gotta plasma for decorative cuts. cant beat a plasma for fancy multi curved cuts. but i cant imagine being without my O/A setup. even with MIG,TIG,Stick, and plasma all in my home shop i still find times i go for the O/A. its versatility is unmatched. (when you learn it)
    an O/A setup in not much $$ in comparison to a plasma and will last a life time if you get a quality setup. and i highly recommend buying quality here. cheapo e-bay stuff will get you killed. buy quality, add flash restrictors and suppressors and it will last you a life time. a small med. duty setup can be had for around $400. i have an older Victor setup, but smith is the up and coming top dog in O/A.
    if you can swing it, get both. you will find endless uses for the O/A.
    thanks for the help
    ......or..........
    hope i helped

    feel free to shoot me an e-mail direct i have time to chat. james@newyorkmetalart.com
    summer is here, plant a tree. if you don't have space or time to plant one sponsor some one else to plant one for you. a tree is an investment in our planet, help it out.
    JAMES

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Central Idaho
    Posts
    198

    Default O/A or Plasma

    Turboglen mentioned it, but it cannot be stressed enough--one of the greatest advantages to plasma is the ability to cut aluminum and stainless.

  10. #10

    Default

    We use pipe beveling machines extensively and oxy/acy is the only practical answer in the field for that.
    We also use small track torches in the field, every chance we get. Our little Koike machine will easily cut 3" plus with oxy/acy.
    You can move an oxy/acy rig with a crane or forklift (or roll it by hand) to anyplace you can reach and it's self contained and ready to work. You can even leave it on the hook.
    Every welding rig carries oxy/acy, most don't carry air compressors or have aux power to run a plasma.

    But of course alu & ss make the plasma shine, inside, in static locations with the power/air to run them they look better, even on carbon steel.

    A friend of mine has a large plasma on his truck with a 65' lead on it and uses it a lot, but still has to carry oxy/acy for some things.
    65' isn't much in outside work, I regularly spool out 100' + of oxy/acy hose.

    JTMcC.
    Some days you eat the bear. And some days the bear eats you.

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