Plasma Cutting VS Oxyfuel
Q: What advantage does Plasma have over Oxyfuel?
A: Plasma cutting provides numerous advantages over Oxyfuel. It cuts faster; does not require a pre-heat cycle; produces a small and more precise kerf width (the width of the cut); and has a smaller heat-affected zone, which prevents the surrounding area from warping or damaging the paint.
The Plasma process also cuts any type of electrically conductive metal (the Oxyfuel process cannot cut stainless steel or aluminum). Plasma cutting is a cleaner, less expensive and more convenient method of metal cutting because clean, dry air is used for most plasma cutting applications.
Q: What are the basic costs involved in Plasma vs Oxyfuel?
A: To get started in Oxyfuel you will need the complete torch set-up costing around $250. You will need an oxygen and acetylene bottle costing around $250 to own. The tips that have to be replaced over time will go for about $5. As you gas bottles are emptied they can be refilled for about $30 each. After all is said and done you still can only cut steel.
Plasma will require an initial cost $1100 to $2000 depending on what size machine you require. After purchasing the machine your air compressor will provide free air so the only additional cost will be tips and electrodes for about $11 for the pair.
Oxyfuel is going to be less expensive at the start, but as time goes on the purchase of gas, and the limitations will make it more expensive in the long run. Plasma has the initial cost of the machine but after that it is mostly tips and electrodes. So in the long run Plasma is going to be cheaper and more practical for cutting any metal that is electrically conductive.
Q: Is Plasma cutting a good tool for restoring cars?
A: Excellent!! The Miller Spectrum 375 Spectrum 375 X-TREME are both perfect for auto work. Both have a 3/8" rated cut and will sever 1/2". That cut rating will cover anything on a car.
Both models can also plug into 110 or 220V and will give you the same cut off of either input. The difference is portability, which may be a concern if you plan to work in a variety of environments.
Your need for portability may also factor into your decision.
The Spectrum 375 X-TREME is more portable, weighing 18 lbs. compared to the Spectrum 375’s 55 lbs. It is also easier to switch between 110V and 220V with Spectrum 375 X-TREME since it uses Multi-Voltage Plugs (MVP). Simply pick the MVP that matches the power receptacle, plug it into the power cord and the unit is ready to go.
What is real nice about plasma is when you’re doing body-work you do not have to worry about warping or burning the paint. With plasma, the arc is so hot and tight the heat does not have time to spread out and effect the metal. Plasma is much faster and cleaner than anything else you could use (hacksaw, grinding wheel, etc.)