Cutting 1/2 inch steel requires a plasma cutter due to its ability to make clean, precise cuts in various metals, including steel. In this guide, we will explore some of the best plasma cutters specifically tailored to the task of cutting 1/2-inch steel.
Whether you’re working on fabrication projects, automotive repairs, or metal art, finding the best plasma cutter for 1/2-inch steel can significantly enhance your cutting capabilities and deliver exceptional results. Join us as we delve into the top options available, each offering a blend of power, reliability, and versatility to meet your cutting needs.
Our Top Choice
Below are the top 3 plasma cutters that offer a clean & efficient cut on a 1/2 inch steel.
- Bestarc BTC500DP (Best Overall)
- Reboot non-touch 50 AMP
- Lotos LTP 5000D
- Yeswelder Cut55 DS
The Bestarc plasma cutters are at the top mainly because of its high amount of satisfied customers and cheaper price. All three plasma cutters here are dual voltage machine having the flexibiluty of pilot arc feature. The Reboot plasma cutter are at the money because of affordability and cutting efficiency. Moreover, the Lotos comes with a slightly higher price but with added features such as secure standoff.
Comparison of the best three plasma cutters
|Max Current||50 Amps||50 Amps||50 Amps|
|Cutting Thickness||220V-12mm | 110V-10mm||220V-20mm| 110V-10mm||Clean: 1/2"(12mm) Max: 3/4"(19mm)|
|Digital Screen||Not Available||Available||Available|
Bestarc BTC500DP 50 AMP Plasma Cutter
Bestarc is a 50 AMP plasma cutter that offers a clean cut on half-inch steel and even cuts higher than this. It features a pilot arc function that contributes in improved start-up, enhanced cutting versatility, reduced downtime, and improved cutting quality. Moreover, It comes with with non-touch arc starting mode that does not require touching the metal piece while working which directly affects in extending consumable life.
Moreover, this plasma cutter supports dual voltage function (110/220V) which means that the user just need to connect the power cord and start cutting. However, the bestarc does not come with built-in compressor and you need an air compressor to operate this plasma cutter. it is highly recommended to use an air pressure between 40-70 PSI for best result. The best part is that there is an air filter installed in at the rear part of this plasma cutter which helps in supplying clean air.
However, we always recommend using these air dryers for heavier steel fabrication works.
Another good part i that this plasma cutter cools down quickly and the user holds the freedom to adjust the cooling time which ranges from 2 seconds to up to 15 seconds. But, we always recommend setting this at a range of 4-8 seconds for less frequent work.
Since this is a 50 AMP plasma cutter, you can have a max cut of around 16 mm of steel at 50Amp 220V 70 PSI and 12 mm of cut with 35A 110V 60PSI.
- Dual voltage (both 110v and 220v)
- Non-touch pilot arc
- Reduced downtime
- Cuts 1/2 inch steel at 110v
- The air filter is pre-installed at the rear part of the machine
- Maximum cutting ability is 16mm at 220V
- Affordable price (below $300)
- Post work easy cooling
- Low noise
- Works on alloy steel/ Stainless steel/ Mild steel/ Copper &Aluminum
- It’s a second-generation plasma cutter while there are other advanced options available
- You need an additional air compressor as this is no built-in air compressor
This is an amazing plasma cutter, especially for 1/2-inch steel but lacked the 2T/4T capability, which doesn’t concern us. The earlier generation came with a 240v 6-50 plug, while the new version has a 120v 5-15p plug, which may require an adapter for 240v use.
Despite these minor considerations, the plasma cutter is excellent. It’s highly recommended by experts and can cut up to 5/8″ steel, even more with skill. It’s versatile, cutting various metals effectively.
It performs well on both 120v and 240v. While the adapter may suffice, experienced users may choose to rewire it for 240v. Overall, it’s a top-quality product with great customer support. Consider this purchase, especially if you’re knowledgeable about electrical modifications.
Comparison with other versions
Bestarc has other plasma cutters with higher capacity. Let us help you find the major differences you will see if the BTC500DP 2nd generation plasma cutter is compared with other versions.
- BTC500DP 7GEN and BTC500DP 2GEN are very similar, with the only notable difference being the presence of a digital screen on the 7GEN model.
- BTC500DP 3GEN has the same specifications as the 2GEN model.
- BTC650DP 7GEN and BTC650DP 3GEN have higher amperage and cutting thickness capabilities compared to the 500DP models.
- BTC450NP is a lower amperage model with slightly lower cutting thickness capabilities than the 500DP and 650DP models.
- All models have a 60% duty cycle and can cut various materials, making them versatile for different applications.
Reboot Cut5000DL Plasma Cutter
Reboot Cut5000DL is another suitable plasma cutter which effectively cuts half inch of steel at 60% duty cycle. It also operates in both 110v and 220v power which makes smith’s life easier. It needs help of external air compressor since no air compressor is attached herewith.
With a 220v power, reboot can effeciently cut 12 mm of steel (1/2 inch) but, the maximum cutting thickness is limited to 9 mm if the 110v is used. If the material compatability is considered, Reboot can easily cut Stainless steel,Alloy steel,Mild steel,Copper,Cast Iron and Chrome with its non-touch pilot arc.
The optimum air pressure is suggested having 60-70 PSI.
This plasma cutter effortlessly cuts 3/16 and handles 1/4-inch materials well. While it’s advertised to cut up to 3/8-inch, it can cut through 1/2-inch with slower progress, leaving some slag at the bottom.
It effectively cut 3×3 3/16 tubing, providing a fast alternative to a band saw. The setup includes everything required, except for an air chuck connection for an air compressor. A larger hose barb (3/8) was used for a secure seal and a female-to-female connector for the air chuck, with ample Teflon tape to prevent air leaks.
- Dual power works both at 110v and 220v
- Non-touch pilot arc
- Contains a digital display control panel for better navigation
- High-efficiency cutting with less maintenance
- Cuts Stainless steel, Alloy steel, Aluminum, Mild steel, Copper, Cast Iron and Chrome.
- No built-in air compressor
- No air filter is installed like the Bestarc
Apart from the Cut5000DL, Reboot has two other versions of plasma cutters. Both the 5000DL and 5000D are dual power except the RBC6000 which only works at 220v. The RBC6000 has a higher capacity which is 60 Amp and is expected to be more expensive than the Reboot Cut5000DL.
During the test, The Cut5000DL did cut the 1/2 inch steel but had a few issues which will not be a cause of concern if you choose the Reboot RBC6000 over the Cut5000DL.
Overall, material compatibility and other features are similar however, we still like Reboot due to its affordability.
Lotos LTP5000D Plasma Cutter
Lotos LTP 5000D is another awesome plasma cutter having capacity to cut 1/2 steel. This is equipped with advanced IGBTs, this plasma cutter offers a 25% boost in cutting power compared to standard 50-amp models which help the plasma cutter to delivers high-precision cuts with smooth lines and faster cutting speeds.
The upgraded torch and consumables ensure precision cutting and also boost consumable lifespan by a notable degree. This plasma cutter is built to last and is safe to use with maximum material adoptability, including stainless steel, alloy steel, mild steel, copper, and aluminum.
With a pre-installed NPT 1/4″ industry-type D plug and air filter regulator, setting up the machine is effortless and takes just a minute. It comes with a front-mounted pressure adjustment for precise cutting, guaranteeing an air leakage-free experience.
Moreover, this plasma cutter cuts through rough, painted, and rusty surfaces with minimal slag which were a negative point in Reboot plasma cutters. Notably, the pilot arc technology allows cutting without direct contact, improving cutting quality and extending consumable life.
Most importantly, Lotos is known for versatile cutting. With a 10-50A DC output under 220/240V and 10-35A DC output under 110/120V, this cutter can handle a wide range of materials, making it suitable for stainless steel, alloy steel, mild steel, copper, aluminum, and more. It uses non-hazardous compressed air for safe and cost-effective cutting.
After a quick trip to the hardware store for the right plug, I connected the air regulator and wired it up for 220V. I checked the required PSI (60-65) and converted it from MPa to get 0.427MPa.
Then, I put it to the test. Starting with sheet metal, I adjusted the settings until it cut smoothly. Next, I tackled a rusty 1/2″ plate with skepticism, but it cut through impressively, albeit with some slag on the back.
I pushed the limits further by cutting a soda can, and adjusting the settings to handle the thin material. The machine performed remarkably, leaving a thin cut line.
Throughout my tests, I monitored the consumables, which seemed to hold up well. Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised and very happy with the LTP5000D plasma cutter.
However, the trigger placement on top of the gun may not be everyone’s preference. While it’s possible to investigate if it can be rotated, it’s a minor aesthetic concern, not a major issue. Additionally, some higher-end cutters have air-test buttons, which can be convenient for setting the regulator without pulling the trigger. Including this feature in future revisions could be beneficial.
- Dual Voltage Compatibility: It supports both 110V and 220V, offering versatility for different job sites and power sources. Even if you rarely use the 110V option, it’s a valuable feature.
- Compact Size: Its small footprint allows it to fit on a compact welding cart, making it highly portable. Remarkably, it’s about the size of a cat or a laying-down Boxer dog, which is impressive given its power.
- Pilot Arc Technology: The pilot arc feature facilitates cutting on rusty or uneven metal surfaces. It starts the arc effectively, even on challenging materials like scaly and pitted 1/2″ plate.
- Spare Consumables: The package includes two spare electrodes and nozzles, and consumables are cost-effective, ensuring you have the necessary parts for extended use.
- Secure Stand-Off: Unlike some models with slip-fit stand-offs, this one clamps securely in place. This feature enhances stability and ease of use, especially when you want a break from freehand cutting.
- Short Ground Clamp: The ground clamp is notably short, barely half the length of the whip. A longer ground clamp would be more practical and user-friendly. An extension or contacting LOTOS for a longer option may be necessary.
- Air Regulator Gauge: The gauge on the air regulator lacks PSI markings, causing initial confusion. Clear PSI markings or including MPa alongside PSI in the manual could alleviate this issue. It’s possible that this might be due to an error by the manufacturer of the regulators.
- Stand-Off Design: While the clamping mechanism of the stand-off is appreciated, its circular design can be somewhat cumbersome to handle. A simpler design with just two legs might offer more convenience and control.
Yeswelder Cut55 DS
The Yeswelder Cut-55DS is an ideal choice for cutting 1/2 inch steel and offers a range of valuable features:
- Non-Touch Pilot ARC: Its standout feature is the Non-Touch Pilot ARC, ensuring efficient cutting through rough, painted, and rusty surfaces. This technology enhances cutting quality and extends consumable life, making it perfect for industrial settings where extensive material preparation is not feasible.Follow this article Yeswelder Cut 55DS is compared with the Cut45 DS along with other plasma cutters.
- Clean Cut and Dual Voltage: The Cut-55DS boasts a maximum clean cut thickness of 1/2″ at 220V and 5/16″ at 110V, providing ample power for various light to medium-duty tasks. The Dual Voltage capability allows it to operate on both 110V and 220V power sources, offering adaptability to diverse work environments.
- Intuitive Digital Display: Equipped with a comprehensive digital display, this cutter offers real-time information on power status, overheat warnings, torch protection, air pressure, and cutting settings. The display simplifies operation, enabling users to adjust settings efficiently.
- Versatility: The Cut-55DS can cut through a wide range of materials, including stainless steel, alloy steel, mild steel, copper, cast iron, and chrome, making it a versatile tool suitable for various applications.
- Portability: Its compact design and convenient carrying handle make it highly portable, facilitating easy transportation between job sites.
- Cost-Effective: With its impressive features, excellent performance, and affordability, the Cut-55DS offers value for money. Additionally, the Non-Touch Pilot ARC reduces consumable usage, leading to cost savings over time.
In summary, the Yeswelder Cut-55DS is a reliable and efficient plasma cutter that excels in cutting 1/2 inch steel, making it an excellent choice for both hobbyists and professionals seeking versatility, portability, and cost-effectiveness.
Tips for cutting 1/2 inch steel pipe
Cutting 1/2 inch steel pipe with a plasma cutter requires careful preparation and attention to safety. Below are some tips to help you get the job done effectively and safely:
- Safety First:
- Always wear appropriate safety gear, including a welding helmet with a shaded lens, gloves, long-sleeved clothing, and safety goggles to protect your eyes from sparks and UV radiation.
- Ensure you have a fire extinguisher nearby in case of accidents.
- Select the Right Plasma Cutter:
- Use a plasma cutter that is capable of cutting through 1/2 inch steel. Consult the manufacturer’s specifications for guidance. For help, we already have sorted out the three best plasma cutters which are capable of cutting 1/2 inch steel.
- Prepare Your Workspace:
- Work in a well-ventilated area to disperse fumes and smoke, If you already have a garage, make sure to check the fire extinguishers.
- Clear the area of flammable materials and ensure it’s free from tripping hazards.
- Secure the steel pipe in a stable position using clamps or a vise.
- Mark Your Cut Line:
- Measure and mark the desired cut line on the steel pipe using a soapstone or marker. Double-check your measurements to ensure accuracy. Be aware of the plasma-cutting myths anyway.
- Check Gas and Consumables:
- Ensure that your plasma cutter is equipped with the correct gas (usually compressed air) and consumables (nozzle and electrode) for the job. For the selection of gas, check this out.
- Set the Correct Amperage and Gas Pressure:
- Refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines or the manual to set the appropriate amperage and gas pressure for cutting 1/2 inch steel.
- Maintain the Right Torch Height:
- Position the torch at the correct height above the steel surface, usually around 1/8 inch. This prevents damage to the torch and ensures a clean, efficient cut. Remember, inaccurate torch height might lead to uneven cuts and leave dross.
- Start the Cut:
- Start the plasma cutter away from the marked line and then move it steadily along the cut line at a consistent pace. Avoid sudden stops or jerky movements.
- Keep the Torch at a 90-Degree Angle:
- Maintain a perpendicular angle between the torch and the steel surface to ensure a straight and even cut.
- Monitor Cutting Speed:
- Adjust your cutting speed as needed. If you’re moving too slowly, you may create excessive heat and dross (unwanted slag). If you’re moving too quickly, you may not achieve a clean cut.
- Watch for Slag and Dross:
- Slag and dross are the waste materials that form during cutting. Use a slag hammer or chipping tool to remove them after the cut is complete.
- Cooling and Inspection:
- Allow the cut steel pipe to cool before handling it. Check the cut for quality and make any necessary adjustments or clean-up. Remember to set up the colling time of your plasma cutter which may be set as per the work pattern.
- Clean the Torch and Replace Consumables:
- Regularly clean the torch and replace consumables as needed to maintain optimal cutting performance.
- Dispose of Waste Safely:
- Dispose of the waste materials, including slag and dross, in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.
- Practice and Gain Experience:
- If you’re new to using a plasma cutter, practice on scrap metal before working on your actual project to gain confidence and skill.
Remember that plasma cutting can be a hazardous process, so always prioritize safety and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and safety recommendations. If you’re unsure about any aspect of plasma cutting, consider seeking guidance from a professional or taking a welding and cutting safety course.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
These are some frequently asked questions that may solve some of your queries:
Will a plasma cutter cut 1/2 inch steel?
Yes, a plasma cutter is capable of cutting 1/2 inch (12.7 mm) thick steel. However, the specific cutting capacity of plasma cutters can vary depending on their respective power rating. Typically, for cutting 1/2-inch steel, you need a plasma cutter with a higher amperage rating, generally in the range of 40 to 60 amps or more. However, a higher amperage rating provides more heat and cutting power, allowing you to cut thicker materials more efficiently.
Keep in mind that the quality of the cut can also be influenced by various factors such as the quality of the plasma cutter, the condition of the consumables (nozzles, electrodes, and swirl rings), adequacy of the clean air, and the operator’s skill. Proper setup and technique are essential for achieving clean and accurate cuts in thicker materials like 1/2-inch steel.
How thick of steel can you plasma cut?
The thickness of the steel to be plasma cut depends on the plasma cutter’s maximum power and some other factors. Typically handheld plasma cutters can steel from as thin as 1/8 inch (3.175 mm) up to about 1.5 inches (38.1 mm) thick, depending on the amperage. For instance, a clean and efficient cut in 1/2 inch (12.7 mm) steel would need a 40-60 amp plasma cutter.
Alternatively, CNC plasma cutting machines can handle steel thicknesses ranging from 1/4 inch (6.35 mm) up to several inches thick, or even thicker, depending on the machine’s power rating and capabilities.
How thick of steel will a 40 AMP plasma cutter cut?
A 40-amp plasma cutter can typically cut steel up to a maximum thickness of approximately 1/2 inch (12.7 mm). However, other factors such as nozzle quality, electrodes, and operator’s skill play a vital role in achieving a clean and efficient cut. For example, your plasma cutter may create a large blow hole due to pierce delay, travel speed error and not holding the torch at the appropriate angle.
How thick of steel will a 20 AMP plasma cutter cut?
A 20-amp plasma cutter is typically designed for lighter cutting tasks and is not suitable for cutting thick steel. Normally, a 20-amp plasma cutter can cut steel up to around 1/8 inch (3.175 mm) or possibly a bit thicker, but the quality of the cut may not be very clean or efficient like the 40 AMP plasma cutters.
What is better than a plasma cutter?
The better cutting tool depends on specific needs. For instance, the Oxy-fuel cutting is efficient in cutting thick metals including steel and cast iron due to having a high-temperature flame but it cannot ensure better precision. Alternatively, a laser cutter offers extremely high precision and can cut intricate shapes with minimal heat-affected zones but is only used to cut thin metals. Similarly, waterjet cutting is useful for materials that are sensitive to heat which cut through a wide range of materials, including metals, ceramics, and composites. However, for extremely precise and intricate cutting tasks, CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machining can be used.
What is the minimum thickness of plasma cutting?
Plasma cutters are most effective on materials that are 1/8 inch (3.175 mm) thick or thicker. However, some high-quality plasma cutters, especially those with fine cutting capabilities, may be able to cut materials as thin as 1/16 inch (1.5875 mm) or even thinner. Achieving a precise and clean cut on very thin materials can be challenging, and you may need specialized consumables and settings for such tasks.
What is the maximum thickness of the plasma cutter?
There is no straight answer for the maximum cutting thickness. As the handheld plasma cutters range from 12 to 100 amps, they can cut steel from as thin as 1/8 inch (3.175 mm) up to approximately 1.5 inches (38.1 mm) thick, depending on the amperage and the quality of cut you desire. Alternatively, the CNC plasma cutters can cut thicknesses ranging from 1/4 inch (6.35 mm) up to several inches thick, or even thicker, depending on the machine’s power rating and capabilities.
What is the best PSI for plasma cutters?
The optimal PSI (pounds per square inch) for a plasma cutter can vary depending on the specific make and model of the machine, the type of gas being used, and the material thickness. It’s essential to consult the manufacturer’s recommendations and specifications for your particular plasma cutter, as the ideal PSI can range from 60 to 80 PSI for compressed air in many cases. For help – read our expert guide on plasma cutter’s air pressure requirement.
How many AMPs does it take to cut 1/2 steel?
To cut 1/2-inch steel efficiently with a plasma cutter, you typically need a plasma cutter with an amperage rating of at least 40 amps or higher. However, the specific amperage required can vary based on the quality of the cut you desire, the type of plasma cutter, and other factors, so it’s important to consult the manufacturer’s recommendations and specifications for your particular plasma cutter for precise guidance.
Will a plasma cutter cut rusty steel?
Yes, a plasma cutter can cut rusty steel. However, cutting rusty steel may have some implications such as reduced cut quality due to less smooth and precise cut compared to clean, rust-free metal and faster consumable replacements as the abrasive nature of rust can lead to faster wear of consumable parts.
What cannot be cut with a plasma cutter?
Plasma cutters are not suitable for cutting materials that are non-conductive or materials that cannot resist the high heat generated during the cutting procedure. Particularly, materials like plastics, glass, ceramics, and other non-conductive or heat-sensitive substances cannot be effectively cut with a plasma cutter.
Any powerful plasma cutters especially above 50Amp are good to deal 1/2 inch steel. We tried to focus on the budget options so that someone could have a quick solution for their need. It is always better to avoid common plasma-cutting mistakes while doing the job.