The portable plasma cutters with built-in air compressors stand out as true game-changers for both professionals and DIY enthusiasts alike. Designed to streamline the cutting process, these versatile machines eliminate the need for an external air source and simplify setup, allowing you to focus on the task at hand. Selecting the perfect plasma cutter not only enhances your cutting capabilities but also directly impacts the success and ease of your projects. As such, understanding the importance of choosing the right product is crucial in making an informed decision that meets your needs and expectations.
Best Plasma Cutters with Built-in Air Compressor
After conducting extensive research and testing on a diverse range of plasma cutters, we have narrowed down our top five recommendations to help you make the best choice for your cutting needs. Our rigorous evaluation process encompassed a variety of testing methods, including real-world performance tests, durability assessments, and user experience analysis. To further ensure the accuracy and reliability of our findings, we gathered valuable feedback from industry professionals and end-users through comprehensive surveys. By considering multiple aspects, we have identified the best plasma cutters with built-in air compressors that excel in quality, performance, and customer satisfaction, providing you with a curated selection to simplify your decision-making process.
These are the top portable plasma cutters with built-in air compressors:
- Hypotherm Powermax 30 XP (Best Overall)
- Hobart Airforce 12Ci
- Hitbox 40 Amp
- Lincoln Inverter Plasma Cutter
Hypotherm Powermax plasma cutter has a maximum cutting thickness of 5/8 inch and can cut at a speed of 20 inches per minute. It has a compact and lightweight design that makes it easy to transport and use in various locations. It features Auto-voltage technology, which allows it to operate on either 120V or 240V power sources, and has a patented drag-cutting technology that enables easy cutting even on painted or rusty metal surfaces. It also has a high-quality torch with an ergonomic handle design for comfortable grip and less fatigue.
The Hobart Airforce 12Ci is a lightweight and portable plasma cutter that can cut through 1/4-inch mild steel with ease. It has a built-in air compressor, which eliminates the need for an external air source, and its inverter-based power source provides consistent and reliable cutting performance. The machine also features a trigger safety and a post-flow cooling system that ensures extended life for consumables.
The Hitbox 40 Amp is a powerful plasma cutter that can cut through materials up to 1/2 inch thick. It is equipped with a high-frequency start technology that ensures easy and consistent arc starting. It has a lightweight design and comes with a convenient handle that makes it easy to carry around. Additionally, it features a digital display for precise setting adjustments and comes with a torch that has a quick connect fitting for easy assembly.
The Lincoln Inverter Plasma Cutter is a versatile machine that can cut through a wide range of materials, including stainless steel, aluminum, and copper. It features a dual-voltage capability, meaning it can operate on either 120V or 240V power sources, and has a maximum cutting thickness of 5/8 inch. It also comes with a pilot arc controller that provides stable cutting performance on painted or rusted metal surfaces.
Key Decision-Making Factors
Powermax 30 XP||
Maximum Cutting Depth||
Air Compressor Noise||
Drag Cutting Ability||
Maximum Duty Cycle||
Cut through paint & rust||
Can Cut 11 GA Steel||
Based on the features and specifications of these plasma cutters, the Hypotherm Powermax 30 XP stands out as the best overall. It has a versatile cutting range, Auto-voltage technology for flexibility, a patented drag-cutting technology for smooth cutting, and a high-quality torch for comfortable grip and less fatigue. Moreover, its compact and lightweight design makes it easy to carry around and use in various locations.
Hypotherm Powermax 30 Xp Plasma Cutter
Hypotherm Powermax 30 is a powerful portable plasma cutter along with a built-in air compressor. It cuts anything ranging from sheet metal to truck frames. Ideally, you can cut a quarter-inch of stainless steel with zero complaints.
The Hypotherm Powermax 30 is an outstanding highly efficient and reliable product. One of the standout features of this plasma cutter is its inverter technology. This technology allows for better control over the cutting process and ensures a more consistent cut. It also allows for a smaller and more lightweight design, which is a significant advantage in portability.
This plasma cutter is also highly versatile and capable of cutting through a range of materials, including aluminum, stainless steel, and mild steel. It has a cutting capacity of up to 5/8 inch on mild steel and up to 3/8 inch on aluminum and stainless steel. This makes it an excellent choice for a variety of applications, from automotive repair to fabrication and construction work.
Another feature that sets the Hypotherm Powermax apart from other plasma cutters is its advanced safety features. It has a built-in automatic air regulation system that ensures the correct air pressure for the cutting process, reducing the risk of overheating and prolonging the life of the consumables. It also has a built-in thermal overload protection system that automatically shuts down the machine if it becomes overheated, preventing damage to the unit.
This is so easy to use with a simple interface that allows for quick adjustments to the cutting settings. The machine comes with an easy-to-follow instruction manual that provides clear guidance on how to set up and use the plasma cutter, making it suitable for both beginners and experienced users.
Additionally, it works at 90-120 PSI. When the plasma cutter operates at the recommended pressure range of 90-120 PSI, it ensures that the plasma stream is at its maximum velocity, which results in a cleaner, faster, and more precise cut. If the air pressure is too low, the plasma stream may not be strong enough to cut through the metal effectively, resulting in a rough and uneven cut. On the other hand, if the air pressure is too high, it may cause the plasma stream to become unstable and lead to overheating, which can damage the machine.
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Overall, the Hypotherm Powermax 30 plasma cutter is an exceptional product that offers excellent performance, versatility, and safety features. Its lightweight and compact design, combined with its advanced technology and easy-to-use interface, make it an ideal choice for anyone in need of a high-quality plasma cutter. I would highly recommend it to anyone in the market for a reliable and efficient cutting machine.
These are key takeaways that helped Hypertherm to be premium over other plasma cutters:
- Its portable and suitable for 1/2 steel
- Suitable for sheet metal, bodywork, and heavier steel.
- Comes with an inverter that enables automatic voltage detection
- It’s a lightweight machine that offers comfortable handling.
- Cutting capacity is 5/8 inches at 20 IPM
- Works at 90-120 PSI which means that it provides the optimal air pressure for efficient and effective cutting.
- Includes water separator that works by trapping any water droplets in the air before they reach the plasma torch. This ensures that the air entering the plasma cutter is free of moisture and other contaminants, allowing the cutter to produce a higher-quality cut.
- Allows continuous pilot arc which helps in plasma cutting by providing a constant arc current used to pierce the material being cut.
- Comes with an internal air compressor which is beneficial because it eliminates the need for an external air compressor. The internal air compressor also makes the plasma cutter more portable, as it is self–contained and can be used in various locations.
- Holds the ability to connect to 20 AMP circuits.
- Works on the generator.
- Able to cut 11 GA steel with 110 volts.
- This plasma cutter can cut through paint and rust.
Apart from a range of positive aspects, this plasma cutter does have some drawbacks as well. These are:
- The ability to automate is limited since you cannot connect this to CNC.
- You cannot gauge this since only the 45XP model had special consumables for gauging.
- Does not work with 3-phase power since it supports single-phase 220v / 110v.
- Does not have a remote trigger
Recommended gas supply
If you are using Hypertherm Powermax, the following information would help in choosing the gas.
It requires 99.995% pure Nitrogen.
Minimum required gas inlet flow and pressure: 99.1 L/min at 4.7 bar (3.5 scfm at 68 psi)
Recommended gas inlet flow and pressure: 113.3 L/min at 5.5 bar (4.0 scfm at 80 psi)
Maximum gas inlet pressure: 9.3 bar (135 psi)
The difference with other Hypertherm Plasma Cutters
Hypertherm is a leading manufacturer of plasma cutters, and the Powermax series is one of their most popular product lines. The Powermax 30XP is a mid-range model in this series, and it differs from other Hypertherm plasma cutters in several ways.
- Power output: The Powermax 30XP has a maximum cutting capacity of 5/8 inch (16 mm) on mild steel, while some of the other Hypertherm models have higher power output capabilities. For example, the Powermax 45 XP can cut up to 1 inch (25 mm) on mild steel.
- Portability: The Powermax 30XP is designed to be highly portable and can be easily moved from job site to job site. Other Hypertherm models, such as the Powermax 65, are larger and heavier and are designed for use in a fixed location.
- Price: The Powermax 30XP is more affordable than some of the other Hypertherm plasma cutters. It is a good choice for small businesses or DIY enthusiasts who need a high-quality plasma cutter but don’t want to spend a lot of money.
- Duty cycle: The duty cycle is the amount of time that a plasma cutter can be used continuously without overheating. The Powermax 30XP has a duty cycle of 35% at 240V, while some of the other Hypertherm models have higher duty cycles, such as the Powermax 45 XP which has a duty cycle of 50% at 50 A.
- Cutting speed: The Powermax 30XP has a cutting speed of 20 inches per minute (IPM), which is suitable for most applications. However, some of the other Hypertherm models have higher cutting speeds, such as the Powermax 45 XP which can cut at a speed of 45 IPM.
In summary, the Powermax 30XP is a highly portable, affordable, and capable plasma cutter that is ideal for small businesses or DIY enthusiasts. However, if you need a higher power output or duty cycle, or faster cutting speed, you may want to consider other Hypertherm plasma cutters, such as the Powermax 45 XP or Powermax 65.
How Hypertherm Powermax 30 is better than other plasma cutters?
The Hypertherm Powermax 30 is a portable plasma cutter designed for both industrial and personal use. It offers a cutting capacity of up to 5/8 inch (16 mm) on a variety of conductive metals, including steel, aluminum, and stainless steel. Some of the key features of the Powermax 30 include:
- High-quality cuts: The Powermax 30 uses Hypertherm’s patented technology to deliver high-quality cuts with minimal dross, reducing the need for secondary operations.
- Portability: The Powermax 30 is lightweight and compact, making it easy to move around and use in different locations.
- Durability: The Powermax 30 is built to withstand tough environments and heavy use, with a rugged design that includes a protective case and internal components that are designed to last.
- Versatility: The Powermax 30 can be used with a variety of cutting accessories, including a hand torch, a mechanized torch, and a gouging torch.
- Ease of use: The Powermax 30 features a simple, intuitive interface that makes it easy to set up and use, even for beginners.
Overall, the Hypertherm Powermax 30 is a versatile and reliable plasma cutter that offers high-quality cuts and ease of use. While there may be other plasma cutters on the market that offer similar features, the Powermax 30’s reputation for quality and durability makes it a popular choice among users.
Hobart Airforce 12Ci
After using the Hobart AirForce 12ci Plasma Cutter for a few weeks, I can confidently provide a comprehensive review of its performance, features, and potential drawbacks. In this review, I will identify and explain the positive and negative aspects of this plasma cutter while comparing it to other models on the market.
These are the positive sides of Hobart Airforce 12Ci plasma cutter with built-in air compressor:
- Built-in Air Compressor: One of the standout features of the Hobart AirForce 12ci is its built-in air compressor. This eliminates the need for an external air source, making it an ideal tool for DIY enthusiasts and small-scale metalworkers who may not have access to a separate air compressor. In comparison, other plasma cutters like the Miller Spectrum 625 and Hypertherm Powermax 30 XP require external compressors, adding to the overall cost and setup complexity.
- Portability: The compact design of the AirForce 12ci is a significant advantage, as it weighs only 27 lbs. This lightweight construction makes it easy to transport, and its ergonomic handle ensures a comfortable grip. Competing models like the Hypertherm Powermax 30 XP and Miller Spectrum 625 are also portable, but the built-in air compressor of the 12ci adds an extra layer of convenience.
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- Ease of Use: The Hobart AirForce 12ci boasts an intuitive design, making it easy to set up and operate. With its user-friendly controls, even novices can quickly get started with plasma cutting. The Postflow Cooling feature also enhances the lifespan of consumables by cooling the torch after each cut.
- Cutting Capability: The AirForce 12ci has an impressive cutting capacity, with the ability to cut up to 3/8″ mild steel, 1/4″ aluminum, and 1/4″ stainless steel. This cutting range is suitable for most DIY and light fabrication tasks. The cutting quality is consistent and clean, with minimal dross compared to other models in its class.
Apart from plenty of positive sides, the plasma cutter from Hobart does have some negative sides as well.
- Limited Duty Cycle: The Hobart AirForce 12ci has a 35% duty cycle at its maximum output of 12 amps. This means that for every 10 minutes of operation, the machine needs to rest for 6.5 minutes to avoid overheating. This duty cycle is lower compared to the Miller Spectrum 625 (50% at 40 amps) and Hypertherm Powermax 30 XP (35% at 30 amps). For small projects and occasional use, this may not be a significant concern, but for larger tasks or professional use, it could be a limitation.
- Lower Power Output: With a maximum power output of 12 amps, the AirForce 12ci is less powerful than some of its competitors. The Miller Spectrum 625 offers up to 40 amps, and the Hypertherm Powermax 30 XP has 30 amps. While the 12ci’s cutting capacity is sufficient for most light-duty tasks, more demanding projects may require a more powerful plasma cutter.
- Lack of Advanced Features: The Hobart AirForce 12ci is a basic plasma cutter with a focus on simplicity and ease of use. However, it lacks some advanced features found in competing models, such as CNC compatibility or gouging capabilities. This may not be an issue for the target audience of DIYers and hobbyists, but professionals may prefer a plasma cutter with CNC compatibility.
How this plasma cutter differs from other cutters from Hobart?
The Hobart 12ci is a plasma cutter model from the renowned Hobart Welding Products company. It differs from other plasma cutters from the same company in several aspects, making it an ideal choice for welders depending on their needs and preferences.
- Built-in air compressor: The Hobart 12ci features a built-in air compressor, which sets it apart from other models. This integrated feature makes it a more convenient and portable option, as there’s no need to purchase or carry an external air compressor. For welders who require mobility and ease of use, this is a significant advantage.
- Lightweight and compact design: The Hobart 12ci is designed to be portable and user-friendly. With its lightweight and compact build, it is easy to transport and maneuver. This design aspect makes it an ideal choice for welders working in tight spaces or who frequently move between job sites.
- Cutting capacity: The Hobart 12ci has a cutting capacity of up to 1/4-inch (6.35 mm) for mild steel. This cutting capacity is suitable for light to medium-duty cutting tasks, making it an ideal choice for DIY enthusiasts, hobbyists, or professionals handling smaller projects.
- Input voltage: The Hobart 12ci operates on a 120V input voltage, making it compatible with standard household outlets. This feature adds to its convenience and versatility, as it can be used in various settings without requiring additional power equipment.
- User-friendly interface: The Hobart 12ci features a straightforward and intuitive interface, allowing welders to easily adjust settings and operate the machine. This user-friendly design makes it a suitable option for both experienced professionals and those new to plasma cutting.
- Price point: The Hobart 12ci is an affordable plasma cutter compared to other models in the Hobart range. Its competitive pricing, combined with its functionality, makes it an attractive option for welders looking for a reliable, efficient, and cost-effective plasma cutting solution.
In summary, the Hobart 12ci stands out from other Hobart plasma cutters due to its built-in air compressor, lightweight and compact design, cutting capacity, input voltage compatibility, user-friendly interface, and competitive pricing. These features make it an ideal choice for welders seeking a versatile, portable, and affordable plasma-cutting solution, particularly for light to medium-duty applications.
Differences with other similar plasma cutters
The Hobart AirForce 12ci is a portable plasma cutter designed for light to medium cutting tasks. It stands out from other plasma cutters in the market due to its unique features, ease of use, and affordability. Here, we will compare the Hobart AirForce 12ci to other plasma cutters from different brands and explain why it can be an ideal choice for welders.
The Hobart AirForce 12ci features an integrated air compressor, making it a self-contained unit that doesn’t require an external air source. This is an advantage over many other plasma cutters such as Millar, Lotos LTP5000D, HITBOX 40A etc, which often require a separate air compressor to function. The built-in air compressor makes the AirForce 12ci more portable and convenient for users who need a cutting solution on the go.
Similarly, the AirForce 12ci is designed to be lightweight and compact, weighing approximately 27 pounds. This is considerably lighter than many other plasma cutters in the market, making it an attractive option for welders who need a portable solution for cutting tasks at various job sites.
Furthermore, the Hobart AirForce 12ci is known for its user-friendly design. With straightforward controls and minimal setup required, it is suitable for both beginners and experienced users. Other plasma cutters may have more complex control systems or require additional setup, making them less accessible to novice users.
Additionally, the AirForce 12ci can cut up to 1/4-inch mild steel, making it suitable for light to medium cutting tasks. While some other plasma cutters might offer more powerful cutting capabilities, the AirForce 12ci’s performance is more than sufficient for many welders’ needs, especially those working on small to medium-sized projects.
Also, the Hobart AirForce 12ci is competitively priced, often being more affordable than plasma cutters from other brands with similar capabilities. This makes it an attractive option for welders looking for a budget-friendly yet reliable cutting solution.
Overall, Hobart is a well-established brand in the welding and cutting industry, known for producing high-quality and reliable equipment. Investing in a Hobart plasma cutter like the AirForce 12ci ensures that you are getting a product backed by a reputable manufacturer with solid customer support.
Hitbox plasma cutter with built-in air compressor
The Hitbox 40 Amp Plasma Cutter with Built-In Air Compressor is a versatile, compact, and powerful tool designed for cutting through various types of metals with ease.
It’s a ready-to-cut plasma cutter with a built-in air compressor with the ability to cut 1/2″ thick metal. The air switch and the leakage protection helped this plasma cutter to be accepted among the welders.
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These are the positive sides of Hitbox 40 Amp plasma cutter
- Portability and Convenience: The built-in air compressor eliminates the need for an external air source, making this plasma cutter a convenient option for users who require a portable cutting solution. The compact design makes it easy to transport to different job sites or store when not in use.
- Ease of Use: The Hitbox 40 Amp Plasma Cutter comes with a user-friendly interface, making it suitable for both beginners and professionals. The torch trigger is easy to operate, and the controls are intuitive, allowing you to adjust the cutting parameters quickly.
- Powerful Cutting Performance: With a 40 Amp output, this plasma cutter is capable of cutting through metals up to 1/2 inch thick with ease. Its performance is impressive considering its compact size, making it suitable for various applications, such as automotive repair, construction, and DIY projects.
- Affordability: The Hitbox 40 Amp Plasma Cutter offers excellent value for money, providing a powerful cutting tool at a competitive price. In comparison to other plasma cutters in the market, it delivers robust performance without breaking the bank.
- Limited Duty Cycle: The Hitbox 40 Amp Plasma Cutter has a duty cycle of 60% at 40 Amps, which means that it may require rest periods during continuous cutting jobs. This limitation might not be suitable for heavy-duty industrial applications where prolonged use is necessary.
- Built-In Air Compressor Noise: While the built-in air compressor adds to the convenience and portability of the device, it generates a considerable amount of noise during operation. This may be a concern for users who are sensitive to noise or working in environments where noise levels must be kept low.
- Lack of Advanced Features: While the Hitbox 40 Amp Plasma Cutter is easy to use, it lacks some advanced features found in more expensive models, such as a pilot arc, which allows for more precise cutting without touching the workpiece.
Reason to prefer over other brands
The Hitbox 40 Amp Plasma Cutter with Built-In Air Compressor is a suitable option for users who prioritize portability, convenience, and affordability. Its powerful cutting performance, compact design, and built-in air compressor make it an attractive choice for DIY enthusiasts, automotive repair professionals, and construction workers. However, it may not be the best option for heavy-duty industrial applications or users who require advanced cutting features.
Overall, the Hitbox 40 Amp Plasma Cutter is a reliable and cost-effective solution for various metal cutting needs, offering a balance between performance and affordability that makes it a worthwhile consideration over other options in the market.
Differences with other plasma cutters from the same company
While there are multiple plasma cutters offered by Hitbox, I will compare the Hitbox 40 Amp Plasma Cutter with Built-In Air Compressor (Model: HBC4000) to two other plasma cutters from the company: the Hitbox 50 Amp Plasma Cutter (Model: HBC5500) and the Hitbox 60 Amp Plasma Cutter (Model: HBC6000). The differences between these models can be categorized into four main areas: