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After the posts from Camachinist about plasma cutters, I went to the web and checked out how they worked, and general prices: handheld units cost about $700 and up, and work off of compressed air. Cool! They state the cuts in sheetmetal are quite narrow, and can work up to 1/2" steel. More precise than die grinder. They have one at the welding class, and I'm definitely going to try and work it a bit....right now, I'm using a dremel to cut "butt weld" cuts for practice, but plasma cutter sounds really neat! Just another tool to buy, after the bricked garage gets built...what they hey...it's only money.

http://clubs.hemmings.com/baymustang/platesmall.jpgLet me check your shorts! My multimeter is just a-waiting! Formerly known as Midlife in the old VMF.
King of the Old Farts *struts*
 

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One note on plasma cutters is the tips can be expensive. I rented one for my business when they first came out to check them out , the employees would end up touching the work with the tips and screwing them up that at the rate they were going through tips it was cheaper to stay with the old cutting torch. so be careful with the torch.
scott
 

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Hey Midlife, I'll throw in my $.02. A while ago, I bought a model 160 mig welder from HTP, I can't rave enough about it. It has a kick @ss duty cycle, reverse polarity, on and off time adjustments along with the ability to stitch weld. If you're at all interested ya gotta check out their site. If their plasma cutter is anything like the mig welder I bought, you'll really be happy

Tom
You can do anything you want to......ONCE!
aka "my 66 coupe"
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When I got the floor plans welded in my 70, I had to go work on the car at the guy's shop for a couple of days while he was doing the pans and he used it quite a bit. Man, it was like he was cutting through butter with that plasma cutter. The cuts were extremely accurate and this thing saved ALOT of time. Just my .02

~Chris
San Antonio, Tx
66 coupe 289
70 fastback done by may/graduation...hopefully
 

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Your concern is one of the main reasons I went with the Hypertherm model I purchased....inadvertant contact doesn't damage the nozzle....

The nozzles do eventually wear out from use but, as most units are designed for shop use, the average hobbyist will likely never use up the consumables that come with the unit when new....I got a whole case of extra nozzles and parts when buying mine...



Pat
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Randy,

If you plan on using a torch to cut a lot, a plasma cutter can be a good investment and it obviates the need for flammables and oxidizers in the shop....although most shops still need a torch for heating parts for bending and shaping...

As with a welder, I recommend buying quality in the price range you can afford....frankly, a plasma cutter under 1K is likely not going to make you happy in the long run...
The 1/2" cutting version of the unit I bought runs in the 1500-1600.00 range and for that money you'll get a commercial quality unit that doesn't use a high frequency arc to initiate the plasma stream....high freq boxes can do damage to computer equipment if in the same room and on the same electrical meter...
I have to be exceeding careful to not have my computer operating in the shop when welding steel or aluminum with the TIG....

Plasma cutters with the appropriate nozzle can also make excellent gougers when removing welds or slotting plate steel....

Frankly, if you are going to do a fair amount of metal fabrication and welding, you should budget around 3-5K for all the machines and support equipment......if only occasionally and on light material, maybe half that amount...

Just remember that you can test drive any machine for free at your local welding supplier......it's a great way to determine quality and value...

Happy cutting!

Pat
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