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post #1 of (permalink) Old 04-12-2002, 01:18 AM Thread Starter
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Plasma Cutter

I thought I had put this out of my mind, but the need keeps popping up. I want to pick up a smaller plasma cutter.

I don't want to break the bank and want to stay under $1300. Will I be happy with a unit in this price range? What is the real life experience with these units?

I have found the Hobart Airforce 400 for $1150. This looks exactly like the Hypotherm 380 and is a few dollars less. Is it the same unit?

Suggestions please!
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 04-12-2002, 08:09 AM
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Re: Plasma Cutter

Don't know about those particular boxes. I have a Thermal Dynamics Econo-Pak 50. They call it a 1/2" capicity machine, and it cost about $1600 about 7 years ago. It will cut 1/2" steel plate, but it's too slow to be practical. On that stuff I use the gas axe. It is wonderful on sheet metal - zips through 18 gauge steel, aluminum or stainless. On 3/16" it's about equal in speed to the gas axe, but the cut quality is a lot better. By 1/4" I usually switch to the torch. I have been making stainless steel stuff with 3/16" 304, and it does a really good job on that. The cut is almost as good as a bandsaw, but it's many times faster.

I would think that $1300 should get you a comparable machine today. At that price, you should be able to borrow a unit and put it in your shop for a few days or a week, and try it out on the work you do. At the very least, spend several hours at the dealer's shop cutting your kind of work.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 04-12-2002, 08:25 AM
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Re: Plasma Cutter

This doesn't directly answer your question. I have a Hobart Handler 175 mig welder. I have only had it for a year. Last week I had to take it in because the drive motor quit working. I originally bought the welder at the local Tractor Supply. The authorized repair center is the biggest welding outfit in town. They sell gas, welders, everything and do all the repairs for commercial welding outfits. The head of their service department gave me a lesson in welder quality. He opened up my machine next to the so-called Miller equivalent. The differences were amazing. I learned that my little Hobart is a money making machine for Miller(they make Hobart). My machine is marketed to the consumer with limited use in mind. The repairs to my $600 machine would have been close to $350 if it were out of warranty. I have only run one small roll of .023 and 1/3 of a large roll of .030 wire. At this rate I will be buying another welder at the end of my warranty. Go ahead and spend the extrat $100-200 to get the professional grade equipment that will last a lifetime. I thought that was what I was getting. But I should have known that the least expensive machine was probably not the best. Next time I will fork over the $1200 for the Miller.

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