Plasma cutting is used to cut stainless steel and other conductive metals. In this process, an accelerated hot plasma beam is thrown at the metal to cut it off. To increase the acceleration of plasma, you need an air compressor with the required CFM, PSI, and HP.
You have many options to choose from when it comes to finding the best air compressor for a plasma cutter on the market. But, you never know which one suits you best for your project. The following article outlines seven of the best choices you can consider for yourself. (We’ve considered customer reviews in listing the best products for you)
Although there are many more options, the compressors we will suggest will help you save your time and most probably will save you from wasting your money. Further, we discuss the factors you need to consider while choosing the compressors.Â
A few questions have been added to the article to help you better understand a plasma cutter’s purpose and how much air is enough to start one.Â
- 1 Best air Compressor For Plasma Cutter (Top 7 Picks)
- 1.1 1. Quincy QT-54 Splash Lubricated Reciprocating Air Compressor
- 1.2 2. California Air Tools 8010 Steel Tank Air Compressor
- 1.3 3. DEWALT DXCMLA1983054 30-Gallon Portable Air Compressor
- 1.4 4. CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor
- 1.5 5. Makita MAC5200 3.0 HP* Big Boreâ„¢ Air Compressor
- 1.6 6. Metabo HPT “THE TANK” Pancake Air Compressor
- 1.7 7. Industrial Air ILA3606056 Air Compressor
- 2 What is a Plasma Cutter, And What is the Purpose?
- 3 Factors to Consider In an Air Compressor For Plasma Cutter
- 4 How much air pressure does it take to run a plasma cutter?
- 5 Conclusion
- 6 FAQ’s
Best air Compressor For Plasma Cutter (Top 7 Picks)
Here, we’ve provided a complete analysis of air compressor products and their advantages. Let’s see the compressor for a plasma cutter. It will be easier to buy the best one from this comprehensive guide. We also determined compressors based on load. If you want a high-efficiency medium-duty or light-duty compressor, then you have an easy choice.
The Quincy offers the best air compressors with great efficiency and lower operating costs. The compressor is capable of producing at a lower horsepower. The compressor has a 30,000-hour pump life rating. The compressor has 2-3 years of warranty.Â Â
Other than the feature, the compressor can even run at different temperatures and weather. The more the tank size of the compressor is, the more the user can do heavy projects with it as it can store a lot of pressure in it.Â
- The maximum of the compressor is 140-175 PSI.Â
- Amps of the compressor 24.
- It has cast iron. It works on 5 HP.
- It works on 230 volts. It has 60- gallons.Â
California air tools 8010 steel tank compressor is the most suitable air compressor with plasma cutters; why? Let’s dive in to see for yourself. It is an oil-free compressor. The compressor is quiet and easily transferable. The noise level of the compressor is 60 decibels. The compressor has 1 HP and creates less noise and wear.Â
The compressor is lightweight, with wheels, and is transferable. The compressor is portable and compact, which makes it easier for the user to use it, and as it is going to be used with a plasma cutter, it is the ideal choice for it.Â
- The compressor comes with a hose.Â
- The maximum of the PSI is 120, with 110 volts.Â
- It has 60 dBA, and its running time is 30-60 mins.Â
- The compressor is oil-free and needs less maintenance.Â
- It comes with an 8-gallon tank.
- It is lightweight, 48 lbs.Â
Dewalt offers the best compressors, and if you’re into plasma cutters, this is our top recommendation. With a 30-gallon tank size, the compressor has a cast iron, twin-cylinder, oil-lubricated pump, cast iron cylinder body, aluminium head, and valve plate. The compressor comes with an induction motor and can work in heavy-duty projects.Â
As the compressor is for the plasma cutter, the bigger plasma cutter needs a compressor that has more power to handle the heavy-duty projects. Therefore, the air compressor is ideal for that kind of project.Â
- The compressor works on 120 volts,Â
- The compressor has 7 CFM at 40 PSI and 5.7 CFM at 90 PSI.
- The maximum PSI is 155.Â
- The compressor has a 30-gallon tank with a portable and vertical portable tank.Â
This is an ideal choice if you require an air compressor to make your work easier while also not requiring constant maintenance. Craftsman air compressor is an oil-free compressor. It has a 6-gallon tank and comes with an accessory kit.
Okay, other than the maintenance-free feature, it has a great advantage that is, it is weightless, you can easily carry it anywhere and can do your work. The recovery time of the compressor is faster than many.
- It has a 30lbs weight.Â
- It has a 6-gallon tank size.Â
- It is oil-free, which means it is a maintenance-free compressor.Â
- The maximum air pressure of the compressor is 150, and 2.6 SCFM @ 90 PSI.Â
- It works on 120 volts.Â
Makita air compressor is an oil-lubricated air compressor. The compressor is equipped with a Makita big bore pump cylinder and piston. It is used for higher outputs for two nailers. The compressor is an ideal choice to make if you want to put it in a quiet place, as it does not have too much sound.
The compressor delivers industrial power and results with improved durability. The wheels and handles on the compressor are foldable and make it easier to transport. It is powered by 3 HP motors and has built-in thermal for protection. The compressor has a fast recovery time. It is designed for harsh environments too.Â
- The compressor has a cylinder and piston and a faster recovery time.
- The compressor has 3 HP motors.
- It has 6.5 CFM at 90 PSI.Â
- Its pump is oil-lubricated.
- It has wheel folding handles to make it easy for transportation.Â
Metabo HPT pancake compressor is reinventing the use of compressors with tanks at job sites. The compressor is compact and portable with leading PSI and 40 weight. Even though the compressor is lightweight, it can still pack more pressure.Â
The compressor has the capability for framing, roofing, and siding crew. The air compressor tank can store a lot of air, and the compressor can run simultaneously. The compressor can do 18 Ga brad nailers at 200 PSI and 4 CFM at 90 PSI.Â
- Compressors offer 25% more PSI than basic ones at 200 PSI.Â
- 4 CFM at 90 PSI.Â
- Simutanerlousy can run 2-framing nailers and 2-roofing nailers or even 2-sliding nailers.Â
- It can run 3-finish nailers or 5-brad nailers.Â
- It can work continuously
- The compressor is lightweight, only 41 lbs.Â
- It is a 6-gallon tank.
Do you want a compressor to do heavy-duty work? Then the industrial air compressor will be the ideal choice as it is specifically designed for heavy projects. They work in mechanic shops, service trucks, or even livestock.Â
The compressor is designed to last in the most demanding or toughest circumstances. There is a cast iron, two cylinders, and the compressor is oil-lubricated. The compressor for the plasma cutter will help the heavy project because of its 60-gallon tank, which will help do heavy projects.Â
- Cast iron cylinder.Â
- Aluminium head, Valve plate.
- Automatic style ball bearings.
- Stainless steel reed valves.
- Oil sight glass, Easily accessible oil.
- 60-gallon tank, Pressure Gauge.
- 155 PSI, with 240 volts.Â
- Heavy-duty induction motor.
What is a Plasma Cutter, And What is the Purpose?
A plasma cutter is a highly useful tool because of its wide applications. The plasma cutters are expensive, dangerous, or even bulky. However, modern plasma cutters are easy to use because of their portability and modern design.Â
Why itâ€™s called a Plasma Cutter? Itâ€™s because it used Hot plasma (4th state of matter) for cutting metals. Why itâ€™s used? To avoid moisture in the cutter.Â
Plasma cutters require add-ons gears to function properly; one is an air compressor and another one is a filtering system. The purpose of the dryer or filter is to make the tool dry, and the air compressor is used to provide the air pressure the plasma cutter needs so that one can complete his/her project effectively.Â
The purpose of the plasma is to cut very clean and neat metals. The range of the application is a hundredfold. It is because of its high speed and precision cuts.Â
The plasma cutter is used in fabrication shops: for automatic repair or restoration, industrial use, and scrapping operations. The smaller plasma cutter can be used in hobbyist shops or for individuals to create intricate metal artwork.
Factors to Consider In an Air Compressor For Plasma Cutter
Selecting the compressor that will be perfect for a plasma cutter that is suitable for it needs some requirements. Make sure you consider some factors before buying a compressor for your plasma cutter to ensure it will work well.Â
Those factors that you must check in your compressor while selecting it are:
CFM stands for cubic feet per minute. It is used to measure the velocity at which the air is flowing. It is used in the context of measuring airflow. CFM measures the air through the sanitization machines or the purifier.Â
In compressors, it shows the pressurization of the inlet volume, which means the higher the CFM, the more air will flow through the system. In simple terms, the higher the CFM, the more air flows. The compressors need 6 CFM at around 90 PSI to work easily.Â
CFM Requirements of Plasma Cutter
Small plasma cutter
The small units will be used for lighter works, so there is a need for less CFM. The small plasma cutters are portable, and they do not have built-in air compressors, so they will only need a compressor with a CFM of around 4-5.Â
Medium plasma cutter
The air compressor that the medium plasma cutter needs are the air compressor which can be 6 CFM. Although every system has different CFM’s 6 CFM is a general which they need.Â
Large plasma cutter
The large plasma is used in industrial usage. So they need to be heavy-duty, and to work, they need 7-8 CFM. If the work is even more heavy-duty, you can use 9 CFM compressors. The bigger the plasma cutter will be, it will require more CFM.Â
Also, it depends on the air compressor you are using. If you use the compressor with a 60-gallon tank, you will need around 10.7 CFM. The compressor with the 40-gallon tank will require 18.7 CFM.Â
The large plasma cutter will need a heavy-duty compressor, and that compressor will be big, and also they will need large tanks.Â
PSI stands for pounds per square. It is a unit. It is used in many pressure measuring applications. I am used for tire pressuring, fuel storage, distribution, and other measuring activities. It is used for non-SI industrial or technical purposes.Â
The higher PSI can help you store more air in the tank. This means the higher the PSI, the more easily it can store air in the tank, and it helps to run the tool longer. It is the amount of pressure the air can deliver.Â
Air Compressor Tank size
In compressors, tanks are used to store air. Other than that, they do not have any other importance. The motor and pump should be big for the compressors to produce more air and store it in the tank.Â
The tanks, which are 1-6 gallons, are okay if the project you are doing does not require continuous use of air. Such as, nailers need a lot of air to operate. The larger tanks obviously will store a lot more air and will work longer, and you will be able to do your work continuously.Â
For Plasma cutters, we recommend you to have 6 Gallon to 30 Gallons based on your plasma cutter size. If you aren’t using the cutter for long cuts, you can use small compressors. Small or medium-sized cuts will only need a 30-gallon air compressor at 5 CFM.Â
Compressors should have a good motor as it helps to produce a large amount of air to store in the tank or to use it. Compressors work with three face induction motors. There are three types by which they are powered: electricity, diesel, or natural gas.Â
The motor works to provide power to the head of the compressor. After it, the compressor compresses the air and either store it in the tank or directs it to the airline. You can say that the motor is like the heart of the compressors.Â
Typically, compressors have a voltage of around 160-260 Volts at 50 Hz. If you have 220 volts, the range of the compressor has to be re-adjusted to the value of 140-220 volts. For example, if you have 110 volts, the range needs to be 90-140.Â
The voltages usually depend on the size of the compressor. Small compressors have 110V. And the larger compressors come with the choice of 110-460 volts. The plasma cutter needs air and electricity to work.Â
Noise level consideration of the compressors is dependent on the user and its circumstances. If you are in a quiet location, you need to choose a quieter compressor.Â
If you do not have any noise issues, you can choose any compressors without considering noise. However, you should still consider it. Otherwise, you will find it difficult to tolerate the noise.Â
Portability means easy to carry or easy to transfer. Therefore, the compressor should be lightweight and easily portable in this scenario. The moveable compressors make our work easy.
The compressors are the ability to be transported easily. According to your choice and requirements, decide the portability of the compressor. You can either move it with your hands or use it on the road to inflate tires.Â
How much air pressure does it take to run a plasma cutter?
How much pressure is needed to run a plasma cutter? Firstly it will depend on the size of the plasma and the air compressor. When choosing a compressor, always choose the one capable of delivering more pressure than the requirement.Â
The reason for that is this will help you to ensure you have stored pressure. Choosing an air compressor should never be done based on whether the plasma requires 4 CFM and the compressor produces 4 CFM.
This will end up you not being able to continue your work and have to, again and again, stop to let it recover its pressure, and this will be the biggest interruption in your work.Â
The air pressure necessary for a torches operation is 55-60 psi on most Everlast models. Low amperage cuttings require lower pressure for better stability â€“ some maybe 45 psi or more.
Selecting the right and best air compressor for a plasma cutter is a crucial part. It is because the cutter requires an air compressor to function properly. Many brands have the ideal compressors for the plasma cutter, but it also depends on the work you are going to do with it.Â
Compressors should have a larger tank size if the user needs plasma for heavy-duty work. In addition to storing and producing more pressure, the large tank size of the compressor will simplify the job. The size of the plasma cutter also defines the compressor you should choose.Â
There are many factors the user needs to consider while buying the compressor for the plasma cutter, portability, noise level, voltages according to their location, motor that helps to make the compressor work easily.Â
How big of an air compressor do you need to run a plasma cutter?
If you want to buy a compressor, the bigger it is, the better. It is recommended to buy a compressor that has 1.5 times the CFM of your cutter. You should choose a compressor with 6 CFM if your plasma cutter requires 4 CFM.Â
The higher CFM will help you save time and pressure, and there will be no interruption between your work. Manufacturers usually claim that their compressors can produce 5 CFM, but in reality, they can only generate 4 CFM.Â
If you aren’t using the cutter for long cuts, you can use small compressors. Small or medium-sized cuts will only need a 30-gallon air compressor at 5 CFM.Â
Can you run a plasma cutter off an air compressor?
Yes, the compressor needs a plasma cutter to work, mostly it needs. Although some cutters have a built-in compressor, they still need a compressor as it stores pressure in the tank and helps make your work easy and efficient.Â
The compressor helps the cutter to work. It depends on the size of the plasma cutter and how much of the big compressor you will need.Â
Do I need a compressor for a plasma cutter?
Does the user need an air compressor for the plasma cutter? Yes. The compressor is needed for the plasma cutter. Plasma cutters come with built-in compressors, but you can also use gas cylinders. However, the plasma needs a sufficient amount of air to work.Â
How much pressure will we need? A plasma cutter’s size is determined by how big the compressor is and how big the compressors are. Because what you want to do with the plasma cutter is the main focus.Â
Hamza is a founder of Compressors Insights. He is an Electrical Engineer having strong experience in Technical and Power tools. He has been helping electricians, and HVAC technicians regarding tool selection, and how to use power tools (Compressors, Pressure Washers, Multimeters, etc)