Plasma Cutter vs. Torch: Which One Should You Choose?

Sep 5, 2023 | Plasma Cutting Tips

Call 903-329-2791 for hypertherm plasma cutters and CNC plasma tables.

Are you at a loss on whether to choose a plasma cutter vs. torch? Why not just acquire both and save yourself the headache? But don’t worry if you’re limited to one option – we’ll help you make the right choice. 

The standard rule of thumb is to go for a cutting torch if you need to cut mild steel over an inch thick. A plasma torch is ideal for thinner ferrous metals, but you have many factors to consider before making a choice. Let’s compare plasma cutter vs. torch systems to help you decide.

How Oxy-Fuel Systems Work

The first step to choosing between a torch and a plasma cutter is understanding both cutting processes. So, how does a cutting torch work?

It adds oxygen to the flame, oxidizing the steel and turning it into slag. It’s simply a chemical reaction between steel and oxygen. The heat only accelerates the reaction.

Once the flame heats the steel up to around 1800 degrees Fahrenheit, the pressurized oxygen oxidizes and blasts away the metal. 

How Plasma Cutters Work

You probably know about only three stages of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. Water will change from ice to steam as you keep heating it, but what happens when you add more energy to steam? You’ll get plasma, which is the fourth state of matter!

plasma cutter works by sending an electric arc through a compressed gas. This process transforms the gas into plasma, which rapidly blasts through metal and cuts it at high speeds. 

The plasma jet almost instantaneously heats the material at insane temperatures of about 30,000 to 40,000 degrees Fahrenheit and speeds of 20,000 feet per second. A curtain of gas shields the cutting area to ensure a straighter and thinner cut. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing Plasma Cutters vs. Torch Oxy Fuel Systems

You need to keep several factors in mind when it comes to choosing a plasma cutter vs. torch cutting system:

  • Precision: Everyone wants a nice, neat cut that’ll save them the hassle of unnecessary clean-up. A plasma cutter leaves minimal mess compared to an oxyfuel system. The cut from a torch will often need some clean-up to make it look good.
  • Power: While your heavy-duty plasma cutter can only slice through material up to two inches thick, Oxy Acetylene can effortlessly carve through a 24-inch thick material – a whopping 1,200% thicker material!
  • Portability: Plasma cutters require electrical connections, which could potentially limit portability. On the other hand, oxy-fuel systems are among the most portable welding equipment. 
  • Cost: The up-front cost for a plasma cutter can be steep, but a torch system may cost you more over time. 

Find High-quality CNC Plasma Cutting Systems

When choosing a plasma cutter vs. torch system, it all depends on what you need. If you settle for a plasma cutter, Cyrious Metal Works has excellent options for you. 

Give us a call at 903-329-2791 for a free quote or to learn about the kind of gas a plasma cutter uses