The real beauty of a plasma cutter lies in its efficiency and effectiveness. The maximum thickness of metal a plasma cutter can cut through is what distinguishes it from others, and the higher the maximum thickness capacity, the better for you.
After testing several plasma cutters, we have realized that the maximum thickness capacity of a plasma cutter depends on its amperage. Higher amperage handles thicker metal sheets. You’ll notice the trend in this article.
One of the questions we hope to answer in this article is how thick of metal can a plasma cutter cut? We will answer it and also let you know the capacities of different amperages.
How Thick Of Metal Can A Plasma Cutter Cut?
Plasma cutters can cut up to 2-inch-thick metals. However, not all plasma cutters can achieve this. It is only sophisticated plasma cutters with about 100 amps or above. However, the thicker the metal is, the slower it is to cut through it.
How Thick Of Metal Can A 50-amp Plasma Cutter Cut?
This is a good amperage, but it may not be a good idea for a professional metal fabricator. A plasma cutter that has this amperage can cut up to 0.55 inches thick metal sheet. If you use it on a metal that is thicker, it may be able to cut through the metal but the mouth of the torch may be damaged and there may be a lot of dross. As a rule of thumb, don’t always exceed the maximum thickness capacity of your plasma cutter.
How Thick Of Metal Can A 60-amp Plasma Cutter Cut?
Since a 60-amp plasma cutter has a higher amperage than a 50-amp plasma cutter, you should expect it to handle a thicker sheet of metal. So, you should not be surprised that a 60- amp plasma cutter can handle a thickness of about 0.875 inches. In other words, a 60-amp plasma cutter can do better than 20-amp, 30-amp, 45-amp, and 50-amp plasma cutters.
A 20-amp plasma cutter can handle a thickness of 0.125 inches, while a 30-amp plasma cutter will take on a 0.375-inch-thick metal sheet. And the maximum thickness capacity of a 100-amp plasma cutter is 1.5 inches.
What Metals Cannot Be Cut With A Plasma Cutter?
You’re probably already aware that a plasma cutter cannot cut plastic and wood. But do you know that not all metals can be cut by a plasma cutter? Yes, certain metals can’t be cut by a plasma cutter and we have mentioned some of them below.
- Manganese – This metal cannot be cut by a plasma cutter because its electrical conductivity is very low.
- Bismuth – It can’t be cut because it has zero electrical conductivity.
- Lead – It splatters under the torch of a plasma cutter and it can be messy.
- Tungsten – This is a very hard metal and it requires a sophisticated, heavy-duty machine to cut it.
- Tin – This metal is difficult to cut and the results are always very poor. Not worthy of the time and efforts.
- Gallium – Low conductivity
- Indium – Low conductivity
- Thallium – Low conductivity
- Ununtrium – Low conductivity
- Ununquadium – Low conductivity
- Ununpentium – Low conductivity
- Ununhexium – Low conductivity
In addition to these metals, there are other non-metallic materials that cannot be cut by plasma cutters. The reason is simple. The materials lack electrical conductivity. These materials are:
Can You Bend Metal With A Plasma Cutter?
No, you can’t bend a metal sheet with a plasma cutter. The machine isn’t designed to bend metals. It can only engrave, cut, and carve metals. However, there are other devices that can be used to bend metals, and we think you should have one of them because metal bending is an important part of metal fabrication.
The devices used to bend metals are:
- Cornice Brake
- Box-and-pan Brake
- Press Brake
- Bar Folder
You can use a cornice brake, bar folder, or a box-and-pan brake for simple bends. If you want to make complex bends, you should opt for a press brake.
What Qualities Should I Look For In A Plasma Cutter?
Many people focus on only the price when choosing a plasma cutter. They usually go for the one with the lowest price, and many of them end up regretting their choices later on. There are several important factors to consider when choosing a plasma cutter, and here are some of them.
Input power – Some plasma cutters support only 120V, while others support only 240V. And there are plasma cutters that support both 120V and 240V. Actually, you can select the amperage that suits your power outlet in your shop. But if you intend to move from one job site to another, it may be better to buy a plasma cutter that works with both 120V and 240V.
Cutting speed – For the sake of productivity, you need to choose a plasma cutter with a higher cutting speed. Some plasma cutters can cut through half an inch in 5 minutes, while some can do the job in a single minute. Imagine if you have up to 100 metal sheets to cut. A plasma cutter that cuts in 5 minutes will take about 500 minutes (over 8 hours), while the one that cuts in 1 minute will take only 100 minutes (less than 2 hours). Can you see the difference?
Weight and size – If you plan to be mobile, portability is necessary. You should go for a small, light, and compact plasma cutter. It will be easier for you to carry it around.
As explained above, plasma cutters can cut metals up to the thickness of 2 inches. Unfortunately, a plasma cutter cannot bend metal. You need a cornice brake, bar folder, press brake, or box-and-pan brake to bend a metal sheet.
Some metals that cannot be cut by a plasma cutter are manganese, bismuth, lead, tungsten, tin, gallium, indium, thallium, ununtrium, ununquadium, ununpentium, and ununhexium. In addition, some non-metallic materials that cannot be cut by a plasma cutter are wood, plastic, glass, concrete, and ceramics.