Plasma Cutter Vs. Welder

A plasma cutter and a welder are two different machines with different purposes, but they have several similarities, which make people mistake one for the other. They both require gas to form an electric arc. Both of them can cut metals, but a plasma cutter makes cleaner and smoother cuts and it is easier to operate.

Although a welder can also make cuts, it is actually designed to melt and weld metals. A welder is used to join metals together. This article is about plasma cutter vs. welder because it is meant to compare a plasma cutter to a welder.

If you’re interested in knowing the differences between a plasma cutter and a welder, sit back and read the article to the end. You might be able to learn a thing or two.

7 Differences Between A Plasma Cutter And A Welder:

1. Their Major Function

Even though both of them can be used to cut metals, only a plasma cutter is designed mainly to cut through metal sheets. As its name implies, a welder is designed to melt and join sheets of metal together.

2. A Welder Cuts Only Light Metal

Yes, we know that welders can cut metal, but they can’t cut all kinds of metal. A welder can only cut thin and light metal like aluminum. On the other hand, a plasma cutter can cut thick metal. In fact, a plasma cutter can handle a 2-inch-thick metal sheet.

3. Technology

A plasma cutter produces plasma by blowing gas into the nozzle at high speed. This produces an electric arc that makes cuts. The beauty of this technology is that it can cut through metal without heating the metal.

The technology of welders is known as Metal Inert Gas (MIG). It welds by performing gas metal arc welding.

4. Metal Compatibility

A plasma cutter can easily cut through metals like steel alloys, stainless steel, and mild steel. And welders can cut metals like steel and aluminum.

5. Quality Of Cuts

Since it is designed to cut metals, a plasma cutter produces better, smoother, and cleaner cuts with little or no dross, and its cutting speed is fast. Using a welder to make cuts requires more effort, and the cuts are not so impressive. Nevertheless, if you have a welder, and you won’t be making a lot of cuts, you can make do with your welder.

6. Setting

We have tried to set up both machines, and we can tell you that a plasma cutter is easier and more straightforward to set up. If you have never used a plasma cutter before, you should be able to set it up after going through its manual. On the other hand, a welder is a little more complicated to set up. You may still need the assistance of a professional welder even after reading the manual. And if you don’t set it up properly, its finish may not be appealing.

7. Efficiency

A plasma cutter cuts more efficiently. It has a higher cutting speed than a welding machine. Remember, both of them are powered by electricity. The longer it takes to make a cut, the more power your machine will consume. So, it is logical to say that a welder consumes more power than a plasma cutter for cutting, while a plasma cutter gives better cutting results.

We will conclude this section by saying both of them are necessary. If you’re a professional metal fabricator, you’ll do a lot of metal cutting and welding, and you must do them perfectly. So, you should strive to have both machines. Use a welder for welding and a plasma cutter for cutting.

Is A Plasma Cutter A Welder?

Although a plasma cutter is not a welder, you can weld with it. You can connect your plasma cutter to a welding torch, and begin to weld. To do that, you need to connect the shielding gas, which is usually argon. You’ll connect it to the regulator at the top of the shielding gas cylinder.

Now, you can connect the torch and connect the ground clamp. If you’re not an expert, we’ll suggest you seek the assistance of a pro on this.

Is An Arc Welder The Same As A Plasma Cutter?

No, an arc welder is not the same as a plasma cutter, but you can use a plasma cutter for arc welding because it produces an electric arc. And if you already have an arc welder, you can use it to make cuts. In fact, if you don’t make tons of cuts, you’re okay with using your arc welder to cut metal sheets.

If you want to convert your arc welder to a cutter, you need copper tubing, carbon electrode, brass hardware, drill, tap & die, brass jet, zip ties, and air compressor.

Can A Plasma Cutter Cut Welds?

Yes, you can use a plasma cutter to cut welds as long as the welds are not thicker than 2 inches. This is because plasma cutters cannot cut any metals that are thicker than 2 inches easily. However, if the welds are not up to 2 inches in thickness, you can be sure that your plasma cutter can easily handle them.

Can You Heat Metal With A Plasma Cutter?

No, plasma cutters are not designed to heat metal sheets. Plasma cutters use gases to create an electric arc with which it cuts through all kinds of metal. You can’t use it to heat metal. A welder is better at heating and melting metal sheets. This is why a welder is a better choice for welding.

Safety Precautions:

  1. It is necessary to protect your eyes from arc rays by using a face shield or a pair of goggles.
  2. Protect your skin from the rays by wearing clothes the cover all your body and wear thick gloves too.
  3. If you’re working at home, ensure your work area is inaccessible to your kids and pets. You don’t want them to run into you while using your plasma cutter.
  4. Take the time to study the user manual before using your plasma cutter.
  5. Wear protective shoes to protect your legs too.
  6. The use of plasma cutters can generate a lot of heat, so your shop has to be well-ventilated.
  7. To prevent a fire, make sure all flammable objects are kept at a distance from your plasma cutter.

Final Thoughts

Even though both of them can be used to cut metals, a plasma cutter and a welder are not the same. They are different. A welder is designed to make great welds, while a plasma cutter makes great cuts. If you are a professional metal fabricator, you’ll make tons of welds and cuts. So, we’ll advise you to get the two appliances.