How much is a plasma cutter? Here is what you can expect.

By Hypertherm
Posted on 03/07/2022 in SPARK the blog, Plasma cutting

If you find yourself asking “How much is a plasma cutter?” then this article is for you. The price for a plasma cutter can range from a couple hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. This price you pay will depend on the type of plasma you need – air, conventional, high-definition, or X-Definition™ – the power level, and the quality of the system you choose to purchase.

Image of Powermax family

Air plasma

The most affordable type of plasma is air plasma. Air plasma, like Hypertherm Powermax® systems, are small and lightweight and usually use compressed or bottled air as both the plasma and shield gas. This makes them extremely portable and easy to use for metal cutting and gouging. Air plasma systems have a range of cutting thicknesses, from gauge to about 1-1/2″.

Most air plasma cutters give you the option of using a handheld or machine torch. A handheld torch allows you to cut metal by hand while a machine torch is used to cut material on a XY cutting table, pipe cutter, track cutter or something similar.

How much is an air plasma cutter?

Though you can find imported air plasma cutters for as little as $200 on some online marketplaces, the cost for a professional grade system is upwards of $1,500. Our smallest plasma cutter, the Powermax30® XP, costs about $1,600. Our largest system – the Powermax125® – will cost approximately $8,000.

If you are asking how much an air plasma cutter costs, then we assume you are thinking of purchasing one. Before you do so, we recommend that you first read the following articles:

conventional plasma system in use (MAXPRO200)

Conventional plasma

Conventional plasma systems like Hypertherm’s MAXPRO200® are much larger than air plasma. How much larger? While air plasma systems are about the size of a microwave oven, conventional plasma systems are closer to the size of a kitchen stove. These systems typically use air, oxygen, or nitrogen for the plasma gas, and give you the option of using a second, different shield gas.

Price wise and performance wise, conventional plasma falls between our Powermax and high definition systems, which we’ll talk about next. You can cut faster and thicker material and will achieve slightly better cut quality than with a Powermax.

Some conventional plasma systems give you the option of using a handheld torch to cut metal by hand or a machine torch, used to cut material on a XY cutting table, pipe cutter, track cutter or something similar.

How much is a conventional plasma cutter?

Conventional plasma systems will generally range from approximately $15,000 to more than $20,000.

To learn more about conventional plasma cutting and whether this process is right for you, we recommend you read our article on Making the jump to oxygen cutting.


Image of XPR300 X-Def system in use

High-definition and X-Definition plasma

When answering the “How much is a plasma cutter?” question, high-definition and X-Definition plasma are at the top of the price range. First invented in the early nineties, high-definition plasma systems constrict the energy density of the plasma arc beyond that of conventional plasma. The end result is superior cut quality on materials up to 50 mm (2″) with excellent cut edge angularity, a narrower kerf, and higher cut speeds than conventional plasma cutting technology. It's not uncommon for these systems to achieve cut part accuracies within the +/- 0.25 mm (0.010″) range.

X-Definition plasma, the industry’s newest and most advanced plasma cutting technology, is capable of even better cut quality. When installed on a high-quality automated cutting machine, X-Definition plasma can deliver precision edge angularity that rivals laser with greater consistency. Cut speeds are also faster than other plasma types, while operating costs are lower.

Unlike air and conventional plasma, high-definition and X-Definition plasma systems are only designed for automated cutting with a machine torch, such as on a cutting table, beam line system, or a robot.

How much is a high-definition or X-Definition plasma system?

The costs for a high-definition or X-Definition plasma system can range from $50,000 to $65,000. It is important to note, however, that this cost is only for the plasma system. It does not include the cost of the cutting machine. Since high-definition and X-Definition systems are able to achieve exceptional cut quality and very fast cutting speeds, it is important that you choose a cutting machine with the appropriate motion capabilities for optimal cutting results.

To learn more about machine motion, we recommend you read Understanding how machine motion impacts the performance of X-Definition class plasma.


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