Powermax45 XP plasma cutter setup video

Posted on 03/04/2016 in Setup and support, Plasma cutting

The powermax45 XP is a highly versatile and powerful plasma cutter designed to use either a handheld or mechanized torch for cutting, gouging, and marking metal. The system is easy to setup and operate, but please be sure to follow all safety instructions mentioned in the operator manual and illustrated on the label on found on the top of the system. It is extremely important that operators fully understand and follow prevention methods to guard against electrical shock and protect skin, ears, lungs, and eyes.

Since there are so many variables in setting up the Powermax45 XP for mechanized applications this video will focus on handheld operations which are the most common for this model.

Setting up the plasma cutter with the Duramax lock handheld torch can be done in 6 steps.

  1. Install the consumables onto the torch. Start by inserting the swirl ring, then the electrode, followed by the nozzle. Screw the retaining cap on until finger tight, then add the drag shield.

  2. Slide the torch disable switch forward to the green position.

  3. Attach the torch to the power supply.

  4. Depending on the installation or the model purchased, an air fitting may need to be installed. If this is the case, then refer to the operator manual for sealant information and torque values. Once the air fitting is installed, attach the gas hose. The gas can be compressed air, bottle air, nitrogen, F5, or argon for marking applications. Compressed air should be filtered to remove all dirt, water, and oil because contaminants can damage the power supply. The torch and consumables minimum gas pressure for cutting is 85 PSI or 5.9 bar, and should not exceed 135 PSI 9.3 bar.

  5. Attach to work lead to the power supply and to the metal to be cut. Rust paint or coatings must be removed to ensure that the clamp has a good electrical contact. The clamp should never be attached to the portion of the metal that will fall away.

  6. Plug the power cord into the proper receptacle then power on the system. Depending on the model, the installation of a plug may be required, or the system may be hardwired to a power source. This electrical work must be done by a licensed electrician.

  7. The Powermax45 XP plasma cutter is now set up for handheld cutting!

On the plasma cutter control panel, there only two adjustments needed for operation. output current and mode selection.

To adjust the output current, simply turn the knob to the right to increase the amperage, and to the left to decrease. The output range is from 10 to 45 amps.

To select the operating mode (cutting or gouging) press the mode button to toggle between the two processes. By default, the display shows the output current.

Adjust the gas pressure by pressing the mode button while turning the knob to manually adjust the gas pressure for the operating mode that's active. The display changes from showing output current, to gas pressure while the button is depressed.

To change how the gas pressure is displayed (PSI or bar) press and hold the mode button for about 15 seconds until then we'll switch pressure is from PSI to bar, or bar to PSI.

Unlike its predecessor, the Powermax45 XP plasma cutter has Smart Sense Technology. So, it will automatically adjust the air pressure, factoring in the torch lead length and the operating mode. This ensures the system is always set up correctly.

In the event there's an error with the system the display may show a fault code and one or multiple LEDs will illuminate. If this happens refer to the troubleshooting section in the operator manual for more information.

Cutting 5/8 inch 16 mm metal

  1. The operating mode will be set to cutting.

  2. The output current set 45 amps.
    • If cutting thin metal - the output current should be lowered for improved consumable life and cut quality.

  3. To perform an edge start, hold the torch vertically just off the edge of the workpiece.

  4. Check the torch disable switch to see if it is green (which means, ‘ready to fire’).

  5. Flip up the black safety trigger forward, and press the red torch trigger. The torch will the multiple puffs of air in quick succession, this is an audible indication that the next time the torch trigger is pressed the torch will become active and will fire an arc.
    Note: This will only happen after engaging the torch disable switch or unscrewing the consumables.

  6. Press the trigger again to start the pilot arc, which will transfer to the workpiece and become the cutting arc.

  7. Pause at the edge until the arc is completely cut through the workpiece, then proceed holding the torch tip perpendicular to the workpiece.
    Note: Maintaining the proper travel speed is key to successful cutting.

  8. Watch the arc beneath the plate. It should exit the workpiece at between a 15 to 30 degree angle.
    • If the sparks are perpendicular to the workpiece, then the speed is too slow.
    • If the Sparks are spraying up from the work piece, then the speed is too fast or the system does not have sufficient power.

  9. To ensure a complete cut (particularly on metal that is 5/8 of an inch thick or greater) when nearing the edge, angle the torch by lifting the handle but keeping the tip on the metal. That allows the arc to come out first before the tip reaches the end of the piece.

A torch cutting guide straight edge or template can be an aid to the Cutting process. However, the distance from the shield center to the edge must be factored in when creating a template for placement of a cutting guide.

Bevel Cutting

If making a bevel cut, the material thickness increases proportionally with the bevel angle which should be factored in what determining the torch travel speed and amperage output.


To start a cut that is away from the edge of the metal requires that the work piece be pierced. The piercing capability of a system is typically half the maximum cut capacity depending on the thickness of the metal being pierced.

There are three piercing methods:

  1. To pierce thin metal, hold the torch on the metal and press the trigger to transfer the arc.

  2. If piercing thick metal, hold the torch at an angle so that the nozzle is within 1/8 inch from the workpiece. Press the trigger to transfer the arc, then slowly rotate to an upright position.

  3. If the gouge you left from the previous rolling technique is not desired, then hold the torch about 1/2 inch above the metal and press the trigger to transfer the arc. Once the arc has penetrated the metal, place the torch on the surface and proceed to cut.
    Note: It's recommended that the rolling technique be used on thick metal to minimize damage to the consumables caused by the blowback of molten metal.

Cutting Expanded Metal

To cut expanded metal, or metal with a lot of holes or gaps, simply follow the same procedure as outlined for plate cutting.


(for removing unwanted metal or weld)

  1. Slide the torch disable switch to the yellow position.

  2. Install the maximum control gouge nozzle and gouge shield.

  3. Slide the torch disable switch to the green position.

  4. Press the mode button so the gouge LED illuminates. To get a wide diffused arc for gouging, keep the current output set at 45 amps.

  5. Hold the torch at approximately a 40 degree angle from the workpiece with a small gap between the torch tip and the workpiece.

  6. Press the trigger to activate the torch, then again to transfer the arc.

  7. Maintain this angle and move the torch along the workpiece to remove unwanted metal or weld.

More metal can be removed by making another pass or using a weaving technique. For different gouge profiles, the output amperage, torch angle, torch to work stand off, torch speed, and gouging nozzle type all have an effect. Refer to the gouging section in the operator manual for detailed information.

If a narrower arc is desired, lower the current output. If lowering to 25 amps or less, then we recommend using the optional Precision gouging nozzle and shield which are sold separately.

This specialized part is ideal for applications where precise amounts of metal are to be removed, such as around spot-welds, marking for part identification, score lines for bend or weld locations, and creating dimples for drill starts.

Cutting gouge quality, as well as consumable life, are very important factors for operators. There are a number of things that will determine cut and gouge quality, as well as how long the consumables will last. Air quality, piercing technique, length of cutter gouge, operator skill, material thickness, and material type all play a role in consumable life. Cut and gouge quality is not only affected by operator skill, but also by the condition of the consumables, the use of correct consumable parts for the operating mode, and the proper overall system maintenance (including its gas filter).

Hypertherm offers a variety of specialty consumables unique hand and machine torches, cutting or gouging aides, and personal protective equipment which are designed to enable you to complete the jobs faster, better, and safer.

For more information about these and other Hypertherm products, please contact an authorized distributor or visit our website at https://www.hypertherm.com/.

On our site there are how to videos that were produced to help you get the most use out of your plasma cutter in a variety of applications. You can also register your system online now by clicking here.

Thank you from all of us at Hypertherm for purchasing and using our Powermax45 XP plasma cutter!




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