When you are shopping around for a used plasma cutter there are some questions that you need to have the answer to before you can make an educated decision.
Often, plasma cutters are bought at auctions without regard for the power required. Most light and medium duty plasma cutters run on 220V or 110V and the older units usually run off of generators with at least 8000 Watt outputs. If you are lucky, the plasma cutter will have automatic sensors that allow it to run either single phase or triple phase 208V to 575V. Modern plasma cutters have built in capacity to withstand power fluctuations, which most times are inevitable. A good used plasma cutter should withstand fluctuations of 20V-30V.
In order to find the best plasma cutter for you, first determine the type and thickness of metal that you will be cutting most often. The sever cut rating will tell you the thickest metal that the machine will be able to cut through. However, if you cut at the maximum of the machines ability you will probably have to do some cleanup work on the cut afterwards. The rated cut standard associated with a plasma cutter tells you the thickest metal the unit can cut at a rate of 10 inches per minute (IPM). If you are looking for fast production, the rated cut is a value that you will want to keep an eye on. The quality cut reveals the thickest metal that can be cut while still producing a good quality to finish to the cut with little or no cleanup required.
A plasma cutter’s duty cycle is displayed in minutes and it is defined as the number of minutes (10 minutes is the maximum) that the cutter can run at rated capacity without need of cooling. Used plasma cutters, as well as new ones, have their duty cycles calculated in hot environments. If you pay attention the duty cycle and you buy accordingly you should be able to use your used plasma cutter even in the dog days of summer.
Another thing to watch out for when shopping for used plasma cutters is the air requirements. Nearly all of the light- to medium-duty plasma cutters require compressed air to operate; the large industrial units require gas. Some used plasma cutters have an air compression unit built right into them so there is no need for an external supply of compressed air. If you are looking for a more powerful used plasma cutter you will likely have find an external compressed air source; between 40 and 60 PSI is the general range required for most cutting applications. You will want to make sure that the compressed air is clean and dry; it will go a long way towards keeping the machine running optimally.
If you are able to test the used plasma cutter before you buy it, do so. Make sure that all the controls are functioning and easy to use. Check all of the diagnostic lights on the machine for proper function and find out if the seller is included any consumables with the purchase.
You may also be interested in the weight of the used plasma cutter. If it is going to sit on your work bench all the time then weight is not such a big deal, but if you are going to be transporting it then you have to make sure the weight is manageable.
You have to plan for worst case scenarios, so plan for the used plasma cutter breaking down. Is the machine built by a reputable company that stands behind their product? Do they have service depots in your area in case the unit malfunctions?
You can purchase used plasma cutters online through auction sites like eBay. However, you have to make sure that the seller has a good selling reputation with many happy customers. Also, be aware that the shipping cost is usually not included in bidding price and depending on the weight of the machine shipping can be a significant chunk of change.
When shopping for used plasma cutters it is a good idea to know exactly what you are looking for. Here is a quick list of questions you should be able to answer before you buy a machine.
- Is the machine still in stable working condition?
- Are there any exposed wires and is the cable insulation worn down from use?
- Is the sever cut, rated cut, and quality cut of the machine in line with what I need?
- Is the machine still cutting cleanly?
- Does the machine have a maintenance or service history?
- Is the factory warranty still intact?
- Do I have a power source at my home or business that will match the power needs of the plasma cutter?
- What is the duty cycle of the unit?
- Are all the controls functioning properly?
- Are all the diagnostic lights functioning properly?
- Do any consumables come with the used plasma cutter?
- Are the internal components of the machine clean (this can be an indication of how well the previous owner cared for the machine)?