There are many essential tools needed to fix faulty vehicles, and a plasma cutter is certainly in this category of must-have equipment.
There are of course a variety of different plasma cutter products out there, not all of which are suitable for the needs of an auto repair shop, so let’s discuss what you can do to make the right choice when buying one yourself.
Features to look for
The advantage of metalworking in auto repairs is that the materials used are rarely more than a quarter of an inch thick. This means there’s no point picking the biggest, baddest plasma cutter on the market since it will be overkilled entirely for your purposes.
So what kind of parameters should you apply to your search? Well, you should aim for a machine that tops out at 30 amps in terms of power output. This is the sweet spot regarding cutting capability and precision because the more power involved, the harder it is to handle delicate materials with any degree of accuracy.
Another consideration is the length of the lead that attaches the cutting head of the torch to the main body of the equipment from which the power is supplied. For auto repairs, you will often need to move into all sorts of positions around a vehicle, and so the longer the lead, the less restricted you’ll be.
Then there’s the quality of the equipment itself. Don’t skimp on a plasma cutter, because you’ll be better off with a brand that caters to professionals, rather than one that’s more suited to amateur projects.
Choosing high-quality used plasma cutters
As you can buy conventional and precision plasmas on the second-hand market, you won’t have to splash out the full ticket price for a new machine.
Buying used equipment does involve a bit more research and care, of course. But so long as you order from a reputable vendor, you need not be too concerned about the condition and capabilities of the cutter you choose.
The price of second-hand plasma cutters is the most appealing aspect, and you can get a bargain on a well-known brand like Hypertherm this way.
Considering costs of ownership
There are other factors to look into when weighing up plasma cutters beyond the asking price for a given machine.
You need to know how much it will cost to maintain, and as with keeping a car in good shape, much of this comes down to the consumables. For example, things like the electrode and nozzle in a handheld cutter will degrade with use and need to be replaced, with the costs of doing so varying depending on the manufacturer and model of the cutter in question.
There’s also the durability of the cutter to take onboard, as some are able to last for longer before requiring significant maintenance. These are all things you can find out easily before you make a commitment.
Experimenting with different options
If you’ve got the opportunity to get hands-on with a plasma cutter ahead of making a purchase, you should take it.
That way you’ll be able to see how it feels to operate, and if you’re the one who is going to be using it day in, and day out then you want to ensure that it isn’t going to become an annoyance.
If you are still stuck on which plasma cutter to choose for your auto repair shop, you could always ask other professionals in this industry to give their recommendations based on their experience with similar equipment.