Monday, December 14, 2009

Gianttech Plasma Cutter

As mentioned in the previous post, I have bought a plasma cutter a short while ago from the good folks at http://www.plasmametalcutter.com/. Since I only have 110 service in the garage, I had to opt for the Cut40D model (which is confusingly called the Slice40D on the face of the unit). This model features auto-switching between 110 and 220. It comes with a 220 plug on the end, but it is easy enough to switch it for a 110 style plug. I opted for the 110 20 AMP style plug.

All in all, it is a very good study unit. It slices through sheet metal like it isn't even there and so far does fine up to at least 1/4" mild steel. I haven't yet tried it out on thicker stock, but I'm not sure if it could go to a full 1/2" or not. Most of my projects are with 1/8" angle iron stock and it blasts through that with no problem. Like welding, you need to watch the safety precautions and it takes some practise to make steady cuts - especially straight lines.

The Gianttech folks I bought the unit off of were very helpful, however shipping up here to Canada took quite a while, but as a hobbyist I wasn't in a huge hurry. I also bought the package of extra consumables available for the unit since I read that these can be used up quickly. I have had to change the tip once, but I think that is because I fried it when I was learning how to use the unit. Now that I have more practise, I am not noticing much deterioration of the tip or other consumables.

I also had to upgrade my air compressor to an 8 gallon 2+ HP unit. I ended up buy this unit from Boss Tools. It is a very sturdy compressor that seems to deliver loads of pressure! While the Cut40D comes with a combination air regulator and filter, on the advice of my welding teacher, I also added in an extra filter (this item). Apparently, the drier and cleaner the air, the better the cutting and the longer the consumables will last.

Here is a quick video of the cutter in action (note that I keep calling it the "Slice40D" since that is what the face of the unit says):



I only had a couple of small issues with the unit. Like many Chinese tools, the manual was laughably short. My Lincoln Electric MIG welder came with an encyclopedia compared to the Gianttech cutter! However, what was there was adequate to get started.

Another issue was that I initially got a lot of air leakage from the hoses connecting the regulator/filter unit to the cutter. First, I replaced the hose clamps and that mostly fixed it, then I replaced the 1/4" NPT-hose barb fitting off of the regulator and that fixed it. Again, pretty small stuff, and I suppose typical of the small "fit and finish" items you find on Chinese tools (my lathe & milling machine also needed minor tweaks). For the money, I am frankly amazed with how well it works. If I were running a full welding shop, I would probably opt for a heavy duty Miller machine or something, but for a "weekend warrior" hobbyist like me it works great!

6 comments:

  1. You'll find that if you place the hose clamps over the barbs on the hose fittings it will create a good seal that will stop and prevent air leaks.
    Shipping to Canada is faster if you pay the extra dollars for Express Mail International.
    Any thoughts on what can be added to the manual would be greatly appreciated.

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  2. What I did was to buy new hose clamps and then double them up on the barbs. If you look closely on the video you can see.

    What worried me was the fitting on the air regulator - it really didn't have a long enough threaded section to engage properly and I had to buy a new 1/4 NPT to hose barb fitting to get an air tight seal. It works great now and doesn't leak a bit. On the other side of the air regulartor (the input) I have a 1/4" NPT to a compressor quick disconnect male so I can hook up my compressor easily.

    As to the manual, it does provide some useful information. What it was missing was some hints about settings for different thicknesses of metal and maybe some more general info on plasma cutting. By contrast, my Lincoln Electric Welder came with a full "how to" DVD and a booklet on how to weld!

    I've bought lots of Chinese tools and these are pretty typical minor issues and the Gianttech unit had fewer than some. My Chinese lathe & milling machine basically came with nothing and needed lots of adjusting and tweaking!

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  3. I understood everything in your post before (and including) the word "plasma". Well done.

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  4. Thanks! I did spend 10 years as a tech writer, so I should be able to explain things!

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  5. Unless, of course, you are being sarcastic! :-)

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