Plasma cutters emerge out to be one of the powerful and most effective tools to cut metals of equal thickness. Plasma cutters are adapted to cut and shape metal sheets and give them proper angles through localized heated cones.
The process comprises channels of superheated ions aided by a compressed gas that can be oxygen or inert gas from the nozzle at high speed. An electrical circuit is formed that produces sufficient heat to melt the metal.
Modifications have been made in plasma cutters to obtain more effective, efficient, and powerful results.
One of those modifications is the use of an air compressor.
To obtain desirable results, an air compressor with 80 PSI is highly recommended as it has the capability of adjusting pressures and giving full-fledged edges.
Why I need an air compressor
Plasma cutters require air pressure to accomplish cutting in two stages. In the first stage, the metal is converted to a melted state. In the second stage, air at pressure burst out from the compressor to give a final cut to the metal.
Without an air compressor, the final stage of plasma cutting may not be perfectly achieved. Therefore, you need an air compressor to provide a sufficient blast of pressurized air to the plasma cutter.
1. How Big an Air Compressor should be for a Plasma Cutter?
While going to buy an air compressor the bigger the better rule is worth working. Air compressors are specially designed with different tank sizes for DIY tasks or heavy-duty work. If you want to operate your heavy-duty pneumatic tool without interruption due to lack of air pressure, then you need an air compressor big enough to complete the duty cycle. However, if you are dealing with plasma cutting for DIY, then air compressors with a small tank can benefit you more.
2. How much CFM should be for the best Air Compressor?
CFM ( cubic feet per minute) is a vital specification on the basis of which you can select the best air compressor.
Usually, manufacturers rate their air compressors with relative inflated values. For example, an air compressor claiming of producing 5CFM can work at its best for 4CFM.
Ideally, you will select an air compressor of 6CFM at 90 psi to manage your cuttings without interruption due to a lack of air pressure.
3. Do you need an Air Filter for your Air Compressor when using it with Plasma Cutter?
For maintenance and longevity, yes!
Definitely excess of air and moisture particulates sent to your plasma cutter will be washed out with air filter. This can enhance and improve your cutting quality of plasma cutter and improve fine cut endings.
- 1 Comparison Table – Editor’s Top picks 2020
- 2 Buying Guide For Air Compressor
- 3 6 Best Air Compressor for Plasma Cutting – Review Guide 2020
- 3.1 1. PORTER-CABLE C2002 | Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor
- 3.2 2. CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor | 6 Gallon Pancake Oil-Free Compressor Review
- 3.3 3. California Air Tools 8010 Ultra Quiet | 8 Gallon Oil free Air Compressor Review
- 3.4 4. Puma Industries PK-6060V Air Compressor | Single stage air compressor Review
- 3.5 5. Industrial Air ILA3606056 60-Gallon Single Stage Cast Iron Twin Cylinder Air Compressor | Heavy duty plasma cutting Air compressor Review
- 3.6 6. Campbell Hausfeld Air Compressor | 6 gallon quiet and portable
- 4 Conclusion
Comparison Table – Editor’s Top picks 2020
Buying Guide For Air Compressor
The following are the points to keep in mind while buying the best air compressor for plasma cutters.
It is an easy way of determining the size of the compressor you need for plasma cutting. A 5HP compressor drawing 24 amps is highly rated for operating plasma cutters without any interruption in delivering air.
2. Maximum PSI
Usually, an 8-gallon tank with 80 PSI can operate your pneumatic tool with a maximum tendency of keeping a continuous supply of air without any break.
3. Air Compressor Tank Size
Does this matter? Not at all. The Air compressor tank does not produce air, it only stores air. If air production is at the maximum rate, the storage or size of the tank doesn’t matter at all.
4. Duty Cycle
You must check the duty cycle before considering any air compressor. It is usually expressed in percentage. It tells how early the compressor will run out of a 10 minutes period. Industrial compressors with a 75% duty cycle are highly suggested. The duty cycle with 100% will heat up quickly and will stop working.
Usually, an air compressor needs to cool down before you ignite it again. Most of the reviews about cutters suggest 35 duty cycles at 15 Amps and 50% duty cycle at 12 Amps.
Always prefer air compressor with quick bounce back property for your heavy load of plasma cutting.
5. Power Consumption
Plasma cutters utilize different voltage inputs. The most powerful machine can operate at 240 Volts with the generation of 30 Amps output power.
For cutting ⅛ inch steel sheets, you need a smaller 120 V machine that can generate 15 Amps that are sufficient for a fine cut.
How much power you require solely depends upon the nature of your task. The greater power generation is required where you run a plasma cutter all day for some heavy industrial work.
6. Warranty and Life Expectancy
Not all air compressors get a strong back of warranty. Claiming any broken or malfunctioned machine may not be accepted by some of the manufacturers, blaming consumers to be responsible for the claimed fault. So you cannot invest randomly in any air compressor.
To make it convenient for you, we have mentioned some of the most reliable products that have a warranty of their machine and you can claim an easily refund if there are wear and tear.
7. Life Expectancy
Air compressors with iron cylinder casting have greater life expectancy durability and will also save your money eventually.
6 Best Air Compressor for Plasma Cutting – Review Guide 2020
Here we go with our selected air compressors list:
1. PORTER-CABLE C2002 | Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor
- 150 psi max tank pressure stores more air in the tank for longer tool run times
- 2.6 SCFM at 90 psi allows for quick compressor recovery time, per ISO1217
- Six-gallon pancake-style tank for stability, includes water drain valve and rubber feet
- Low-amp 120-volt motor starts easily in cold weather or with extension cord
- 150 psi max tank pressure stores more air in the tank for longer tool run times
Top of the list choice by Tools insights Editor, with high demanding reviews. Let’s look into it:
This porter-cable pancake-style air compressor is a user choice for multi-purpose. It can be filling tires, firing nailers, and plasma cutting. It has a 165 psi max air pressure which is a sufficient amount of pressure for plasma cutting activities and the air tank stores more amount of air for long-lasting tool run time.
It has got built-in automatic thermal overload protection, and a high-flow air regulator allows a higher pressure for a quick recharge of its six-gallon tank, giving the flexibility to take on a variety of jobs done.
The oil-free pump features leaving you without maintenance problems. It has two regulated air couplers for supporting two users at a time which makes it more efficient and also saves a lot of time. The 120v motor can start quickly in any weather conditions.
The two pressure gauges give a good view of incoming and outgoing pressure. The console cover over the motor protects its main component.
This compressor has only 31.3lb weight it also has a water drain valve. It is highly portable you will find no difficulty carrying it from place to place. The rubber feet show no harm to any surface while moving.
2. CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor | 6 Gallon Pancake Oil-Free Compressor Review
- 6 gallon pancake maximizes portability and stored air
- Durable, Oil free pump for long life and no maintenance
- 150 Max PSI to ensure adequate cut in pressure for a variety of applications
- 2. 6 SCFM @ 90 PSI allows for quick compressor recovery time. Voltage - 120 V
- Easily starts up in cold weather
One of the best air compressors for plasma cutting made by craftsmen. It has a maximum of 150 psi which makes it able for a variety of jobs. It is also one of the best for plasma cutting activities.
Its quick recovery time and efficiency make it unique from other compressors surrounding. It has an oil-free pump so no maintenance issue to worry about. This pancake-style unit supports two users at once because of its dual coupler.
The two pressure gauges show a nice pressure view and the precious parts are protected by hard console covering. It is one of the quick starters in cold weather conditions.
The 6-gallon tank store enough air to maintain the long run time of air devices.
It 30 lbs lightweight makes it easy to carry without any fatigue inside or outside the workplace. It has a one year warranty which ensures more customer satisfaction.
Note: offers brand nailer, hand tools set and accessory kit you can purchase one of them with this compressor separately.
3. California Air Tools 8010 Ultra Quiet | 8 Gallon Oil free Air Compressor Review
- Ultra Quiet only 60 Decibels. Low Amp Draw - 8.5 Amps. Time to fill tank from empty to full - 165 Seconds
- Oil-Free Pump for Less Maintenance & Costs; Comes complete with Wheel Kit & Air Filter
- Powerful 1.0 HP (Rated / Running) 2.0 HP (Peak) Motor
- 3.00 CFM at 40 PSI - 2.20 CFM at 90 PSI
- Maximum Pressure - 120 PSI
This 8-gallon air compressor with a max of 120 psi is among the best air compressors. Its unique feature is 60 decibels sound which quietest for any job environment. It has a 1hp pump the Oil-Free Dual Piston Pump feature is engineered for high performance and durability. This pump can be used at different temperatures, most of all in extremely cold conditions.
The Oil-Free Dual Piston pump is designed to have a life cycle before wear of 3000 Plus hours as compared to other comparable air compressors with life cycles of 500 hours or less. This feature makes it different from others completely.
The large air tank is made of steel and still is only 48lb, the wheel kit makes it transportable fast within no time. This tank can fill in only 130sec. We have a detailed review of compressors with silent features for our daily use.
It can recover in just 30sec from 90psi to 120psi.
4. Puma Industries PK-6060V Air Compressor | Single stage air compressor Review
- Oil lubricated, single stage cast iron pump
- Portable units feature built-in pressure regulator and quick coupler for pressure control of outlet air
- 1/2" outlet ball valve and 1/4" drain ball valve on 60 gallon vertical tank
- Single Phase induction motors with overload protection
- Steel wheels with ball bearing and no flat tires for best mobility
This the puma single-stage heavy duty compressor. It has a 3hp motor very suitable for hard works as filling, nailing, and plasma cutting projects. It has a maximum of 135 psi pressure, 60-gallon air tank, not worry about filling time. This strong tank will fill up in no time.
Best of all about its feature which I love having oil-lubricated single stage cast pump and has also built-in pressure regulator and quick coupler for outlet air pressure control.single phase induction motors is covered with overloaded protection, just as well as once twice the price.
The strong 60-gallon verticle tank has1/2″ outlet ball valve and 1/4″ drain ball valve on it.the tank has steel wheels having ball bearing in it for perfect mobility around the workplace.
Beside it is 305lb is still so quiet, you can run it on 230/1 phase voltage without having any trouble. Its maintenance is so easy can be repaired at home as well if you are an expert.
5. Industrial Air ILA3606056 60-Gallon Single Stage Cast Iron Twin Cylinder Air Compressor | Heavy duty plasma cutting Air compressor Review
- cast iron, twin cyclinder, oil lubricated pump
- one-piece cast iron crankcase and 12 inch caast iron crankcase
- 240 volt heavy duty induction motor
- splash type lubrication
- equipped with pressure gauge and on/off switch
This product of industrial air you are looking at is made for the extremely heavy-duty jobs, like cutting plasma and any type of inflation. The demanding features of this machine are that it has extra duty long-lasting components, they are built to face the toughest conditions what so ever.
This product has 3.7hp motor and a maximum of 155psi pump pressure making it one of the strongest. The pump is oil-lubricated which makes it quite and durable.
The quality features that it has a thermally stable cast iron cylindrical body, aluminum head, and valves plates, one-piece cast iron crankcase, cast iron twin cylinder, stainless steel valves, easily oil filling feature, and oil sight glass as well. Fulfilling all the needs you are searching for.
The 60-gallon strong tank has a pressure gauge and on-off switch as well.
This product has another plus point that it offers free helpline services to its valuable customers. This product satisfies DIY users and commercial users.
6. Campbell Hausfeld Air Compressor | 6 gallon quiet and portable
- Up to 50% quieter than comparable compressors, producing just 68 dBA. Half the Noise, All the Power, 4X Life
- Key components last up to four times longer; oil-Free, maintenance-free dual Piston Pump. 6 gallon, 125 Max PSI and 2.4 CFM @ 90 PSI
- The pancake design and durable, soft-grip steel handle make it easy for you to move the compressor from job to job.
- Start your projects right away by bundling with a Campbell Hausfeld impact wrench (TL140200AV), paint sprayer (DH650001AV) and hose (PA117701AV)
- Finish your projects faster and easier with Campbell Hausfeld. The Air Power Expert.
This air compressor is a pancake style having 6-gallon air capacity. This one of the silent operators having just 68 DB noise level which is 50% low as compared to other same caliber air compressors.
This one hp unit is powered by 120 v can be easily plugged into any household circuit. Besides its tiny structure, it has got a 125 psi, a high amount of pressure to run air tools like inflators, nailers, staplers, paint sprayers, and pressure washers without having any trouble.
The key feature of this air compressor is oil-free maintenance-free pumps that can operate non-stop and last up to four times more than other same units. This characteristic also improves its performance and durability.
This air compressor is just 62 lb and the soft grip steel handle makes it highly portable around the job site.
The manufacture of this compressor also offers a one-year limited warranty.
Not all air compressors are suitable to operate with plasma cutters. There are some specifications as some of them are mentioned in this article that will help you to select the best air compressor to perform flawless cuttings and fine edges. Review our best picks of 20 gall compressors for daily use.