The Hobart company with their popular Hobart plasma cutter line of products has proven to be one of the few user-oriented companies in today’s market.
The company boasts innovative and easy-to-use plasma cutters. But even so, choosing one from the impressive line of products could still be an uphill task.
That’s why we have this Hobart plasma cutter review – to help you choose the best Hobart plasma cutter for sale.
Don’t have time to read the whole review? Do not worry, we have a summary table that highlights all the important features.
|Voltage/Current||Max Severance||Suitable For||Amazon Rating|
|Hobart Airforce 12ci||120V/20A||1/4 inches||Conductive metals||3.5 stars|
|Hobart Airforce 27i||120&240V / 15-27A||5/8 inches||Conductive metals||5.0 stars|
|Hobart Airforce 40i||240V/40A||5/8 inches||Conductive metals||4.8 stars|
#1.Hobart 500564 Airforce 12ci Plasma Cutter
Hobart’s Airforce 12ci is an improved version of the 250ci from the same company. Compared to its predecessor, this newer model is more reliable for completing cutting work, especially light projects.
The machine uses compressed air and an electric arc to make cuts through metal materials. That combo results in a faster and more efficient cut than if you use oxy-fuel.
What about its cut rating? The manufacturer rates it for 1/8-inch materials. It has a maximum severance of ¼ inches.
The Airforce 12ci will cut through 1/8-inch materials like a hot knife through butter. But it becomes slower as the thickness of the material increases. Still, it will cut through 3/16 and ¼-inch materials fairly well.
That goes for all conductive materials like steel, copper, aluminum, brass etc. Regardless of the material, you’re working with, this Hobart plasma cutter features a pilot arc that initiates the cutting process.
The mechanism ensures that the tip of the cutter doesn’t come into direct contact with the material being cut. Ultimately it helps save the nozzle from burnout and consumables from getting used up faster. Plus it makes it easier to work on rough, corroded and painted materials.
Construct of the Airforce 12ci Hobart Plasma Cutter
It’s not just in performance where the Hobart Airforce 12ci impresses. The machine features a pretty solid construction too. For starters, it is designed for the most intense of works and harsh environments.
With a special thermal protection, the machine is rated at 104 degrees Fahrenheit. In case it overheats due to high external temperature, excess duty cycle or blocked airflow it will automatically shut off to prevent delicate parts from damage.
Chances are the cutter won’t need to get to the point of shutting down because it actually has a very nice cooling system. Integrated into the unit is a post-flow cooling system. While it keeps the whole unit cool, it does so more for the tip and torch.
Those two parts need a higher level of protection from high temperature for them to last longer. Generally, the whole nozzle and its components only take about 30 seconds to cool down completely.
Who is it built for?
This Hobart plasma cutter is perfect for DIY enthusiasts and beginner technicians. If you enjoy doing projects that involve cutting metals you will love this unit. The same goes for professional mechanics who are just starting the trade.
Its simplicity in usage is a testament to that. For instance, you don’t even need to set the pressure, it’s already preset. Plus the machine has a built-in troubleshooter that will alert you in case of such issues as overheating, torch readiness and the general status.
Even better, it runs on the standard household voltage and current of 120V and 20A. That makes it usable in the garage or pretty much anywhere around the home or a small workshop.
• Has a built-in air compressor, you don’t need to buy an external one.
• Compact and lightweight. Measures 16.5 x 18.5 and weighs 31 pounds.
• Makes very accurate cuts.
• Built-in cooling mechanism ensures durability.
• Comes with some preset settings for ease of use.
• Uses 120V power only, not compatible with 240/220V.
• Relatively louder than some other models in the market.
• The package doesn’t include extra consumables despite the fact that it uses them very fast.
While it may not be perfect, the Hobart Airforce 12ci plasma cutter is definitely a worthy addition to your work tools. It is easy to use, cuts materials accurately and quickly, works on several types of metals, is portable and above all ideal for light works.
With this Hobart plasma cutter, you will be able to get a lot of things done. And it comes complete with everything you need. That includes a plasma torch, 12-foot torch lead, power cord, 115V plug, work clamp with a 12-foot cable, two tips, and an electrode.
The only thing you will need to purchase separately is an extra set of consumables.
#2. Hobart 500565 Airforce 27i Plasma Cutter
Running 15 to 27 amps, the Hobart 500565 Airforce 27i plasma cutter is a powerful, versatile and lightweight machine with lots to offer. Fitted with a multi-voltage plug (MVP), you can connect it to either a 120V or 240V power source. It will automatically sense the voltage and turn it into metal-cutting power.
Speaking of which, this Hobart plasma cutter cuts virtually all conductive metals. That includes stainless steel, mild steel, alloy steel, copper, aluminum etc. The machine can cut 3/8-inch materials and has a severance rate of 5/8.
While the cutting ability is quite impressive, even more outstanding is the accuracy. This Hobart plasma cutter is able to make precise cuts with thin kerfs and little to no slag. That boils down to its modern XT30R plasma torch and XT tip.
Ultimately, the functionality of the cutter means you can use it in your DIY or semi-pro projects. It is particularly a handy tool for engine driven welders.
Construct of the Airforce 27i Hobart Plasma Cutter
And it’s not just the performance that will impress you, its construction will definitely pick your interest as well. While most of the body is made of heavy-gauge steel, a few parts are made of aluminum and fire-resistant plastic. The combination ensures that the Hobart plasma cutter is durable and also portability.
Inside the machine is a fan that runs on demand. It will run only when needed; which is basically when there are dust and debris in the unit. The fan, together with the wind tunnel technology used, prevents dust particles from damaging internal components.
Additionally, there’s a post-flow air cooling system that prevents overheating even when you take the machine through excess duty cycle. And if it does overheat it will automatically turn off thanks to a thermal overload protection switch.
Another safety feature that you will like is the protective trigger guard. It ensures that you don’t accidentally press the trigger. You have to lift it first before pressing the trigger.
Finally, this Hobart plasma cutter features a cable management strap that lets you wrap its wires safely and neatly. Besides making it safer, the strap makes it easy to carry the whole machine.
Who is it built for?
The biggest selling point of the Airforce 27i Plasma Cutter is perhaps its unmatched combination of functionality and usability. While it is efficient at cutting conductive metals, it is also very easy to set up.
That makes it ideal for DIYers and beginner professional welders. You don’t need some special skills other than knowledge on using plasma cutters. Once you’ve plugged the unit to power and connected its compressed air supply it will be good to go.
• Comes with a 5-year warranty
• Features inverter design
• Uses 120V or 240V power inputs
• Built with an efficient cooling mechanism and thermal overload protector
• Compact and portable size
• Needs a separate air compressor
• Uses consumables relatively faster than high-end models
• Doesn’t come with extra consumables
Despite the few cons, the Airforce 27i is one amazing Hobart plasma cutter. If you have some home-based projects to complete you may want to consider adding it to your shopping list.
In addition to its ability to cut virtually all conductive metals, the cutter is quite compact and portable. You can move it easily as you work in a garage or around the home. Plus it uses the typical domestic power voltage, and that definitely makes your work a lot easier.
#3. Hobart 500566 Airforce 40i Plasma Cutter 240V
From a compact inverter design to the latest technology in plasma cutting, the Hobart Airforce 40i has it all, you can make an argument that it can be the best plasma cutter 2018.
The inverter design is particularly very important with regards to portability. It ensures that the machine packs a lot of power in a compact body. While the total weight is just over 34 pounds, this unit can cut steel as thick as 5/8 inches.
That’s a very huge plus especially if you want a cutter that you can move around with. Actually, this Hobart plasma cutter is designed for mobility and even features a 12-foot lead that offers absolute freedom of movement. And the best part is that the small and portable size doesn’t compromise performance.
So what should you expect from this Hobart plasma cutter? For starters, it can cut any conductive metal. That means you can use it when working with such materials as mild steel, stainless steel, alloy steel, copper, aluminum etc.
With regards to cutting ability, the Hobart Airforce 40i is just as quick and precise as any high-end plasma cutter. It is rated for 3/8-inch steel clean cut and maximum severance of 5/8 inches. The rating for other common materials is 3/8 for aluminum, 3/16 for copper, and ¼ for brass (all in inches).
That outstanding capability is partly attributable to the fitted XT40R torch. In addition to increasing performance, it makes the cutter ergonomic and comfortable in the hand.
You can improve the machine’s performance by hooking it to a 240V engine-driven welder. Speaking of which, it uses 240V power input. With that power, you can cut through metal with little to no limits.
Construct of the Airforce 40i Hobart Plasma Cutter
Even so, the Airforce 40i Hobart plasma cutter will not expose you to safety risks thanks to its superb construction. First off, it is designed for 50% duty cycle. Meaning when you use it for a certain number of minutes you need to let it rest for the same number of minutes before resuming. For example, if you use it for 5 minutes straight you have to let it rest for 5 minutes.
When you exceed the duty cycle, the unit can overheat. In which case its fan-on-demand will come on, and together with the wind tunnel technology used, it will cool the cutter. The fan also starts to run whenever there is dust or debris.
In case the plasma cutter has overheated to an extreme point then the thermal overload protector will come into action. It basically turns the whole unit off to prevent internal parts from damage due to high temperatures. But it only does so when the fan’s work is insufficient and you have exceeded the duty cycle.
Who is it built for?
This unit is a professional-grade plasma cutter. Compared to the Hobart Airforce 12ci and the 27i, the 40i is more suited for professional metal works.
That said, its duty cycle is not as long as you may want when you’re doing many rounds of metal cutting. But it will still deliver, at least as far as the actual cutting goes.
And equally important is its portability. If you are a professional mechanic who has to move a lot you will love its compact and lightweight design. It also uses consumables more economically and can help you save some money on them.
• Features post-flow air cooling for cooling the tip and consumables.
• Inverter design makes it compact and portable.
• Made with an efficient cooling system.
• Very easy to use even for non-professionals.
• Can cut all the common metallic materials.
• Uses 240V power only.
• More costly than the Hobart Airforce 12ci and the 27i.
Will the drawbacks affect overall functionality? Absolutely not! While you may have to cough up more money for this Hobart plasma cutter, it actually offers superior functionality than the first two.
So, of the three Hobart plasma cutters which one is the absolute best for you? Here’s a simple guide:
Top pick – Airforce 40i Hobart Plasma Cutter
This unit combines high-end functionality, portability, and affordability in one easy-to-use machine. Sure, it is more expensive than the other two. But compared to other brand plasma cutters, it is actually very affordable.
Even so, it is very portable and offers professional-grade service. And it is quite light in weight, meaning you can move around with it from one client to another. If you’re using it for DIY you will have a lot of mobility every time you work.
Best for budget – Airforce 12ci Hobart Plasma Cutter
It may be the cheapest model on our list but it is by no means inadequate. With it, you can still cut any conductive metal. You only need to ensure that you have 120V power. It makes sense to go for this Hobart plasma cutter if you are on a tight budget as it costs a lot less than the 2 other entries on this Hobart plasma cutter reviews list.
Best functionality – Airforce 27i Hobart Plasma Cutter
Okay, it’s probably not superior to the 40i Hobart plasma cutter but it is the perfect balance between affordability and functionality. It offers just enough for a DIY person without straining the bank.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The three Hobart plasma cutters for sale that I have reviewed offer different functions. They also retail at varying prices, with the 12ci being the most affordable, followed by the 27i and finally the 40i. Now what that goes to show is that regardless of your budget or needs, there’s a Hobart plasma cutter for sale that suits you.
If you’re looking for a plasma cutter for sale that offers just enough functions at a decent price then the 27i would suit you best. If you’re on a shoestring budget you may want to consider the 12ci as it is the most affordable. But if you want a unit that leans towards professional service delivery then you should consider the 40i.