Hypertherm Powermax 45 Review
Hypertherm is legendary in the world of plasma cutters – even their ‘low end’ options are better than most plasma cutters available today.
- Superior cut and gouge quality – up to 1/2″
- Patented drag-cutting technology
- Extremely versatile
- Simple controls
- Stable arc
- Long consumable life
- Expanded metal setting
- 20 foot torch and clamp lead
- Solid company overall
- Older model
- 230V power needed
Superior cut and gouge quality – up to 1/2″
The Hypertherm Powermax 45 offers the most precise cutting and gouging in its class. Using just 45 amps of power through a 240 V outlet the Powermax 45 cuts through 1/2″ steel like paper.
What separates this rig from the rest of the pack is the sheer number of consumables and attachments available. You’ll be able to cut metal into any shape you can think of while maintaining high-quality standards.
Patented drag-cutting technology
This is one of my favorite features on the Hypertherm Powermax 45.
With a typical plasma cutter you need to hold the tip of the torch slightly above where you want to cut. This is called holding a stand-off. Depending on the length, it can be hard to keep your hand at a steady height, resulting in an uneven and ugly cut.
Hypertherms patented drag-cutting technology eliminates that risk by allowing you to drag the shield along the metal at an even height. This technology electrically isolates the nozzle from the work piece to eliminate what’s called a ‘double arc’.
The advantage of this technology is a better quality cut and increased consumable life.
Did you know there’s more to plasma cutting than just ripping holes through metal? You probably did but I had to start this paragraph somehow. Through a variety of different torch types and consumables the Hypertherm Powermax 45 can either blast through 1/2-inch steel plate or slowly wash away dirty metal. This thing takes versatility to a whole new level.
Plasma cutting involves heating a piece of electrically conductive metal to molten levels and then forcefully blowing it away using plasma. Using a variety of consumables there are several ways you can cut using the Hypertherm Powermax 45.
Bevel – Bevel cutting is the process of cutting metal with an edge that is not perpendicular to the top of the piece. This is done by eye using a standard torch or – if precision and speed is key – a specialized torch attachment.
Drag – Drag cutting (see above) is when you drag the torch right on the metal instead of holding from a distance. This dramatically increases the speed and quality of the cut.
Extended reach – This is used when a regular torch can’t physically access the part that needs cutting. An extended tip (3-inches) is used to provide better visibility and accessibility.
Fine feature – While fine cutting metal with a laser or water jet is typically preferred, plasma cutting methods are quickly catching up. Hypertherms FineCut consumables produce a narrow kerf and stiff arc to allow for unmatched precision.
Gouging is similar to plasma cutting in the sense that it uses plasma and air to melt and blow away molten metal. The difference with gouging is the specially designed consumables. Gouging needs a torch a wide kerf held at an angle so only some of the material is blown away.
Max control – A shield that allows for precise metal removal with a shallow gouge and light-duty washing applications.
Max removal – The opposite of max control, this shield allows for aggressive metal removal for a deep gouge and extreme metal washing.
Precision – A nozzle and shield setup to help remove small amounts of metal at a very low current.
HyAccess – Similar to the extended reach when cutting, the HyAccess extended gouging consumable makes for easier access when gouging in awkward positions.
Simple to use
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro the Hypertherm Powermax 45 is dead simple to setup and use. From the control panel to the actual operation, this unit is a dream to use.
Control Panel – The front control panel couldn’t be easier to use. There are only two options to be aware of: amperage adjustment and mode switch. The amperage adjustment is an easy-to-turn knob that allows you to adjust anywhere from 0 – 45 amps. In addition, the mode switch allows you to select different operating modes: continuous pilot arc to cut expanded metal, non continuous pilot arc to cut metal plate and gouging.
Operation – Thanks to their shielded consumables the Hypertherm Powermax 45 is so easy to use a child could do it. Just place the torch on the work piece, pull the trigger and drag. Simple.
Long consumable life and 20 foot torch and clamp lead
Hypertherms consumables are world renowned for two reasons: quality and durability. Using patented shielding technology to protect the consumable, the life is extended dramatically.
Not only do the consumables last forever but the leads they are attached to are 20 feet long. Furthermore, the ground clamp is another 20 feet giving you a total of 40 feet to move around. Couple that with it’s portability and this machine is unstoppable.
Expanded metal setting
Typically, when using a plasma cutter, the arc cuts out when passing over a hole on gap in the metal. You then have to reignite the arc to start cutting again. Depending on what type of metal your cutting (dirty, lots of holes etc.) you can waste a lot of time stopping and starting again.
Fortunately, Hypertherm has a solution. It’s called Expanded Metal setting and it allows you to easily cut across holes and gaps without extinguishing the arc. When in this mode, the arc rapidly switches between the cutting and pilot current for a continuously smooth cut.
Not only does this save time and energy but it also drastically increases the life of the consumable.
Did you know the Hypertherm Powermax 45 can be hooked up to a CNC table?
If you use your plasma cutter on a regular basis consider a CNC machine. You’ll not only save time, but you’ll save money by extending the lifespan of your consumables. A CNC setup will also increase the duty cycle of your rig, allowing you to work longer.
You can easily switch between a regular torch and a CNC interface thanks to its FastConnect torch connection.
Solid company overall
Hypertherms dedication to quality has never been so obvious as with the Powermax 45. They are quite literally the best plasma cutter company out there.
From their commitment to craftsmanship to their customer service Hypertherm is a cut above the rest.
Did I mention the Hypertherm Powermax 45 is made right here in the USA? What more could you ask for?
For such a beast of a machine made by such a legendary company you can expect to pay more than others in its class.
On the bright side, you’ll probably only need to buy 1 in your lifetime.
As of writing this review the Hypertherm Powermax 45 is still available from most online retailers like Amazon. However, a newer model – Powermax 45XP – has been introduced and is set to replace the original model within the coming years.
That’s not to say the 45 isn’t good (because it is) but just keep in mind that there are more advanced technologies out there now.
230V power needed
You can’t just run this from your standard 120V household outlet. You’ll need to upgrade to 220-240V.
The Hypertherm Powermax 45 is – hands down – the best plasma cutter in its class.
The unit is capable of cutting through 1/2-inch steel like red-hot iron through ice while severing up to 1-inch thick steel plate. In addition, the drag-cutting technology offered by Hypertherm produces clean, steady cuts each and every time.
Versatility is king with the Powermax. Featuring a wide array of consumables and attachments, the only problem you’ll have is not having enough time in the day to try everything out.
To finish, if you have the money to spend the Hypertherm Powermax 45 is by far the best choice. If you don’t, then keep saving until you can afford one.
Specs and Features
Weight: 37 lbs
Size: L17″ x W7″ x H14″
Power Input: 200 – 240 V
Power Output: 45 A
Duty Cycle: 50% @ 45 A
Severance Thickness: 1″
Warranty: 3/1 year