Whether you own a small construction or fabrication shop, break down tough metals for recycling or reclaimed material art projects, or simply enjoy the convenience of being able to cut conductive metals, having a plasma cutter in your shop can make any job simpler. You may be considering a Miller plasma cutter; however, if you have never purchased a tool like this before, you may not be familiar with the models available or which one might be the best choice for you.
Before you shop, check out our detailed buying guide and review below so you can choose the best model for your budget and needs.
Miller Plasma Cutters: Pros & Cons
Miller Plasma Cutters
What Is a Miller Plasma Cutter and How Does It Work?
A Miller plasma cutter is a tool that uses plasma gas to cut through conductive metals of varying thickness. There are several different types and strengths available. These machines are typically used to cut or gouge aluminum, stainless steel, copper, and brass. Plasma cutters run on electricity and use compressed air or bottled gas to create the plasma arc, which is created from plasma gas and an electrical current. The arc is then channeled through a nozzle controlled by a machine or by hand.
Who Uses Miller Plasma Cutter?
Few years ago, plasma cutters were mostly only used by large companies that dealt with heavy-duty metal cutting and fabrication. Robotic arms typically guided the cut requirements at factories for the purpose of mass production. However, portable plasma cutters are becoming more common in a variety of sectors, making metalworking simpler than ever. The handheld nozzle and flexible tube common to most portable cutters allow for smooth, intricate cutting and gouging, reducing the risk of cut errors and material waste. Plasma cutting is becoming especially popular with artists who use recycled metal to create projects, as the portability of these units and the variety of interchangeable and replaceable nozzles allow them to cut different metals in ways that have never been possible before. From letters and numbers to detailed animals and other themed art pieces, plasma cutters have opened up this field to innovative metalworkers from all over the globe.
Plasma cutters are used in a variety of different business sectors, including automotive repair shops, pipe fabrication and in the heating, cooling, ventilation and air conditioning field. Thanks to new technological advances in plasma cutting, these tools are now available for metalworking and car customization hobbyists, as well as those working in the industrial sector. Miller plasma cutters are becoming popular in this relatively new market, and there are several reasons why those in the metalworking field are noticing them.
What Makes a Miller Plasma Cutter Unique?
Miller brand plasma cutters have a few specialized features that make them different from other comparable models. One you might be interested in is an auto-fire mechanism that allows the flow of the plasma to remain steady while cutting a long piece of metal or if you need to make multiple cuts along with several pieces of metal. This feature allows you to make more precise cuts, even if you are working with a large portion of sheet metal.
Each plasma cutter in the Miller lineup has several unique built-in safety features that protect your shop’s electrical system and the unit itself, including an arc starter that puts out a low frequency to prevent the cutter from interfering with nearby sensitive computer equipment. This can be especially important if you are plasma cutting in an auto shop that uses computer calibration equipment. These plasma cutters also include a patented technology that prevents dust and other debris from entering the unit, which may help extend its life and avoid the need for costly repairs. These features are unique to the brand.
How Much Do Miller Plasma Cutters Cost?
The Miller plasma cutter lineup includes four different units of varying price. Prices range from $1,319-$2,819 and depend on a variety of factors that you may want to consider before you buy, including:
- The thickness of the metal you will be cutting
- Features of each machine
- Additional accessories or extras, such as consumable kits
The Spectrum® 375 X-TREME™ with XT30 Torch is the least expensive model available from Miller, while the Spectrum® 875 Auto-Line is the high-end model and is capable of cutting metal up to 7/8” inches thick. It is important to remember that these cutters do not include the air compressor or bottled gas required to run them. You may want to add this cost, as well as the price of protective gear, into your final estimated budget. It is especially important to include eye protection if you plan to use a plasma cutter, as viewing the arc without a shaded visor may cause long-term injury to your vision.
What Are People Saying About Miller Plasma Cutters?
Industry professionals and hobbyists rate Miller as a well-known and trusted the brand with products that usually include a full warranty that can extend for up to three years. The portable Spectrum® 375 X-TREME™ carries high ratings from HVAC professionals and body shop workers who need to take a plasma cutter with them as they move from job to job. The only drawback with this smaller model, it seems, is its cutting limit, which is restricted to a 3/8” thickness. However, since this model only performs smaller jobs, those who buy it are probably aware of its abilities.
Users who take their Miller plasma cutter from place to place say they appreciate how simple it is to carry and that it comes with its own case for simple transport. The case also prevents the cutter from becoming damaged when it is in storage with other equipment. The system’s multi-voltage abilities are also a plus, as users can switch to a higher voltage for more robust cutting without having to use tools. This feature is especially popular with reviewers who cut a variety of different metals, as they note that being able to change the voltage easily saves time between cuts.
While all four Miller brand plasma cutters earn high marks across the board, there are a few cons you may want to consider. The most common drawback is that most models require a high-quality air compressor to run properly. So this may add to the cost if you do not own one already. Users found that lesser compressors caused uneven or difficult cutting. It can slow down a project or ruin the shape of a piece of sheet metal. Low-voltage cutting may cause your fuse box’s circuits to shut off. But this is not a common enough issue to give any of the units a poor rating. Overall, the entire line is trusted and recommended by those who use Miller products.
How Do Miller Products Compare With Similar Models?
While Miller does produce a variety of plasma cutters, they are not the only company in this sector that does. Lotos and Ramsond also offer comparable units. You may want to be aware of this before you make a final purchasing decision. While some models from these other manufacturers might offer similar specs and features, Miller plasma cutters feature a few unique differences. This might help you make the best choice possible for your metalworking needs.
Both the Lotos LTP5000D Pilot Arc and the Miller Spectrum 375 come equipped with a pilot arc. It cuts down on the risk of the machine interfering with any nearby electronic devices or their signals. This can be especially helpful to hobbyists, who might keep a variety of electronic equipment in their shops. Both units run on 110/220 input voltage, although the Miller brand is also capable of running on 115V. Miller and Ramsond portable plasma cutters both have an ideal cutting thickness of 3/4". They come with a one-year part and labor warranty. Remember to look over the warranty carefully once you buy your plasma cutter so you can familiarize yourself with its limitations and ask the distributor any questions you might have.
The Miller Difference
While Lotos and Ramsond are both trusted brands among those who use plasma cutters, Miller units have a variety of features that make them stand out. For example, the Miller Spectrum 375 has a unique cooling feature that runs on demand. Which means the cooling fan only runs when the system reaches a certain temperature. As such, the fan does not run constantly, which means the inside of the unit stays cleaner. Lotos and Ramsond models come equipped with German-built cooling systems. These systems are efficient yet may pull more shop debris into the unit.
Miller plasma cutters are also lighter than most other types on the market. At 19 pounds, it is seven pounds lighter than the Lotos LTP5000D Pilot Arc. And almost four pounds lighter than the Lotos LT5000D. While the weight of a cutter may not seem like a vital factor, consider the difference in loading and unloading a machine that weighs seven pounds more than another throughout your workday. If you value portability in your cutter or plan to use it for your on-call business, then Miller might be the best choice for you.
While Miller plasma cutters earn high rankings among users, Lotos does score higher when it comes to the price of their models’ consumables. A 40-piece consumable kit for a Lotos model costs anywhere from $20-$25. Where one for a Miller plasma cutter may cost $30-$35, depending on where you buy it. The difference in price is not extreme. The cost of Miller consumables may add up over time and cut into your project’s budget.
What We Think
After reviewing many different plasma cutters available for personal or light industrial usage, we rate Miller plasma cutters as an excellent choice at versatility, features, and price. The variety of voltage input choices, lightweight transport and special safety features of Miller brand cutters are ideal for hobbyists. Or anyone who needs to cut stainless steel, brass, copper and other conductive metals of a thin to medium thickness. While Miller plasma cutters are not the least expensive when compared to other products, we believe the unique and convenient features on their models can make them well worth the cost. It may even save you money in the long run because of their durability.
Other Things to Consider
While we do recommend a Miller plasma cutter for light automotive, metalworking and fabrication work, these products are not meant for cutting or gouging thick metal. It may overheat or result in an uneven or ragged cut. Before you purchase a model, take the time to research its cutting ability. And whether it will be able to handle the jobs you have planned. The Spectrum 875 and 875 Auto-Line models are capable of cutting up to 7/8” thickness. But beyond that, you may need to look into larger units. If you are buying a plasma cutter for the first time, you may want to consider the simpler Spectrum® 375 X-TREME™ model, which is lightweight and sets up with ease.
Miller Coupons and Deals
Miller is currently offering rebates for certain plasma cutter models. The Spectrum 375 X-TREME™ model currently offers a $100 rebate directly on the company’s website, along with discounts and other rebates on TIG and MIG welders. Legitimate rebates and sales are best found directly from the company, especially if you plan to buy a high-end model. Rebate offers on the Miller website end on June 30th, 2018.
Miller consumable kits are available at a discount on a variety of welding and big-box retail sites. Some sites may offer the kits at a lower price when you sign up for a rewards program or if you register for an account. This might help you save money over time, especially if you plan to use your plasma cutter daily and will need to change out your consumables often.
The Final Word
While the type of plasma cutter will largely depend on your budget and how you plan to use the unit, we hope our pricing guide and review has helped to give you some idea. Ideas about which model might best suit your needs and offered you some interesting information about these machines. Plasma cutters can be useful and versatile tools for any small business or hobbyist’s workshop. It may even allow you to tackle projects you could not take on previously. If you do choose to purchase a Miller plasma cutter, it is wise to review your shop’s voltage readings. Also, your electrical requirements and safety gear before you proceed with any projects.