Hobart Plasma Cutter Reviews: Top 3 Models Compared Side By Side

Last Updated on April 2, 2020 by Gary Hargrave

A plasma cutter has a strong appeal to metal art and fabrication workers who may expect anything from basic tasks to the most intricate jobs where precision and speed are critical.

Every manufacturer tries to keep these factors in mind, and Hobart Welders is one of the contributors in these areas. The company has been in the business of designing and manufacturing a wide range of cutting and welding products and accessories for several decades now.

So far, the brand has marketed three plasma cutters, each presenting distinct workmanship and abilities to serve users with different levels of experience and skills.

Today, we’re going to provide you one Hobart plasma cutter review for each model, thereby helping you choose what works best for you.

Additional Read: Best Plasma Cutters Reviews

Hobart Plasma Cutter Review: A Close Look at 3 Different Units

In this section, we’ll review each of the three Hobart plasma cutters. For this, we’re putting two charts below to show the specs and cutting abilities separately.

Specifications And Cutting Capacity Compared

Preview
Hobart 500565 Airforce 27i Plasma Cutter 120/240V
Hobart 500566 Airforce 40i Plasma Cutter 240V
Amps
12 A
14 A - 30 A
14 A - 40 A
Electrical Input
110/115/120 V, 1-Phase, 60 Hz
110/115/120 V, 220/230/240 V, 1-Phase
110/115/120 V, 220/230/240 V, 1-Phase
Duty Cycle
12 A @ 35%
40% at 30 A at 92 VDC (240 V)
60% at 40 A at 140 VDC (240 V)
Air Pressure Requirements
N/A (Built-in)
5.0 cfm (142 L/Min) at 90 –120 psi
6.0 cfm (170 L/min) at 90 –120 psi
Dimensions (Inches)
10 x 8.25 x 13
9 x 5.5 x 13.25
9 x 5.5 x 13.25
Weight (lbs.)
25.1
19
21
Rated Cut
1/8 inch at 10 ipm
1/4 inch at 17 ipm (at 20 A) 3/8 inch at 18 ipm (at 30 A)
3/8 inch at 15 ipm (at 27 A) 5/8 inch at 13 ipm (at 40 A)
Max. Cut
1/4 inch at 3 ipm
3/8 inch at 6 ipm (20 A) 5/8 inch at 6 ipm (30 A)
5/8 inch at 5 ipm (at 27 A) 5/8 inch at 13 ipm (at 40 A)
Severance Cut
-
3/8 inch (at 20 A) (Max.) 5/8 inch (at 30 A) (Max.)
7/8 inch at 5 ipm (at 40 A)
Pierce
-
1/8 inch (Recommended) 3/16 inch (maximum)
1/8 inch (Recommended) 5/16 inch (maximum)
Average Rating
-
-
Number of Reviews
-
-
Preview
Hobart 500564 Airforce 12ci Plasma Cutter with Built-In Air Compressor 120V
Amps
12 A
Electrical Input
110/115/120 V, 1-Phase, 60 Hz
Duty Cycle
12 A @ 35%
Air Pressure Requirements
N/A (Built-in)
Dimensions (Inches)
10 x 8.25 x 13
Weight (lbs.)
25.1
Rated Cut
1/8 inch at 10 ipm
Max. Cut
1/4 inch at 3 ipm
Severance Cut
-
Pierce
-
Average Rating
-
Number of Reviews
-
Check Price
Preview
Hobart 500565 Airforce 27i Plasma Cutter 120/240V
Amps
14 A - 30 A
Electrical Input
110/115/120 V, 220/230/240 V, 1-Phase
Duty Cycle
40% at 30 A at 92 VDC (240 V)
Air Pressure Requirements
5.0 cfm (142 L/Min) at 90 –120 psi
Dimensions (Inches)
9 x 5.5 x 13.25
Weight (lbs.)
19
Rated Cut
1/4 inch at 17 ipm (at 20 A) 3/8 inch at 18 ipm (at 30 A)
Max. Cut
3/8 inch at 6 ipm (20 A) 5/8 inch at 6 ipm (30 A)
Severance Cut
3/8 inch (at 20 A) (Max.) 5/8 inch (at 30 A) (Max.)
Pierce
1/8 inch (Recommended) 3/16 inch (maximum)
Average Rating
-
Number of Reviews
-
Check Price
Preview
Hobart 500566 Airforce 40i Plasma Cutter 240V
Amps
14 A - 40 A
Electrical Input
110/115/120 V, 220/230/240 V, 1-Phase
Duty Cycle
60% at 40 A at 140 VDC (240 V)
Air Pressure Requirements
6.0 cfm (170 L/min) at 90 –120 psi
Dimensions (Inches)
9 x 5.5 x 13.25
Weight (lbs.)
21
Rated Cut
3/8 inch at 15 ipm (at 27 A) 5/8 inch at 13 ipm (at 40 A)
Max. Cut
5/8 inch at 5 ipm (at 27 A) 5/8 inch at 13 ipm (at 40 A)
Severance Cut
7/8 inch at 5 ipm (at 40 A)
Pierce
1/8 inch (Recommended) 5/16 inch (maximum)
Average Rating
Number of Reviews
Check Price

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Now, we’ll be discussing the performance and usability of each model in brief yet understandable details.

1. Hobart Airforce 12ci Plasma Cutter with Built-In Air Compressor

Product Features
  • Built in Air Compressor
  • Cuts faster than oxy fuel
  • Smaller heat-affected zone for less warping
  • No gas pressure settings for flame tuning needed
  • More precise cut, thinner kerf, less slag to clean up

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While you cannot expect too much of speed and cut thickness, you’ll surely love to avoid getting an external air compressor which significantly adds to the cost of a complete plasma cutting setup.

The 12ci model features an XT12R torch that features a trigger safety for ergonomic design, efficient cutting and economical experience using the torch tip. It’s ideal for cutting sheet metal, doing HVAC duct work, plumbing applications, auto body repairs, and metal artworks.

The package includes a hand-held torch with 12 ft. work cable, clamp, 7 ft. power cord, plug, tips, electrode, standoff guide, and user manual.

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight design; thanks to the inverter design
  • Highly affordable for a plasma machine with built-in air compressor
  • Minimal heat-affected zone for reduced metal warping
  • Pilot arc for consistent arc starting and reduced likelihood of a burned-out torch tip
  • Automatic air pressure management and thermal overload protection
  • Fan-on-Demand and Postflow cooling functions for enhancing the torch and consumable life
  • LED lights for status updates of the torch, temperatures, and power management

Cons

  • Slow cutting speed for stainless steel and aluminum (may reduce up to 30% even in normal conditions)
  • Little to no gouging capability

Attention!

  • It’s not a CNC ready unit, which means that you cannot use it for mechanized cutting.
  • Only the electrode is included. So, you need to buy consumables nozzles, shield cups, etc. separately.

Desirable Feature/Quality

  • Higher amperage and duty cycle

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>>>Hobart Airforce 12ci Review<<<

2. Hobart Airforce 27i Review

Product Features
  • Multi-Voltage plug (MVP) allows you to connect to 120 V or 240 V power.
  • Excels at cutting 3/8 in mild steel, can sever 5/8 in mild steel
  • Fan-On-Demand - Runs only when needed reducing dust/debris pulled into unit.
  • More precise cut, thinner kerf, less slag to clean up. XT30R torch with 12 ft lead and consumables
  • Wind Tunnel Technology - Prevents abrasive dust and particles from damaging internal components.Plasma Material Thickness: 1/4 inches to 3/8 inches

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It’s a more efficient unit than the 12ci, if not the best of all Hobart models. With a higher duty cycle, cut thickness, and gouging abilities, the 27i model is more than an entry-level appliance for home uses.

Ideal users are those who engage themselves in auto body repairs, construction and maintenance tasks, and HVAC tasks. The price may seem too high, but the built-in features and components compensate reasonably for people looking for a quality cutting tool.

The package includes a hand-held torch, 12 ft. work cable, clamp, 10 ft. power cord, MVP™ plugs (120 V, 15 A, and 240 V, 50 A), air regulator and filter, consumables (electrode, tips, and shield deflector), cable management system, and user manual.

Pros

  • An inverter-based lightweight machine with decent cutting capacities and versatility
  • Line voltage compensation for consistent power under conditions where input voltage may vary up to 15%
  • Dual-Voltage system with multi-voltage plug for easy connection to 120 V – 240 V power receptacles requiring no additional tools
  • Power factor correction circuitry for decreased need for amperage up to 30% and reduced circuit breaker trips due to voltage drops.
  • Designed to work with engine-driven generators or welders that accept 240V receptacle of 4 kW or higher
  • Postflow cooling system for cooling consumables and the torch for extending their service life
  • Built-in air regulator and filter for proper management of the gas flow
  • Wind Tunnel function for preventing abrasive particles and dust from causing damages to the internal parts

Cons

  • No HF start leading to poor cuts (for aluminum)

Attention!

  • You might be thinking about extending the post flow duration, but it’s fixed and better that way since the primary purpose is to protect the plasma consumables.
  • It’s not a CNC ready machine, which is why, you shouldn’t try.

Desirable Feature/Quality

  • Special consumables for gouging applications
  • Higher cutting (travel) speed at maximum amperage

Check Price & Reviews on Amazon

3. Hobart Airforce 40i Review

Product Features
35 Reviews
Product Features
  • Maximum cutting of mild steel is 7/8 in at 50% duty cycle. Cuts faster than oxy fuel
  • Auto-Refire Technology - Allows operator to cut expanded/perforated metals, as well as painted or coated surfaces.
  • Operates off 240 V input power. Fan-On-Demand: The fan only runs when needed, reducing the dust and debris that is pulled into your machine.
  • Ergonomic trigger safety, more efficient air consumption, and XT40R torch consumables..Airforce 40i plasma cutter is excellent for light and heavy industrial users.
  • Max. Open-Circuit Voltage:400V.Wind Tunnel Technology - Prevents abrasive dust and particles from damaging internal components

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If there’s anything among these three plasma systems that is specifically built to serve for auto body repair and maintenance, metal fabrication and prototyping, light construction and engineering works, Airforce 40i gives you the go.

The XT40R torch is more reliable and powerful than those included with the above models. Also, you can have a better experience cutting typical materials and expanded metals with this one.

The package includes a complete set of accessories, consumables, and essentials, such as a hand-held torch, 12 ft. work cable, clamp, 12 ft. power cord, 240 V L6-30P twist lock plug, MVP adapters with 240 V plug and 120 V plug, gas regulator and filter, electrode, torch tips, shield deflector, cable management system, and instruction manual.

Pros

This model offers all the benefits of Airforce 27i plus more. An additional feature is the ‘gouging consumable detection’ system that works automatically.

The absence of HF start doesn’t affect its performance much, especially when you have to cut aluminum. Moreover, it facilitates drag cutting and helps ensure precision and quality.

Cons

  • Not a budget-friendly plasma cutter

Attention!

  • Like the above two machines, this one isn’t compatible with a CNC table or system.
  • Make sure the compressor you choose is rated at 4.8 SCFM (85 L/min) and buy an additional air filter too while performing gouging applications.

Desirable Feature/Quality

  • Built air compressor

Check Price & Reviews on Amazon

Final Verdict

So, you’ve got three different plasma cutters and pricing tags under consideration. Now what? Here’re a few more tips to help you with decision-making.

Airforce 12ci is special mostly because of its internal air compressor which saves you at least a couple hundred bucks, and the machine itself is affordable too.

Airforce 27i proves to be a smart choice for people who has a considerable budget to throw at a plasma system that offers the right cutting capacities and technical specs for home uses and excellence in on-the-job circumstances once in a while.

The price of Airforce 40i makes some people consider it to be an industrial-grade appliance. Except for this far-fetched idea, everything that the unit presents is ideal for those working at commercial workshops where demands are often rigorous.

So, you should think about the intended uses before investing in any of these. Happy buying!

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