Over the years we've tested several plasma cutters, from a suitcase-size unit that we didn't have enough air to support, to smaller machines that worked but were a lot of trouble.
The Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster 42, however, is more what we've been looking for truly portable metal cutting and the ability to operate without sophisticated compressors and air dryers.
The 26-pound Cutmaster 42 comes ready to plug in -- to 120 VAC or 208/240 VAC -- and features a 20 amp output for 120 VAC 15-amp circuits; 27 amps on 120VAC 20-amp breakers, and 47 amps on 208/240 VAC. The output is plenty for work up to 3/8ths materials and with care you can cut half-inch stock.
Within 10 minutes of unboxing the Cutmaster 42, I had hooked up my portable compressor and plugged the cutter into a 220 VAC circuit in my garage. Moments later I had zipped the top off a bulk Freon bottle, and cut a three-inch hole in the side of it -- freehand -- for a small cooker project I'm working on. The cut was like that of a hacksaw, except for where I didn't steady my hand moving around the top of the bottle. (One learns quickly!)
Then, Beef Producer Editor Alan Newport and I teamed up in his shop to do some videos of the machine and give Alan his first experience with a plasma cutter. Running 220 VAC we sliced up scraps, compared cuts between the plasma machine and an oxy-acetylene cutting torch, and Alan used a windvane for a pattern to cut out some letters just for grins. (See video)