Hobart Airforce 12ci Plasma Cutter Review

Versatile And Portable Plasma Cutter

Brand Name - Hobart

Designed For - Smaller applications / Auto body shop / Hobbyist / Light Industrial work



User Review


If you’re searching for a cutting tool that is lightweight, compact and portable. The  Hobart 500564 Airforce 12ci Plasma Cutter is a great option for you. Hobart Airforce 12ci (replacement for the 250ci), is a much more reliable choice for light cutting work. 

This is a comparatively less expensive plasma cutter. The device uses the combination of compressed air and electrical arc that provides a very efficient and quicker cutting results than Oxy-fuel.

Its surprising power enables the cutter to cut aluminium, steel or any kind of conductive metals with ease. The tool is rated for cutting 1/8- inch steel or sever 1/4 –inch mild steel. Hobart airforce offers more clean cutting results. XT12R plasma torch, Post-Flow Air Cooling System, Fan On Demand Technology, Diagnostic LED Light- all these features make the tool one of the top notch plasma cutting machine at an affordable price.

In our following details review, you’ll find all the features, benefits as well as cons of this plasma cutter, that will help you to pick the tool confidently from your list.

V​ersatile Cutting Tools

  • Easily Cut A Variety Of Metals - Airforce 12ci Is a versatile tool that is able to cut up a variety of materials. Its simple cutting technology slices through:
    - brass,
    - copper,
    - stainless steel,
    - aluminium or galvanized steel.
    It is very efficient at cutting mild steel up to an 1/8 inch, at a rate of 10 inches per minute and 1/4 inch mild steel, at 3 inches per minute.

  • Powerful Performance - Compared with the weight of other plasma cutters of its class, this tool Is very lightweight (about half that of standard plasma cutters), yet provides exceptional and powerful plasma cutting performance.
Hobart airforce 12ci
hobart airfoce 12ci unboxing

Safety And Durability

  • Post-Flow Air Cooling System - Integrated with the post-flow air cooling system, the torch and tip of the machine cools quickly. This special cooling feature extends the lifespan of the torch and electrode and ultimately enhances the durability of the tool.
  • Built-in Troubleshooting Indicators - Hobart 12ci features diagnostic LED light alerts that help you to check the status, torch readiness, temperature and troubleshoot the power. The light thus aids to reduces the unnecessary downtime and allows you to quickly assess the machine status at a glance. You don’t need to play guessing games with your cutter.
  • Fan-On-Demand Technology - In environments with heavy dust, Hobart 12ci plasma cutter featuring fan-on-demand technology provides better reliability. The cooling fan runs only when needed, reducing the amount of dust/debris entering into the unit.
  • Automatic Shut-Off Mechanism - The device is rated for up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit and features with special thermal protection. The thermal overload protection helps the cutter to cope with rugged work environments and shuts the system automatically. If the airflow is blocked or the duty cycle is exceeded, the tool becomes overheated. In this situation, the system automatically slows down its duty cycle to prevent excessive build up and damage to the internal parts. Finally, it automatically shut off to protect itself.


  • Runs on Standard Household Current - Hobart 12ci works well using standard household current. Just plug it into a 120V (standard household power) and 20 amp circuit at home, in the garage or workshop and the device is ready to cut. You don’t need a 240V hookup.
  • Built-In Air Compressor - The tool features a piston-driven built-in air compressor. This internal compressor makes the device highly portable. You don’t need to buy any additional air compressor. It will not only save you extra cost but also facilitate you to use the tool anywhere in the working spot.
  • Pilot Arc Starts Operation - Before starting the "real" arc, the tool creates an internal mini arc inside the nozzle. Due to this pilot arc mechanism, the tip doesn’t need to touch the surface of the metal. Thus, it saves the tips from burnout. This mechanism also helps the cutter to start on corroded, rough, greasy or painted surfaces.
  • XT12R Plasma Torch - Hobart 12ci features XT12R Plasma Torch that offers perfect grip to the user. The finger contours of the XT12R torch is so comfortable to grip that it prevents fatigue so you can get he job done.

Compact & Portable Design

The built-in inverter makes the plasma cutter lightweight and compact in size. Thus, this compact design offers additional portability. Only 31 lbs weight and a carrying handle allow the user to move the device around a location or from site to site. This is the most convenient cutter if you need to move in different spots in your working area. The tool comes with a working cable, a cable management strap and torch in place that makes its transportation easier.

Product Specifications

Product Dimensions

16.5 x 18.5 x 11.2 inches

Product Weight

31 lbs

Duty Cycle

35% at 104° Fahrenheit

Cut Performance

1/8 inch (3.2 mm) at 10 inches per minute (mild steel)

1/4 inch (6.4 mm) at 3 inches per minute (mild steel)



Input Current


Plasma Gas Flow/Pressure

Preset with Built-in Compressor



What's Included

  • XT12R plasma torch (1) --------------- 12ft. long torch lead
  • 6ft. power cord (1) ----------------------- 115V plug
  • Work clamp (1) --------------------------- 12ft. long cable
  • Tips (2)
  • Electrode (1)

Hobart Airforce 12ci

  • Built-in air compressor
  • Light weight
  • Easy to use
  • Faster cutting mechanism than oxy fuel
  • No gas pressure settings or flame tuning needed
  • Smaller heat-affected zone for less warping
  • More accurate cut
  • Operates only on 120V
  • Not suitable for cutting thicker metals
  • XT12R torch isn't as nice as the XT40R


Q. Do I need to buy external compressor?

A. Not at all. The machine comes with built-in compressor.

Q. Do I need to buy extra consumables?

A. Yes. As the tool doesn’t comes with extra consumables, you need to buy.

Q. Do I need to set the pressure?

A. No, As the pressure is preset, you don’t need to set it before start cutting.

User’s Feedback

We’ve received a lot of positive comments from the reviewers. One evident comment from all the reviews is its high portability. The satisfied users mentioned that the tool works like a charm on galvanized, stainless and lighter steel. The most impressive feature of this machine to the users is that it doesn’t compromise power or cutting ability even at a lower voltage. The pleased customers have expressed their opinion that they get the performances what they wanted from it.


If you're looking for the advantages such as ease-of-operation, convenience, faster and accurate cutting results, portability, and flexibility, look no further than the Hobart 12ci Plasma Cutter.

It performed extremely well in cutting as per their specifications. Undoubtedly, this is one of the best cutting tools on the market for small shops or home DIY enthusiasts looking for a superior, portable tool.

Ronald Wilson

I’m Ronald, Specialist engaged in the manufacture of fabricated metal products. I’ve been involved in the fabrication industry since 1998. To continue my love in welding and to share my experience I've formed a research team and have created this website for our valuable customers.

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