Plasma Cutter vs Laser Cutter

plasma cutter vs laser cutter

Many people looking to invest in new machinery for their workshop are interested to know the differences between plasma cutters and laser cutters. So, that’s what we’re focusing on today. We’ll also go into plasma cutters vs water jet, angle grinders and cutting torches briefly too.

Plasma Cutter vs Laser Cutters

Plasma cutters and laser cutters are very different machines used for different jobs. A plasma cutter is used to cut metal into shapes that can then be used to create works of art, structures, badges, table legs, and a great deal more.

Plasma cutters are very precise and can cut thicker material than a laser cutter. Laser cutters lack the power to cut through a lot of sheet goods. They are typically used to engrave and cut things like the plaques on trophies for example. While laser cutters can be a real asset to a workshop, their applications are somewhat limited in the metal fabrication process compared to a plasma cutter.

Plasma Cutter

  • Uses compressed gas to create the plasma.
  • Emits radiation
  • Clean cut thicker metal
  • Metal Art
  • Cutting sheet metal to create signs.
  • Only cuts metal

Laser Cutter

  • Use optical light to create the laser
  • No radiation
  • Engraving
  • Cut plaques
  • Can cut many forms of material not just metal
  • More expensive

For most metal workers, plasma cutters are a far more versatile machine than a laser cutter. They can cut thicker materials than a laser cutter, and you have the option of handheld and CNC plasma cutters while laser cutters are only available as CNC. This means that laser cutters are often more expensive than plasma cutters.

Plasma cutters vs laser cutters is a strange debate as they are very different machines offering different things. Plasma cutters cannot engrave materials (you can use them without the earth cable so that they won’t penetrate too far into a material, but it leaves a very messy cut). Laser cutters, on the other hand, can be used to engrave and cut thin metals.

Which Should I Buy?

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Buy if ...

  • Thick metal
  • Fast cut speed
  • Only cut metal
  • Don't need accuracy
  • Thin material
  • Fast cut speed
  • Need accuracy

Store Name

  • Cut material other than metal
  • Need accuracy



Mainly metals, wood


Max Cut












Plasma Cutter vs Laser Cutter

Which machine you buy depends greatly on your needs. If you want to engrave and cut thin metals, wood, plastic, and other materials, a laser cutter is your best bet. Laser cutters can cut through loads of materials so if you don’t solely work in metal and don’t need to cut much thick sheet metal, a laser cutter can provide everything you need.

However, if you don’t need to engrave any metal and need to cut through thicker sheet goods, a plasma cutter is the better choice. Of course, you won’t be able to cut through other materials, but you’ll have a very versatile machine for cutting sheet good to create art, structures, and a great deal more.

Plasma Cutter vs Water Jet

plasma cutter vs water jet

Plasma cutters are incredibly useful in a shop that solely cuts metal. However, if you are a hobbyist or a business that deals in a lot of different materials, a water jet cutter may be better for you. A plasma cutter uses an arc to cut through electrically conductive materials (metal basically). A water jet uses a jet of water that can cut through any material. So if you need a machine that is incredibly precise for purely metal cutting, get a plasma cutter. But if you need to cut lots of different materials and need those cuts to be just as precise and repeatable, get a water jet.

Plasma Cutter vs Cutting Torch

plasma cutter vs cutting torch

Plasma cutters typically can’t cut through very thick material. Most good machines can cut through ¾ inch sheet goods at a max. Cutting torches, of course, can cut through far thicker stuff than that! For the most part, metal workers will have both on hand to tackle any tasks they need. If you are a welder, you’ll likely have all the gas you need to power a cutting torch anyway, and they aren’t too expensive, so it is worth having both on hand to cut any metal you need.

Plasma Cutter vs Angle Grinder

plasma cutter vs angle grinder

Plasma cutters are excellent at cutting complex curves and shapes. However, when it comes to long straight cuts, plasma cutters struggle somewhat. This could be user error or machines, that isn’t a debate we want to get into. Angle grinders, however, struggle with complex curves but are great at long straight cuts (if the user is experienced). Angle grinders also typically leave a better finish than a plasma cutter. Plasma cutters leave a lot of slag to clean up, but angle grinders leave a crisp edge.

So, just like the cutting torch, an angle grinder still has a place in your shop if you're investing in a plasma cutter. Of course, you’ll need an angle grinder to clean up the slag from the plasma cut edges anyway, but you can also still use it as a cutting tool. Just use them both for the jobs that they are best at to speed up your workflow and get better results.

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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