Powermax45 XP Plasma Cutter Review

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Powermax45 XP Plasma Cutter from Hypertherm

Powermax45 XP Plasma System

Manufacturer: Hypertherm
Model number: Powermax45 XP
Power source: 240 V, 1-PH or 480 V, 3-PH
Weight: 37 lbs
Hypertherm recently sent us their Powermax45® XP plasma cutter from their best-selling Powermax® portable plasma systems. The Powermax45 XP plasma cutter is an updated version over their older best-selling Powermax45®. This updated model includes thicker cut capacity, faster cut speeds, and an automatic gas adjustment system.

For small fabrication and repair shops that work with metal having reliable and versatile metal cutting tools is important. Plasma cutters have become very popular for a wide range of metal fabrication, auto repair, industrial construction and salvage operations. Plasma cutters were developed in the 1960’s and became quite popular in the 1980’s. Plasma cutters are more accurate and produce cleaner edges compared to older oxy-fuel cutting operations that have been around a very long time.


Powermax45® XP Plasma Cutter – Features & Specifications


  • Compact and light weight systems, the Powermax45 XP is the ideal portable plasma cutter for a 16 mm (5/8″) rated cutting system
  • Patented drag-cutting technology makes the Powermax45 XP easy to use – even for first-time operators
  • Smart Sense™ technology ensures that air pressure is always correctly set
  • CNC interface and FastConnect™ torch connection allows both handheld and mechanized operation
  • A wide range of torch and consumable styles to choose from for both handheld and automated processes
  • Extensive array of application capabilities via specialty consumables for fine feature cutting, extended reach cutting, gouging, precision gouging, and marking
  • Finish jobs faster, with cut speeds 1.5 times greater than oxyfuel on 6 mm (1/4″) mild steel
  • Superior cut and gouge quality reduces time for grinding and edge preparation
  • New torch disable switch feature allows faster, easier change-out of consumables
  • Duramax® Lock torches are designed for high-impact and heat resistance
  • SpringStart™ technology ensures consistent starting and optimum torch performance
  • Hypertherm Certified™ reliability ensures peak performance even in the most demanding environments


  • Input voltages: CSA 200 – 240 V, 1-PH, 50-60 Hz; 480 V, 3-PH
  • Output current: 10–45 A
  • Rated output voltage 145 VDC
  • Duty cycle: @ 40° C (104° F) CSA
    • 50% @ 45 A, 200 – 240 V, 1-PH
    • 60% @ 41 A, 200 – 240 V, 1-PH
    • 100% @ 32 A, 200 – 240 V, 1-PH
    • 50% @ 45 A, 480 V, 3-PH
    • 60% @ 41 A, 480 V, 3-PH
    • 100% @ 32 A, 480 V, 3-PH
  • Dimensions with handles: 17.4″ D; 6.8″ W; 14.1″ H
  • Weight with 20′ torch: 33 lbs.
  • Recommended gas inlet flow rate / pressure: 400 scfh @ 90 psi
  • Power supply type: Inverter – IGBT
  • Engine drive requirement: 10 kW for full 45 A output
  • Warranty: 3-year/1-Year (Power Supply/Torch)
Cutting Hardox 450 Steel

Cutting 1/2″ Hardox 450 Plate

Powermax45® XP Versatility

Over several months we’ve been using the Powermax45 XP in our fleet maintenance shop where our mechanics work on a wide variety of projects maintaining a fleet of dump trucks, excavators, loaders and other heavy equipment. The guys do a fair amount of welding and repair to plows, excavator buckets, dump beds and crushing equipment. Fabrication of repairs in this shop requires plenty of cutting and welding.

Gouging with Powermax45 XP

The Powermax45 XP offers great versatility for a wide range of tasks including cutting, gouging, and marking. With a wide range of consumables and a variable power range from 10 amps to 45 amps this plasma cutter is very impressive. Applications include:

  • Drag Cutting – For dragging the torch directly across the work piece
  • Extended Reach Cutting – For improved visibility and accessibility when cutting in confined spaces
  • Extended Reach Gouging – For improved visibility and accessibility when gouging in confined spaces
  • Fine Feature Cutting – For narrow kerf width with minimal dross and heat affected zone
  • Flush Cutting – For cutting closer to base materials using a 45 degree
  • Marking – For scoring, indicating part identification, hole, or weld locations
  • Max Control Gouging – For precise metal removal, shallower gouge profiles and light metal washing
  • Mechanized Cutting – For portable automation and table cutting
  • Precision Gouging – For spot and tack weld removal at very low output current (<25 A)

This powerful unit can cut mild steel, stainless and aluminum up to 5/8″ thick. We’ve also been cutting 1/2″ thick Hardox 450 abrasion resistant steel like it was butter. Hardox 450 is something that we’ve had trouble cutting in the shop with other similar sized plasma cutters before so the Powermax45 XP was a very nice surprise!

The Powermax45 XP isn’t just a cutting tool though, it also shines when gouging. The guys in the shop have typically performed most of their gouging tasks using carbon arc gouging which is a very loud, messy, and toxic application. Even with the proper safety equipment the carbon arc gouging would make the shop a very bad place to be. The Powermax45 XP is so much quieter, produces far less fumes, and is a much cleaner process without all the excess carbon. While the Powermax45 XP doesn’t completely replace the need for carbon arc gouging it does offer a more precise option that significantly reduces the need to carbon arc in the shop.

Marking with the Powermax45 XP

Lastly, by turning the Powermax45 XP down to 10 amps the unit can be used to mark metal. Easily allowing the user to mark pieces with part numbers, vehicle numbers, dates, etc.

Powermax45® XP DurabilityPowermax45 XP Cutting Torch

The Powermax45 XP is a well built durable unit. Unlike some of the cheaper models we’ve used i the past, this model comes with very robust 25 foot long leads and 10 foot long power cord. This unit is designed and built for everyday use, not just occasional weekend use. There is a very clear difference in this model compared to some of the cheaper models we’ve tried in the shop.

One of the things Hypertherm is known for are quality consumables that outlast the competition. Hypertherm uses patented shielding technology to protect the consumables resulting in much longer durability. The end result is spending less money on consumables due to the longer life. Duramax® Lock torches are designed for high-impact and heat resistance resulting in longer life.

Powermax45® XP Ease of Use

One of the things users will notice first at about the Powermax45 XP is how easy it is to use. From the simple controls to the patented drag-cutting technology that makes the Powermax45 XP easy to use, even for first-time operators. Another features, the Smart Sense™ technology ensures that air pressure is always correctly set. Lastly, weighing only 37 lbs this unit is very portable making it easy to set up and move from project to project.

Powermax45 XP Plasma CutterPowermax45® XP – Overall Impression

The Powermax45 XP plasma cutter is an exceptional portable plasma cutting solution. Built to withstand daily use in harsh environments this isn’t a cheap occasional use tool. It’s built to last and is backed by a company with a very high reputation for excellence in the cutting industry. When combined with a wide arrangement of quality consumables the Powermax45 XP is the best plasma cutter the guys in our fabrication/repair shop have ever used. It’s ability to quickly and precisely cut through tough materials like Hardox 450 speaks to it’s power and versatility.

Built just up the road from us here in New Hampshire it’s also great to see quality tools built here in the US. While not inexpensive starting around $2,000, this unit is built to last and tackle the toughest jobs. If you’re in the market for a quality, versatile plasma cutter then this unit is an excellent choice.


About the author

Todd Fratzel

Todd Fratzel is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Tool Box Buzz, and the President of Front Steps Media, LLC, a web based media company focused on the Home Improvement and Construction Industry.He is also the Principal Engineer for United Construction Corp., located in Newport, NH. In his capacity at United he oversees the Residential and Commercial Building Division along with all Design-Build projects.He is also the editor of Home Construction & Improvement.

@tfratzelTodd Fratzel

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