Mini Plasma Cutter

What do you get when you combine an arc cigarette lighter and some scrap glass and metal? [NightHawkInLight] created a simple plasma cutter project along with some hot glue and a few simple tools.

If you aren’t a smoker, an arc lighter uses a high voltage spark to light the cigarette. He essentially cannibalizes it for use as a power supply. Any similar high-voltage power supply should work just as well. He also uses the same cigarette lighter power supply for an arc pen, that we covered earlier.

The cutter uses a small steel screw and a bit of glass with a handle as the cutting head.  A metal base serves as the other electrode and a heat sink. For the plasma pen, two brass electrodes form the spark gap and a brass tube blows air to direct the arc to the work piece. If you are looking for something bigger, you could lay out about $8,000. Or–not really a plasma cutter–but you could go the very cheap route, instead.

13 thoughts on “Mini Plasma Cutter

  1. neat little toy but someone please correct me if i am wrong with the first video the glass and the metal are not acting as a heat sink to stop the paper from burning they are acting as an oxygen shield so it can not flame up right?

    1. Real plasma cutters can be ran without worrying about UV since there is very little exposure to the arc, it has no where near the output as welding does. Still should wear a face shield to protect yourself from hot slag and metal.

      The amount of UV from the toy is not hardly worth mentioning.

  2. This would be perfect for CNC as they’re mostly conductive materials.

    I wonder if this could be scaled up a little with a simple belt driven x/y CNC and perhaps a Microwave Output Transformer – what would it be capable of cutting???

    1. This is a fun toy, but workable, hackable plasma cutters that work in more than just thin sheets of paper can be had for $250

      Just remember that unlike welders, plasma cutters run at a high enough voltage to overcome your skin’s electrical resistance and kill

  3. I tried something similar a few years ago but the plasma cutter I made was a dud. I was just thinking it’s about time to have another go, so these videos came in the nick of time! Great post, but remember boys and girls – safety first!

  4. People are awesome !! Great idea for bigger projects in industries like shearing, cutting of thin sheets of different materials. We use shearing machine for cutting of plates in our welding shop and are looking for better option in market for smooth operation.

    But if you are going to give it a try at home or some institution, so please take safety and preventive measures before to start work.

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