If you work with metal, you’ve likely considered using a CNC plasma cutter. These innovative tools use CNC-guided plasma to cut through metals, achieving a faster and more accurate cut than other tools.

Here at Surefire CNC, we often get asked how effective CNC plasma is when it comes to cutting thick metal plate. To help you make an informed decision for your operations, we cover the maximum material thickness a CNC plasma machine can cut, in this article. 


CNC plasma cutter cutting metal

CNC plasma cutters are generally used for metal fabrication, especially in applications where versatility is crucial. For example, fabrication shops, manufacturing, automotive repair and restoration, and training centres are common users of CNC machines. In these environments, CNC plasma tables with conventional and HD plasma are used to cut components from flat metal sheets or plates. 


The plate thickness of steel that a CNC plasma machine can cut depends on the specific machine and its capabilities. There are several factors to consider, including: 

  • Material thickness
  • Material type
  • Pierce capacity
  • Material weight


The thickness of steel that a CNC plasma cutter can cut is determined by the plasma and the CNC table. Entry-level plasma machines may be suitable for cutting up to 12mm (half inch). Mid-range CNC plasma machines such as the Australian-made SUREFIRE CNC range can cut up to 32mm thick steel. However, high-end industrial CNC plasma systems with high definition can cut steel plates that are 50-60mm thick.

Typically, most fabrication workshops in Australia don’t often need to cut materials more than 25mm to 32mm thick so the expense of high-definition plasma, or HD Plasma, can be avoided with the right machine. Here at Surefire CNC, we have various models available starting with small 12mm plasmas up to the Max Pro 200 which will comfortably cut and pierce steel up to 32mm thick with good cut quality.

Note that the price of the plasma typically goes up, the bigger the machine. You can use our product selector tool to find out the pricing for each machine.


With the right CNC machines, plasma will cut any material that conducts electricity. With the right settings and thickness, you should be able to cut the following metals: 

  • Mild steel
  • Stainless steel
  • Steel alloys
  • Aluminium
  • Carbon steel
  • Copper
  • Brass

With the right settings, you may be able to cut other metals using a plasma cutter. To be sure, ask our team for tailored advice for your operations. 


In most CNC applications, cutting starts with piercing rather than an edge start. This means it is important to consider the pierce capacity as well as the cutting capacity. For example, the Powermax 125 will cut up to 38mm thick steel with edge-start cutting but the pierce capacity is only 25mm. In comparison, the Max Pro 200 can cut and pierce 32mm thick steel. 


In addition to the thickness of your metal, you need to account for the weight. At Surefire CNC, our CNC XT tables are built to support the weight of 32mm thick steel plates. We design our Australian-made tables to support 64mm plates, but the actual load rating is 32mm to be on the safe side.


At Surefire, we often get asked how CNC machines compare to waterjet, oxy, and laser. The answer depends on purchase cost, running cost, cutting speed, and cut quality. 

As you can see, CNC plasma offers the best balance of affordability, cut quality, and speed. While waterjet and laser may offer higher quality cuts, the high costs will outweigh this for many metal fabricators. 


Surefire CNC is a division of Weldclass Australia and we’re 100% Australian owned and operated. Our team is dedicated to providing CNC plasma and profile-cutting equipment to Australian metal fabricators and we understand how critical it is to invest in the right equipment. With Surefire CNC, you also gain access to the following: 

  • 40+ years of experience.
  • Easy-to-use software, including CAD, CAM, and CNC.
  • A local network of support and technicians.

If in doubt, use our product selector tool to find the most suitable CNC machine or CNC plasma table for your operations. 


Hypertherm Powermax 45XP

This compact and lightweight plasma cutter only weighs 16kg, making it ideal for small-scale operations and relocating to each task. With a pierce capacity of 12mm, this unit is ideal as a starting machine for industrial CNC packages. 


Input voltage/Input current — 240v 1 phase / 33 amps
Output current — 10-45 amps
Duty Cycle at 40Fc — 45 amps at 50%
Weight — 16kg


Hypertherm Powermax 105

The Hypertherm Powermax 105 offers a cut speed of over 1,000mm per minute on 20mm-thick steel. It can also CNC edge-cut up to 30mm. The Hypertherm Powermax 105 is also compatible with our full range of CNC plasma tables and comes with a 3-year warranty.


Input voltage/Input current — 240v 1 phase / 33 amps
Output current — 400v 3 phase / 11 amps 
Duty Cycle at 40Fc — 10-45 amps 
Weight — 45kg


Hypertherm Powermax 125

The Powermax 125® is superior in its accuracy and reliability, making it ideal for even the most demanding applications, including heavy industrial engineering, manufacturing, repair and maintenance, sheet metal, scrap metal, and gouging.

The Hypertherm Powermax 125® has a pierce capacity of 25mm and an edge-cut capacity of 38mm, meaning it can complete the most demanding jobs with ease. It’s also compatible with our CNC plasma tables


Input voltage/Input current — 415v 3 phase / 36 amps
Output current — 30-125 amps
Duty Cycle at 40Fc — 125 amps at 100%
Weight — 49kg


Hypertherm Max Pro 200

The Hypertherm Max Pro 200 is a 200amp plasma cutter offering superior cutting performance similar to high-definition plasma. It is a heavy-duty production machine with multi-gas capability. It can cut and pierce steel plates up to 32mm thick and comes with the option of oxygen or nitrogen gas. The Max Pro 200 is also compatible with our entire range of CNC plasma tables, making it easier for you to access a very affordable package for up to 32mm steel.


Input voltage/Input current — 415v 3 phase / 52 amps
Output current — 50-200 amps
Duty Cycle at 40Fc — 200 amps at 100%
Weight — 335kg

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