Hobart Airforce 40i Plasma Cutter Review

Hobart Airforce 40i Plasma CutterThe Hobart Airforce 40i is the most powerful, most expensive model in Hobart’s plasma cutter range, and it’s great performance, fast cutting speed, solid duty cycle at high amps and incredible reliability make this an ideal choice for anyone who needs a plasma cutter for non industrial, or even light industrial use.

Hobart is an established name amongst welders, known for their high power, high quality, reasonably priced systems. Now they are in the plasma cutter market, and their heritage stays just as strong.

With a wealth of tech and safety options on a hard working and reliable frame, this is a great system for anyone who’s looking for a hard working, great performing plasma cutter, whether that’s for use at home, on the farm, or in garages or workshops.


Quick Cut Specs

Technical SpecsCutting PerformanceDuty Cycle
Weight: 32 lbs (14.5 kgs)
Dimensions (HxWxD): 11.25×8.25×14.25″ (285x209x361mm)
Type: Inverter
Power Requirements: 240V
Amps: 50A
Torch: XT40R torch with 12ft lead
Compressor required: Yes
Minimum Compressor (CFM): 4.8 CFM @ 90-120 PSI
CNC Capable: Yes
Warranty: 5 transformers / 3 yr electronics / 1 yr on guns

Want to know more? Check out the manual.

Cutting: 5/8″ @ 9ipm
Severance: 7/8″ @ 3ipm
50% @ 40A

Key Features

The single best thing about this plasma cutter is the cutting prowess. That’s also the most important. After all, it’s a plasma cutter.

First things first, it cuts fast. Real fast. With a maximum cutting speed of 52 inches per minute on quarter inch steel, this carves through jobs with the minimum of fuss, saving you so much time. On top of that, it can cut through as thick as ¾ of an inch at a respectable speed of 6 inches per minute, and even at full bore, you’re looking at a solid duty cycle of 50%, which is obviously pretty good.

The Hobart Airforce 40i is an updated version of Hobart’s 700i, a great plasma cutter in its own right. The cutter itself is the same, but it comes with a redesigned torch that’s responsive, easy to handle and really comfortable to use for long periods of time, in part because of the flexible and lightweight connecting cable. You also get a drag tip included in the kit, as well as 2 additional standard tips, just in case that’s something you’re looking for.

With the redesigned torch, the cuts you get with this unit are clean, with a narrow kerf and minimum clean up required. The consumables (electrodes, tips, drag tip, and swirl ring) are also reasonably inexpensive, which is a nice touch, especially if your workload is particularly heavy.

It’s an inverter based cutter, which is nice, because it contributes to the light weight of this unit. For all of its power, it’s surprisingly mobile, and you could easily pack it up and sling it into the back of a van or pickup. It’s safe to use on generators, too, as long as you’ve got at least 8kW of power and 240V from it.

There’s a lot of nice tech packed into this, as well. For a start it’s got a pilot arc startup feature, with auto-refire technology just in case you lift off and lose your arc.

Next is the on board diagnostic system, which lets you know if anything major goes down with your system. But it won’t. The on board fan, which activates on demand, saving power and wear, and thermal overload protection make sure of that.

Just in case anything does go wrong, you’ve got Hobart’s proprietary 5/3/1 warranty, which is gold standard and covers pretty much everything you need it to.

Finally, and one thing that’s really nice about this plasma cutter, is how simple it is to use, especially if you’ve never used a cutter before. Out of the box, you can set this up in just a few minutes. It’s just as simple to adjust, with incredibly easy to use dials on the front.

The only real issues are the ground clamp, which doesn’t have the grip I’d like to see, and the power cord, which can be a little short if you’re gonna be working across a large area.


Green Check Really fast and clean cutting. Cuts ¼ inch steel at over 50 inches per minute.
Green Check On board diagnostic system allows you to see at a glance what’s going on with your unit, especially with the LED display panel
Green Check Fan on demand and thermal overload protection keeps your investment safe.
Green Check Surprisingly light and mobile for the power output. Easy to pack up and move about.
Green Check Hobart’s bulletproof 5/3/1 warranty covers the whole system, no matter what goes wrong.
Caution Warning  Ground clamp is pretty weak, but easy to work around
Caution Warning  Shorter power cord, so you might have to move it around a bit

The Final Cut on the Hobart Airforce 40i

Whilst the Hobart Airforce 40i might be more expensive than a lot of budget plasma cutters out there, by god is it worth it.

Once you’ve used this plasma cutter, with its wealth of automatic features, clean results that need almost no work to make ready, and most importantly, blisteringly fast cutting speed, you’ll never want to use anything else.

Sounds like hyperbole. It isn’t! For the money, this is one of the best plasma cutters on the market.