Review, Specs & Price
The XPR300 is the first system in Hypertherm’s newest generation of mechanized plasma cutting systems: X-Definition technology. Launched in 2017 and with 300A cutting current, it offers increased cut speeds, unrivalled cut quality and slashed operating costs.
Do you want to know what makes this plasma cutting system so special, how does it stack up against its competitors and how much it cost?
If you answered yes, to one of the questions above, then this in-depth review article of the XPR300 is exactly what you are looking for.
The XPR300 is an easy to use plasma system, which redefines the performance standard of plasma cutting on mild steel and non-ferrous materials. It also has significantly lower operating costs compared to other high definition plasma cutting systems and can be considered a viable alternative to laser cutting technology.
|✓ PRO||✗ CON|
|XPR300||Consistent ISO range 2 results on thin mild steel||Higher power supply required|
|Superior stainless steel cut quality||Higher Nitrogen consumption|
|Superior results on aluminum||Specialized filter required when using a VWI console|
|Significantly lower operating costs||Cut charts can not be changed|
|Dramatic improvement in consumable life||CAD drawings designed for previous systems might not work anymore|
|Thicker piercing capability||Slower than HPRXD on <2 mm thickness|
|Easier system set-up & more user-friendly||-|
Plasma cutting systems can be very complex, and Hypertherm’s XPR300™ is no exception. There are various factors you should take into account when choosing your new plasma cutting system.
In this review, we will talk in-depth about these factors and we will answer the 10 most frequently asked questions with regard to the XPR300!
- Question 1: What cut quality can I expect from the XPR300?
- Question 2: What is the cutting capacity of the XPR300?
- Question 3: Can the XPR300 increase the productivity of your business?
- Question 4: Is the XPR300 easy to use?
- Question 5: What is the difference between the 3 available gas connect consoles?
- Question 6: What sets the XPR300 apart from the competition?
- Question 7: Are there downsides to the XPR300?
- Question 8: How much does an XPR300 cost?
- Question 9: Is the XPR300 a viable alternative to laser?
- Question 10: What is the best machine for the XPR300?
What cut quality can I expect from the XPR300?
One of the biggest advantages of Hypertherm’s XPR300™ is its enhanced cut quality. These next-generation systems redefine what plasma can do by expanding its capabilities. More precisely, there are 3 areas where the XPR300™ truly excels:
When installed on a high quality cutting machine, equipped with linear bearings and precision racks, Hypertherm’s XPR300™ plasma system, is capable of maintaining ISO 9013 Class 1 and 2 tolerances and ISO 9013 Range 2 and 3 cut quality, along with very smooth edges.
How was Hypertherm able to increase cut quality on mild steel?
On the one hand, there is the ‘cool nozzle’ feature on the 300-amp oxygen process, which provides liquid cooling directly to the nozzle bore. This cooling is a significant factor in increasing cut quality.
On the other hand, a modified shield gas impingement delivers a superior arc steadiness when coming out of a pierced hole or out of an acute angle. It offers improved cut quality, and it also reduces lead-in lengths.
ISO 2 Range Cut Mild Steel
The cut quality on stainless steel with the XPR300 is a total game-changer for plasma cutting technology. Again, combined with a high-quality cutting machine, you can cut stainless steel dross-free at high cutting speed and with a limited heat affected zone.
Obviously, trade-offs have to be made between cutting speed and dross accumulation, but in many cases, the XPR300 is a very cost-effective alternative to a fibre laser, especially when cutting thicker materials.
What explains the improved cut quality on stainless steel?
There are various reasons why the XPR300 excels on stainless steel.
First of all, the main driver for this improvement is the fact that Hypertherm’s HyDefinition is now also applied to the full range of non-ferrous cutting processes. This technology has much better arc stability and energy density, thanks to its two-piece vented nozzle design and will result in a cleaner, sharper, more consistent edge quality.
Secondly, in order to reduce angularity and deliver more consistent edge colour on stainless steel up to 12 mm, the XPR300 also mixes hydrogen reclaimed from the vented plasma gas with the shield gas.
Thirdly, thin stainless applications require highly constricted arcs, in order to increase cutting speed and maintain smooth cut edges. To achieve this, the XPR300 adds a chamber in the nozzle to absorb the pressure and flow fluctuations.
Finally, to reduce heat-affected zones in stainless steel, the XPR300 can be combined with a VWI console. This water shielded cutting technology can limit heat-affected zones to 0.1 mm, which is a very manageable zone for most business.
If you have more questions on plasma cutting stainless steel, we recommend you to read our separate article on this topic.
The above mentioned VWI process, which features a vented N2 plasma and an H2O shield give even better results on aluminium. Edges are square, angularity is reduced, and the surface finish is excellent.
Stainless Steel & Aluminium cut with an XPR300 (VWI)
What is the cutting capacity of the XPR300?
The XPR300 offers the following cutting capacity:
- Virtually dross free mild steel cutting from 0.7 mm thick and diameters from 0.75 up to 2.5 times material thickness
True Hole Technology for mild steel from 3 mm to 25 mm thick and diameters from 0.75 up to 2.5 times material thickness
- Mild Steel production pierce (Argon assist) up to 50 mm.
- Stainless Steel production pierce up to 38 mm.
- Aluminium production pierce up to 38 mm
- In built marking with Nitrogen (CORE) or Argon (VWI, Optimix)
In the tables below you can find the maximum pierce and severance capacities as well as the maximum cutting speed on mild steel.
|Mild Steel Pierce Capacity (Argon)||50 mm|
|Mild Steel Pierce Capacity (O2)||45 mm|
|Mild Steel Severance||80 mm|
|Stainless Steel Pierce Capacity||38 mm|
|Stainless Steel Severance||75 mm|
|Aluminium Pierce Capacity||38 mm|
|Aluminium Severance||50 mm|
|12 mm||3940 mm/min|
|20 mm||2550 mm/min|
|25 mm||1960 mm/min|
|30 mm||1530 mm/min|
|35 mm||1190 mm/min|
|40 mm||940 mm/min|
|50 mm*||560 mm/min|
* with Argon assist
Can the XPR300 increase the productivity of your business?
Yes. The XPR300 has the potential to increases the productivity of your business as it offers 5 main advantages vs. Hypertherm’s HPRXD and other plasma systems on the market.
- Significantly reduced operating costs than the previous generation HPRXD technology and other non-Hypertherm systems .
- Higher quality cuts that reduce or eliminate secondary operations
- Increased cut speeds on thicker materials.
- Dramatic improvement in consumable life on mild steel applications with quicker set-up time.
- Thicker piercing capability than other plasma systems on the market.
What elements and technologies will guarantee this increase in productivity?
There are many elements that will increase productivity, but we would like to highlight the following features of the XPR300:
Automatic torch protection:
The chopper module senses the onset of catastrophic electrode blowout failure and shuts down the system, protecting the torch from potential damage and enabling improved consumable optimization.
Ramp-down error protection
Chopper module senses when a cut is about to end in an uncontrolled manner, so it automatically initiates a ramp‑down sequence protecting the electrode. Like this the consumable life will extended up to around 3 times, which reduces operating costs significantly.
This feature on the 300-amp oxygen process provides liquid cooling directly to the nozzle bore. This cooling is a significant factor in increasing cut quality over the life of the consumables by over 40%.
Argon Assist Piercing
Argon-assist piercing delivers much thicker piercing capacity on mild steel for further productivity benefits.
High-quality argon marking using the same cutting consumables allows for a rapid and efficient changeover.
Is the XPR300 easy to use?
YES. There are a lot of plasma systems available on the market, but we must admit that the XPR300 sets the standard for achieving advanced system performance easily.
From system set up and installation to connectivity and process optimization, XPR’s intuitive operation and automatic system monitoring redefine easy plasma cutting.
Below you find the reasons why we believe the XPR300 is user-friendly:
- Fewer consoles and connections reduce components, set-up time, complexity and simplify replacement.
- All consoles feature advanced autogas capability enabling all cutting processes to be selected and driven directly from the CNC.
- The electrode of the XPR300 can be easily tightened via an easy 1⁄4 turn, which reduces job setup time significantly.
- The torch of the XPR300 can be easily disconnected and changed.
- Built-in WiFi connects operating and monitoring abilities to the mobile device dashboard. This allows you to monitor your machine in real-time via industry 4.0 software like IRIS.
XPR300 electrode delivers easy 1⁄4 turn
tightening, reducing job setup time.
What is the difference between the 3 available gas connect consoles?
Hypertherm offers three state-of-the-art console options to combine with the XPR300. (Core, VWI and Optimix)
The difference between these gas consoles is the ability to mix more gases/fluids. These extra processes are beneficial if your business wants to cut up to 50 mm mild steel or requires enhanced quality on stainless steel or aluminium.
The most basic gas console is the Core, which can mix N2, O2 and Air. It is an excellent choice if you mostly want to cut high-quality holes in mild steel up to 45 mm and stainless steel up to 12 mm. For thin stainless steel, the edge finish is brighter as no air is mixed in the plasma gas. Nitrogen is used for marking which gives a basic finish.
A more sophisticated console is the Vented Water Injection (VWI). Besides mixing N2/O2 and Air, VWI also allows you to mix F5/Ar/H2O. The benefits of argon include a 10% increase in piercing thickness and better marking capabilities. The F5 process with H2O shield will deliver significantly better results on non-ferrous materials like stainless steel and aluminium. Some of the processes use water and if these processes are required, special care must be taken when selecting the cutting table and filter.
The premium gas console is the Optimix. It offers all the capabilities of the Core and VWI consoles plus discrete 3-gas mixing (Ar, H2, and N2) for the best plasma cutting results on stainless steel and aluminium.
In the table below, you find an overview of the capabilities of the three gas consoles. If you are not sure which gas console is best for your business, you can always ask your machine manufacturer for an expert opinion.
|Unmatched mild steel cutting performance||✓||✓||✓|
|Superior angularity and edge finish on stainless steel up to 12 mm||✓||✓||✓|
|10% increase in piercing thickness with argon-assist||-||✓||✓|
|Enhanced stainless steel & aluminium capabilities via vented water injection||-||✓||✓|
|Discrete 3-gas mixing for the best stainless steel and aluminum cutting capability||-||-||✓|
What sets the XPR300 apart from the competition?
ESAB 300i and Kjellberg Highfocus 280i neo
In this section, we will have a closer look at the performance of these plasma cutting systems for both mild steel and non-ferrous metals.
The biggest advantages of the XPR300 compared to the ESAB 300i and the Kjellberg 280i neo are superior consumable life and faster cutting speed. Therefore it will be no surprise the XPR300 has considerably lower operating process costs.
As ramp-down errors are common in real-world applications, the ‘ramp down error detection’ of the XPR300 is in our view a key feature for modern industrial plasma cutting. Such a feature is unfortunately not available at other systems in the market.
The argon-assist also allows from virtually dross-free cutting up to 50 mm, where the other two systems offer a pierce capacity up to 40 mm.
Last but not least, the cut quality of the XPR300 is significantly better on both low and high amperage.
|Consumable life: 20” cuts||1368||960||620|
|Consumable life: 20” /5% ramp down error cuts||1250||360||400|
|Cutting speed 20 mm||2550||2430||2100|
|Cutting speed 30 mm||1530||1410||1200|
|Cutting speed 40 mm||940||810||720|
|Pierce Thickness (mm)||50||40||40|
|ISO Range 2 at low amp||✓||-||-|
|Consistent ISO Range 3 at 300 amp||✓||-||✓|
If you compare the three plasma cutting systems, it is important to notice that the Kjellberg HiFocus 280i neo does not have an H2O shield process. This makes the plasma source less suitable for non-ferrous materials. The heat affected zoned on stainless steel is larger, and the cut quality on aluminium is significantly lower.
The ESAB 300i and the XPR300 are both excellent choices for non-ferrous materials, but if we have to pick a winner, we give the edge to the XPR300. It has superior angularity and a slightly better edge quality on thin stainless steel.
|Dry Cutting speed 15 mm||1848||1720||1500|
|Dry Cutting speed 25 mm||1040||920||950|
|Dry Cutting speed 40 mm||597||600||570|
|Wet Cutting speed 15 mm||1975||2080||✗|
|Wet Cutting speed 25 mm||1302||1030||✗|
|Wet Cutting speed 40 mm||612||580||✗|
|Pierce Thickness (mm)||38||30||30|
Ease of Use:
The XPR300 has fewer components, compared to the ESAB 300i and the Kjellberg HiFocus 280i neo.
An XPR300 system has a power supply, a gas connect console, a torch connect console, and a torch. The other systems also have a cooler, a system controller and torch starting box.
Fewer elements drastically reduce set up time and simplify replacement.
Are there downsides to the XPR300?
Hypertherm’s XPR300 offers a lot of advantages, but the system is not perfect and also has some noteworthy downsides.
Before you buy an XPR300, you need to pay special attention to the following points.
The XPR300 requires a lot more power compared to previous generation plasma systems like the HPRXD.
Whereas other HD plasma sources could be attached to 100 kW 3-phase-system, the XPR300 requires a 103 kW 3-phase system. Such a power supply is not always available for every business.
In case this power supply is not readily available, extra costs will have to be taken into account to install this plasma source. These modifications can be quite expensive and are not always possible.
We do not recommend to install an external 3-phase generator, as they are not always reliable while the plasma arc ignites.
Although the overall consumable life is much longer compared to other HD plasma systems, we must flag that the Nitrogen consumption is significantly higher.
When piercing mild steel, The XPR300 consumes more nitrogen, compared to HPRXD. This is because of the XPR300 also uses nitrogen for pre-piercing and cleaning.
Processes can’t be modified
The fact that the processes and cutting charts of the XPR300 can’t be changed might seem an advantage at first sight, as like this costly operating errors are likely to be avoided.
However, more experienced operators would like to change sometimes the cut chart (e.g. increase the speed for deeper marking or shot blasting). This is unfortunately not possible with the XPR300.
Older CAD drawings might not be compatible
If you had a lot of drawings that worked perfectly fine on your old HPRXD, it might be very well possible you have to create new ones for the XPR300.
Due to the new ‘ramp down error detection and protection technology’, the lead-out is significantly different vs previous systems.
Unlike other systems, the torch will stop at once, when the off-signal it receives the off-signal. This might lead to incomplete cuts in case older you use older CAD drawings.
Vented Water Injection (VWI) requires a specialised filter
The H2O shield of the vented water injection delivers superior results on the edge quality of non-ferrous metals.
There is however a small disadvantage of using a wet process. In this case, the standard filtration systems for dry processes can not be used. Over time, the water particles from the VWI, which are not evaporated by the plasma, will damage a standard the dust filter.
Therefore, a VWI or Optimix gas console requires a more advanced filtration system. Such filtration systems are usually a couple of thousands of pounds more expensive.
Slower cutting speed on 2 mm or less
One of the biggest advantages of the XPR300 is the increased cut quality. However, to obtain these ISO 2 and ISO 3 ranges consistently during the consumable lifetime, Hypertherm did not develop a 50 and 80 amp process for thicknesses of 2 mm or less.
This means that if you want to cut 2 mm mild steel, you will have to use the 30 amp process. This process allows you to cut at 1490 mm/min, which is significantly slower than the 50 amp process (2700 mm/min) or the 80 amp process ( 9810 mm/min) on an HPRXD plasma system.
Is there a way to increase the cutting speed on thin mild steel?
Experienced machine manufacturers could help to increase your cutting speed on thin mild steel. However, these recommendations might be different from what an official Hypertherm process engineer would recommend.
How much does an XPR300 cost?
The price of an XPR300 plasma system varies between £45.000 and £55.000, depending on which gas console you choose.
Obviously, the total costs linked to high definition plasma cutting are significantly higher. The XPR300 needs to be mounted on a cutting machine, proper filtration needs to be foreseen, and you might want to invest in specialised CAD/CAM software.
Therefore, a complete XPR300 plasma system mounted on a high-quality cutting machine, with adequate filtration and best-in-class software would likely cost somewhere between £125,000 and £200,000. A lot will depend on the size of your plasma cutting machine.
Proper plasma cutting filtration
Is the XPR300 a viable alternative to laser?
The answer to this question depends on the type of work being undertaken. If a business consistently requires very tight tolerances (<0.2 mm), a fibre laser will often remain the best choice.
However, if the tolerance requirements are slightly lower then it is likely that the XPR300 is a very good alternative to a fibre laser. The XPR300 is capable of maintaining ISO 9013 range 2 and 3 cut quality, at a fraction of the cost.
A fibre laser has a speed advantage over plasma on the thinner ranges, but apart from this, the XPR300 is a great allrounder and offers combines a wide cutting range, high cutting speed and low capital and operating cost.
Beyond this, plasma is a much more forgiving process when it comes to cutting so-called “dirty” steel such as a plate with oxidation, paint and other imperfections. It really makes no difference to the plasma arc whereas problems often are caused with fibre laser cutting.
Typically, a fibre laser requires triple the investment compared to a high-end HD plasma cutting machine and it is understandable why a lot of businesses opt for an XPR300 plasma system integrated on a high quality cutting machine.
Esprit Automation Lightning HD plasma cutter
What is the best machine for the XPR300?
When looking at XPR300 based plasma cutting solutions, it is important that a lot of attention is paid to the machine it will be integrated with.
An XPR300 plasma system will produce significantly better hole and edge quality than other plasma systems but only if it is integrated with a precision, high performance cutting machine.
The exact quality of each hole can vary depending on the quality of the machine and the software used. The motion of the table will directly influence the quality. The more precise the motion, the higher the quality.
For example, high-performance plasma cutting machines such as the Esprit Lightning HD and Viper have powerful AC brushless drives with high-quality planetary gearboxes which produce smooth, high-performance motion.
These market-leading machine specifications, combined with Hypertherm’s XPR300 will deliver the highest quality holes in plasma cut parts.
Taking all of this into account, it is strongly recommended to closely check the real-life quality of the holes before purchasing a XPR300 based plasma cutting machine.
Cut samples should be obtained from the OEM table manufacturer to see the type of quality that is possible on their machines. Ideally it is best to witness the samples being cut.
If you have more questions about Hypertherm’s XPR300 or you would like to request a price quote, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Our team of expert engineers can help you to identify the right CNC cutting machine for you and, they’d be delighted to talk through your specific requirements and how Esprit Automation could help you to meet them.
CONTACT US For all your plasma cutting machine needs.