Airbrush compressors what a maze of confusion
there is when looking for a good reliable air source for airbrushing, kustom
painting. The main object of Airbrush Compressor.Com is to hopefully offer some
clarity to the many options you have to choose from.
To start off lets
go over some common terms and definitions relating to airbrush
Air compressor a compressor that takes in air at
atmospheric pressure and delivers it at a higher
Reciprocating air compressors are those in which each
compressing element consists of a piston moving back and forth in a
Moisture separators are devices for collecting and
removing moisture from the air.
db: Decibel.A term to describe
the relative loudness of a sound. Typically, heat pumps and air conditioners
are between the sound of a human voice (70db) and a blender
Displacement:The volume of air displaced by a full stroke
of the first stage piston, multiplied by the rated RPM of the compressor. This
is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM)
purification of air by passing it through a porous material for the removal of
solid particles and liquid droplets. Filtration is an essential step in the
process of air purification
Air Pressure RegulatorA component of
an air compressor that allows the user to adjust the air pressure in the air
Maximum Pressure Ratin The highest-pressure level
recommended for a compressor.
Diaphragm compressors chieve
compression with the use of a flexing diaphragm that moves back and forth in a
closed chamber; the design is an alteration of the reciprocating piston
concept. The motion of the connecting rod under the diaphragm causes the
flexing and only a short stroke is needed to generate similar pressure effects
as those of a reciprocating piston compressor.
CFMa Cubic feet
per minute. Compressors are rated by CFM. It is very important that you know
what the delivered CFM is at a specific pressure when comparing compressors.
Some dealers may advertise CFM displacement which is always higher than CFM
delivered. Another key is the pressure given. A CFM rating at 40 PSI will
always be a higher value than at 100 PSI or 175 PSI. The main thing to remember
is Delivered CFM at the same Pressures when comparing performance
Gauges pressure gauges to monitor tank and regulator
Horse Power:The power rating of an electrical motor.
Unfortunately , this is a very vague and confusing term due to the fact that
the "Value" of Horse Power (HP) is not a constant among the various types and
sizes of motors. When selecting a compressor you should look for the CFM
delivered at a specific pressure.
Oil less Compressor: Any
compressor that is not lubricated by oil.
Electrical device that is designed to monitor and control the tank storage
pressure and to shut off the motor by means of opening a control circuit. In
smaller units, the Pressure Switch may be wired directly to the motor. However,
in larger units the pressure switch is wired to a control circuit.
PSI:Pounds Per Square Inch. "Pressure". Used to describe the
storage pressure, operating pressure, regulated pressure, air tool pressure
Used in conjunction with CFM which is an expression of
volume. When comparing Pressures and CFM between units, be sure to use both CFM
and PSI at the same compared values. Example; 17 CFM @ 175 PSI. or 6 CFM @ 90
Regulator: An inline device designed to reduce downstream
air pressure to a specific adjustable setting.
regulators, moisture traps / filtershould be used on any type compressor
used for airbrushing. An air pressure regulator controls the air pressure at
which the paint is sprayed. Moisture trap / filter captures the moisture
created by the flow of the hot air cooling in the air storage tank or airbrush
hose.** For oil lubricated compressors a oil filter should be used to capture
any oil from the compressor before it gets into your airbrush. .
COMPRESSED CO2 TANKS Perfect for
airbrushing in many cases if the size of your projects are not huge. No need
for a moisture trap or oil filter are needed for CO2, just a regulator. For a
regulator you should use a welding type regulator which screws on top of the
Now that we have a basic understanding of some
of the terms we will be coming a crossed when researching airbrush compressors
lets move on to some of the things you should take into consideration before
you purchase a airbrush compressor.
oFirst and foremost is to determine
what exactly you will be airbrushing, custom painting and the type paint you
will be using. Paint is propelled through and out the airbrush tip in a
controlled manner by compressed air. The higher the viscosity of the paint (the
thicker the paint) the higher PSI will be required to get the job done. An
illustration type airbrush paint like Doc PH Martins or Golden Airbrush Colors
both of which we would call low viscosity paints would require 10 to 30 PSI
with a 0.18 to 0.35 nozzle / needle to give you good results. Where as Createx
(a textile paint) being a higher viscosity paint would require 40 to 60 PSI to
give you good results.
This translates in simple terms to if you are
airbrushing illustrations, fine art you might well get away with a smaller
compressor than if you where airbrushing T Shirts.
considerations: Is a noisy compressor acceptable to use in your case, would
the noise created hinder your ability to airbrush in other words. If you have a
studio in your home or apartment a noisy compressor might not be the way to go.
If you have a shop or studio outside your home, apartment a noisy compressor
might work out well for you.
How much money do you have to spend is
always part of the mix when purchasing art supplies, equipment. That's why it's
so important to do your home work now before you make a buying decision, spend
your money wisely.
Pictured above is a Paasche D500 airbrush
compressor. This is an oil-less diaphragm type compressor and would work well
for very light duty airbrushing with a gravity feed airbrush and a low
Pictured above is an oil less piston type
airbrush compressor which is great for use with thin (low viscosity) type
paints such as Comart, Golden Airbrush Colors and a fixed nozzle, gravity feed
airbrush or a siphon feed airbrush with low viscosity paint. This set up will
not work well with say an airbrush like the Paasche VL and textile colors
unless you thin or reduce the airbrush textile colors.
Here we have an oil less piston type airbrush
compressor within a metal case, a suite case style airbrush compressor. These
are great for in home or apt. studios to be used with thin paints (low
viscosity). If you require a quite running compressor you might want to give
these style compressors a look. Again it will not work well for high viscosity
paints such as textile colors with a floating nozzle unless you thin or reduce
Here we have a half horse power compressor that
runs very quite made by Silent Air for the airbrushing market. This size
compressor will do limited T Shirt production, provides the PSI required using
textile colors and syphon feed airbrushes. Also would be good for use with Auto
Art, motorcycle murals. It will not provide enough air for base coating or
clear coating large surfaces but would work great to the art work. Silent Air
makes larger models which will provide enough air for doing such and I'm sure
you can find them listed on that company's web site.
Pictured above is the Great White airbrush
compressor which I personally used for years in my Mall T Shirt shop. It will
run two to three airbrushes at the same time using textile colors with very
little problem. These type compressors use a refrigerator type compressor and
are very quite.
Finally we have the type of compressor you buy
at Home Depot, Lowes or Sears. These will work fine as long as you have a
regulator and filter attached. The draw back is they are noisy and before you
purchase one ask to hear it run so you know just how nosiy they are. One good
point is with a big air storage tank as pictured the compressor should not run
often when using it for most airbrush applications.If you plan on custom
painting bikes, auto art this might be the way for you to go as you can run
other air tools off it also like a DA, spray gun,etc.
airbrush or spray gun you have should have recommended pressure and volume
requirements for air please be sure the compressor you buy meets or excedes
those requirements. It is always a good idea to buy a compressor bigger than
your present needs so you have room to grow and so you don't over work your