The airbrush is a spraying tool and requires pressurised air to work. Your choice of air source is extremely important - an inadequate supply of air and you will not get the performance from your airbrush. The two main types of air source are canned propellant and compressors.
The section below tells you ways to find the right compressor on our website and the glossary of terms should help. Choosing the wrong machine could prove to be costly. so if in doubt please contact us.
Using cans of propellant may be a way of trying out airbrushing without the outlay of a compressor if you are a beginner or are on a tight budget, but you will not get the best results with propellant and the money you spend replacing the aerosols would be best put towards a compressor.
Our most popular range of compressors are the Iwata Studio Series. With those and our other compressors we have a complete range to run any of the airbrushes we stock and similar airbrushes. There are four ways of looking for a compatible compressor on GraphicAir.co.uk:
Air source- a compressor or canned propellant that provides compressed air.
Volume delivery - the amount of air that the compressor can deliver. This governs how many airbrushes you can run with the machine.
Air tank - a storage tank that the compressor pumps air into, typically found on higher spec machines. This results in a smoother, more controllable airflow.
Automatic/auto-stop - usually present on compressors with a tank, but also on some without tanks. This auto-stop switches the motor off when a certain pressure in reached. These machines can be left on and will begin to run again only when required. These are good solution for longer periods of usage or a busy professional environment.
Moisture filter - removes water condensate from the air supply. Condensation coming through your airbrush with the medium can cause spattering or a streaky application.
Air regulator - allows adjustment of the air pressure supplied to the airbrush.
Air Bleed - found on machines without an auto-stop. On some machines an air bleed off is crucial to the correct running of the machine, such as tankless diaphragm machines. In some cases the air bleed is adjustable providing an inexpensive way of pressure adjustment, though not as precise as an air regulator. If you are using pressure to achieve different textured effects with the airbrush, then it will be better to use a regulator for pressure adjustment.
Psi - a measurement of air pressure - pounds per square inch.
Bar - a measurement of air pressure - there are approximately 15 psi per bar.
Diaphragm Compressor - A pulsating membrane compresses the air. Diaphragm compressors are fairly noisy and cannot be run for extended periods of time, so they more suitable for hobby applications than professional use. We recommend attaching a moisture filter to remove condensation from the air supply and to even out the pulsing. Click here to view our diaphragm compressors.
Piston Compressor - A piston or pair of pistons compress the air. Piston machines are generally silent or very quiet running and therefore exeptionally well suited to applications where noise would interfere with the creative process or make the working environment less than ideal, such as in a beauty salon. Click here to view our piston compressors.
Oil-less Compressors - Piston compressors can be either of the oil-filled or oil-less type. Oil-filled compressors are usually more silent, but oil-less compressors like the Iwata Studio Series are still quiet running. The main advantage of oil-less compressors is that you do not have to change any oil, making them low maintenance, and there is no risk of spilling oil when your compressor is in transit if you are mobile. Click here to view our oil-less compressors.
Industrial compressors - Although we have piston compressors that can run some small spray guns, if you wish to run a small spray gun with a larger nozzle or at higher pressures then you will need a bigger industrial compressor. The disadvantage of an industrial compressor is that it is noisier - that's because it has to work harder to compress more air. Click here to view our industrial compressors.
An industrial compressor would not be suitable for a tranquil environment like a beauty salon, but we have low air consumption spray guns that will run off the quiet oil-less piston compressor (the Iwata Power Jet Pro) at the low pressures we recommend for spray tanning.
Propellant cans - Pressurised air contained in a CFC-free aerosol can. A short-term solution for getting started, they do not offer a great deal of control over the air pressure. Once a compressor has been purchased the air is essentially free, whereas the propellant cans need regular replacement. The high pressures supplied by a propellant can are not recommended for beauty applications such as tanning and makeup. Obtaining the appropriate lower pressure using a compressor will be safer and more comfortable for the client and gives better efficiency of application.
Click here to view our full compressor range.