Which Compressor should I choose?
An airbrush is a spraying tool that needs pressurised air to work. Your choice of air source is vital in getting the best paint finish – an inadequate air supply can reduce the performance of your airbrush and potentially ruin your work.
The two main types of air source are canned propellant and compressors.
In this section you’ll find the glossary of words that we use all over the website to describe our compressors. We hope that they will help you understand each features so that you can choose the best airbrush compressor for your need. Choosing the wrong compressor 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 a propellant. The money you spend replacing the aerosols would be best put towards a compressor.
Finding the right compressor on GraphicAir.co.uk
- The product description of compressor on our website tells you the compatible airbrush for the compressor.
- Click on the link to recommended compressors near the bottom of each airbrush page.
- Search for occurrences of the airbrush name in the compressor section using the Advanced Search facility. Remember to tick the boxes to search in descriptions and in sub-categories of the Compressors category. If you can’t find the model or series name, try the brand name, but please read the actual description before you add a compressor to your shopping cart.
- If your airbrush is not listed in the compressor section, then we can still find the right compressor from our comprehensive range if you contact us.
Glossary of terms
the amount of air that the compressor can deliver. This governs how many airbrushes you can run with the machine.
a compressor or canned propellant that provides compressed air.
a storage tank that the compressor pumps air into, typically found on higher spec machines. This results in a smoother, more controllable airflow.
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.
removes water condensate from the air supply. Condensation coming through your airbrush with the medium can cause spattering or a streaky application.
allows adjustment of the air pressure supplied to the airbrush.
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 tank-less 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.
a measurement of air pressure – there are approximately 15 psi per bar.
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. Graphicair doesn’t stock diagram compressors
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.
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.
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.
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.
Psi stands for pounds per square inch, is a measurement of pressure. It is the amount of force (or weight) in pounds applied by the air pushing on a one square inch area.
Iwata airbrushes atomise well at low pressures, thus giving you a choice to use a smaller air compressor as an air source if space is a premium for you.
If you are using an airbrush for make-up application, low Psi is vital for safety when spraying delicate areas around the eyes. On the other hand, if you are applying paint on a t-shirt, you need to use a high Psi up to 40+ to ensure paint particles hit fast and deeply penetrate the fabric.