Having the best working tool at hand can be the cure to unnecessary stress, labour funding, and wastage of time on trivial tasks. You can solve all these and more by introducing the right innovation to your course of task execution.
An airbrush compressor would do exactly just that. However, the downside to this is that the compressor is also the most expensive item. If you are a beginner or still finding your way into airbrushing, deciding on which features to look for in your airbrush compressor can be a tall task. Before you invest in anything, it is always good to have as much information as possible. Going in blind would only leave you with a product which would make you regret your decision every time you use it. The article here will offer moer insights one the key things you need to keep in mind to help you get the right air brush for your work.
Buying Guide To A Proper Airbrush Compressor
Based on the purpose it is meant to serve, a reliable airbrush compressor can take you a long way. An air compressor can take care of air movement and channelling within seconds of application and in the process enhancing the outcome of your work.
There are so many to choose from each with their unique features. You can find compressors with or without tanks; there are some compressors which are silent while others can be rather noisy. You will also come across different capacity Air Compressors.
It includes low-pressure Air Compressors with a capacity under 150 psi, medium-pressure Air Compressors which powers in between 151 psi to 1000 psi, and finally high-pressure Air Compressors which would exceed the 1000 psi mark.
Keep yourself away from the general purpose air compressor
Airbrush compressors comparatively deliver lower pressure than other compressors. As you are after a compressor which would complement an airbrush, it would be best to keep yourself away from the so-called General Purpose air compressor. The problem with these compressors is that they can be very noisy. They would take up more space and would deliver more pressure then what you would generally expect for an airbrush. Though they come with air regulators, you can’t always depend on them.
The compressor that you choose to work with will depend on the kind of work you will employ it to. Different artists based on their needs would have different choices.
No one is an island of knowledge and relying on one’s experience sometimes could be at the detriment of exposure to newer innovations. Hence, these guidelines have been strategically put in place to serve as a beacon to users’ yearn for the best airbrush compressor.
Types of Airbrush Compressors
Having prior knowledge of available air compressor types would help you get an even more comprehensive idea on what to look for in a compressor. There are generally two types of Air Compressors. Based on their functionalities they can be further subdivided. The two types of compressors are Diaphragm and Piston Compressors:
Most of the times these compressors are referred to as the beginners’ compressors. If you have only just started painting with airbrushes or pursuing it as a hobby this type of compressors would perfectly satisfy your needs.
As you must have already figured it out by now, they are called Diaphragm Compressors because they function like the diaphragm present in human lungs. There is a membrane which works like the diaphragm which compresses all the air and delivers it to the hose.
Now enough biology classes for the day, moving on, the amount of air pressure which is delivered by these compressors generally maxes out when it reaches 40 PSI. The force it produces is indeed one of its downsides.
PSI – The drawback
The model might come tagged with a certain PSI, say 50 PSI, but once you switch it on it would not deliver. The force would dwindle, and would most often be marginally a little lower than what the manufacturers claim it to offer. It might not pose a thread for small jobs, but for a job that requires continual pressure for a longer duration, it would be preferable for you to opt for a more powerful compressor. You can connect them to only one airbrush. It is best suited for users in need of compressor for small artworks and painting jobs.
These Air Compressors costs comparatively a lot lower than other compressors. Diaphragm Compressors, unlike other compressors, don’t come with air tanks. It can run continuously without stopping when it is in use. Unlike other models, these compressors can create a lot of noise. One essential thing you must keep in your mind is that these compressors aren’t build to run continuously for an extended time, as they can easily get overheated which could damage them. You will not be able to do certain works which involve a lot of painting with these compressors.
In this type of compressors, you have pistons designed to push the air out. The more the pistons, the more air it will pump out. Unlike the Diaphragm Compressors, they can be easily attached to more than just one airbrush. They produce more pressure and are more powerful than its counterpart- diaphragm compressors. You can also run the compressor continuously and for a longer duration.
There are two kinds of piston compressors:
They are very quiet that you would hardly notice any noises when you run them. The reason why these compressors don’t make little to no sounds is because of the oil which offers lubrication and reduces friction. If you are looking for compressors which would function without any racket while working this would be the perfect choice for you.
They are usually put to use for illustrations or works related to fine art. As they don’t make sounds, you can easily concentrate and stay focused on your work. You should note that they do make a little bit of noise. However, in comparison to other compressors, the noise it makes is comparatively very low. If you want a more concrete idea, it would be safe to say that the level of sound it makes is equivalent to the sound your fridge in the kitchen would make.
For compressors such as this, there is a risk of the oil in the compressors getting mixed with the paint. To prevent this from ever happening you must undertake certain precautions, like attaching a filter. By doing this, it would prevent the oil from escaping through the airbrush and get mixed up with the paint. As they need oil, some maintenance is required now and then. Oil should be checked and replaced to keep the smooth functioning of the compressor.
Though they might not be the perfect fit for heavy workloads, these Air Compressors are portable and do not require oil. The very fact that they do not use any oil brought about the name oil-less compressors ( well that wasn’t rocket science).
This type of compressors is ideal for cake decoration, body art and nail painting as there are no possibilities that oil would get mixed with the air while you are colouring with it. The various compressors which fall under this model are known to produce some form of noise. The level of noise would depend on the brand and the type of design the manufacturers have incorporated to built them. It may be quieter than the models which fall under the oil filled piston compressors. However, they are more subdued than Diaphragm Compressors.
Oil-Less Piston Compressors are usually more durable and handy. It requires deficient maintenance as it does not need any oil check or oil change. When it comes to oil compressors, they require a change of oil over time. Generally, it would require one to change it after every three to six months depending on its usage. The oil-less models, on the other hand, do not need all these extra work. They are also known to regulate temperature more efficiently, and also effectively prevent overheating. The additional feature does come with a price. The cost of such compressors is higher than other regular compressors.
Checking for the level at which an air compressor generates noise is very crucial. The level of noise is measured in decibel, and a silent compressor would produce a minimum of 60 decibels for it to be regarded as silent.
The preference might vary, but numerous people are of the view that the silent models are one of the best Air Compressors available in the market. In comparison to its other counterpart, they require minimal to no maintenance at all. Many beginners favour them over the others because the silence it allows, make it possible for one to concentrate. There is no distraction, and one can focus on the task in front of them. Most of the models which fall under the silent category are smaller in size as compared to the other models. They are also lighter than many Air Compressors available out there. The fact that they are smaller and lighter makes it more portable which makes it more preferable by many.
Factors To Consider When Buying The Airbrush Compressor
Here is a list of things one must consider while getting their hands on their very own airbrush air compressor.
What will it be used for?
Certain compressors are suited to specific types of task. You cannot expect one compressor to work for all kinds of work. For example, if you intend on painting a large area, you would require compressors with tanks. These compressors would be best suited for such a task which involves covering an ample space. To paint on smaller areas, you would require compressors with air regulators which would offer lower air pressure. Air regulators are usually attached to compressors to control or restrict the air pressure and allow only a certain level to pass through the air. Such air regulators typically come equipped with a moisture trap which filters out fluids and various particles from the compressed air line.
Depending on the work you are going to do with your compressor the type of compressor you need would vary. If you are an artist whose work is based on illustration, or if your job involves painting large spaces a compressor with a tank would be the right choice. You would not even need to stop and check on your equipment every once in a while. Such Air Compressors are build to help you continuously paint for a very long duration consistently.
On the other hand, if you work involve body paints, decorating cakes or such related jobs you would require using a marginally lower air pressure compressors. You would typically not need any tanks for such tasks. Go after something which is portable and delivers lower air pressure.
What about the noise?
A noisy compressor can be a plague to the environment and could be irritating. 50 decibel of air compressor is okay when considering noise.
Dealing with the noise all depends on your situation and preference. If you are working from home, having a noisy compressor can leave your wife and kids annoyed. The common problems with compressors which you can generally get at your local hardware store can be an extremely annoying noise making machine. They could quickly go beyond the 85 decibels mark. Such sounds could eventually cause harm even to your hearing as well.
Noise – Positives
The good news is that airbrush compressors for painting are designed and crafted in such a way that they are less noisier than the compressors you would get at your local hardware store. They are so well engineered to perfection that we can even label some compressors as silent.
Noise – Negatives
The drawback to such luxury is that they are priced higher than the usual compressors you usually get in the market. You will not regret having invested in such products, so getting one for yourself will not be a bad idea.
As discussed above, when we talk of a silent compressor, we are dealing with Piston Type Air Compressors. One should keep in mind that when we deal with larger models which have bigger engines and higher PSI, they will undoubtedly be louder sounding than the other smaller devices. If you are not bothered with the noise then it would not be an issue; also you can always get yourself a set of earplugs to alleviate all noise related issues.
The Capacity of the compressor is measured in CFM ( known as the cubic feet/ minute) and PSI (known as the Pounds/sq. Inch) these units of measurement indicates both the air flow velocity and air pressure in an air compressor respectively. The regulation of these parameters measures now depends on the kind of workload an air compressor is subjected to. Here are the things you need to look for:
A compressor with a tank can come in very handy. Tankless compressors are mostly suited for makeup artists and illustrators.
Compressors regulate the different rate of air flow. You would need a particular type of airflow for a certain kind of work you perform. For example, an airflow rate of around 20lpm or less would be best suited for illustrators or make-up artists. For paint jobs involving larger areas and longer duration of work, you would require an Air Compressor with an air flow rate of around 30lpm or more.
Duty cycle in an Air Compressor involves the duration it can run without any interval before coming to a halt. Understanding this cycle will not only help you to avoid any damage that may result from our ignorance and help extend the life of the compressor. We calculate the duty cycle in percentages. Let’s say that a compressor has a duty cycle of 50 per cent, and this would mean that it runs half an hour before it comes to a rest, and will need the same duration of time to restart again. Here is a list of the common duty cycles found in Air compressors
9% , 5 minutes run time/ 55 minutes rest-time
10% , 6 minutes run time/ 51 minutes rest-time
15% , 9 minutes run time/ 51 minutes rest-time
20% , 12 minutes run time/ 48 minutes rest-time
Ease Of Use
Usability of a particular model of air compressor must be of the priority. In circumstances where the compressor’s motor is powerful, but the usability is low, the model will not be suitable for its primary purpose.
Mobility is a factor that must be taken into consideration. When an air compressor is too big to carry, it only acts more as a burden and not as an aiding tool it is meant to be. A massive air compressor is intended for the more substantial task while lightly weighted ones are for easier jobs.
Another factor is this that, even if it is heavy, as long as you don’t intend to move it from one location to the other you will not have any problems with it. If you have a stationary workplace or have dedicated to one particular area, it would hardly be of any concern whether it is portable or not. However, if your workplace is not stationary and you are expected to move and travel from one place to the other a compact model would be a more logical choice. These details are necessary for ensuring the purchase of the right air compressor for the proper purpose.
Single Or Double Action
Usually meant for beginners. A double action airbrush is reserved for more intermediate and advanced projects. So what can be the differences between these two types of brushes?
The single action airbrushes are ones that can be used for filling solid section without bending. These airbrush types are for tattoos, cake decorations, and also tanning. The
dual action airbrushes are used for jobs requiring more bending and fading. It is more versatile when you compare it to the single action airbrushes.
Single-action: It is a type of airbrush which has only one action,i.e., on/off. What it means is that the user will not be able to control the quantity of paint which the brush shoots from the nozzle.
Unlike the single action airbrush, it has a more complicated design. The enhanced design allows for more options and better control to the user. He can now check the proportion of the paint in comparison to the air pressure and change it accordingly. The entire mechanism involves a system with two parts. An artist working with a double-action airbrush now has to successfully follow two principles which require a push and a pull; When the user presses and holds down the trigger it dispels the air, and when he pulls it back it activates a release system which lets out the mixture. It offers direct control to the painter on both quantity and force of paint that he would want to release.
When it comes to this kind of air-brush, an artist would require more practice to be able to gain control over the mechanism. When mastered it does give a broader range and scope to the artist.
How expensive an airbrush compressor is can be a deterring factor to how much it is demanded. There are expensive airbrushes with attractive features but affordability most of the times deters the users from getting a hold of these expensive but effective airbrushes. You must make specific considerations regarding budget and pocket size before purchasing an airbrush compressor.
Factors vary distinctively from one individual to another and depending on the purpose it is purchased for. The factors mentioned above, however, tend to apply to most users. I have tried to be inclusive as possible and decided to bring to light all the necessary factors that you would need to look out for. However, doing thorough research could help reduce the chances of you making the wrong choice. There is no harm in being careful.