Compressed Air

To compress the air for an airbrush, there are four methods on the market.

1. Oil-bath compressors
2. Dry pistons compressors
3. Diaphragm compressors
4. Pressurized-air sprays

Oil-bath compressors

Advantages:

- These compressors are certainly the most widely used by airbrush painters because they are noiseless and equipped with a 1 to 50 liters air tank for the biggest ones.
- The tank has two manometers; one which measures the pressure in bars in the tank and another one used to adjust the air pressure going to the airbrush. This system with an air tank and manometers allows a constant air flow from the airbrush nozzle. This is essential for a fine detailed work.
- With a powerful air compressor it is possible to connect and use two airbrushes at the same time which proves to be often very convenient.
- The engine does not overheat because it stops once the tank has reached the correct pressure (from 5 to 10 bars according to the type). The engine will restart when the pressure will have lowered to 3 to 4 bars according the adjustments made. 

Drawbacks:

- These compressors are rather expensive (350 Euros) for the cheapest ones.
- They are heavy and take a lot of room and must be maintained upwards when moving them around because of the motor oil.

Dry piston compressors

Advantages:

- As their names implies, they do not require oil which is very convenient when moving them around.
- They are space-saving and rather light ( about 3kg)
- They is almost no need for maintenance
- They are almost noiseless
- They are very handy for light work
- They are cheaper than oil-bah compressors

Drawbacks:

- Most of these compressors do not have an air tank
- The engine runs continuously and only stops once it is to hot
- It is necessary to wait a certain time for the engine to restart and to be able to use again the airbrush
- It is not adapted for long work with no breaks.
- These little compressors are often not powerful enough to use more than one airbrush at the same time

Diaphragm compressors

Advantages:

- These are the cheapest compressors
- Because of their small size and light weight they can easily be moved around

Drawbacks:

- The engine which runs continuously is noisy and always ends up with overheating
- No automatic stops in case of overheating
- Many of these compressors do not have an air outlet manometer to adjust the pressure
- They have no air tank
-
They do not allow very detailed fine work

Pressurized-air sprays

Advantages:

- They are very light, space saving and easy to carry
- Convenient for any occasional small works or just in case you have nothing else
-
Noiseless
- No maintenance

Drawbacks:

- As the pressurized-air spray empties, the pressure at the airbrush nozzle becomes gradually lower
- They become easily frosty and quickly empty
- They do not allow a long and fine detailed work
- They are very expensive for a limited capacity

6 Anyway you should count on a budget between 400 and 600 Euros to start with an airbrush, a small oil-bath compressor and a few paint pots. If the air compressed cylinders may seem cheaper at the beginning, you should not use them extensively as it will rapidly exceed the price of a small compressor.

First steps

Of course, at the beginning you are going to curse at this bloody airbrush which makes huge blobs or get always blocked up though you are doing your best.
Keep in mind that everyone has been through those very, very difficult moments and it would certainly not be fair if you would succeed at the first shot.

Do not hesitate to buy a technical book for beginners with good illustrations, which will teach you precious tips.

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