Beginners airbrush artists are always faced with a question about an airbrush compressor. Not every store assistant will answer this question because it is necessary to consider many nuances according to which airbrush compressor is chosen.
The main difference between compressors is their design. There are diaphragm and piston compressors, with and without an air receiver.
Diaphragm compressors are characterized by low noise levels (at the refrigerator level), but their peculiarity is pressure fluctuation (pulsating pressure). The pressure is stabilized if the compressor is equipped with an air receiver – a reservoir in which air is pumped, and then it is fed to the airbrush or paint sprayer. These compressors are mobile and well suited for fieldwork. Their disadvantage is a small capacity. Therefore, it will be problematic to work with an airbrush because their air consumption is quite high.
Piston compressors are characterized by high noise and good performance. It is better to use such compressor with an air receiver. Such compressor would start only when compressed air in the receiver runs out; after pumping air into the receiver, the compressor is automatically cut off. For example, a compressor with a receiver, the volume of which is 24 liters, allows continuous operation of the airbrush for about 5-10 minutes (depending on the pressure of air fed into the airbrush and the amount of air consumed by the airbrush). These compressors can only be transported to the site, they can not carry on their hands, because their weight is often more than 25 kg.
Piston compressors are good to use in a garage or on a balcony, as it makes a lot of noise. If you want it is possible to work in the apartment, but not after 11 pm 🙂
All compressors for their work require electricity. Therefore I advise to buy the compressor necessarily with an air receiver. When you turn off the electricity in the network, the air remaining in the receiver will allow you to complete some part of the drawing, using the prepared paint and cleaning the airbrush.
How a Compressor Works
The principle of the compressor is to pump air into the air receiver. During inflation, the air is compressed and heated. Once in the receiver, the air is cooled, and condensation may occur (water particles in the air are deposited on the walls of the receiver). In addition to water, oil for lubricating the pistons gets into the receiver. To prevent this water from getting into the airbrush and, therefore, to the drawing, an oil/moisture trap (filter) is installed at the outlet of the receiver. You can read about the importance of such a filter in the article Paint defects and the compressor accessories.
To choose the right compressor, you need to determine exactly what it will be used for. If you intend to work with one airbrush, it is enough to have a compressor with a capacity of 40-50 l/min. And a maximum pressure of 4-5 atm.
If you intend to use a compressor for an airbrush and a spray gun, the best choice would be a compressor with a receiver for an air capacity of 20 liters. Or more and a capacity of 150 l/min or more.
Compressor capacity should be considered when using airbrushes and spray guns, which consume large amounts of air. Airbrush air consumption is 1.5-5 l/min. Spray guns require large volumes of air (for example, an HVLP spray gun with a 0.8 mm nozzle diameter can consume from 70-80 l/min at the recommended working pressure).
Depending on the compressor capacity, the spray gun is selected. The compressor capacity should be twice as high as the air consumption of the spray gun.
For example: let’s take the same compressor with a receiver, 24 liters, capacity 2of 10 l/min. It allows you to work continuously with the above spray gun for about 15 minutes. After that, it is worth making a break, as it is specified in the compressor manual. It was possible to work and more if there were no restrictions. Such a compressor has time to produce more air than the paint sprayer consumes, so, having used up the air from the receiver, the compressor starts pumping air into the receiver and at the same time provides the paint sprayer with the right amount of air.
You can buy a compressor by order in online stores if you are willing to wait a while until the parcel is delivered or in auto or craft stores in your city. All you need to do is pick up the compressor, use my advice.
I wish everyone a good choice. Questions you can ask in the comments, I will try to answer each of them, besides they may answer other readers.