What Is an Airbrush Compressor?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann
Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

An airbrush compressor is a smaller version of its larger air compressor counterpart and is used to provide a stream of pressurized air for operating an airbrush. Unlike larger air compressors, the airbrush compressor does not incorporate a large air supply reservoir or air tank into its design. Instead, the airbrush compressor uses an on-off switch to turn the compressor off when air is not being used and on when the compressor detects usage. The small compressor provides ample air pressure to operate the small airbrush and is much quieter than a full-size version, making the tiny unit suitable for use within the home or office.

Many airbrushes are used for very delicate art work, such as applying graphics, and for fingernail and cake decorating. The precision device allows the artist to make very fine lines and extremely intricate graphics by spraying a fine mist of paint at a moderate pressure. The airbrush compressor makes it easy to use the correct amount of pressure through adjusting a knob on the airbrush. When the proper setting is reached, the airbrush can remain in service for hours without requiring readjustment. Many airbrush compressor units are no louder than an aquarium air pump, which makes extended use periods much more tolerable compared to using a conventional air compressor with pressure-reducers in place.

Another safety feature of the home airbrush compressor is a heat-sensitive, shut-off switch. This safety device turns off the power to the compressor motor when a preset temperature has been reached. In turning off the power, the compressor not only avoids endangering the home and people inside, it avoids costly damage to itself. Once turned off due to an overheating issue, the compressor must be reset after it cools down completely, thereby avoiding any accidental restart condition when no one is around.

Most airbrush compressor designs are small and do not require a water filter to remove moisture from the air stream, unlike larger air compressors. The technology that allows the compressor motors to operate at a cool temperature also prohibits moisture buildup due to condensation related to heating and cooling cycles of the motor. Dry, oil-less air permits professional artists and novices alike to work for extended periods without draining filters and cleaning the outgoing air supply from the mini-compressor. Using typical home electrical power, the airbrush compressor is often able to be operated for a low cost.

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