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How do you determine the optimal air pressure for airbrushing?


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Seems like 20 psi is a good starting point, but I've seen some people drop down to around 15 psi, and some go up around 25 psi (and occasionally higher).  

Is it based on the kind of paint being used?  I normally use enamels, but occasionally drift over into lacquers and acrylics.  

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Posted (edited)

Trial and error, and keep notes as to what works for you.

Optimum pressure will vary with things like type of paint and viscosity, airbrush type and design, tip/nozzle size, humidity, and temperature...and where your pressure gauge is relative to your airbrush.

When I dial in a particular setup I'm happy with, my notes will include all the above (viscosity can be recorded as a drops-of-thinner-to-paint ratio).

I can't possibly remember all that stuff because I don't do it often enough, but if you airbrush frequently it will all become second nature.

 

Edited by Ace-Garageguy
TYPO
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19 hours ago, Monty said:

Seems like 20 psi is a good starting point, but I've seen some people drop down to around 15 psi, and some go up around 25 psi (and occasionally higher).  

Is it based on the kind of paint being used?  I normally use enamels, but occasionally drift over into lacquers and acrylics.  

Yes 20 PSI is a good starting point.  My range is from 15-30PSI.  It all depends on your setup, and what i mean is what type of brush and paint you're using.  Most common brushes are gravity fed and siphon. Siphons usually use higher PSI because you're pulling paint from a jar so you'll see PSI from 30-35 on those.  Most ready to spray paints like MRP, Scalefinishes, MCW, etc typical starting point is 20PSI.  Tamiya paint in the jars properly thinned can be shot at 20PSI no problem.  Usually paints like your metals like chrome almost any chrome paint will be shot at around 10-15PSI or higher depends on setup.  There is no set it and forget it number unless you know your setup and what PSI works for you.  

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There are multiple variables in air brushing - back in the model car club discussions you could ask 10 people that could get good results and there would be about 15 different answers. 

With the paint that I sprayed most often, I always set the regulator at 18 to 20 psi at the compressor with the airbrush trigger pulled and then if I had to, adjust the paint to thinner mix for best results.  That eliminated pressure as a variable in the operation.   There are a lot of new paints out there now that may require something different, but I would still try to eliminate as many variables as possible.

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The basic answer your going to get is,” it varies”. Your better off asking what technique would apply using a specific airbrush with a specific paint. That way someone familiar  with your airbrush could give you a more detailed answer.

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