Airbrush Compressor – Common Terms and Definitions

  • By: Richard
  • Date: March 22, 2022
  • Time to read: 4 min.

An airbrush compressor is a device that pressurizes air and sends it through an airbrush, which allows you to apply paint or other media to a surface. Airbrush compressors come in various shapes and sizes, but all serve the same primary purpose.

Common Terms and Definitions

Air Compressor 

Air compressor, which takes in air at atmospheric pressure and delivers it at a higher pressure, is an essential component of many industrial processes.

Compressed air can be used to power pneumatic tools, transmit energy in compact air motors, or as a forced convection heating source. In addition, compressed air is often employed for tasks such as blowing the dust off surfaces and drying wet paint by blowing warm moist (but not wet) air over the surface. Air compressors are widely used in construction sites due to their portability and versatility.

You might also like our article best airbrush compressor.

Reciprocating Air Compressors

A reciprocating air compressor is a type of compressor that has pistons that move back and forth in cylinders. They are most often used in industrial settings, where they can be found on large trucks or trailers that transport compressed air to other sites.

There, they provide the power needed to run various types of heavy machinery such as drills and pneumatic hammers. Air compressors also exist at home; many people have them installed as part of their central heating systems. This user doesn’t require much energy and provides additional comfort during cold weather.

Moisture Separators

Moisture separators are devices that collect and remove moisture from the air. This is an essential step in the airbrush compressor process, as it helps keep the compressor running smoothly and prevents any damage that may be caused by excess moisture.


The decibel (dB) is a term used to describe the relative loudness. This can be useful when comparing the noise levels of different appliances, such as heat pumps and air conditioners. Typically, these appliances will have a dB rating that falls somewhere between a human voice (70db) and a blender (88db).

Decibels measure how much energy passes through 1 square meter per second expressed in watts. The decibel scale is logarithmic, meaning that every 3 dB increase represents an increase in power by ten times. For example, for paper shredders: 60dB = 100W; 65dB = 1000W; 70dB = 10000W.


The displacement of an airbrush compressor is an essential factor to consider when purchasing one. This is the air volume displaced by a complete stroke of the first-stage piston. It is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). This number can determine the size of the compressor you need for your project.


Filtration is a process that removes solid particles and liquid droplets from the air. This is an essential step in air purification, as it helps improve the quality of the air. Filtration can be done through various methods, including mechanical filtration, activated carbon filtration, and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation.

Air Pressure Regulator

The pressure regulator is a part of the air compressor that allows the user to adjust how much pressure is in the airline. This is important because it will enable the user to set the pressure to a comfortable level for them.

Maximum Pressure Ratio

The maximum pressure ratio is the highest-pressure level recommended for a compressor. If you exceed this level, you may damage the compressor and void your warranty.

Diaphragm Compressors

Diaphragm compressors work using a diaphragm that moves back and forth in a closed chamber. This happens because of the connecting rod’s motion under the diaphragm. The result is similar to what you would get with a reciprocating piston compressor.

CFM Cubic feet per minute 

CFM Cubic feet per minute is the amount of air that a compressor can move in one minute. This is a significant rating to consider when purchasing a compressor, as it will determine how much air the compressor can move at a given pressure. Some dealers may advertise CFM displacement, which is always higher than CFM delivered. Another critical factor to consider when comparing compressors is the pressure given. A CFM rating at 40 PSI will always be a higher value than at 100 PSI or 175 PSI. It is more important to look at Delivered CFM at the same Pressures when comparing performance.


Airbrush compressors use pressure gauges to monitor the tank’s pressure and the regulator. This allows you to keep track of how much air is available and ensures that the compressor is not over-pressurized.

Horse Power

Horse Power is a term used to describe the power of an electrical motor. Unfortunately, this term is vague, as it can be misleading because not all engines have the same Horse Power rating. When choosing a compressor, you should look for CFM delivered at a specific pressure and not rely on Horse Power alone. 

Oil-less compressor

An oil more small compressor is a compressor that is not lubricated by oil. This type of compressor typically has a longer life span than traditional compressors and is more environmentally friendly because it does not produce emissions from the use of oil.

Pressure Switches

An electrical device is used to monitor and control the tank storage pressure. The Pressure Switch will automatically shut off the motor by opening a control circuit. The Pressure Switch may be wired directly to the engine in smaller units. However, the pressure switch is wired to a control circuit in larger units.


PSI is short for pounds per square inch and is a unit of pressure. It describes the storage pressure, operating stress, regulated anxiety, and air tool pressure requirement. When comparing strains and CFMs between teams, use CFM and PSI at the same values.


The regulator is an inline device designed to reduce downstream air pressure to a specific adjustable setting. This device is essential in ensuring that the airbrush receives the appropriate level of air pressure to function correctly. Without a regulator, the airbrush would not be able to produce the desired level of spray.

Hi! I'm Richard Baker, a miniature painter who has been painting for about ten years. My website is packed with great advice that I've learned from both books and personal experience on building and painting miniatures.

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