I'm looking to buy my first airbrush/compressor, but I don't want a junky one that I'll want to replace in a year or two. I've read through some of the old posts on airbrushing, but I'm still confused.
I know there's the Kopykake Airmaster (the red machine) which is popular and sold specifically for cake decorating. A former instructor of mine also strongly recommended Iwata as a brand. The main differences, from what I can tell, are that 1) Iwata has a reputation for higher quality than KopyKake; 2) for the same price as the Kopykake, I can get an Iwata compressor and airbrush, but I'm not sure if I should. What level of PSI I need for cake decorating? The Kopycake says it goes up to 30 PSI, where as the lower end models of the Iwata (e.g., Silver Jet) only go up to about 20. I'd need to get a stronger - and pricer - Iwata unit (Sprint Jet or even Smart Jet) to get pressure above 20 PSI.
So for those of you who have airbrushes, at what pressure level do you work? Is it worth looking for a compressor which turns itself off when you stop spraying? Do you have any thoughts about brands of compressors? And can you use a Kopykake compressor with other brands of airbrushes? Is your compressor noisy and does it vibrate so much it moves around when it is on? Any other advice?
I have the airmaster and love it. I have not had any issues with it. I do keep a nonslip shelf liner under it so it does not move. It is not too loud. I don't feel it is necessary to have one that turns itself off. I have never considered that as a necessary option for me. I do use this on a daily basis. I normally run plain water through it after each color to make sure the colors is out of it, so it does not mix with the next color. The airmaster has a knob on it to adjust the pressure. But it does not have a reading of the actual pressure. I do adjust the knob from time to time. But it has always been enough pressure for me. I have used other airbrushes at previous bakery jobs I had and I prefer the airmaster. That is why I purchased it myself. I'm not crazy about master brand airbrushes. I had many issues with those in the past. Although that was mainly the mid level ones. HTH
I have an Iwata compressor (Smart Jet, I believe. It's downstairs) and a Paasche airbrush. Pretty much top of the line. (It was a gift.) I can't even remember what pressure I work at, as I set it years ago and have never changed it.
I used to run water thru the airbrush to clean it, but after a while little bits of color do build up internally. You can use a cleaner made specifically for airbrushes, but you really must learn how to disassemble it and reassemble it for a proper cleaning every once in a while.
As with so many things, you get what you pay for.
I agree with Leah that you do need to take it apart and do a good cleaning once in a while. More often if you use it on a regular basis. The one at my job, I take apart at least once a week. Once you get the hang of it, it is not too hard. I'm glad someone else was able to comment on the other brands, since I do not have experience with them. Good luck with your choice.