Airbrush malfunctions are an omnipresent menace that is ubiquitous for anyone wielding an airbrush. The leading cause of such maladies is none other than drying out. This conundrum is, fortunately, not an insurmountable one. By availing oneself of merely a few drops of airbrush cleaner and investing a few minutes of one’s fleeting time, the problem can be tackled with relative ease. This informative piece shall enlighten you on the methods that must be undertaken to thwart airbrush tip dryness and ensure the seamless functioning of your airbrush.
What is Airbrush Tip Dry?
If paint gets stuck on the needle of your airbrush, it is called airbrush tip dry. This can happen when too much paint builds up on the needle. When this happens, it can block the flow of paint from your airbrush, making it hard to adjust the spray pattern and causing splatter.
To reduce how often tip dry happens, try these tips
- Properly maintain your airbrush needle
- Clean your airbrush
- Properly thin your paint
- Lube your airbrush needle
- Try some Additives
Properly maintain your airbrush needle
Be Careful Not to Bend the Tip of Your Airbrush Needle
The needle on your airbrush is thin and easy to damage. If you bend the needle, the paint will catch onto the imperfection and you will get “tip dry.” This happens when the paint doesn’t leave the airbrush properly because of the bent needle. Luckily, most of the times I have done this I have been able to carefully bend the needle back into alignment with my fingernails.
If you bend the main part of the needle, you can cause the needle to not sit straight in the airbrush. This can create more pressure on one side of the needle and increase drag on the paint, which will slow it down and cause tip dry.
Polish the Airbrush Needle
The mass production of airbrush needles ensues in copious amounts, granting them a fairly smooth texture; however, they are not without their imperfections. In point of fact, the surface of the needle is somewhat adhesive, allowing the paint to grasp onto it with greater ease than on a flawlessly polished surface. Through the process of polishing the needle tip, one can effectively mitigate the amount of surface area available for the paint to adhere to, yet the undertaking is no trifling matter, as it necessitates a delicate touch to ensure that your airbrush needle is not inadvertently damaged.
I am inclined to assert that this would be one of the final remedies that I would endeavor to utilize in the event of tip dry. In my estimation, there exist simpler alternatives that pose a lesser risk of incurring damage.
In the event that you aspire to paint your vehicle, several measures can be taken to fortify the adhesive properties of the paint. Among these measures is the utilization of a polishing agent to procure an exceedingly smooth surface.
Clean Your Airbrush
Airbrushing is all about the flow of paint through your airbrush and onto your models. If your airbrush is dirty, the paint will not flow as well. This can also cause clogs and spurts.
Properly Thin Your Paint
To effectively operate an airbrush, you must have a thorough understanding of the art of paint thinning. When your paint is too dense, it will impede the flow through the airbrush, leading to the exit of large droplets that are highly liable to cling onto the needle’s tip, obstructing its movement.
When working with an airbrush, you need to ensure that your paint is diluted to a much lower viscosity compared to when utilizing a traditional brush. However, you must also exercise caution not to over-dilute the paint, as doing so will cause the paint to lose its color, robbing your artwork of its intended brilliance.
Different paint manufacturers tend to have unique recipes for their paints, which can pose some difficulties when attempting to use a distinct brand of thinner with the paint. This is a more frequent occurrence with enamels and varnishes as opposed to their water-based acrylic counterparts. Therefore, if you have been accustomed to using one particular paint brand for a prolonged period, it would be prudent to evaluate its compatibility with your airbrush after thinning before adopting an alternative brand to avert any potential challenges.
Lube Your Airbrush Needle
Needle lube is what it sounds like. It’s a substance that you put on your needles to make them move more easily. There are two brands that I prefer, Iwata and Badger. When I lube my needles, I put one drop of lube on my finger tip, then slowly pull the needle between my finger and thumb while rotating it. I only pull so the needle doesn’t stick me, I never try to push it forward.
You do not need to use a lot of lubricant, because too much can come off and mix with the paint. You should only lubricate the half of the needle that is towards the tip. The airbrush relies on friction to hold the needle in place as it moves back and forth. Lubing the back end of the needle would reduce that friction.
Lubing your airbrush needle makes it move more smoothly through the airbrush. I didn’t know how much friction there was in my airbrushes until I lubed one for the first time. There was a big difference.
Try Additives in Your Paint
Airbrush enthusiasts have a vast array of additives at their disposal, each exhibiting varied efficacy. While some prove their mettle, others flounder. Two categories of additives, namely, drying retarders and flow improvers, serve as saviors to mitigate the perils of airbrush nozzle desiccation. These additives, despite their semblance in functionality, differ in their composition and serve distinct purposes, but both are essential in prolonging the shelf life of your airbrush.
Drying retarders, a chemical amalgamation implemented in paint to mitigate the rapid drying of its pigments, have been shown to be efficacious in preventing the unwanted accumulation of paint on your airbrush needle tip, hence obviating potential setbacks to your project’s quality. It is worthy of note, however, that drying retarders should not be misconstrued as a surrogate for thinner, as the former’s application does not cause the paint to be as tenuous as the latter’s does.
That being said, it is prudent to exercise restraint when implementing drying retarders, as excessive usage could conceivably result in the desiccation of your paint to the extent that it remains uncured for several days or even beyond. Thus, striking a judicious balance between the measured application of drying retarders and the requisite drying time needed for the paint to achieve optimal viscosity is a hallmark of a seasoned and proficient painter.
Flow improvers, or flow aids, help reduce the surface tension of your paint so it doesn’t bead up as much and flows more easily. They’re also great when painting with a hand-held brush. In my experience, flow improvers affect the viscosity of your paint to a lesser extent than thinners, but more than drying retarders.
For water-based acrylic paint, I use Vallejo airbrush flow improver. I haven’t had any issues with it reacting with any brands.
Adding a small amount of flow improver is usually enough. However, adding too much can cause the adhesive to not work well.
The paint thinners that are made by paint companies have mostly the same substance as the paint base. For most of the paints that are marketed for miniature painters, this would be primarily water, since we tend to have water based acrylic paints marketed at us. Many manufacturers will also add flow aids and drying retarders to their thinners.
Different paint types, like enamels and varnishes, require different chemicals to break them down. The chemicals in the thinners will be stronger for these paints.
Generally, you can add a lot of thinner without having any problems. You can usually add up to 25% by volume without any issues. But if you add more than 50% by volume, you might break your paint.
What is dry tip in airbrushing?
The dry tip in airbrushing is the part of the needle that becomes dry and brittle when too much thinner is added to the paint. This can cause the paint to not flow correctly and can damage the airbrush.
How do you lubricate an airbrush?
To lubricate an airbrush, put one drop of lube on your finger tip, then slowly pull the needle between your finger and thumb while rotating it. You only pull so the needle doesn’t stick you, you never try to push it forward.
How do I keep my airbrush from clogging?
There are a few things you can do to help prevent your airbrush from clogging. These are:
- Use the correct type of paint for your airbrush. Not all paints are made the same and some will be more likely to cause clogs.
- Don’t add too much thinner to your paint. Thinners can help reduce the chances of clogs, but adding too much can increase them.
- Keep your airbrush clean. Clogs can form when paint residue builds up in the gun. Cleaning it regularly will help prevent this.
- Make sure the needle is lubricated correctly. If the needle isn’t lubricated properly, it can cause friction and lead to clogs.
How can I make my airbrush last longer?
To make your airbrush last longer, you should avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, store it in a cool and dry place, and keep the needle clean. Additionally, you can periodically disassemble the airbrush and clean all the parts with a brush or compressed air.