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Why Are Airbrushes So Expensive? Best Affordable Options

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Illustrators, painters, makeup artists, and hobbyists are all familiar with airbrushes and how incredibly useful they can be to achieve various effects. Unfortunately, they aren’t exactly cheap. 

Why are airbrushes so expensive? The cost of an airbrush is typically reflective of the brand name, the overall quality, the labor-intensive construction, individual product testing, and the various components included. However, not every airbrush is expensive as some models are priced less than $50.

Read on to get a more in-depth answer. We will also include a couple of the best affordable options that you might want to consider purchasing if you don’t want to break the bank!

Factors That Affect the Price of an Airbrush

There are numerous reasons why products can be expensive. It could be the material, their intricate production process, and more.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the factors that influence the price of an airbrush.

Brand Name

Chances are, you’ve heard of the airbrush brand Iwata. They’ve been in the game for approximately 40 years, which boosts their reputation and makes them a favorite of many artists.

Customer loyalty and consistently reliable products can cause brands like Iwata and Harder & Steenbeck to surge their prices, but that’s not the only reason why their products are on the expensive end.

Overall Quality

Using an airbrush already takes a lot of practice to master. What helps in the learning process is choosing one with better quality. That way, it’ll provide you with superior performance.

The work that goes into perfecting each nozzle, lever, cup, and handle can cost you extra.

Where the airbrush’s materials are sourced can vastly affect its price, too. Metal sourced from China can cost significantly less than when acquired from Europe or elsewhere.

Labor-Intensive Construction

If you ever visit an airbrush factory, you might notice that there’s a huge assembly line of production. Here’s what you can expect to see there:

First up, the raw materials are extracted, including nickel and brass.

Afterward, they undergo several processes, such as forming, welding, machining, forming again, finishing, and assembly until finally, it’s time to test and ship out.

The longest process would have to be machining. It also happens to be on the more expensive scale due to the high costs of the manufacturing machines.

Individual Product Testing

Product testing is vital for any consumer satisfaction, but it can leave the product pricey in exchange for that.

There are specialized product testers that make a large sum of money in their jobs. Companies sometimes also need to have proper equipment for testing their airbrush quality.

This, in turn, can increase the price of the airbrush.

Components Included

Airbrushes offer a lot of brushing styles for your artwork. That means that there are several types available depending on the finish you’re looking for.

Each type comes with varying components. A few of these basic components include nozzles, needles, a head system, trigger, stem, and handle.

Pricier components of the airbrush and extras, such as additional needles, cleaning brushes, compressors, and hoses, can affect the price.

Best Budget Airbrush Kits

Even though most airbrushes in the market are highly priced, that doesn’t mean you can’t find one with a reasonable price.

With some airbrushes, like the ones below, you might not even need to sacrifice quality.

PointZero Dual Action Airbrush Kit

PointZero Airbrush Dual Action Airbrush Kit with 3 Airbrushes
  • Professional-grade: Kit features the PZ-260, PZ-270 and PZ-276 airbrushes for a variety of...
  • Advanced control: Featuring airbrushes with both single and dual-action functionality, this...

The PointZero airbrush kit offers just what a beginner might need; dual-action trigger, internal mix, gravity feed, and a reasonable price.

Now, what does that all mean? Dual action means that you’ll get to have two separate controls for air and paint release. Pressing down your trigger emits air while pulling back releases paint.

For such a budget-friendly buy, dual-action is an excellent addition to your artwork practice.

Internal mix indicates that the air and paint will pass through the same tube before reaching your airbrush’s nozzle. This addition is ideal for adding speckled patterns.

Gravity feed gives you a cup situated at the top for paint. Gravity does its work by pushing down the liquid to the needle.

Pros:

  • The kit offers more than one type of airbrush to suit different project types
  • Ideal for numerous application types to provide you with more versatility
  • Provides top-notch precision and accuracy thanks to its internal mix design

Cons:

  • Not enough information is provided in the user’s manual regarding proper use

Gocheer Upgraded Dual-Action Airbrush Kit

Gocheer Upgraded 40PSI Airbrush Kit, Dual-Action Multi-Function Airbrush Set with Compressor for Painting Portable Air Brush Set for Cake Decoration Makeup Art Craft Nail Design Model Tattoo
  • 【Upgraded Multifunction Airbrush Kit】 Compared with other airbrush sets on the market...
  • 【Dual-Action Airbrush Kit】 Airbrush compressor comes with a double-action airbrush, it...

The Gocheer Airbrush Kit, like the PointZero, also provides dual action, making it perfect for beginners and pros alike.

The best part is that it comes with accessories (including a small compressor) and a cleaning kit, meaning you don’t have to spend any extra money on those.

The 0.2 mm and 0.5 mm nozzles allow you to airbrush with more detail and versatility.

In other words, you can use the tool for tattoos, cake decorating, makeup art, fine lines, wide sprays, and more.

Pros:

  • Provides the user with versatility with its range of nozzle sizes
  • Comes with several accessories and a cleaning kit
  • Suitable for both pros and beginners since it’s dual action

Cons:

  • A few users reported ending up with a faulty compressor

Best Mid-Range Airbrush Kit – Master Airbrush Cool Runner II

Master Airbrush Cool Runner II Dual Fan Air Compressor Professional Airbrushing System Kit with 3 Airbrushes, Gravity and Siphon Feed - Holder, Color Mixing Wheel, Cleaning Brush Set, How-To Guide
  • Professional Master Airbrush Multi-Purpose Airbrushing System with 3 of Master Airbrushes...
  • Master Airbrush Model Tc-320 Cool Runner Ii Superior Performance Powerful 1/5 Hp Single...

The Master Cool Runner II kit includes three separate airbrushes, but what might stand out even more is its compressor.

It has two internal fans, which helps keep your airbrush going for longer hours. The high-quality rotor windings also support this compressor’s lifespan.

As for the airbrushes, there’s a couple of dual-action brushes and one single-action brush. The latter allows you to both pull and press down the trigger to release air and paint at the same time.

Pros:

  • Accessories provided as well as a cleaning brush set
  • Comfortable handle and trigger for ergonomic fit
  • Durable compressor on account of its high-quality rotor windings

Cons:

  • It’s prone to clogging

Best Pro-Quality Airbrush Kit – Cool Runner II Dual Fan + Storage Tank

Master Airbrush Cool Runner II Dual Fan Air Storage Tank Compressor System Kit with a G44 Fine Detail Control 0.2mm Tip Airbrush, 24 Color Acrylic Paint Artist Set, Holders, Cleaning Pot, How-To Guide
  • Professional Master Performance Acrylic Paint Airbrushing System with a high detail control...
  • Master Airbrush Model TC-326T Cool Runner II superior performance powerful 1/5 hp single...

This kit offers only one airbrush but makes up for that with the plethora of accessories it has with it.

You get a combined total of 24 paint bottles (1 ounce each), 50 mix cups, and sticks. Apart from that, you also get a clap-on airbrush holder, a cleaning pot, and airbrush cleaner.

We highly recommend this kit if you don’t want to separately purchase the accessories and paint.

As for the airbrush itself, you’ll be getting a dual-action one with a large 1/3 oz. gravity-fed cup and a preset fluid control knob.

This feature will assist you with adjusting the amount of pressure you use on the lever.

Pros:

  • Quiet compressor with only 59 dB
  • Includes paint to cut down on extra costs
  • Numerous accessories are provided, like mixing cups and sticks

Cons:

  • The paint included needs to be thinned out beforehand

Related Questions:

Are Cheap Airbrushes Any Good?

Cheap airbrushes are usually best bought for beginners who intend to use them for priming, varnishing, and applying base coats. 
Otherwise, they might not be good for precision performance and pro painters who need high-quality and durable airbrushes.

Is Airbrushing Easier Than Painting?

Airbrushing isn’t necessarily easier than painting since airbrushing sometimes requires lots of practice to master.
However, some people learn how to airbrush well very quickly. It really depends on your individual talents.

To Conclude

Why are airbrushes so expensive? The production process, brand name, components, and overall quality of an airbrush largely factor into that hefty price.

You have other options though. There are many good-quality airbrushes at affordable prices that allow you to get good results without having to empty out your savings.

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