Whats the best tip and needle size?

3 posts in this topic

A tip assembly and needle on an airbrush come as a matched set and the whole set is usually referred to as "the tip". JMHO, I like a .3mm tip for color basecoating and "all over" color, plus for metallic flake paint, and a .2mm tip for color fades and moderate detail. The ideal tip size depends on what pressure you shoot at and the paint viscosity. I squeeze unthinned paint directly into a gravity feed cup and shoot at 20-40 psi, and these tip sizes work with only rare clogs or splatters. To do freehand fine details without a template, an even smaller .15-.18mm tip, thinned paint, and lower pressure would be optimum. If I could only use one tip, it would probably be the .3mm because "you gotta be able to spray it before you can paint with it." Some painters prefer larger tips, .35mm to .5mm. Some domestic brand airbrushes don't specify tip diameters and just call them small, medium, and large. I don't know what they measure.

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It's worth noting that as the tip size goes up, the volume of paint it shoots at full flow rises like the area of a circle (3.14 x radius squared). So,

.2mm tip = .126 sq mm

.3mm tip = .283 sq mm

.35mm tip = .385 sq mm

.5mm tip = .785 sq mm

From .2mm to .3mm, you increase tip size by half but the tip area more than doubles. Of course the air pressure, the amount of trigger pull (and thus the position of the needle) and the taper of the needle are all factors, but tip size is a useful relative measure of how much control you can expect with different tips.

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