Lowrider or mpcnc for large scale airbrushing


I am wanting to build a cnc machine for the purposes of making large airbrush paintings. I am wanting to work on pieces around 200cm x 120cm.

I was looking for any advice you may have for which cnc route to take. I am weighing up the options between building a MPCNC or a Lowrider. Which option would you recommend for the activity I plan on doing?

Thanks in advance
Best wishes


That sounds like an awesome idea. I am very curious about how you are going to control the airbrush and how you will create the patterns. It sounds amazing.

At that size, the low rider is king. The low rider has a plate for the gantry. The typical one is the 611 plate, for a dw611 router. But if you had an airbrush, and you weren’t interested in routing with it, then making your own plate would give you lots of flexibility. You might want to add some space, because it can be hard to build things really compact the first time. A few extra inches would reduce your stress around the mount.

This sounds like an interesting idea. Are you planning on controlling the trigger with a servo? Are you planning on altering the height as well? Hope you will share the results.

Thanks for the speedy reply.

Re - controlling the airbrush, we’re thinking of using a servo and possibly a stepper, one to control the airflow and the other to control the paint flow.

Thanks for the advice on making our own plate.

Our priority is making the cnc for paint and not to route. Would I need bigger motors if I’m making the cnc that size?

Thanks and best wishes

Hi Derek,

A servo to turn the air flow on and off and a stepper to control the trigger. Arduino Mega with Ramps to control it all.

Will happily share the results when we have them, though I think that could be a few months away yet.

Best wishes

Fascinating project! A foolish idea came to my mind, when thinking about the capabilities of the airbrush. What about adding laser or vinyl cutter to the MPCNC, to make huge, multiple stencils, to make layered airbrush pieces?

Hi, thanks for the idea, this might be something we use in the future for the backgrounds of our paintings. Our main reason for making the airbrush cnc is to get the line edge of an airbrush, as opposed to the very sever edge created by stencils. So hopefully we can achieve the precision of a stencil but with more of a gradient at the edge of the painted line.

The low rider works fine with the larger nema 17 motors suggested in the parts list. The size you’re talking about it what the low rider was designed for. The whole gantry is lifted and held by the Z axis. If you don’t have the router, you’ll gain a couple of pounds of flexibility. So unless the air brush assembly on the gantry is heavier than a router, I think you’ll be fine. I assume you’ll mount the air compressor on the table or ground :).

I am pretty sure vinyl is on the do not burn list, because of noxious gas. Worth checking before you try it. I am guessing there is some other sticker material that wouldn’t be toxic when burnt.

Do you need to hold the airbrush in a horizontal position? Or does the plane you plan to cover have to be in an upright position? That might raise some special questions to be answered.
Some years ago, really large monster ink jet printers were common here in Europe - used by advertising agencies to print large mural images directly on walls.
Do you also plan to angle the airbrush jet or vary it’s distance to the painting surface?

Thanks for correcting! I didn’t necessarily mean to use laser on vinyl, but that making stencils with different materials and methods could complement an airbrush operation. I’m amazed by all the techniques and skills that are around!

What an intriguing idea! I don’t see any blocking mechanical challenges. I imagine there will be a bunch tinkering based on trials to work out the details. I do wonder how you will deal with dripping from the nozzle when painting on a horizontal surface. I think the major challenge is not the mechanics but the authoring (assuming you want to do something more complex than a path of even paint). There are a lot of variables associated with a human-made airbrush stroke. As a start, if you are a programmer or are partnering with a programmer, perhaps you can write a program to capture the data from a drawing tablet and translate to a stroke library that can be applied to your rig. If you get this working, I’d love to see it in action.

Thanks for the info.

Yes, air compressor will be on the ground.

Thanks for replying.
We are using a side feed airbrush, so the paper will be on a horizontal bed and the airbrush will be held vertically.
RE-airbrush jet. At first we will just try and achieve uniform lines. We may experiment with both varying the flow of paint and the distance to the surface to change the line. We plan to keep the airbrush square to the page.

Hi Robert,

Thanks for replying.

We’ve been making drawings using the cnc as a plotter. We found creating an SVG using image trace in illustrator was pretty good, then converting the sag to G-Code using laser etching software.

I don’t think we’ll go down the programming route, but rather try and use tools already out there. I’ve read some people using carving software, and using the values for the z axis to control the flow of paint. So deeper cuts have darker paint.

Will post some images once we get started


I just wanted to say I find it amusing that this is posted in the 3d printer forum! That’s all. Carry on.