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Hammerhead Shark

Iwata Hammerhead Shark Air Compressor First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of First Look November 2005 Manufacturer Iwata
Subject Hammerhead Shark Air Compressor Pros Versatile air compressor with a wide range of capabilities
Cons Pricing not for average modeler MSRP (USD) $1,200.00

First Look

Iwata Hammerhead Shark Air Compressor
Iwata Hammerhead Shark Air Compressor

Iwata Hammerhead Shark

It all starts innocently enough. You get yourself an airbrush and forever are you addicted to the ever-so-smooth finishes that you could never accomplish with a paint brush nor work with such precision that you will never do with a paint can. Some airbrush starter sets come with the infamous propellant can that runs out of pressure at the most inopportune times. Ditto on the inner-tube adaptors.

Sooner or later, the airbrush newcomer wisely gets themselves an air compressor, usually in the $100.00 range, that is a classic diaphragm-type machine. These are sturdy little machines that do the job, but they are definitely noisy and produce a pulsed airflow. Good luck trying to get 15 psi of air pressure without destroying that diaphragm

After a few years of this type of compressor, some of the more advanced modelers will trade in their diaphragm compressor for one of the more expensive types that are silent and have a storage tank. These "silent" compressors aren't perfectly silent, rather they sound like a new refrigerator's compressor (quiet). The storage tank is also a nice feature as you can easily regulate the airflow coming out of the tank and when the pressure in the tank drops below a certain point, the quiet pump kicks in, tops off the pressure, then automatically shuts off again.

Up until a few years ago, we didn't have many options between diaphragm compressors and the silent ones (other than going to the hardware store and buying a REALLY loud machine). About 12 years ago, I purchased a Badger Silent Air compressor that was the size of a larger briefcase, was quiet, and very reliable. After 12 years of use/abuse, it still runs quietly, but it has lately been having trouble starting. I recently had an opportunity to buy an Iwata air compressor. Not just any Iwata, but a Hammerhead shark. Check out these specifications:

  • Technical Specifications:
  • HP 1/2 Hp
  • Tank Size 1.5 Gallons
  • CFM 2.15 CFM at open flow
  • Voltage 110V, 60Hz
  • PSI 84 - 114 PSI maximum pressure
  • Shipping Weight 55 lbs
  • Features:
    • Cooling Fan: Unique cooling fan positioned to cool the top of the motor/compressor unit which is were the maximum cooling efficiency happens.
    • Moisture Filter: The highly efficient 5 micron Moisture Filter separates out any water before it gets to your airbrush.
    • Pressure Regulator: Two pressure regulators provide accurate pressure settings from 0 - 100 psi allowing the maximum use from your airbrush.
    • Long Power Cord: An extra long (10') and heavy duty power cord allows direct connection into your power receptacle therefore eliminating any overheating problems developed by an undersized extension cord.
    • Wheels: Sturdy wheels allows the compressors to be easily moved within your studio.

This is definitely a professional grade air compressor that will feed a number of airbrushes simultaneously in a studio setting, or one airbrush on my bench at 15 PSI and an old airbrush at 50 PSI for clearing dust off of the working surfaces. Is this compressor a bit of overkill? Heck yes, but I happened upon a good buy and the rest, as they say, is history.

Badger has discontinued the Silent Air that I have, but in contrast it has a 1/6 HP motor, a maximum output of 88 PSI, has a tank size of one gallon, and weighs about half of the Hammerhead Shark. If the Badger was still running smoothly, I'd still be content with it. As it stands, I'll see about arranging for an overhaul and put it to work with my wife's airbrushing.

Using the Iwata Quick Disconnects with this compressor makes airbrushing even more fun!

So how does it compare in operations to my old Badger Silent Air? Noise-wise the compressors operate at the same noise level. The green switch on the front of the compressor is a PC-type cooling fan that can be engaged when operating over extensive periods of time to keep the pump cooler (a modification I had considered on my Badger several times). The fan adds a few decibels (like a PC running) to the background noise, but overall the compressor is quiet when it is running, and with a 1.5 gallon tank, it doesn't run as often as the Badger.

This compressor is extremely well made. I hadn't installed the wheels on the bottom of the compressor when I took the above photos, but this is a very nice touch as you can easily access any part of the compressor if needed, then roll it back under the table, out of the way.

This compressor isn't for the average modeler, rather it is more suited to a salon environment where it is being used to airbrush designs on your significant other's nails (something we do to ourselves without even trying!). But if you're looking for a cool tool to add to your workspace, the Hammerhead just what you're looking for. If you're looking for something a little smaller, check out the wide range of compressors in the Iwata line-up!