How to Hydro Dip at Home: Hydro Dipping for Beginners Hydro dipping is a technique that is used for transferring camo, wood grain, and other complex patterns to three-dimensional objects. Through a chemical interaction, the design becomes part of the object. Hydro dipping produces vivid colors, and every part of the object is covered with the pattern. Hydrographic designs require no special printing equipment, and you can use any material that can withstand being submerged in water, such as ceramics, plastics, metal, and fiberglass. You can also hydro dip wood, but you should exercise caution because the process may warp the wood if you do not use a sealer primer. What Is Hydro Dipping? Hydro dipping is a way to transfer graphics to objects without expensive printing equipment or paint. The process works by placing a special film on the surface of the water. A chemical solution is sprayed onto the film, which causes the film to dissolve into the water. The pattern adheres to any object that you submerge in the water. DIY hydrographic dipping has several advantages over other techniques: Hydrographic kits include all the items you need Complete coverage with the pattern, including small openings and crevices Customizable designs or patterns Works on most materials Objects can be small or large How Do You Hydro Dip? When you have a complete hydro dipping kit, the process is easy and fun. You can use the patterns that come with the kit or have a custom pattern applied to the film. You fill a container with water and lay the film on the surface. When you spray the film with the chemical solution that comes with the kit, the film/pattern dissolve into the water. After this, you immerse the object in the water and remove it is completely covered with the pattern from the film. Step-By-Step Guide to Hydro Dipping Items that you will need for your DIY hydrographic printing projects: Large, deep plastic container (the container will have paint on the inside after the hydro dipping is complete) DIY complete hydrographic printing kit Object to be dipped Sandpaper to smooth the surface Rags Bucket of mild cleaning solution and water Vinyl, rubber, or latex gloves Primer Coat Base coat Top Coat – Clear Coat Once you gather all the items, you will first prep the surface of the object. This involves removing any finish, cleaning the surface, and applying a primer and a base coat. When it comes to primer and base coats, you may be wondering what type of paint is best, such as water-soluble or oil-based options. You need to use the right type of primer and base coat to ensure that the hydrographic process works properly, so it is best that you use primer and paints that are specifically designed for the hydrographic printing process. When you are choosing a color, the recommendation is to use a neutral, such as beige, tan, white, brown, or black. The base coat will show through some of the design, so it needs to accentuate the overall look. Steps for prepping your object: Use the sandpaper to remove any finish on the object. Wipe away any dust or dirt from the surface using the rags, mild cleaning solution, and water, and then rinse thoroughly. Dry the surface of the object completely with clean rags. Spray the primer and base coat on the object in a thin, even layer. Let the base coat dry completely in a dust-free environment. After your base coat is dry, you are ready to apply the hydrographic design: Fill the plastic container with warm water to a level that is high enough to submerge your object without water spilling over the sides. Lay the patterned, water-soluble film on the surface of the water, being sure to put the film in the water with the sticky side down. (test this by touch the film which a damp finger to determine which side your finger sticks to) Check for any bubbles under the film, and gently blow them to the side of the film to remove them. Allow the film to hydrate completely for the time specified in your kit. Spray the chemical activator onto the film in a thin, light layer, being careful not to add too much activator. Once the film looks liquefied- or has a glassy finish in the water then it is your object is ready to be dipped. Put on the gloves, and slowly dip the object into the water at an angle until it is completely submerged; do not let go of the object. Rinse off the slimy residue that is left on the object after dipping using a garden hose (this should be done outside because the activator has a strong smell). Gently wipe off any remaining residue, but don’t scrub or vigorously rub the surface. Once the object is dry you are ready to add a protective top coat. Where to Find DIY Kits for Your Hydro Dipping Projects Liquid Concepts has the DIY hydro dipping kits that you need. Our kit includes a dip container, activator, film, aerosol spray gun, and two of our speed shapes. We also have base coats that are designed specifically for hydrographic printing.
Over the years of business we have encountered this time and time again and felt that it is a necessary topic to cover for all of you hobbyist and businesses alike. Knowing the limits of your coatings is crucial in your business. It is never bad to tell someone that the coating you offer is not the best for their application versus telling them it is and not living up to their expectation. Firearms for instance is something we coat daily in our shop and we see several other companies coating them frequently. Over the years we have come to educate our customers on what coating is the best for their needs. Though hydrographics is a big part of our business, we for instance, do not recommend that our customers hydro dip a pistol. You ask why? Simply because the Hydro dip is a thicker coating and is not ideal for low tolerance areas. So yes, you can coat the entire pistol, the frame and the slide. But what you will encounter is when you or a gunsmith go to reassemble the pistol or even the customer, they will either have to spend a lot of time masking off areas so that the gun will fit together properly or you spend a lot of time removing the coating you just applied to get the firearm to have proper fitment and functionality. Then at this point the coating has the risk of chipping and peeling. Reassembling a gun that has been fully dipped takes quite a bit longer simply due to fitment issues that you will encounter. Even if you were to tape off all of the areas prior to prepping and dipping you would still have a lot of time invested in masking those areas off. If you did not charge accordingly, the job might not have been as profitable as you once thought. It basically breaks down to knowing what is going to be the best coating to give the customer the best results for their application. Customers think they always know what they want until you explain the options and educate them on the process and durability so they can decide what fits their needs the best. As a business we have made the decision to not offer any pistols to be hydro dipped because of this simple reason. In return we offer our customers with another coating that is ideal for this situation and offers them great durability, protection, and does not encounter all of the fitment issues associated with the hydrographics. Sometimes you might not always have another coating option to offer your customer but in our experience, by giving them a coating on an item that is not going to be able to offer them the durability, longevity and non-fitment issues they need could be more detrimental to your business in the long run. Your name in your business is the one thing that you will always have as long as you are good at what you do, honest to your customers and treat them right. Customers prefer to be told the correct answer and honesty versus what they want to hear. For your business in the custom coatings world, it is no different. Customers may know what they want but not what they need. Make sure to educate each and every customer that comes in your door to make sure you pick the correct coating to fit all their needs, even if you may have to turn down the job all together.
At Liquid Concepts we get asked all the time what is your most popular carbon fiber combination that gives the most realistic looking carbon fiber. Well in this post we want to share with you guys just that -the most realistic carbon fiber for the hydrographics films. First you want to start off with the correct foundation to make sure your coating will last and be very durable. We always recommend using around 80-100 grit media to blast the part. Depending on the type of part you have, you may blast it at 20-60 PSI depending on the type of blast cabinet you have. After its blasted and the entire surface has been etched, you will want to blow it off with a high pressure air nozzle and properly hang or place the piece that is getting coated. After its blasted then you want to spray a direct to metal epoxy primer for the best adhesion. We recommend using the P-250 DTM Epoxy Primer as it sticks to almost any surface as well as direct to metal. Once you have let the primer flash off for the proper amount of time, you will want to pick out your base color that your going to use on the part. For this step we will be using the Charcoal Grey Metallic. This is an awesome color by itself and when you use it for the base under a carbon fiber, it makes the carbon really “POP”! After you have the base coat sprayed, make sure the part is dry to the touch (Usually around 5-10 min.) Once it is dry to the touch then we are ready to make the magic happen and make that part look like a custom carbon fiber piece! For the carbon fiber, the go to film is the CF-282. This is a black and clear film that is as close to carbon fiber as you can get. When you place the carbon over the Charcoal Grey Metallic then you get a color combination that looks very realistic and close to real carbon fiber. There is a few things to remember about this film and we will go ahead and share them with you here – Make sure the sticky side of the film is down on the water. When cutting your film for carbon fiber, make sure to give plenty of room for error so as to not stretch or warp the carbon as much as possible. This carbon takes the standard soak time of 1 minute on the water at 80-90 degrees. After the carbon has been sitting on the water for 60 seconds, spray the Liquid Concepts Activator and make sure the film “Glasses Out”. When it turns to glass you are good to dip you object in the film. After you dip the part in the realistic carbon fiber, make sure to rinse it thoroughly to remove any and all PVA from the part. Afterwards you can let it air dry or blow dry it off. Once the part is fully dry it can now be hung or placed back up to have it ready to be clear coated. To make sure your customer gets the best durability and longevity out the hydro dipping, we recommend spraying the C-500 High Solids Glamour Clear. This clear coat is made to give a long lasting shine and excellent UV resistance when out in the sun! After everything is sprayed with a high quality clear, your part is now finished and will look amazing! Using this paint color and hydrographic film combination with high quality products from Liquid Concepts will have your customers wanting to come back for more all the time!
In the world of hydrographics its all about who has the certain film that somebody is looking for. The designs and genre is growing by the day but there has always been a market to fill for somebody that is wanting a one off custom design. Up until here recently the only way to get a custom made hydrographic film was to pay thousands of dollars in development fees and order huge quantities of film which made it impossible to be cost effective for the average person. Fast forward to now and you will see how Liquid Concepts has helped pioneer a new wave of custom film that is not only cost effective but allows you the flexibility of offering nearly any design to your customer. Used to when a customer wanted a “Custom Film” most shops had to turn the customer away because either they didn’t have a good airbrush artist on staff or the work that the customer was wanting done was beyond the scope of what the shop could do. But wouldn’t it be nice to just be able to get a film that already had all the designs on it and you just dipped it like a normal film? Well now is the time that you can finally have that happen! After spending years in research and development Liquid Concepts has brought to the market a one of a kind printing that gives the most photo-realistic prints as well as the most vibrant colors on the market! Along with a turn around time of 24 hours or less (in most cases) from ordering to shipping, a shop can be dipping their custom film the very next day if needed. After speaking to multiple hydro dip shop owners who use the custom film on a weekly, monthly or even daily basis, they all had the same consensus that since they started offering our custom film they have seen an increase in jobs allowing them to capture revenue that they would not have been able to capture otherwise. Custom hydrographics has opened up other numerous avenues of business for our customers and it is only continuing to grow. Imagine being able to take your customers logo and apply it to nearly any item they desire! Forget the vinyl stickers and water slides by allowing us to make you a one of a kind hydro-dipping film to fit your needs. Not only does this create a custom look but it also saves you on time as well by being able to knockout a project in a single dip. At Liquid Concepts we have a full design team ready to work with you to get you a design that is made specific to your needs. We can help you in designing, making the image seamless or even fixing some areas of the image to make it that one of a kind custom look you want! As with any design company, there will be a small design fee to help facilitate your idea into a custom printed water transfer printing film which vary depending upon the amount of work involved. Most of the time this will range from $25 to $75. If you have been thinking about trying the custom film just give us a call and we can get you setup and going with your design in no time! Don’t have a design in mind? We also offer thousands of pre-made designs that have no design fee and can be purchased instantly directly from our website! Give us a call today and see how we can help you increase your revenue and customer base with Custom Printed Hydrographic Film from Liquid Concepts!
When starting a job that you want to do a color fill on you must first follow a few steps and make a plan before getting started on the job. The first thing you want to do is figure out what color will be “filled” and what color or hydrographic pattern will be on the part. The second part is knowing how to start a job like this. For this write up we will tell you all the in’s and out’s of how to properly color fill a hydro dipped item. First you want to start with properly prepping the item to be color filled. This usually involves sandblasting the item with around 80-100 grit media or scuffing the item with a red scotch brite. You can also use 220-320 grit sandpaper as well with most items. Once you have all your part prepped and cleaned, then it’s time to use a primer or sealer to properly adhere to the part. Normally we use the Liquid Concepts P-250 and P-251 Epoxy Primer. This can be used as a primer to fill and sand out any imperfections or you can add reducer to the mixture and turn it into a sealer. This primer is already Direct To Metal (DTM) so you can apply it to almost any bare surface including metal. After you spray your primer, you can now apply your top color that is going to be the base for the water transfer printing on the part. This will NOT be the color that you fill into the part but the overall color used as the base. In this example we will use a carbon fiber engine cover with a red color fill. The carbon fiber is the top pattern and the red is the color fill or the “Filled” color. You will want to apply your base for the carbon fiber (in this example, it will be our Dark Charcoal Grey Metallic) and then go ahead and dip the engine cover. Once you have it dipped and rinsed off, go ahead and get the engine cover dry and do any touch-ups that are needed and get it ready for clear coat. You will now clear coat the whole part. When doing a color fill we normally like to use a quick dry clear so it’s fast to cure out and we can sand it within a few hours or sometimes even 30 minutes depending on what clear coat you use. Most standard clears we normally leave overnight to get a proper cure before we start to sand the part. When the clear coat on the part is dry and cured out, you can take a red or grey scotch brite pad or 800-1000 grit sandpaper and sand the entire part. This part is critical because it gives your clear coat something to stick to when you re-clear the part for the final time. Also this helps in getting the “filled” color to stick to the freshly cleared part. After scuffing, you can spray your filled color on the part and let it fully flash and dry. You don’t want to apply this heavy, but you do want to make sure it’s applied enough for the proper color to be shown. Now that the fill color is on the part, you can now take a clean rag and a cleaner and start to gently wipe off the paint. Normally we like to use isopropyl alcohol or acetone. You can use lacquer thinner but it’s a very strong chemical and could possibly damage the clear coat when wiping the surface. As you are wiping the surface you do not want to apply excessive force, but only enough to gently move across the part to start wiping away the paint. As you start to see paint coming off the part and on the rag make sure to keep switching over to a new spot each and every time. This helps in preventing excess paint to be smeared across the part and keeps the paint you are wiping away on the rag. As you wipe the part make sure to glide over the top and not press down hard. Since we have already clear coated the part, the clear protects the top hydrographic pattern and allows the fill color to stay in the recessed areas of the part to give you a perfect color fill as you gently wipe away the excess paint from the part. When you finish the part and the color fill looks great, make sure to use a high quality clear coat to keep it looking its best for years to come! We normally use our C-500 High Solids Glamour Clear for any and all our jobs to make sure the parts look their best and stay glossy for years down the road. Because we already sanded the part before we applied the filled color, the clear will have plenty of adhesion to the parts and now your customer will have a fully one off part that looks amazing and should only take minutes to do when properly prepped out correctly! If you have any questions or comments we would love to hear from you and as always, at Liquid Concepts, we are making hydrographics great again!