How to Determine the Correct Clear Coat Activator Professional-grade clear coats often have more than one activator. So, how would you go about deciding which of them to use? Different activators contribute different characteristics. According to Liquid Concepts, activators typically vary in their speed they cure out the clear in certain temperatures. Your Work Environment Should Be the Biggest Consideration Temperature affects how quickly clear coat dries. Hotter environments tend to make them dry a lot faster. If you happen to work somewhere without AC, then you’d want to use a slower activator. These won’t dry too fast in such a work location. On the other hand, let’s say you’ve been working somewhere colder. You’d want to use a faster activator in that case. In cold places, slow activators take too long to set before you can start working with them. Slow Activators Work Best Between 80 to 95 Degrees Without AC, most garage workshops would be around this temperature during the summer. Slower activators give you enough time to clear your products if you work somewhere like that. When comparing different activators, check out its flash time. Flash times tell how long to wait between new coats, assuming optimal temperatures and activators are used. Medium Activators Work Best Between 65 to 75 Degrees Room temperature workshops ought to be around this range. Using medium activators above its typical temperature range would throw off the flash time. In other words, if you applied a medium activator to something 90 degrees, it would set much more rapidly. Your flash time could easily drop from 10 minutes to 8 minutes or less in this situation. Fast Activators Work Best at 55 - 65 degrees Fast activators are useful for two circumstances. They work great in cold workshops. Or, you could use them if that is the only activator that you have but make sure to just pay attention to the flash time. Match Reducers and Activators Of course, not all clear coats are as thin as you would like straight out of the can. Adding a reducer to the mix can help thin them out. However, you’ve got to make sure that your activator matches the reducer. Slow reducers should be used with slow activators, and so on. Everything evaporates appropriately that way. Matching Your Activator to Your Work Conditions Provides the Best Results Matching activators to your work environment is crucial. Working with something that is not suitable can be a huge headache. Slow activators could take several days to cure if you were to apply them in the dead of winter. Fast activators could set up entirely before the day is over sometimes. Only matching them to your environment creates optimal results.
10 Things You Need for Hydrographics Hydrographics, also called hydro dipping, hydro imaging, immersion printing, or water transfer printing, is a trending process of applying graphics to almost any three-dimensional item. Looking over the internet, you’ll see everything from tennis shoes to car parts getting new and exciting custom coatings through the hydrographics process. Hydrographics in Brief Hydrographics is dipping items into a tank containing a dissolvable-printed film that floats on the top of the water. Hydrographics is not to be confused with the process of using everyday acrylic spray paint sprayed in different spots on top of the water as their color source. Even though both types of processes get lumped in under the Hydrographics heading, acrylic spray paint only gets you a limited amount of swirl patterns. Although using acrylic spray paints fosters beautiful results, you have a ton of printed graphics to choose from with the dissolvable-printed film, and it’s a far cleaner process. For this content, we’ll concentrate on the printed film process. What You Need If you’re just starting out, you’ll need the whole setup, which can be as straightforward or as involved as you want it to get. Remember, the more involved hydrographics supplies you have, the bigger the expense. We’ll start with this basic hydrographics setup list easy enough for anybody to get started: 1. Large, Deep Plastic Container The plastic container needs to be large enough to fill with warm water that is high enough to submerge your item without water spillage over the sides. 2. DIY Hydrographic Printing Kit These kits typically contain an activator, top coat, base coat, universal primer, film, respirator mask, gloves, scuff pad, and step-by-step instructions. 3. Item to Dip As long as you use the right method, your dipping possibilities are many, including plastic, wood, ceramics, fiberglass, and metal. However, if water can damage the item, think twice. 4. Sandpaper Sandpaper helps prep the item or remove flaws from the clear coat finish. Typically, use finer grit sandpaper for both. 5. Rags Even though the dissolvable-print film method is cleaner, you still should have a few rags around to wipe your item down at various times throughout the process and for water spillage. 6. Bucket of Mild Cleaning Solution and Water Thoroughly clean your item before the dipping process. Hydrographic experts say a mild dish soap works well here. 7. Gloves You’ll use gloves all through the Hydrographics process, so it’s best to have several durable sets of vinyl, rubber, or latex gloves. 8. Primer Coat Use a primer to ensure a secure base coat paint adhesion as the hydrographics process encompasses mechanical bonding. However, make sure you use the right primer for your item. 9. Base Coat Applied after the primer; the basecoat color is critical to the overall final look of your item. However, different films will take different colors so make sure to check before you spray your item. 10. Top Coat The clear coat helps seal in the inks and promotes a cleaner finished product. Depending on how glassy you want your item, topcoats come in matte, semi-gloss, or high gloss.
Why You Must Paint Parts Prior to Hydro Dipping Hydrodipping creates some of the most impressive-looking plastics. But, you can’t just dip your plastics without preparing them. If you were to dip something without painting it first, the dip would just slide right off. Proper preparations ensure that it sticks to the plastic permanently. Top Coats Give Parts a Durable Finish Painting your parts and applying a topcoat enhances their durability, so the film doesn’t damage as easily. It is best to always apply a Satin, Flat, or Gloss Clear coat to give your part the best protection possible. However, Dips Won’t Stick to Clear Coat Well Parts that are already painted and cleared will require you to process them for the hydrodip to adhere. These parts will require proper prepping as well as a fresh base coat for the hydrographics to work properly. You cannot dip directly to already cleared parts as it will cause the dipped film to rub or slide off. This happens because the clear coat has already cured, so after dipping the part, there was nothing for the dip to adhere to. Your Paint Must Not Be Fully Cured The reason the dip won’t adhere to the already painted part or plastic is that it can’t bond with the paint. As a result, washing the dipped part would remove most of the dip. This happens when the paint has already been fully cured. Fully-cured paint creates an impermeable barrier, preventing any adhesion. Hydrodipping Must Occur Within the Dipping Window So, if paint creates a barrier, why should you paint before dipping? Well, there is something called a bonding window. Paint takes a certain amount of time, after applied, before it cures. The bonding window is when your dips adhere the best. Dipping your products in the middle of this window is crucial. Otherwise, your dips will keep sliding off. Bonding Windows Vary Depending on the Paint Do keep in mind that each paint has its own bonding window. Certain paints can have windows as long as several months. At the same time, most of the paints are ready to dip within a few minutes of spraying. That helps eliminate any issues when you are ready to dip them. A large bonding window like that means you’ve got more than enough time to work with your products. Correctly Dipped Parts Always Need to Be Painted Dipping a painted part won’t guarantee that your results will be phenomenal. You’ve got to dip them during the paint’s bonding window. This timeframe is when dips bond to paints, instead of just resting on their surface. Applying the dips after the bonding window won’t work out well. When you do that, dips slide right off the item since they can’t bond to anything.
Reasons to Use Rubber Floor Mats in Hydrographics Printing Areas When you’re setting up a space to do hydrographics painting, it’s wise to keep safety in mind. Although getting your films and the right size of sink or tub may be more exciting, don’t overlook the flooring in your workspace. Consider these reasons why you need rubber floor mats for hydrographics shop. Easy to Clean Rubber floor mats are easy to clean. When they need a little cleaning, you can just hose them off. Ideally, your floor should have a built-in drain. This will make your cleanup process as fast and easy as possible. No Risk of Staining or Water Damage Rubber floor mats don’t stain. Other types of flooring, including vinyl, concrete, laminate, wood, tile and cork will stain. The rubber can also handle frequent splashes, dripping and daily rinsing. Other hard-surface flooring will warp or rot with all of this moisture. Withstands Impacts If you’re using hydrographics on something heavy, such as parts for your car or truck, you need flooring that can absorb the impact if you drop the item. Rubber floor mats are resilient and absorb the energy of an impact. They don’t transfer the energy back into the item, so anything that falls onto rubber floor mats is unlikely to end up with dents, dings, cracks or other types of damage. Locks Into Place Rugs can shift around on a tile, concrete or wood floor. The last thing you want to do is have the rug slip out from under you while you’re applying an exquisite hydrographics film onto a treasured item. Rubber floor mats connect to each other and lock into place. They won’t move even if you move around or roll a heavy work cart across them. Reduce the Risk of Slipping and Falling A puddle of water on a tile, wood or other hard-surface floor is a safety hazard. Rubber floor mats are textured, and spills and splashes drain through the openings. This lowers your risk of slipping and falling. If you do happen to take a tumble, the rubber mats have some give. You’ll be cushioned, and you’ll be less likely to hurt yourself when you fall. Comfort for Your Feet Whether you plan to do hydrographic dipping as a hobby or as a full-time job, the process involves a lot of standing. When you’re on your feet for several hours, a hard floor puts a lot of strain on your feet, ankles, knees and lower back. If you have poor posture or ill-fitting shoes, just a short time of standing can lead to a lot of pain. Rubber floor mats offer more comfort for your feet. They soften the impact of each step, so you’ll be less likely to have heel or ball-of-foot pain.
How to Correctly Clean a Hydrographics Dipping Tank Whether you’re a beginner at hydrographics painting or you’re setting up a commercial enterprise, the tank is one of the most important pieces of equipment you’ll use on a daily basis. The dipping tanks range from entry-level setups that are easy to learn how to use to production-level systems with high-tech features and add-ons. No matter what type you have, it will need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Use these tips to correctly clean your hydrographics dipping tank. Remove Large Debris The first step in cleaning the tank involves removing large debris. These are leftover bits of film that could clog the tank’s drain. Don’t be surprised if you pull out long, green strings of slimy material. This is algae, and it’s common in large, warm tanks of water. The best way to get them out is with an aquarium net. These nets have a long handle, and they’re made to go into dirty water filled with chemicals. Scoop the debris into a waste bin. Drain the Tank The next step is to drain all the liquid from the tank. It’s a good idea to wear long rubber gloves and a face shield while doing this. Small bits of debris may splash as the water goes down the drain. Scrub the Tank Use a scouring pad to remove debris and muck from the stainless steel tank. You’ll also need to do this on the adjustable baffles and any accessories you have in the tank. Most people go through at least one dozen scouring pads, so have a bunch of them on hand depending on how dirty your tank is. Keep a bucket with warm, soapy water nearby to dunk the scouring pads into. Scrape Stuck Debris An ice scraper or bondo spreader is a helpful tool to remove debris that has formed a film on the stainless steel. You can also try a stiff-bristled brush. If your tank is large, a janitorial broom will loosen sticky debris and film. Rinse the Tank Once you’ve removed the obvious film and muck from the tank, rinse it with a garden hose. The jet sprayer delivers enough pressure to loosen any leftover bits and particles left on the tank. Keep rinsing until the water runs clear. Sanitize the Tank and Drain Warm water is a perfect environment for algae and bacteria. You don’t want a clog in the drainpipe, so it’s important to sanitize and disinfect these surfaces. You can pour a 50% white vinegar solution or a 10% bleach solution into the tank. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes. Make sure there’s plenty of ventilation to dissipate the fumes from these disinfectants. Drain the tank. Rinse the tank again, and it’s ready to use for your next hydro dipping project.
How to Remove Hydrographics Film Hydrographics or water transfer printing is a decorating process where carbon fiber, wood grain, camouflage, and designer prints are applied to a product surface in 3D. Metals, plastics, wood, and glass are materials that can be decorated with this technology. This extends the range of items compatible with this technique. For example, car parts, ceramics, and pretty much anything that can be submerged in water and painted will work with hydrographics. If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably had your share of fun with hydrographics. It’s a creative way to decorate your items with intricate patterns, as it’s durable and appealing. However, sometimes you might want to remove your design. Maybe you messed up in your application, or maybe you’re just ready for a new one. Fortunately, you can remove hydrographics. However, the final product’s acrylic is resistant to debris and scratches, making the removal process challenging. It will last for many years when exposed to customary conditions, but scratches destroy the hydrographic finish. The following are techniques you can use to remove hydrographics. Removing Hydrographics From Glass Glass is probably the most comfortable surface to remove hydrographics. Armed with rubber gloves, microfiber cloth, acetone, and water, rub gently on the glass surface to loosen the bond between the film’s atomic makeup. Finish by cleaning the glass with a professional glass cleaner that prevents streaks. Removing Hydrographics From Vehicle Surfaces Using a microfiber towel, pour a small amount of alcohol-based paint remover onto the vehicle. Using small circular motions, gently and thoroughly rub the surface, making sure not to damage the integrity of the material. The most appropriate solvent to use is acetone or lacquer thinner. Removing Hydrographics From Wood Denatured alcohol, mineral spirits, and a rag are all you need. Spray the denatured alcohol of choice on the wooden surface, give it a second or two to react with the film, and rub thoroughly. Removing Hydrographics From Plastic The state-of-the-art chemical process that creates adhesion during the immersion process creates a strong bond between the film and the plastic product. To successfully scrape off the film, use denatured alcohol, water, and oil. Soften the scraped-off areas using oil to maintain the uniformity of the product surface. Acetone is a powerful solvent capable of removing oil-based and water-based paints on surfaces around the homestead. It functions to soften the entire film coating along with a gentle rub. The film comfortably wears off due to acetone’s ability to dissolve plastics, glues, and acrylics. Paint Stripper Another chemical used to remove hydrographic film safely is your local paint stripper. It penetrates the hydrographic film, causing internal stress that weakens the film structure, resulting in the separation of layers. We recommend you research the best paint stripper available in your area before buying. Sandblaster This is an effective method used to remove deep-set film dried into a surface. It requires specialized equipment and thorough cleaning after the removal of the film. It’s less laborious when removing a film from a large surface, but care should be exercised to avoid scarring product surfaces. Hydrographic films are an excellent way of decorating your treasured surfaces. We recommend that you wear personal protective gear, whether installing or scraping off the film.
How to Hydro Dip Helmets The hydro dip is a unique process that allows the application of images or graphics to three-dimensional surfaces. The hydro dip is also known as immersion printing, water transfer printing, or hydro printing. Hydro dip has been used to decorate virtually everything imaginable, including helmets. Hydro dipping a helmet is relatively easy to learn with fulfilling results. However, you need to adhere to the protocols of each step. Your overall success or failure in getting an impressive print on your helmet depends on how well you execute each step. Discussed below are steps to follow when you want to hydro dip your helmet. Identify the Print You need to buy the film with the print that you want on your helmet. Clean the Helmet Though the helmet may be new, make sure that the surfaces to be printed are sparkling clean. Use 91% isopropyl alcohol and clean surfaces with cleaning cloths. While cleaning, we suggest that you wear gloves to avoid recontamination of the helmet. Primer Application Choose the correct primer for the helmet. The right primer will ensure proper adhesion of the paint. Apply the primer on the helmet evenly on all the areas to be printed. Base Coat Application Now that you have chosen the pattern, choose the appropriate base coat. Ensure that you apply the base coat evenly on the helmet’s surface. The base color is critical because it will determine the final look of the helmet. Film Placement on the Water Put the film with the print on the water surface. For perfect transfer of the print impressions, ensure that the water temperature is 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Take caution that there is no air trapped between the film and the water surface. Hydration of the Film Allow the film to absorb water by waiting for 60-90 seconds after placing it in water. Film Activation Holding the spray gun at approximately 8-12 inches from the water surface, spray the activator from side to side in quick successions. Ensure even coverage of the exercise. The spraying speed determines the amount of activator being deposited. The Dip Wait for five seconds after spraying the activator. On the expiry of the duration, gently dip the helmet at an angle of 30-40 degrees. Ensure the helmet is completely submerged. Rinse Rinse any residual PVA of the film off the surface of the helmet. You can do this using a light spray or running water from the tap. Take caution if you choose to use running water from the tap. Ensure the tap water does not hit the helmet’s printed area directly with pressure; this can potentially compromise your print. Dry the Helmet You have two options for drying the print, convection heating or air drying. We recommend you use convection heating because it is done at a lower temperature and yields sharper results if you are in a hurry. Application of Clear Coat The application of clear coat helps seal in the inks allowing for a shiny enhanced pattern on your helmet. You have a choice of three variants of clear coats to choose from: matte, semi-gloss, or high gloss. You may apply an optional second clear coat on your helmet for it to stand out from the rest.
How to Hydro Dip Wheels Hydro dip painting refers to the process where printed film resting on the water is transferred to an object. This is achieved by immersing the object in the water. Hydro dip painting is also known as water transfer printing, immersion printing, water transfer imaging, or water marbling. The end product of hydro dip painting is decorative or applied art. Water printing can be used on metal, plastic and hardwoods, and various other materials. Print Preparation This is the first step of the process. The desired pattern is created and then printed onto a special form of water-soluble film. Cleaning Clean the wheel thoroughly using 91% isopropyl alcohol. Ensure no foreign particles are on the surface. We recommend you wear gloves to reduce exposure after the wheel is clean. Wearing gloves helps you avoid recontamination. Preparation of the Wheel You should meticulously sand the wheel’s surface using 220 - 320 grit sandpaper. Spray primer on the sanded areas. Primer ensures proper adhesion of the paint. This is done to enhance the smoothness of the surface to be printed. For better results, you may opt to spray multiple coats of primer and sand it smooth after it dries. Dry and clean the wheel in readiness for the next step. Application of the Base Coat With the pattern chosen earlier, apply the base coat to the wheel. The color of the base coat is critical because it will determine the final look of the wheel. Laying the film on the water Take the film and make sure you have water that is between 80 - 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Lay the film in the water and let it sit for one minute. Apply the activator evenly across the entire film and wait for the film to glass out. Normally this is around 5 to 15 seconds Immersing the Wheel The wheel should be carefully lowered into the water. At this point, the film will transfer the image to the wheel as it descends into the water. Note that the water surface tension has aided the process by pulling the image around the wheel spokes. Rinse You can now rinse your residual film off the wheel. This can be done manually or by machine. You could do a light spray or use water from a tap. Drying Depending on the speed at which you need your wheel, you could choose to air dry, which will take you longer, convection drying or an automated method. Whichever method you use, it’s noteworthy that the convection method, though slower, is sometimes preferable. It’s done at a lower temperature, and this may enhance the appearance of your wheel. Clear Coat This is a highly recommended final procedure for the wheel. By this process, you help seal in the inks. You may choose matte, semi-gloss or high gloss as a top coat to finish off. Note that water transfer films are sensitive to humidity and temperature. It would be best if you appropriately handled them to ensure longevity and good results. Store them in a controlled room whose humidity levels are below 60% and room temperature of between 65 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Whenever you have any opened unused films, pack the films as soon as possible. This extends their quality.
How to Hydro Dip Rounded Parts Hydro dipping allows you to apply unique graphics to almost any three-dimensional object. This entails objects of any shape, be it round, oval, square, or cubed. Dipping helmets, firearms, and gaming controllers uses a different technique from that used when dipping round objects. As you might have noticed in your quest to understand hydro dripping, this technique can be used for three-dimensional and other shapes. The key is to make sure the surface texture can absorb the ink printed on the film. We recommend you scrutinize the sanding process for round objects for an even surface. More complex shapes require careful sandblasting for a final satisfying look. Below we explain the steps and things you should know when dipping round objects. Preparation Keep in mind the item you’re hydro dipping will be fully submerged underwater. All electronic items should be stripped. The only remains should be the shell where the graphics will be imprinted. A round object’s preparation stage requires that you analyze the surface, observe safety features, and sand if necessary. If the item has any screws on it, remove them for uniformity of the film upon dipping. Make sure you paint your round object with the correct base coat for the film to look correct after the dip. Dipping the object while having other attachments on it can alter the look and the symmetry of the pattern. For a professional look, we advise you to first plan how you will roll it. Rolling a round object is an improvised way to limit the errors you might experience when dipping the object the same way you would dip a flat item. Cutting the Film The size of the object you’re dipping determines the amount of film you’ll cut. Cutting a film slightly larger than your object’s size avoids waste and reduces the margin of error by preventing the emergence of bubbles. The film’s size should also be in line with that of the tub for convenience when dipping. Bearing the fact that this is a round object, the film’s size should give you the space to roll it. Tape the film to control it from rolling back in the initial shape it was packaged in. Laying the Film on the Water Make sure the tub dividers are pulled up far enough to give room for laying the film. Determine the side that faces down on the water by dipping your fingers into the water and touching a corner of the film. Hold the film for a few seconds, and the side that sticks to your finger faces down on the water. Lay the film from corner to corner to avoid trapping air. Tighten the dividers to control the position of the film and prepare to spray the activator. Gently spray the activator evenly across the film to create a sleek and glassed out look over the entire film. Dipping Gently dip your round object at an angle, slowly coming down at about half the object. Slowly turn the object to the remaining side and wrap it all the way around. The result will be a uniform pattern that goes all around the part. The trick is making sure the end of the pattern faces the backside of the object. This is just but an insight on how to hydro dip a round object. Be sure to thoroughly consider the design of the object before dipping for a one of a kind look.
Why Water Temperature Is Important When Hydro Dipping When you’re planning a hydro dipping project, it’s important to follow each step carefully in order to achieve the desired finished results. Skipping a step or missing one of the instructions could result in a film that doesn’t adhere properly or a film that wears off well before it should. The water temperature is an important factor in the success of a hydro dipping project. Read on to learn how water temperatures affect your hydrographic dip. Ideal Water Temperature Range for Hydrographic Dipping The ideal water temperature range for hydrographic dipping is 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Some dip manufacturers may recommend a specific temperature, such as 80 degrees. It’s important to follow this recommendation as closely as possible. Be sure to invest in an accurate thermometer if your tank does not have a thermostat. Regularly check and calibrate the thermometer/thermostat so that you can rest assured knowing your water is the right temperature for optimal results when doing a hydrographic dipping project. What Happens if the Water Is Too Cold One of the most common mistakes that people who are learning to do hydro dipping make is using water that is too cold. If the water temperature is below 75 degrees Fahrenheit, you will end up with a dip that is sticky. The film will not melt properly, so it may not conform to the item that you insert into the bath of water. The film may not stick properly to the item. The result will be a messy item, and you probably won’t be pleased with the final result. What Happens if the Water Is Too Warm While you can heat the water above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, it isn’t necessary to do so. If the water is too hot, you will have to adjust the soak time of the film to a lower time as you will be dissolving the film at a much quicker rate. This will also effect the inks on the flim and the activator that is applied to the film. However, if you heat the water more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit, you are putting yourself at risk of burns. Using an accurate thermometer is the best way to achieve the recommended temperature range for the water you’ll apply the hydrographic film to for your dipping project. How Hot and Cold Temperatures Affect the Dipped Product Once you have applied the hydrographic film to an item, rinse the excess film off and allowed it to dry. Then you will apply the clear coat to protect it and the item is ready for use. If you’ve done the hydro dipping on an item that will experience extreme temperatures, you might be wondering how those temperatures will affect the durability and appearance of the item. The cured and coated item is resistant to extreme heat and cold. You can drive your car with a hydro dipped hood in temperatures of 0 degrees Fahrenheit or 120 degrees Fahrenheit without any ill effects on the dipped item. The cured items are generally heat-resistant to temperatures of 300 - 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
How Base Colors Affect Hydrographics Selecting an accurate base coat color is essential in hydro graphics. There are regular base coat colors like white or tan for films, and then there are more versatile choices. Your base coat can change the final look of a dip to make it better or worse. There are different things to look at when choosing the right base color to put underneath different films. Below are some of the commonly used films with the preferred base coats to be used. Custom Films With custom films, white base coats are the most preferred type of base coats. That’s why it’s rare to find a white hydrographic film. The white base shows the design printed in its original color and design. For example, when hydro dipping, blue ink remains blue, and red ink remains red. The color is retained because the ink has a certain degree of opaqueness and the color of the base coat impacts the actual color after dipping. If you want your design to look as it appears on product pages where you buy your films, use a white base coat for a popping look unless the customer or vendor specifies another color. Camo Films When it comes to using camo film designs, using a white base coat makes the camo prints brighter. However, if you don’t want your camo design to be very bright, you can use a tan or a beige color as a base coat. Using such base colors can omit some of the design’s bright color but still keep the design the same as its original look. A tan or beige base coat gives the camo design an earth-toned appearance. You can also experiment with other bright colors like red, depending on the customer’s specifications. However, some camo patterns won’t look good with bright colors. Therefore, put the camo print over colored material and see how it looks first before doing your hydro dip. Black and Clear Carbon Fiber You can see through this type of carbon fiber and you can use the base color to change the carbon fiber’s appearance. You can get creative with this film and use any color for your base coat or even several colors together. However, a black base coat for this film won’t impact the final look because it matches the film’s color. You can use spray out cards or any colored materials you have to show your customer what the colors look like underneath the black and clear carbon fiber. Ensure you pick the right base coat color to make sure the finished product looks as you expected. You can do this by doing a test dip on an object while you try something new. Testing allows you and the customer to know what the finished product will look like and how different base colors affect different films in future dips.
Getting a Smooth Glass Clear Coat Finish With Hydrographic Film There are many reasons that you might not get a perfect clear coat, like if your part has a run in it or there is some trash in the clear coat. There are a few methods you can try to get a smooth glass clear coat finish. Putting the First Layer Down The first method that you can use to improve the clear coat on a particular section is to scuff it down and put a new clear coat on it. The other method of getting a better clear coat on a section is to buff it. Buffing out the part makes more sense if you are pressed for time, and buffing out small areas of the clear coat usually works out just fine. The first way is scuffing a section using a Scotch-Brite pad to remove any blemishes and then scuffing the rest of the part to get a dull finish all the way around. A red Scotch Brite pad could work, but it is also important to note that using a red Scotch-Brite pad could cause some additional sand scratches. A good clear coat will usually cover up these sand scratches, but it is something you should be aware of. A gray Scotch-Brite pad might work a little better for actually scuffing down a part because the sand scratches likely won’t be as bad and possibly show through. Another method of scuffing down a section is to use sandpaper. An 800 or 1000 grit roll of sandpaper is a good choice for scuffing down an area so you can redo the clear coat if you don’t have major runs in it. One advantage of dry sanding the clear coat is that you can quickly see which areas have a dull finish and which have a glossy finish. You can also see which areas you’ll need to keep sanding. As you are sanding the clear coat, you are removing the specs and spots in the clear coat. You should keep your sandpaper clean. You can even use air to get rid of the buildup on your sandpaper. If the section you are sanding has holes in it, you should be careful when sanding around those edges so you don’t go through your clear coat. If the clear coat does have a lot of specs in it, you could even put a second coat on it. Can You Put Too Many Coats on a Section? You probably should not put more than four coats of clear on a specific area. Adding a second, third, or even fourth coat of clear gives you more layers of clear coat so you can sand out all the specs. Additional coats of clear help you sand out all the specs because you are less likely to actually get rid of all the clear coats on the section. Just make sure as you are sanding, you don’t sand too much and go through all the layers of clear coat. Can You Use Sandpaper and a Scotch-Brite Pad Together? You can use a Scotch-Brite pad if you are sanding sections with lots of corners and edges and your sandpaper cannot scuff those areas. After you are done sanding down the area and the clear coat is smooth and dull, you can spray on more coats of clear and give the parts a smooth clear coat finish that makes it look like glass if done correctly.
How to Hydro Dip a Shotgun Barrel The hydro dip is also known as water transfer printing, water transfer imaging, or water marbling. In the hydro dip, printed designs are applied to three-dimensional surfaces. Nowadays, hydro dip is extensively used for decorating all manner of items, guns included. To upgrade your shotgun’s appearance through the hydro dip, you need to follow a few easy steps. A mistake or non-conformity in any step may compromise the overall quality of print on your shotgun barrel. The following are procedures that can give your shotgun barrel a brand new look. Remove the Old Paint Strip the barrel of its old paint. Apply a thick coat of paint remover on the barrel. Leave the remover undisturbed for about 20 minutes until the paint starts to bubble up. Use a plastic scraper to remove the peeling old paint. Clean and Dry When you have completely removed the old paint, clean the barrel using 91% isopropyl alcohol. Wear gloves while handling the barrel to avoid re-contamination. Prep the Barrel After the barrel has been wiped down with Isopropyl alcohol make sure to either sand blast or scuff the barrel with either a red Scotch-Brite pad or 220-320 sand paper. If you scuff it with a pad or sand paper you will need to re-wipe it with isopropyl alcohol again. If you sandblast the part, you can go straight to the next step. Prime You need to choose the right primer for the material that your coating. Apply the primer evenly on the surface of the barrel. The primer promotes adhesion to the surface. Allow up to two hours to dry in some cases before proceeding to the next stage. Consult your tech sheet to find out more. Apply Base Coat Your standard base coat is usually white. Most films are compatible with a white base coat. Evenly apply the coat on the barrel. It may take 2-3 coats to get full coverage. Film Placement on the Water Place your film on the surface of the water. Ensure the water you are using has a temperature of 80-90 degrees. Take caution that no air is trapped between the water surface and the film. Film Hydration Placing the film on the water allows it 50-60 seconds to absorb water. Films are usually temperature-sensitive, hence the need to keep the water at the right temperature. Taping In case there are sections on the barrel you want to mask off, you can use any kind of painting tape. Taping will aid you in getting clean lines. Activate the Film With the spray gun approximately 6-10 inches from the water surface, spray the activator in an overlapping manner. The amount of activator deposited depends on the speed of spraying. The Dip Wait for three to five seconds after spraying the activator. Dip the shotgun barrel through the surface at a 30-45 degree angle. Rinse Remove any residual film on the shotgun barrel. You can use a light spray, shower or tap water. If you decide to use tap water, ensure that the water pressure is not too much. The tap water pressure can compromise your print in some cases. Dry the Shotgun Barrel You can choose to dry the shotgun barrel by either convection heating or air dry. Make sure after the barrel is rinse off that the water is removed as soon as possible to help prevent any rusting on the inside of the barrel. Application of Clear Coat We recommend applying clear coat on all hydrographically decorated items. Application of clear coat will seal in the inks and allow for a smooth, custom barrel. Ensure that the barrel is dry before applying the clear coat. You can apply matte, semi-gloss, or high-gloss clear top coating. If you need a finer finish on the shotgun barrel, you may opt to apply multiple coats as needed.
How to Double Hydro Dip a Gun Hydro dipping helps to enhance the surface of your gun and offers complete concealment. Double-dipping a gun involves dipping the gun twice to achieve the best results. Step-by-Step Procedure The first step of double dipping involves cleaning the gun. Use isopropyl alcohol to clean. Then either scuff the gun or sandblast it for the coating to stick to it properly. Next, you’ll want to prime the gun to ensure proper adhesion of the paint. The third step involves applying the base coat that determines the overall look of the gun. For the fourth step after the paint is dried, tape up half of the gun to prep it for dipping. In the fifth step, the printed film is placed on the water that is between 80-90 degrees, with no air trapped between the film and the surface of the water. The film is hydrated for about 60 seconds and then the activator is applied and the gun dipped the first time. Make sure to rinse off all the PVA from the dip and dry it thoroughly. When taping, it is important to use blue tape or a very low tack tape. This helps to prevent pulling the pattern off excessively when trying to pull the tape off. In the second dip, ensure that there is at least an eighth of an inch of the film showing from the first dip so that the second pattern will overlap the first pattern. This also makes sure that the final pattern looks seamless. Double dipping is ideal for guns with many different intricate parts. When dipping the gun for the second time, it is essential that the gun is dry and rinsed to achieve the best results. To keep the film from rolling over the edges, you can apply tape on the sides before getting it in the water. The film is held by dividers in the water, and you can pull out any wrinkles in the film using air from the activator gun. After hydrating the film for about 60 seconds, you can apply an activator along the film. Hold the gun at a slight angle when dipping the second time to allow all the film to cover the entire part. Once the gun is submerged in the water, move the film around to move all the excess film from the dip, and then pull it out of the water. The main advantage of using the blue tape is that you can let it sit underwater and it can release some adhesive to make pulling it off much easier. It is also important not to push down on the blue tape very hard when applying it. Apply just enough pressure for the tape to stick so that it can come off easily. Pulling the tape in the water ensures that the pattern stays intact. You may need to touch up some areas that trap air and miss the pattern. The gun can be dried using conventional heating or air drying, depending on your preference. This is usually done at lower temperatures to enhance the final appearance of the gun. The final step is to apply a clear coat, which is highly recommended for a hydrographically decorated gun. This gives it a cleaner finish and helps to seal the ink. The clear coat is applied after the gun is dry. A second coat may be necessary, depending on the gun and requirements of the customer.
Laying a Large Piece of Hydrographic Film on the Water There are a few steps when laying hydrographic film on the water. Here is a step-by-step procedure. Step 1: Get the Right-Size Tube The first step in laying hydrographic film on the water by yourself is getting a tube. This tube could be made of many different materials, as long as you can roll hydrographic film on it. A few of the most common types of tubes you could use for this process are a cardboard tube or a metal tube. If you don’t have either kind of tube, you could also use an old broomstick if you so choose. The other piece of information you should know about is that you can use a tube that is wider than your water tank. Using a tube that is wider than your water tank is not necessarily required, but it often makes the process of laying a large piece of hydrographic film on the water by yourself much easier. Step 2: Adjust the Film for Your Tube Once you have a tube that is wide enough for your water tank, you should first measure how much hydrographic film you need to use and cut off that amount of hydrographic film. After you have cut off the amount of hydrographic film that you require, you should check and make sure which side of the film should be facing up and which side should be facing down. You can then flip over the hydrographic film if necessary and place the tube on top of the film. Next, you should roll the hydrographic film onto the tube. Step 3: Lay the Hydrographic Film on the Water Following that, you can set the dividers or use the sides of the tank to lay the hydrographic film on the water. This depends on the size of the water tank you are using. You may have to use one of the ledges of the water tank and the center divider to lay the hydrographic film on the water properly. At this point, you should have laid the tube with the hydrographic film on top of the water tank. Your tube and film should be balanced on the dividers and the ledge of the water tank. To get the hydrographic film off the tube and into the water, you can simply peel the hydrographic film off the tube slightly. You can make the tube roll across the top of the water tank. The hydrographic film should roll off of the tube and into the water at this point. You should be careful not to let the tube get wet and drip water onto the hydrographic film once it is in the water. This would make the hydrographic film not stick to something else properly. Step 4: Turn on the Water Tank’s Timer You can then turn on the water tank’s timer and slide the center divider until the hydrographic film is held tightly in place. You should slide over the other dividers in order to ensure that the hydrographic film remains securely in place. You may find that it is much easier to make sure that the hydrographic film stays in place if you are laying more hydrographic film on the water in a larger water tank.