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.
Sandpaper helps prep the item or remove flaws from the clear coat finish. Typically, use finer grit sandpaper for both.
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.
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.