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How Activators Factor Into the Hydro Dipping Process

How Activators Factor Into the Hydro Dipping Process

How Activators Factor Into the Hydro Dipping Process

Hydro dipping is a fun way to customize a three-dimensional object. Whether you want to put a cool film on a trinket box, shelf, hub cap, pistol or something else, it is necessary to follow all the steps of the hydro dipping process. An activator is a required part of the hydro dipping method, and here is what you need to know about activators before you start your project.

What the Activator Is

The activator is a chemical that liquefies the ink on the hydro dip film. After you have primed the object and painted it, the item is ready for the film. Hydrographic films are made from polyvinyl alcohol. The film is carefully placed on the water surface of a dipping tank. Once the film is hydrated, you add the activator. This liquefies the ink on the surface of the water. You dip the item, and the water’s surface tension allows the pattern to wrap around your three-dimensional item. The ink will not liquefy if you do not add an activator.

What Happens If You Use the Activator Incorrectly

Your hydro dipping project will not have the desired look if you do not properly apply the activator. Too little activator will not fully liquefy the film, and it will not stick to the item. Too much activator may cause the ink to disperse and not properly adhere to the prepared surface of your item.

Types and Styles of Hydro Dip Activators

Hydro dip activators are available in aerosol and liquid forms. The aerosol form looks like a can of spray paint. It is ideal for a small project. You just spray a light mist of the activator over the film. The liquid activator is for large products. There are two types of activators. One is designed for rapid use, and it is better for experienced hydro dip artists. The other type gives you more time to do the dipping. It is good for a beginner to use. Although each manufacturer has its own blend, the common ingredients in activators are xylene, isobutanol, butyl, methyl acetate and methyl ethyl ketone. The fast-acting activators swap methyl ethyl ketone for ethyl isobutyl ketone. Some activators may include isophorone, texanol, 2-butoxyethanol or cyclohexanone.

Safety Tips for Hydro Dip Activators

If you decide to try hydro dipping at home or as a project in a classroom or community center, it is important to be safe when using the activator. The aerosol activators should be used in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors. No matter which type of activator you use, wear eye protection, gloves, a rubber apron and long sleeves. The activator’s droplets or splashes could damage your eyes, nose, mouth, throat or skin if they make contact with you. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions on safe use of the activator, including how to store any of the activator that you did not need for your project.