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
- 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.