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How to Hydro Dip Wheels

How to Hydro Dip Wheels

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.


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.


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.


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.