When starting a job that you want to do a color fill on you must first follow a few steps and make a plan before getting started on the job. The first thing you want to do is figure out what color will be “filled” and what color or hydrographic pattern will be on the part. The second part is knowing how to start a job like this. For this write up we will tell you all the in’s and out’s of how to properly color fill a hydro dipped item.
First you want to start with properly prepping the item to be color filled. This usually involves sandblasting the item with around 80-100 grit media or scuffing the item with a red scotch brite. You can also use 220-320 grit sandpaper as well with most items. Once you have all your part prepped and cleaned, then it’s time to use a primer or sealer to properly adhere to the part. Normally we use the Liquid Concepts P-250 and P-251 Epoxy Primer. This can be used as a primer to fill and sand out any imperfections or you can add reducer to the mixture and turn it into a sealer. This primer is already Direct To Metal (DTM) so you can apply it to almost any bare surface including metal.
After you spray your primer, you can now apply your top color that is going to be the base for the water transfer printing on the part. This will NOT be the color that you fill into the part but the overall color used as the base. In this example we will use a carbon fiber engine cover with a red color fill. The carbon fiber is the top pattern and the red is the color fill or the “Filled” color. You will want to apply your base for the carbon fiber (in this example, it will be our Dark Charcoal Grey Metallic) and then go ahead and dip the engine cover. Once you have it dipped and rinsed off, go ahead and get the engine cover dry and do any touch-ups that are needed and get it ready for clear coat. You will now clear coat the whole part. When doing a color fill we normally like to use a quick dry clear so it’s fast to cure out and we can sand it within a few hours or sometimes even 30 minutes depending on what clear coat you use. Most standard clears we normally leave overnight to get a proper cure before we start to sand the part.
When the clear coat on the part is dry and cured out, you can take a red or grey scotch brite pad or 800-1000 grit sandpaper and sand the entire part. This part is critical because it gives your clear coat something to stick to when you re-clear the part for the final time. Also this helps in getting the “filled” color to stick to the freshly cleared part. After scuffing, you can spray your filled color on the part and let it fully flash and dry. You don’t want to apply this heavy, but you do want to make sure it’s applied enough for the proper color to be shown.
Now that the fill color is on the part, you can now take a clean rag and a cleaner and start to gently wipe off the paint. Normally we like to use isopropyl alcohol or acetone. You can use lacquer thinner but it’s a very strong chemical and could possibly damage the clear coat when wiping the surface. As you are wiping the surface you do not want to apply excessive force, but only enough to gently move across the part to start wiping away the paint. As you start to see paint coming off the part and on the rag make sure to keep switching over to a new spot each and every time. This helps in preventing excess paint to be smeared across the part and keeps the paint you are wiping away on the rag. As you wipe the part make sure to glide over the top and not press down hard. Since we have already clear coated the part, the clear protects the top hydrographic pattern and allows the fill color to stay in the recessed areas of the part to give you a perfect color fill as you gently wipe away the excess paint from the part.
When you finish the part and the color fill looks great, make sure to use a high quality clear coat to keep it looking its best for years to come! We normally use our C-500 High Solids Glamour Clear for any and all our jobs to make sure the parts look their best and stay glossy for years down the road. Because we already sanded the part before we applied the filled color, the clear will have plenty of adhesion to the parts and now your customer will have a fully one off part that looks amazing and should only take minutes to do when properly prepped out correctly! If you have any questions or comments we would love to hear from you and as always, at Liquid Concepts, we are making hydrographics great again!