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Learn How to Do Water Transfer Printing at Home

Learn How to Do Water Transfer Printing at Home

Learn How to Do Water Transfer Printing at Home

Water transfer printing is a fantastic process that’s gaining in popularity. Fortunately, it’s a technique that is doable at home for people. There’s no reason to leave it to others, provided you have the right tools and a bit of knowledge.

Select the Film

The first step is to choose the film you want for the application. The key is picking a print that will have a dramatic visual appeal. Once you have the one you plan on using, you can move on to the other steps.

Apply the Base Coat

The base coat is critical for the project’s success. The one you select will depend on the base surface. For example, if using wood grain, a tan or beige base coat is the best one to pick. If you’re using a carbon fiber print, you will use gray or silver instead.

Pick a paint with a specialized formulation for Hydrographic printing. Patterns look very different depending on the base coat so don’t neglect the importance of this


Prepare the Film Transfer

Place the hydrographic film on the surface of the water in the dipping tank. The film partially dissolves because it’s water-soluble, which leaves the pattern floating lightly on the top of the PVA film. The surface tension of the water allows the design to curve around all surfaces easily.


The image that floats on top of the water needs an activator added. This liquefies all of the design’s colors but leaves the appearance and overall structure intact.


Immerse the part into the water slowly and carefully at an angle. The water’s pressure causes the design to wrap around the object evenly. The final result is that whatever film you used to apply the pattern will have it on all sides of your part.

Wash and Dry

Remove all of the excess film and leftover residue from the water. Once that’s done, rinse the part until all the PVA is removed from the part. Let it sit and air dry to be fully dry to the touch. How long it takes to dry out thoroughly will depend, but it’s worth being patient.

Apply a Clear Coat

Clear coating is the last step in the process. It adds a protective layer and also makes the final design a bit shinier or more flat depending on the clear used.

The result of all these stages is that you end up with a beautifully printed object.

Ultimately, hydro dipping is relatively easy to perform. Like most things, a bit of practice will make the process more efficient and the results a bit more predictable.The exciting thing about the process is that almost every dip turns out slightly different than other ones.

A hydrographic finish is durable and most of the coating lasts for years, however, they’re no different from a car’s finish. Scratches and other abuse will shorten the coatings lifespan and cause the part to look much worse. Bad enough scratches can ruin the whole thing. Keep that in mind when you decide which coating to do and what surfaces to paint.

With proper selection and care, this form of printing has many advantages, chief among them is how great it looks. You’ll be very proud of your completed work and people will be impressed!