How to Remove Hydrographics Film Hydrographics or water transfer printing is a decorating process where carbon fiber, wood grain, camouflage, and designer prints are applied to a product surface in 3D. Metals, plastics, wood, and glass are materials that can be decorated with this technology. This extends the range of items compatible with this technique. For example, car parts, ceramics, and pretty much anything that can be submerged in water and painted will work with hydrographics. If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably had your share of fun with hydrographics. It’s a creative way to decorate your items with intricate patterns, as it’s durable and appealing. However, sometimes you might want to remove your design. Maybe you messed up in your application, or maybe you’re just ready for a new one. Fortunately, you can remove hydrographics. However, the final product’s acrylic is resistant to debris and scratches, making the removal process challenging. It will last for many years when exposed to customary conditions, but scratches destroy the hydrographic finish. The following are techniques you can use to remove hydrographics. Removing Hydrographics From Glass Glass is probably the most comfortable surface to remove hydrographics. Armed with rubber gloves, microfiber cloth, acetone, and water, rub gently on the glass surface to loosen the bond between the film’s atomic makeup. Finish by cleaning the glass with a professional glass cleaner that prevents streaks. Removing Hydrographics From Vehicle Surfaces Using a microfiber towel, pour a small amount of alcohol-based paint remover onto the vehicle. Using small circular motions, gently and thoroughly rub the surface, making sure not to damage the integrity of the material. The most appropriate solvent to use is acetone or lacquer thinner. Removing Hydrographics From Wood Denatured alcohol, mineral spirits, and a rag are all you need. Spray the denatured alcohol of choice on the wooden surface, give it a second or two to react with the film, and rub thoroughly. Removing Hydrographics From Plastic The state-of-the-art chemical process that creates adhesion during the immersion process creates a strong bond between the film and the plastic product. To successfully scrape off the film, use denatured alcohol, water, and oil. Soften the scraped-off areas using oil to maintain the uniformity of the product surface. Acetone is a powerful solvent capable of removing oil-based and water-based paints on surfaces around the homestead. It functions to soften the entire film coating along with a gentle rub. The film comfortably wears off due to acetone’s ability to dissolve plastics, glues, and acrylics. Paint Stripper Another chemical used to remove hydrographic film safely is your local paint stripper. It penetrates the hydrographic film, causing internal stress that weakens the film structure, resulting in the separation of layers. We recommend you research the best paint stripper available in your area before buying. Sandblaster This is an effective method used to remove deep-set film dried into a surface. It requires specialized equipment and thorough cleaning after the removal of the film. It’s less laborious when removing a film from a large surface, but care should be exercised to avoid scarring product surfaces. Hydrographic films are an excellent way of decorating your treasured surfaces. We recommend that you wear personal protective gear, whether installing or scraping off the film.
How to Hydro Dip Helmets The hydro dip is a unique process that allows the application of images or graphics to three-dimensional surfaces. The hydro dip is also known as immersion printing, water transfer printing, or hydro printing. Hydro dip has been used to decorate virtually everything imaginable, including helmets. Hydro dipping a helmet is relatively easy to learn with fulfilling results. However, you need to adhere to the protocols of each step. Your overall success or failure in getting an impressive print on your helmet depends on how well you execute each step. Discussed below are steps to follow when you want to hydro dip your helmet. Identify the Print You need to buy the film with the print that you want on your helmet. Clean the Helmet Though the helmet may be new, make sure that the surfaces to be printed are sparkling clean. Use 91% isopropyl alcohol and clean surfaces with cleaning cloths. While cleaning, we suggest that you wear gloves to avoid recontamination of the helmet. Primer Application Choose the correct primer for the helmet. The right primer will ensure proper adhesion of the paint. Apply the primer on the helmet evenly on all the areas to be printed. Base Coat Application Now that you have chosen the pattern, choose the appropriate base coat. Ensure that you apply the base coat evenly on the helmet’s surface. The base color is critical because it will determine the final look of the helmet. Film Placement on the Water Put the film with the print on the water surface. For perfect transfer of the print impressions, ensure that the water temperature is 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Take caution that there is no air trapped between the film and the water surface. Hydration of the Film Allow the film to absorb water by waiting for 60-90 seconds after placing it in water. Film Activation Holding the spray gun at approximately 8-12 inches from the water surface, spray the activator from side to side in quick successions. Ensure even coverage of the exercise. The spraying speed determines the amount of activator being deposited. The Dip Wait for five seconds after spraying the activator. On the expiry of the duration, gently dip the helmet at an angle of 30-40 degrees. Ensure the helmet is completely submerged. Rinse Rinse any residual PVA of the film off the surface of the helmet. You can do this using a light spray or running water from the tap. Take caution if you choose to use running water from the tap. Ensure the tap water does not hit the helmet’s printed area directly with pressure; this can potentially compromise your print. Dry the Helmet You have two options for drying the print, convection heating or air drying. We recommend you use convection heating because it is done at a lower temperature and yields sharper results if you are in a hurry. Application of Clear Coat The application of clear coat helps seal in the inks allowing for a shiny enhanced pattern on your helmet. You have a choice of three variants of clear coats to choose from: matte, semi-gloss, or high gloss. You may apply an optional second clear coat on your helmet for it to stand out from the rest.
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. Cleaning 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. Rinse 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. Drying 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.
How to Hydro Dip Rounded Parts Hydro dipping allows you to apply unique graphics to almost any three-dimensional object. This entails objects of any shape, be it round, oval, square, or cubed. Dipping helmets, firearms, and gaming controllers uses a different technique from that used when dipping round objects. As you might have noticed in your quest to understand hydro dripping, this technique can be used for three-dimensional and other shapes. The key is to make sure the surface texture can absorb the ink printed on the film. We recommend you scrutinize the sanding process for round objects for an even surface. More complex shapes require careful sandblasting for a final satisfying look. Below we explain the steps and things you should know when dipping round objects. Preparation Keep in mind the item you’re hydro dipping will be fully submerged underwater. All electronic items should be stripped. The only remains should be the shell where the graphics will be imprinted. A round object’s preparation stage requires that you analyze the surface, observe safety features, and sand if necessary. If the item has any screws on it, remove them for uniformity of the film upon dipping. Make sure you paint your round object with the correct base coat for the film to look correct after the dip. Dipping the object while having other attachments on it can alter the look and the symmetry of the pattern. For a professional look, we advise you to first plan how you will roll it. Rolling a round object is an improvised way to limit the errors you might experience when dipping the object the same way you would dip a flat item. Cutting the Film The size of the object you’re dipping determines the amount of film you’ll cut. Cutting a film slightly larger than your object’s size avoids waste and reduces the margin of error by preventing the emergence of bubbles. The film’s size should also be in line with that of the tub for convenience when dipping. Bearing the fact that this is a round object, the film’s size should give you the space to roll it. Tape the film to control it from rolling back in the initial shape it was packaged in. Laying the Film on the Water Make sure the tub dividers are pulled up far enough to give room for laying the film. Determine the side that faces down on the water by dipping your fingers into the water and touching a corner of the film. Hold the film for a few seconds, and the side that sticks to your finger faces down on the water. Lay the film from corner to corner to avoid trapping air. Tighten the dividers to control the position of the film and prepare to spray the activator. Gently spray the activator evenly across the film to create a sleek and glassed out look over the entire film. Dipping Gently dip your round object at an angle, slowly coming down at about half the object. Slowly turn the object to the remaining side and wrap it all the way around. The result will be a uniform pattern that goes all around the part. The trick is making sure the end of the pattern faces the backside of the object. This is just but an insight on how to hydro dip a round object. Be sure to thoroughly consider the design of the object before dipping for a one of a kind look.
Why Water Temperature Is Important When Hydro Dipping When you’re planning a hydro dipping project, it’s important to follow each step carefully in order to achieve the desired finished results. Skipping a step or missing one of the instructions could result in a film that doesn’t adhere properly or a film that wears off well before it should. The water temperature is an important factor in the success of a hydro dipping project. Read on to learn how water temperatures affect your hydrographic dip. Ideal Water Temperature Range for Hydrographic Dipping The ideal water temperature range for hydrographic dipping is 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Some dip manufacturers may recommend a specific temperature, such as 80 degrees. It’s important to follow this recommendation as closely as possible. Be sure to invest in an accurate thermometer if your tank does not have a thermostat. Regularly check and calibrate the thermometer/thermostat so that you can rest assured knowing your water is the right temperature for optimal results when doing a hydrographic dipping project. What Happens if the Water Is Too Cold One of the most common mistakes that people who are learning to do hydro dipping make is using water that is too cold. If the water temperature is below 75 degrees Fahrenheit, you will end up with a dip that is sticky. The film will not melt properly, so it may not conform to the item that you insert into the bath of water. The film may not stick properly to the item. The result will be a messy item, and you probably won’t be pleased with the final result. What Happens if the Water Is Too Warm While you can heat the water above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, it isn’t necessary to do so. If the water is too hot, you will have to adjust the soak time of the film to a lower time as you will be dissolving the film at a much quicker rate. This will also effect the inks on the flim and the activator that is applied to the film. However, if you heat the water more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit, you are putting yourself at risk of burns. Using an accurate thermometer is the best way to achieve the recommended temperature range for the water you’ll apply the hydrographic film to for your dipping project. How Hot and Cold Temperatures Affect the Dipped Product Once you have applied the hydrographic film to an item, rinse the excess film off and allowed it to dry. Then you will apply the clear coat to protect it and the item is ready for use. If you’ve done the hydro dipping on an item that will experience extreme temperatures, you might be wondering how those temperatures will affect the durability and appearance of the item. The cured and coated item is resistant to extreme heat and cold. You can drive your car with a hydro dipped hood in temperatures of 0 degrees Fahrenheit or 120 degrees Fahrenheit without any ill effects on the dipped item. The cured items are generally heat-resistant to temperatures of 300 - 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
How Base Colors Affect Hydrographics Selecting an accurate base coat color is essential in hydro graphics. There are regular base coat colors like white or tan for films, and then there are more versatile choices. Your base coat can change the final look of a dip to make it better or worse. There are different things to look at when choosing the right base color to put underneath different films. Below are some of the commonly used films with the preferred base coats to be used. Custom Films With custom films, white base coats are the most preferred type of base coats. That’s why it’s rare to find a white hydrographic film. The white base shows the design printed in its original color and design. For example, when hydro dipping, blue ink remains blue, and red ink remains red. The color is retained because the ink has a certain degree of opaqueness and the color of the base coat impacts the actual color after dipping. If you want your design to look as it appears on product pages where you buy your films, use a white base coat for a popping look unless the customer or vendor specifies another color. Camo Films When it comes to using camo film designs, using a white base coat makes the camo prints brighter. However, if you don’t want your camo design to be very bright, you can use a tan or a beige color as a base coat. Using such base colors can omit some of the design’s bright color but still keep the design the same as its original look. A tan or beige base coat gives the camo design an earth-toned appearance. You can also experiment with other bright colors like red, depending on the customer’s specifications. However, some camo patterns won’t look good with bright colors. Therefore, put the camo print over colored material and see how it looks first before doing your hydro dip. Black and Clear Carbon Fiber You can see through this type of carbon fiber and you can use the base color to change the carbon fiber’s appearance. You can get creative with this film and use any color for your base coat or even several colors together. However, a black base coat for this film won’t impact the final look because it matches the film’s color. You can use spray out cards or any colored materials you have to show your customer what the colors look like underneath the black and clear carbon fiber. Ensure you pick the right base coat color to make sure the finished product looks as you expected. You can do this by doing a test dip on an object while you try something new. Testing allows you and the customer to know what the finished product will look like and how different base colors affect different films in future dips.
Getting a Smooth Glass Clear Coat Finish With Hydrographic Film There are many reasons that you might not get a perfect clear coat, like if your part has a run in it or there is some trash in the clear coat. There are a few methods you can try to get a smooth glass clear coat finish. Putting the First Layer Down The first method that you can use to improve the clear coat on a particular section is to scuff it down and put a new clear coat on it. The other method of getting a better clear coat on a section is to buff it. Buffing out the part makes more sense if you are pressed for time, and buffing out small areas of the clear coat usually works out just fine. The first way is scuffing a section using a Scotch-Brite pad to remove any blemishes and then scuffing the rest of the part to get a dull finish all the way around. A red Scotch Brite pad could work, but it is also important to note that using a red Scotch-Brite pad could cause some additional sand scratches. A good clear coat will usually cover up these sand scratches, but it is something you should be aware of. A gray Scotch-Brite pad might work a little better for actually scuffing down a part because the sand scratches likely won’t be as bad and possibly show through. Another method of scuffing down a section is to use sandpaper. An 800 or 1000 grit roll of sandpaper is a good choice for scuffing down an area so you can redo the clear coat if you don’t have major runs in it. One advantage of dry sanding the clear coat is that you can quickly see which areas have a dull finish and which have a glossy finish. You can also see which areas you’ll need to keep sanding. As you are sanding the clear coat, you are removing the specs and spots in the clear coat. You should keep your sandpaper clean. You can even use air to get rid of the buildup on your sandpaper. If the section you are sanding has holes in it, you should be careful when sanding around those edges so you don’t go through your clear coat. If the clear coat does have a lot of specs in it, you could even put a second coat on it. Can You Put Too Many Coats on a Section? You probably should not put more than four coats of clear on a specific area. Adding a second, third, or even fourth coat of clear gives you more layers of clear coat so you can sand out all the specs. Additional coats of clear help you sand out all the specs because you are less likely to actually get rid of all the clear coats on the section. Just make sure as you are sanding, you don’t sand too much and go through all the layers of clear coat. Can You Use Sandpaper and a Scotch-Brite Pad Together? You can use a Scotch-Brite pad if you are sanding sections with lots of corners and edges and your sandpaper cannot scuff those areas. After you are done sanding down the area and the clear coat is smooth and dull, you can spray on more coats of clear and give the parts a smooth clear coat finish that makes it look like glass if done correctly.
How to Hydro Dip a Shotgun Barrel The hydro dip is also known as water transfer printing, water transfer imaging, or water marbling. In the hydro dip, printed designs are applied to three-dimensional surfaces. Nowadays, hydro dip is extensively used for decorating all manner of items, guns included. To upgrade your shotgun’s appearance through the hydro dip, you need to follow a few easy steps. A mistake or non-conformity in any step may compromise the overall quality of print on your shotgun barrel. The following are procedures that can give your shotgun barrel a brand new look. Remove the Old Paint Strip the barrel of its old paint. Apply a thick coat of paint remover on the barrel. Leave the remover undisturbed for about 20 minutes until the paint starts to bubble up. Use a plastic scraper to remove the peeling old paint. Clean and Dry When you have completely removed the old paint, clean the barrel using 91% isopropyl alcohol. Wear gloves while handling the barrel to avoid re-contamination. Prep the Barrel After the barrel has been wiped down with Isopropyl alcohol make sure to either sand blast or scuff the barrel with either a red Scotch-Brite pad or 220-320 sand paper. If you scuff it with a pad or sand paper you will need to re-wipe it with isopropyl alcohol again. If you sandblast the part, you can go straight to the next step. Prime You need to choose the right primer for the material that your coating. Apply the primer evenly on the surface of the barrel. The primer promotes adhesion to the surface. Allow up to two hours to dry in some cases before proceeding to the next stage. Consult your tech sheet to find out more. Apply Base Coat Your standard base coat is usually white. Most films are compatible with a white base coat. Evenly apply the coat on the barrel. It may take 2-3 coats to get full coverage. Film Placement on the Water Place your film on the surface of the water. Ensure the water you are using has a temperature of 80-90 degrees. Take caution that no air is trapped between the water surface and the film. Film Hydration Placing the film on the water allows it 50-60 seconds to absorb water. Films are usually temperature-sensitive, hence the need to keep the water at the right temperature. Taping In case there are sections on the barrel you want to mask off, you can use any kind of painting tape. Taping will aid you in getting clean lines. Activate the Film With the spray gun approximately 6-10 inches from the water surface, spray the activator in an overlapping manner. The amount of activator deposited depends on the speed of spraying. The Dip Wait for three to five seconds after spraying the activator. Dip the shotgun barrel through the surface at a 30-45 degree angle. Rinse Remove any residual film on the shotgun barrel. You can use a light spray, shower or tap water. If you decide to use tap water, ensure that the water pressure is not too much. The tap water pressure can compromise your print in some cases. Dry the Shotgun Barrel You can choose to dry the shotgun barrel by either convection heating or air dry. Make sure after the barrel is rinse off that the water is removed as soon as possible to help prevent any rusting on the inside of the barrel. Application of Clear Coat We recommend applying clear coat on all hydrographically decorated items. Application of clear coat will seal in the inks and allow for a smooth, custom barrel. Ensure that the barrel is dry before applying the clear coat. You can apply matte, semi-gloss, or high-gloss clear top coating. If you need a finer finish on the shotgun barrel, you may opt to apply multiple coats as needed.
How to Double Hydro Dip a Gun Hydro dipping helps to enhance the surface of your gun and offers complete concealment. Double-dipping a gun involves dipping the gun twice to achieve the best results. Step-by-Step Procedure The first step of double dipping involves cleaning the gun. Use isopropyl alcohol to clean. Then either scuff the gun or sandblast it for the coating to stick to it properly. Next, you’ll want to prime the gun to ensure proper adhesion of the paint. The third step involves applying the base coat that determines the overall look of the gun. For the fourth step after the paint is dried, tape up half of the gun to prep it for dipping. In the fifth step, the printed film is placed on the water that is between 80-90 degrees, with no air trapped between the film and the surface of the water. The film is hydrated for about 60 seconds and then the activator is applied and the gun dipped the first time. Make sure to rinse off all the PVA from the dip and dry it thoroughly. When taping, it is important to use blue tape or a very low tack tape. This helps to prevent pulling the pattern off excessively when trying to pull the tape off. In the second dip, ensure that there is at least an eighth of an inch of the film showing from the first dip so that the second pattern will overlap the first pattern. This also makes sure that the final pattern looks seamless. Double dipping is ideal for guns with many different intricate parts. When dipping the gun for the second time, it is essential that the gun is dry and rinsed to achieve the best results. To keep the film from rolling over the edges, you can apply tape on the sides before getting it in the water. The film is held by dividers in the water, and you can pull out any wrinkles in the film using air from the activator gun. After hydrating the film for about 60 seconds, you can apply an activator along the film. Hold the gun at a slight angle when dipping the second time to allow all the film to cover the entire part. Once the gun is submerged in the water, move the film around to move all the excess film from the dip, and then pull it out of the water. The main advantage of using the blue tape is that you can let it sit underwater and it can release some adhesive to make pulling it off much easier. It is also important not to push down on the blue tape very hard when applying it. Apply just enough pressure for the tape to stick so that it can come off easily. Pulling the tape in the water ensures that the pattern stays intact. You may need to touch up some areas that trap air and miss the pattern. The gun can be dried using conventional heating or air drying, depending on your preference. This is usually done at lower temperatures to enhance the final appearance of the gun. The final step is to apply a clear coat, which is highly recommended for a hydrographically decorated gun. This gives it a cleaner finish and helps to seal the ink. The clear coat is applied after the gun is dry. A second coat may be necessary, depending on the gun and requirements of the customer.
Laying a Large Piece of Hydrographic Film on the Water There are a few steps when laying hydrographic film on the water. Here is a step-by-step procedure. Step 1: Get the Right-Size Tube The first step in laying hydrographic film on the water by yourself is getting a tube. This tube could be made of many different materials, as long as you can roll hydrographic film on it. A few of the most common types of tubes you could use for this process are a cardboard tube or a metal tube. If you don’t have either kind of tube, you could also use an old broomstick if you so choose. The other piece of information you should know about is that you can use a tube that is wider than your water tank. Using a tube that is wider than your water tank is not necessarily required, but it often makes the process of laying a large piece of hydrographic film on the water by yourself much easier. Step 2: Adjust the Film for Your Tube Once you have a tube that is wide enough for your water tank, you should first measure how much hydrographic film you need to use and cut off that amount of hydrographic film. After you have cut off the amount of hydrographic film that you require, you should check and make sure which side of the film should be facing up and which side should be facing down. You can then flip over the hydrographic film if necessary and place the tube on top of the film. Next, you should roll the hydrographic film onto the tube. Step 3: Lay the Hydrographic Film on the Water Following that, you can set the dividers or use the sides of the tank to lay the hydrographic film on the water. This depends on the size of the water tank you are using. You may have to use one of the ledges of the water tank and the center divider to lay the hydrographic film on the water properly. At this point, you should have laid the tube with the hydrographic film on top of the water tank. Your tube and film should be balanced on the dividers and the ledge of the water tank. To get the hydrographic film off the tube and into the water, you can simply peel the hydrographic film off the tube slightly. You can make the tube roll across the top of the water tank. The hydrographic film should roll off of the tube and into the water at this point. You should be careful not to let the tube get wet and drip water onto the hydrographic film once it is in the water. This would make the hydrographic film not stick to something else properly. Step 4: Turn on the Water Tank’s Timer You can then turn on the water tank’s timer and slide the center divider until the hydrographic film is held tightly in place. You should slide over the other dividers in order to ensure that the hydrographic film remains securely in place. You may find that it is much easier to make sure that the hydrographic film stays in place if you are laying more hydrographic film on the water in a larger water tank.
How to Get Started With Hydrographics When you like to show off your personal style, consumer goods can seem too mundane. A standard leather baseball glove, ceramic platter, glass vase, or metal knife might be too boring for your tastes. You can add a personal touch to just about any product by applying a hydrographic film to it. Hydrographics have been around for a while, but now the supplies are more available and affordable for everyday people to try the process. Here’s what you need to know about how hydrographics work and some tips on getting started with your first project. Know What Hydrographics Are Hydrographics are films that allow you to coat a three-dimensional item. These films are used on items that won’t get damaged by water. For example, a knife, rim, or steering wheel can be hydro dipped. The film creates a chemical bond with the paint on the item. This allows the film to remain in place after dipped. A clear coat is applied on top of the dried film for additional protection. Prepare an Item for Hydrographic Dipping Before you do a hydrographics project, you’ll need to prepare the item. The product needs to be free of oil and grease. These substances prevent paint and hydrographic film from adhering to the item you want to dip. Measure your item and cut the film big enough to fit it. Choose a vessel for the water. A dishwashing tub, cooler, or glass washtub may be a good choice. Understand the Painting Step Before you can hydro dip, you need to paint the item. All hard items need to be painted. This includes knives, rims, vases, and similar items. Use high-quality paint as recommended by the manufacturer of the hydrographic film. You may want to use an epoxy primer before applying the paint. Use lighter coats of paint on each coat. You may need several coats to get full coverage of the paint. Allow the paint to dry between coats. Dip the Item Once the paint is dry, prepare your hydro dipping tank. Heat the water to the required temperature. Most manufacturers require the water to be at 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Apply the film to the surface of the water. Make sure you hav the correct side of the film on the water. The side of the film that sticks to your finger when wet goes down on the water. Wait 60 seconds for it to hydrate. Spray the hydro film activator. Allow it to react and glass out the film. Dip the item at a 45-degree angle at a steady downward pace. Finish the Project After dipping the item in the tank with the hydrographic film, lift it out of the tank. You’ll need to rinse the item with tap water in order to remove any excess film. After this, the item needs to dry until it’s smooth. Some manufacturers recommend using a heat source for faster drying. When the item is dry, you’ll need to apply a clear coat. Use the brand recommended by the manufacturer of the hydrographic film. The clear coat also needs several hours to dry before you use the product.
Tips for Successful Hydro Dipping a Piece After Painting The first time you do a hydro dipping project, you might feel a little overwhelmed. There are a lot of steps you must follow in order to come out with a successful project. Each of these steps has to be done in the right order. Not only do you have to follow the right order, but there’s also a timeline requirement. If you do a step too soon or too long after the previous step, the finished results might not live up to your expectations. An important part of the timeline involves when to do the dipping with the hydrographic film after you paint the item. Read on to learn some tips for how long you need to wait after painting to do the dipping. Recommended Timeline for Hydro Dipping After Painting Most manufacturers of hydrographic dipping film recommend that you wait for a minimum of 20 minutes to eight hours after the painting step to do the dipping step. That’s because the paint needs to be a little soft in order for the hydrographic film to adhere to the item but hard enough to be handled. Keep in mind that each manufacturer’s requirements vary for both temperature and timing. If you’ve done a few hydro dipping projects and are using different films from different manufacturers, always read the instructions in full every time before starting the new project. If the last manufacturer’s film required an eight-hour wait, don’t assume this is what the next manufacturer’s film requires. Extended Dipping Timelines Some manufacturer’s hydrographic paints offer extended dipping timelines. These timelines are usually dependent on the paint line that you are using. If you plan to dip an item that has been painted with a hydrographic paint, you can sometimes wait for as long as six months between painting it and using the hydrographic dipping film. If you are using other hydrographic paint, some manufacturers recommend completing the hydro dipping step within six weeks after painting the item. How Long to Wait for the Clear Coat The initial base coat layer of paint is not the only coating you need to apply to a hydro dipped item. After the item is dry from the dipping step, you’ll also need to apply a clear coat. This clear coat chemically bonds to the hydrographic film. The final clear coat protects it from fading when exposed to sunlight. It also adds a layer of scratch and moisture resistant protection. You’ll sometimes need to wait about two hours or more to apply the clear coat after dipping. If you’ve used a convection oven or another heat source to dry the item after hydro dipping, it may be ready for the clear coat in as little as 30 minutes. It will dry faster under low humidity conditions. Dry the item in an area with less than 60% humidity. The clear coat should be allowed to dry for at least 8-24 hours. Your item will be ready to use when the clear coat is no longer tacky to the touch and has sufficient time to fully cure out. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on dry times for the clear coat you are using.
What to Expect for Hydro Dipping Prices When you want to have some items finished with hydro dipping, you might be unsure of the cost. The prices for hydro dipping do have some geographic variation. Pricing will also be determined by the size and type of item you want to have hydro dipped. You should keep in mind that the complexity of your project will also be a factor in how expensive it is. These are some general guidelines on what you can expect when arranging for hydro dipping of different types of products. Why Hydro Dipping Is Not Cheap Hydro dipping, which is also called hydrographics, applies an image to a hard surface. This type of printing works on 3D products. It works for glass, plastic, wood, metal, and more. It is a popular method of customizing common products. The technology for hydro dipping received patents in the 1980s, and shops have perfected their techniques and equipment. The process is still hands-on, which is why it is not cheap. While machines can apply paint or sew stitches for customizing different products, hydro dipping still requires a lot of hands-on work. When you pay for hydro dipping, you are paying for quality materials and the technician’s expertise. How Hydro Dipping Prices Are Determined Hydro dipping prices are determined by four factors. One is the size of the item. In general, a large item, such as a wheel, costs more to hydro dip than a small item, such as a ceramic bowl. Another factor is the finish. If you want a special sealant or other finishes on the product, this will add to the price. A third factor in hydro dipping pricing is the complexity of the image. Actual images of people or animals are more challenging to get right than abstract images. The final factor in hydro dipping pricing is the type of preparation that the item needs. If you want a dirty car wheel hydro dipped, it will take a lot more work than if you want a newly fired porcelain trinket box hydro dipped. Keep in mind that in artisan shops, hydro dipping may cost more than if it is done by a hobbyist. Hydro dipping may also cost more in urban areas, which generally have a higher cost of living overall. Average Costs for Hydro Dipping The average cost for hydro dipping a wheel for a vehicle is roughly $150, and that pricing can vary by as much as 20% - 50%, depending on the type of activator, finish, and labor costs. Hydro dipping fees for guns typically range from $200 to $500, depending on the make and model. Gun accessories cost $50 to $200 to hydro dip. The average cost for hydro dipping a smaller object, such as cups starts at $30. Unusual items, such as water skis and wakeboards, usually cost $150 to $300 to hydro dip. Hydro dipping can provide you with an excellent finished product, but be sure to get an estimate before you begin the process so that you know exactly how much you are going to spend.
Water Transfer Printing Explained Everything old is new again, and so it goes with the water transfer method of printing, which has been around for many years. Only recently, with the advent of transfer wrap printing seen extensively on vehicles, has interest in water transfer printing come back. This manner of printing has attracted attention during the last 10 to 15 years although it has been in use for more than 40 years. The name of this technology is often referred to as hydrographic printing or hydro dipping. With the use of this process, colorful graphics can be applied to a 3D surface. It utilizes a film that dissolves within the water. What Industries Use Water Transfer Printing? In the past, you might have seen camouflage applied to a helmet or a gun stock. Vehicle interiors have used this type of printing to add a statement of design to steering wheels or rims. Today, industries such as manufacturing, engineering, and construction well as the automotive industry might use water transfer printing. What Types of Patterns Can Be Done? From woodgrain to camouflage to geometrical to carbon fiber, there is an extensive list of patterns and textures that have been used in water printing. Even cartoons have been water printed. Dashboards, entire all-terrain vehicles, and even small items like bike helmets have incorporated designs and patterns accomplished through water printing. What Is the Process for Water Transfer Printing? The pattern is printed on a water-soluble film. As the design is put in the water, the film slowly dissolves, leaving the ink to float on the surface of the water. The item about to be printed has gone through a process of coating with an adhesion promoter or primer. After the primer has dried, a base coat is applied; this can be a color, such as green or neutral for camouflage or brown for the grain of wood. The object is ready for the bath after it has dried. A chemical activator is added to the film in the water to prepare it for adhesion. The next step is to dip the item in the water, allowing the ink to adhere to its shape. After it is decorated, the item is thoroughly washed and dried. A drying room, heat lamps, flash drying, and other means of circulating air are used. After it is completely dry, a clear topcoat is added to preserve the color and design. What Type of Materials Is This Method Suited For? Some of the substrates used in hydrographic printing include: Plastic Wood Ceramics Fiberglass Metal Hydrographic printing has been used in a number of different industries, such as sporting goods, home decor, automotive, marine, and many others. Vibrant color as well as muted designs can all benefit from this type of printing on a 3D surface.
Make Sure to Wait Long Enough After Spraying Your Base Coat Correctly applying your base coat is one of the most crucial of all steps in a hydro dipping project. If you make mistakes, it will end up posing a significant issue later. The base coat is the foundation for your final design. It is essential to apply the base coat right; you must wait long enough before moving to the next stage and dipping. Indeed, you want the base to remain in place before dipping. Providing a nearly permanent base coat is essential to hydrographics. Make sure the surface dries thoroughly after applying the base coat for best results. This gives you a more durable finish that looks fantastic and will last for years. Dry is always better than wet when you transition from step to step. Let Your Base Coat Set You have to wait long enough for the base coat to set, or you will experience problems with the finish. Avoiding problems later is the main reason to be thorough and patient with all aspects of the water transfer printing process. Hydrographics requires using a design strategy to get your details the way that you want them. The base coat color should be white for almost all designs. If you use other colors, they could blend with the ink to create variations in color that may not be desired. Either way, you need a dry base coat before moving on. It usually won’t take over a few minutes to see the results you desire. You should gently touch a small part of the design if you’re not sure, but be careful not to impact the overall design if you decide on that. Temperatures Decide on Final Drying Times If you have a dry room, the coat will dry out fast. With too much humidity, it will take longer. Temperatures as well will impact the dry times. Cooler air temperature will slow down the process significantly. It doesn’t take that long for base coating, but patience is still a must. The same holds as you move your way through the water transfer printing. What matters most is that the final design meets your artistic objectives and expectations. One tip that works well is to warm up paint before applying it. Simply placing it in a warm room is sufficient to make it looser and easier to be sprayed. Let the paint set in the room until you’re ready to use it, or for around twenty minutes, and then you’ll see the improved performance. Hydro dipping takes standard printing practices and adapts them to a variety of surfaces. It’s possible to put a unique print on almost any material, but some look better than others. It’s worth checking out tutorials or other learning resources to familiarize yourself with all the essential information you need. Many people who now do this type of work professionally are self-taught. After you’ve worked once or twice on hydro dipping, you’ll get a feel for precise times for drying. Then, the projects get easier. You may even decide on using one style over another, depending on how the items look.