Hydrographics 101
About Water Transfer Printing - "Hydrographics"


Water Transfer Printing or "Hydrographics" is the latest booming technology in the coatings industry. This process allow you to apply high definition graphics to multiple materials and shapes using a film dipping process. Virtually any material can be dipped such as: metals, woods, glass, ceramics, fiberglass, bones, and all types of plastics can be printed on to. There are thousands of different patterns to choose from including: wood grains, camouflages, carbon fibers, animal prints, metals, marbles, and many more. This process has unlimited applications from: automotive, motorcycle, marine, sporting goods, firearms, housing decor, electronics, taxidermy, you name it!

Other terms used for the Hydrographics process: Water Transfer Printing, Immersion Printing, Camo Dipping, Carbon Fiber Dipping, Wood Grain Dipping, 3D Cubic Printing, Hydro Graphics, Hydro Imaging, Hydrographics Dipping, Hydro Printing, Hydrocoating Hydrowrapping...

The Prep

As with any coating process, preparation of the part is the key element to a quality finished product. The part needs to be cleaned, sanded, primed, and base coated. Different color base coats control the shades and background colors of the patterns.

The Process

The pattern that you want comes printed on a PVA water-soluble film. The film is cut according to the size of the part to be dipped. Then it is laid on top of clean water in a specialized stainless steel or polyethylene tank made for hydrographics. A chemical activator is sprayed which turns the film into liquid ink, leaving the printed ink pattern floating evenly on the water. Finally the part is ready to be dipped. The water being displaced by the object causes the pattern to efficiently wrap around the part and bonds the ink to the base coat no matter how complex the shape, creating a continuous, high definition, detail finish.


The Finalization

The part is now removed from the dip tank and rinsed in a specialized wash station to remove a gel coat and residual activator. Then an automotive grade clear coat is applied to seal and protect the pattern., as well as give it contrast and depth. The clear can be applied in a full gloss or matte finish. For the finishing touch, the part is wet sanded, buffed, polished, then packaged ready for pickup or delivery.

Film Patterns, Activator, & Equipment
are available for sale in our new online store directly on this site.

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