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Water Transfer Printing FAQs

Everything You Want to Know
But are afraid to ask

Even with all of our photos, videos, and social media feed, we still get tons of questions about how Hydrographics works. Below you can find all of the most frequently asked questions. This should help get you started and give you an idea of what you can and can’t do when it comes to water transfer printing. This is just the beginning, so give us a shout if there is a question you don’t see here.

What Is Water Transfer Printing?

Water Transfer Printing (also known as hydrographics, immersion printing, camo dipping, hydro imaging and cubic printing) is a surface decorating process where elaborate graphics like wood grain, carbon fiber, camouflage, geometrical designs, etc… are applied to a 3-D product surface. The Water Transfer Printing process is extensively used to decorate items that range from entire all-terrain vehicles and car dashboards to small items like bike helmets or other automotive trim. Films can be applied to all types of substrates including plastic, fiberglass, wood, ceramics, and metal. For the most part, if the item can be dipped in water, the hydro-graphic process can be used. The process utilizes a water-soluble film that contains the printed patterns. The film dissolves in the water and leaves the ink on the surface. In the typical process, the item to be printed is first coated with a primer or an adhesion promoter. After this dries, a base-coat paint is applied which controls the hue of the pattern. So, for instance, wood grain prints often utilize a brown base-coat and many camouflage patterns use a neutral base. After the base-coat is applied, the item is ready for decorating. The film is activated. The item is then dipped into the water and the ink wraps around it. It is then washed and painted with a clear topcoat.

What types of items can be printed?

A variety of items, both flat and 3-d. Any material that can be submerged in water such as plastics, wood, metal, glass ext.

What are some popular items?

Automotive parts, wheels, interior trim, exterior trim, engine and under hood components, Motorcycles tanks, fenders, frames, wheels and controls Firearms, Bows, ATV’s, golf carts, game controllers, marine parts, motors, trim, skulls, mailboxes and light fixtures.

Does it need to be disassembled?

Yes Items that will need to be submerged and have the 360 degree coating should be disassembled as well as cleaned. We will clean and prep surfaces prior to dipping.

Is it durable?

Yes, it is very durable. We use a state of the art dipping tank as well as high grade materials and rigorous prepping process.

How do I care for items after they have been dipped?

The parts are protected by an automotive clear coat. They can be easily wiped with a mild soap and water or and automotive detailer.

Will the film fade?

Your Item is protected by a high grade clear coat, just as your vehicle. It will have the same quality finish. If you leave your item outside in the sun for a length of time, the suns UV ray will fade it just as your vehicle would.

How scratch resistant is the final product?

The clear coat we use is as durable as the paint used on auto exteriors.

What if my plastic is scratched up?

All surface scratches will be removed before we begin our process. Deep gouges cannot be taken out but they cover well once the print is laid over the surface.

Why are there different shades of the same pattern such as camo and carbon fiber?

The shade can be changed by changing the color of the base coat paint applied. If a white base coat is used the pattern will appear much lighter in color. If a darker base coat is used, the pattern will be much darker. Check out some of the images and you can see the differences. We will work with you to determine the right shade of base coat to best match your object.

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