Hydrographics, also known as immersion printing, water transfer printing, water transfer imaging or hydro dipping, is a method of applying printed designs to nearly any three-dimensional object.
The hydrographics process can be used on metal, plastic, glass, hardwoods and nearly any other item. As long as you can dip it in water and paint it, then it will work just fine to use the hydro dipping method.
While you may have seen cool videos of hydro dipping on YouTube or Wheeler Dealers (and if you haven’t you probably should), it’s little known that it was first registered and patented back in 1982 by Motoyasu Nakanishi. Motoyasu was a team member of Kabusiki Kaisha Cubic Engineering, which is the company that holds this patent. Being probably the coolest way to get patterns on 3D objects, water transfer printing is intriguing, to say the least.
Here's what we do:
A quality process is followed right from the outset. The item is cleaned; primed with 2k primer/filler (if required) and once dry, sanded down to a smooth finish. A base coat of your colour choice is applied. A special transfer film that's printed with the graphic image to be transferred is then floated on the waters surface in our dedicated Hydro Dipping tank. An activator chemical is sprayed on the film to dissolve it into a liquid and activate a bonding agent. The piece is then slowly lowered into the tank through the floating ink layer. The pattern wraps around and adheres to the piece. After removing the piece from the water, it's allowed to dry and a top coat of either matt or gloss 2k lacquer is applied to protect the design. The lacquer is wet sanded to remove any dust and the "orange peel" effect then polished to produce a mirror shine