Hydrographic water printing was first invented in 1982 and is a unique and innovative process that essentially uses water displacement to place a printed design on almost any 3 dimensional and non-porous surface that can be submerged in water. Hydrographics can be applied to plastic, glass, wood, fiberglass, metal, and even glass, and to objects of almost any shape! Hydrographic printing may also be known by a number of other names including hydro-dipping, water transfer printing, immersion printing, cubic printing, and hydro imaging. In short, hydrographic water printing can turn the mundane into awesome.
There are hundreds of patterns to choose from that can be applied to your piece in a variety of surface finishes from glossy to matte. Since water is used as the transfer medium, the pattern you choose can be applied to most any surface because water allows the pattern to reach each and every nook and cranny.
The hydrographic process requires the use of a vat of water of a specific size and temperature. In the process, the piece that will be printed is pre-treated and a base coat material is applied. A polyvinyl alcohol film is gravure-printed with the graphic image to be transferred, and is then floated on the surface of the vat of water. 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 vat, through the floating ink layer, which wraps around and adheres to it.
After slowly and methodically removing the piece from the water, a top coat is applied to protect the design. With multiple dippings, hydrographic printing can achieve full and flawless 360° coverage of the part surface, including all the small crevices.
The final product is an attractive finish that is easy to clean and resistant. Your new surface is resistant to UV rays, fading, stains, and scratches, just like an automotive finish. The hard-wearing finish is fresh and new, and makes the old and dull look modern and unique. Surfaces that can be covered include coolers, stainless tumblers, interior or exterior car parts, alloy wheels, skateboards, car spoilers, guns, helmets, game controllers, phone cases…you are only limited by your imagination.
Our hydrographic engineer, Paul Kent, is known for his attention to detail and artistic talents. He has worked long and hard to successfully perfect his craft in the rapidly growing market of hydrographic water printing.