Hydro Priniting

There are a lot of customization options available to vehicle owners these days. From rims and window tint to exotic colors and graphics. In this post I want to discuss an exciting technology that has been growing in popularity over the past decade. It’s called hydro printing.

What is hydro printing?

Hydro printing, hydro dipping, hydragraphics, or whatever you would like to call it is the process of transferring printed graphics to a three dimensional object via water. The process takes place in an apparatus that contains a tub of water that a printed graphic floats atop of with the help of a special chemical placed in the water. The three dimensional object is then placed into the tub at an angle, passing through the printed graphic on top of the water until it is fully submersed into the tub. At that point the object is pulled back out of the tub with the graphic adhered to the exterior of the object. Here is a video to better demonstrate the process.

What Can You Hydro Dip?

People are hydro dipping almost everything. From the full exterior of a vehicle, all the way to cell phone cases. It’s a great option for sign companies and auto customization shops because it can be applied to most substrates; from plastic, fiberglass and wood, to ceramic and metal.

The customization options with hydro printing is endless, if you can print it you can dip it. Additionally, because you are transferring it in water you are able to apply the print to the most detailed and intricate three dimensional objects. Water will fill the smallest crevices and transfer the graphic seamlessly and proportionally. This makes it ideal for specific exterior and interior components of a vehicle, including fenders, bumpers, hood scoops, rims, door paneling, dash’s, and more.

The Process

You take the same steps when hydro dipping that you do when you paint. The surface must be prepped, primed, and painted. However, before applying a clear coat like you would with a paint job, you apply the graphic.

The graphic is printed on a polyvinyl alcohol hydragraphic film, that is gently placed atop the water in the apparatus. The film is water soluble and because of the activator added to the water it dissolves in the tub becoming part of the water. After the object is dipped and dried, the film will have adhered like a paint job, as long as not too much or too little activator was used.

The finished product is a one of a kind seamless graphic that follows the shape of the object perfectly.

Although a hydro printing apparatus does have a decent price tag with it, and the art of hydro dipping does take some time, it’s a great stand alone service or additional service to offer as an auto customization shop.