HYDROGRAPHIC DIPPING INSTRUCTIONS
Introduction to Hydrographics:
- Hydrographics is the process that allows you to coat items that are 3D and can be submerged into water without damage.
- The following instructions are used as guidelines for the Hydrographic process. Hydrographics is a skilled process, care should be taken when selecting items to dip and always done safely.
- When using Paints always wear your respirator and be sure to spray in a well-ventilated area.
Step 1: Prep Work
- Your item should be cleaned and free of any dirt or grease. Any old coating needs to be removed or sanded to a smooth surface.
- Measure your item and determine the amount of film needed. Cut the film to size and use masking tape along the two longest sides.
- Select a container it should be water tight and large enough to dip your item.
- Water temperatures should be around 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2: Painting
- All Hard surface items being dipped required to be painted, there are paints that will work with hydrographic dipping and some that don’t. you finish is only as good as the paint being used.
- We apply an epoxy primer for adhesion this primer is not what you will dip to.
- The inks from the film are designed to bond to your base coat
- Color choice for the film being used can be selected by using construction paper below the film to get an idea how different colors will affect the finish. This is a customize process we don’t have set colors to use as using a different base can completely change the look.
- We only use high quality automotive grade paints such as Nason, PPG, HOK, you will want to stick with Urethane or water base base coat / clear coat systems
- If you don’t have access to HVLP spray equipment you can use aerosols we sell paints designed for hydrographics in our stores, there are other good companies such as one hit wonder and low country hydro paint that also sell great paint for dipping in aerosol. If your looking for local option, we recommend using Dupli color perfect match it’s a lacquer base paint that can be used in a bind and found at most local auto parts store.
- Its recommended to apply all paints in light coats instead of 1 or 2 thick coats. If you apply to thick when you use activator the bottom layers may not been dried and will cause adhesion issues with the film
- Each paint is different, and they have what’s called a recoat window. This time frame is what you want to be sure to dip the part between. Paints like we have designed for hydrographic have a longer open dip window than paints such as PPG and Nason. You can find this information on your paint supplier data sheet.
Step 3: Dipping
- Once you have the item painted, make sure that it has dried to the touch. Once your sure it is dry, you’re ready to start the dipping process.
- Place your film evenly onto the water. To be sure which side of the film goes onto the water we recommend using the sticky side down test. To do the test wet your index and thumb finger and pinch the film on the corner, the side that sticks to your fingers is the PVA side and this side goes down on the water.
- Water temps should be 85-90 degrees, once the film is placed on the water wait 60 seconds to allow the film to hydrate before spraying the Hydrovator Activator
- Spray your Hydrovator Activator evenly at a steady pace. We recommend doing one even coat. Watch for the film expand and glass over.
- If your container is larger than your film, you may have to make dams to contain the expansion of the film this will keep your pattern from stretching. This can be done with tape, pool noodles, or metal dams.
- Dip your item using a steady downward motion. The item should be near a 45-degree angle to prevent trapping air.
- Some items are more complex and will require adjustment in all areas above. This is a skilled process and requires knowledge and understanding of how the film reacts.
- Not all film will be the same from one another. You will need to adjust amounts of activator, water temp, dwell time, etc…. This cant be covered here but our contact information is below and we will gladly help you with any issues.
Step 4: Rinse
- Once your item is dipped and removed from the tank you need to rinse it off. Use water volume not pressure and never touch the item during the rinsing off process. This will take 3-5 mins with warm water and longer with colder water. You will want to rinse until you no longer see any suds coming from the item. Once it dries, if you see any shinny spots you should repeat the rinsing process.
Step 5: Top Coat
- With your item dipped and rinsed it’s now time to protect the finish. The top coat needs to be applied evenly. Don’t spray too heavily in order to avoid runs. We recommend spraying a light first coat and allowing time for the coat to dry between additional coats. We recommend 3 coats, 1 light coat and 2 medium coats this will achieve full coverage and thickness.