Ikkin Dip It Hydrographics
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Ikkin Dip It Hydrographics



Hydrographics, also known as immersion printing, water transfer printing, water transfer imaging, cubic printing, camo dipping or hydro dipping, is a method of applying printed designs to three-dimensional objects.


The hydrographic process can be used on metal, plastic, glass, hard woods, and any other non-porous material. In the process, the substrate piece to be printed is pre-treated and a base coat material is applied. A polyvinyl alcohol film is gravure-printed with the graphic pattern to be transferred, and is then floated on the surface of a 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 lowered into the vat, through the floating ink layer, which wraps around and adheres to it. After removing the piece from the water, a top coat is applied to protect the design. With multiple dips, hydrographic printing can achieve full a 360 coverage of the part surface, including small crevices.


The Process Step by Step


Step 1

Pick a Pattern:


Ikkin offers hundreds of patterns that range from camouflage to wood grains, marbles and metallic's. If you can’t find one you like, we will design a pattern for you. Once a pattern is chosen, it is digitized and printed as an exact replica on film.



Step 2

Prep a Product:


Preparation is key to a successful water transfer. Most product surfaces are cleaned before applying a special primer, which adheres to the item and accepts the inks of the printed decoration. If necessary, objects to be printed are base painted. This determines the pattern’s color, such as the green in camouflage or the brown used in a wood grain.



Step 3

Image Orientation:


The pattern or image is then printed on water-soluble polyvinyl film and placed in a vat designed specifically for water-transfer printing. This part of the process is managed either manually or is automated. Sliding baffles keep the printed film in place to achieve a good decoration.



Step 4



Printed film is sprayed with a chemical activator, which dissolves the film, allowing the pattern to float on water.



Step 5



Water follows the contours of the part and forces the inks to penetrate the basecoat. After being fully immersed, the part is removed from the water and the eye can immediately see that the part has taken-on the color and design of the original pattern. Because the graphic is only a few microns thick, decoration is possible for flexible plastic products such as ski goggles, and even molded parts including ATV hoods, fenders and related components. Many sizes and shapes can be decorated from firearms and instrument panels to radio bezels.



Step 6

Rinsing and Drying:


After immersion, the product is rinsed and dried.



Step 7



In the final process step, the decorated product is covered with an automotive-grade urethane. This gives the object a glossy or matte shine, depending on your preference. The urethane also acts as a protector from harmful UV rays and chemicals that may ruin the pattern. When the final coat has dried, the object is sanded and polished to shine.





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