How to Hydro dip: The Fullest Hydro Dipping Guide

Hydro Dipping Process

The Operation Points of Hydro Dip

1. Before dipping,  it’s essential to ensure that the products are thoroughly cleaned and free from static electricity.

2. Make sure the water is free of any residue or activators. To do this, start the water pump to thoroughly rinse off any remaining residue. Then use the divider to gently and slowly remove any blisters.

3.  It is critical to distinguish the correct side of the hydrographics film before starting the impregnation process. Some textured films have a matte side, while others have a glossy side. Placing the reverse side of the film in water will disable it, making it impossible to successfully impregnate.

To identify the correct side, simply dip your finger in the water and touch a small corner of the hydrographic film. You will notice that one side feels sticky and this is the correct side facing the water.

Make sure no water touches the reverse side when handling the membrane. To place the film on the water, use dry hands and maintain an angle of 30-40 degrees. Pull the ends of the water-soaked membrane from one end of the tank to the other to prevent air bubbles.

If there have some bubbles or film curling,  you can remove the bubbles slightly by hand or blow them away with the spray gun. At this time, care should be taken to prevent damage to the water immersion pattern.

Chapter 1: Pretreatment of Products Before Hydro Dip

Surface cleaning without grease or other impurities is vitally important for a successful hydro-dipping process.

Experience has shown that many hydrographic failures result from inadequate pretreatment of the products. Detailed pretreatment requirements are as follows:

1. First, inspect the products if there is an obvious impurity on the surface of the products. Polish the surface with 800-1000 mesh sandpaper. Carefully don’t polish too hard to leave scrapes on the surface.

2. Touch the products if the surface is smooth. If the surface is rough with a sandy feeling, polish it again.

3. Observe the products if there are oil stains, dust, or other impurities on the surfaces. Remove the oil stains or dust by proper methods. For example, remove the dust with a clean rag or the stains with a suitable solvent.

4. To remove the inferior pattern from the hydro dipping process, you have to use the special pattern remover.

Or if the area of defects is small, you can use 800-1000mesh sandpaper to remove the defects and trim with paintbrushes.

5. The products must keep clean after pretreatment.

6. The products must keep dry after pretreatment. Use an air dryer or blower to remove the moisture on the surface of the products. Or just leave the products in a clean and dry place (air-dry).

7. Place the pretreated products in a clean and dry location for the next process step.

Chapter 2: What kind of paint is used in hydro dipping?

About the base coating, the paint depends on the material that will dip. The paint is the normal paint, not special, but need to be compounded with the diluent agent and firming agent at a special rate. Certainly, you can ask for some information from the paint shop.

Chapter 3: Which material must be sprayed base coating?

patterns sample of water transfer printing film

ABS doesn’t need to be sprayed with base coating,

PP, PC, PS, PU, PVC, Silicone, Nylon, PA, Metal, and Ceramic, all must be base coated. Each paint for base coating must match the subjects to dip. And for some materials such as PP, PVC, TPU, PC, PS, you need to spray some primer to enhance the adhesion of substrates. You can consult your local paint seller. About the color of paint, you need to match the color of your substrates.

What is the curing temperature after base coating and top coating?

The temperature for base coating is 65℃ for ABS, PP, PC, PS, PU, PVC, Silicone, Nylon, PA, and the baking time is15-20minutes;

the baking time for metal and ceramic is 30 minutes;

The temperature for top coating is 65℃ for ABS, PP, PC, PS, PU, PVC, Silicone, Nylon, PA, the baking time is 45 minutes;

The temperature for top coating is 120℃ for metal and ceramic, and the baking time for metal and ceramic is 60 minutes.

Chapter 4: How to prepare to hydro dip?

1. Before hydro dipping, the products must keep clean and free from static electricity.

2. Ensure the water surface is clean. No residue or activator on the water surface. Cleaning the water surface by turning on the water pump for flushing the residue, then removing the bubbles of the water with the dividers slightly and slowly.

Chapter 5: How to distinguish the right side of hydrographics film touching the water?

You have to distinguish the right side of the hydrographics film before dipping. Some hydrographics film the face side is matte, some face side is glossy, if you put the reverse side of the hydrographics film on the water, the hydrographics film won’t work, you can’t dip anything. So you can dip some water with one finger and touch a little corner of the hydrographics film, you can feel one side sticky, so this sticky side is the right side towards the water.

Chapter 6: How to lay the hydro dipping film on the water?

Don’t let water drop to the other side when laying hydro dipping film on the water. So you put the film on the water with a dry hand and keep a 30-40-degree angle with the water surface. Pull the ends of the hydro dipping film from one end of the hydro dipping tank to the other to avoid air bubbles. If there have some bubbles or film curling, you can remove the bubbles slightly by hand or blow them away with the spray gun. Pay attention not to damage the hydro dipping pattern.

Chapter 7: When to start to spay the activator?

The timing for the spaying of the activator is also a trick for successful water transfer printing. After the film laying on the water, the spraying activator has no fixed time, because many hydrographic films have different activated times depending on the blank hydrographic film, the ink, and the water temperature.

The common time of spraying activator is in 45-90seconds. So, you have to observe the change in the film. When the film is spreading flat with a light glimmer. Let’s start to spray the activator now.

Another way to determine the time of the spray activator, you can spray a little activator to the corner of the hydro dipping film, the sprayed corner will turn to a layer like thin oil on the water without wrinkles. Let’s start to spray activator now.

Chapter 8: How many activators spray into the dip film?

This is something of skill or experience. We just run the spray gun crosswise from left to right or from top to bottom lengthwise. Spraying the activator only one time, don’t repeat on the activated surface, because this will disturb the hydro dipping patterns. The distance of the gun to the water’s surface is 30-40cm. The liquid flow of the spray gun needs to be adjusted to maximum, and the speed of running the spray gun must be slow. The usual amount of activator is 1 liter of activator to activate 30-40sqm hydrographic film by hand.

Chapter 9: How does hydro dipping work

1. Cutting the suitable size dip film, ensure the film can cover the whole article’s surface. Not too big or too small for saving your film.

2. Pay attention to the dip angle (30-45 degrees), and ensure that the contact area of the object with water is minimal.

3. Attention to the wave direction especially the pattern of the wood grain. Or you may decide to turn the film 90°or 180° on the water. The dipping is a continuous one-step procedure, with no stopping during the dipping process to ensure the best dipping.

4. when the product is dipped into the water, shake it gently in the water and remove the floating film remaining and take it at a tilted angle. Do not allow the product to fall down.

5. when you finish dipping, check if there is any defect in the hydrographic patterns (bubbles or cracks). This may give you an idea for an improvement in the next dipping. If it remains to stick to the product, rinse it away with water.

Chapter 10: How long to change the water in the hydro dipping tank?

The water in the tank must be maintained at a certain level.

In the hydro dipping process, the water is not only used as media to give pressure for hydrographic dipping it also can wash away the remains. The water needs to change if you find the water is sticky or there are bubbles or lots of remains floating on the surface.

Chapter 11: How to wash after hydro printing?

1. Take care not to touch the product by finger just out of the water. The ink layer at this time is very fragile, any touch may damage the just-coated pattern.

2. The purpose of washing is to remove the sticky layer on the surface. Do not apply too heavy a pressure for washing.

The heavy water pressure may damage the just-coated pattern.

3. After washing, touch the product with your finger. If you feel sticky on the product, please wash it again. The sticky layer must be thoroughly washed away, or the adhesion for the finish coating will be a problem.

4. You may also need to wash the other side (the uncoated side) of the product because usually this side also needs to dip for another pattern or apply the finish coat.

Chapter 12: How to deal with the defective product by trimming?

1. Before finishing coating, the defective pattern needs to be trimmed. The trimmer should prepare the same hydrographic film, activator, and suitable tools such as paintbrush and sandpaper for such purpose.

2. Use the paintbrush soaked with the activator to erase the defective area.

3. Trimming is only carried out on defects of the small area. If defects in a large area are found.

This should remove all patterns or cover the whole surface by painting.

4. The trimmer should each product before delivering products to the spray booth.

5. Remove dust or impurity on the trimmed products. Place the trimmed products in a dry and clean place. Which are ready to move to the spray booth for top-coating.

Chapter 13: How to rework defective products?

1. Instructions on dealing with inferior products before finishing coating
1.1 If a pattern s locally damaged you can try to mend it by cutting off a piece of film and dipping it again
1.2 If a total pattern is damaged, you have to remove the total pattern with sandpaper or solvent and dip it again.

2. Instructions dealing with inferior products after finishing coating
2.1 If local defects such as dust points or drippings appear on the surface finish, polish the local surface with wax
2.2 If the whole finish surface is a failure(dripping and primer penetration in a larger area). the finish has to be removed with the solvent for renewal.

Chapter 14: How to dry the dipped products after dipping and top coating?

1. The temperature setting is essential for the baking process. The baking temperature depends largely on the material of the product, The product may be deformed or degraded under elevated temperatures.

2. The temperature setting for drying dipped products after washing.

thermoplastic and nonmetal products: less than60℃;

metal products: Max180℃, because the primer cannot stand higher temperatures;

If the products are coated with two-component PU paint as a primer, you should observe exactly the paint manufacturer’s operational instructions. The purpose of drying after washing is no other than to remove moisture from the products

3. Curing temperature for top coating:

The baking temperature and time depend on the nature of the finish coating. Finis coat or transparent lacquer or varnish has two types: baking type and non-baking type.

Please follow the manufacturer’s instructions for curing time and temperature.

Chapter 15: The dip painting method for top coating:

The top coating is a kind of transparent varnish. Paints of a different type may be used for the finish: two-component PU paint, one-component lacquer, baking lacquer gloss, and matte.

Chapter 16: The instructions on finish coat application

1. Preparation: the amount of transparent lacquer prepared depends on the number of products.
2. Prepared lacquer must be filtered with a 300 mesh nylon screen.
3. Spray booth must be clean, and free from dust, The floor and the floor around the spray area must be wet to prevent dust from flying over in the air.
4. Never touch or allow any object to touch the uncured surface.
5. The operator must clean the spray gun before leaving the shifting job

Chapter 17: How to properly use and maintain the spray gun

1. Clean the gun with the activator before the operation

2. The key to a successful dipping process: a. the right time (when the film is totally soaked and softened) for spraying;

3. The amount of activator applied to the film. So you have to adjust the adequate spraying amount, not too less or too much.

4. You need also to adjust the air pressure, activator flow, and the width of the fine spray.

5. Lower air pressure results in less activator spray and vice versa.

6. Move the gun at an adequate speed not too fast or too slow.

7. The amount of activator is related to the expansion of the film (ink layer on water). In general the bigger expansion, the higher amount, and vice versa.

8. On a larger spray area (or larger film size). there must be a 1/2 overlap between each passage of the gun move. This can prevent the porous defects caused by activator volatility.

9. The newcomer may use water as the activator for training purposes. After training. the gun has to be cleaned with the activator or it will get rusty.

Chapter 18: How to do Quality Control and Packing after finishing the paint dipping process

1. The checker should timely find the problem and report to the process technician to reduce the loss to the maximum.

2. First, check if the product is clean and dry.
3. Then check the pattern if there are holes(porous points)and cracks on the pattern.
4. Check if the trimmed surface is clean and the wave color is the same as the sample.
5. Check if there is dust, dripping, and peeling on the paint.
6. The passed product can deliver to the packing

Chapter 19: The reason and solutions for defects in the transfer printing process

Pitting, porous holes, small bubbles, or rough surfaces on transferred pattern surfaces.


a. Poor spray booth environment dusts in the air. Dust on products and film surface
b. The water surface is not clean: floating impurities and remains.
c. The film did not lay evenly on water. Bubbles exist between the film and the water surface. The water temperature is too high. The compressed air is not clean, the air is mixed with moisture oil and other Impurities (the film ink would not be fully activated and there are water drops and oil drops on the film).
d. Not enough activator sprayed or unevenly sprayed
e. The activator evaporated too fast: activating time is not enough. the film ink has not been activated to an oily state(ink peel on the pattern: During the transfer printing process, the wat should be expelled from between the product and ink. The not fully activated ink may hinder the expelling of water).
f. The dipping angle(normal 45°) is not correct or dipping too fast. That caused bubbles and water drops to enroll in between the product and the pattern ink.


1. The spray room must be clean. Spray wat on the ground to prevent dust from being over. Clean dust from product surfaces and work tables. Do not allow dust on ink surfaces
2. Wipe with a scape the remains away from wat surface
3. Pull the hydro-dipping film gently from one end of the tank to the other at an angle of 45° (to remove any impurities and bubbles on water)
4. Check water temperature. Experiences tell 25℃-30℃ is the right temperature, Install a water separator to the air compressor. Disconnect the spray gun tube and clean away moisture and oil drops inside the tube to ensure the cleanness of the compressed air.

5. Adjust air pressure, and atomization value to increase activator flow. Ensure there is a 1/2 overlap between the spray passages (never spray repeatedly on the film).On a fully activated ink layer. you may find oily light glimmering

6. Change the activator from the fast-dry type to slow-dry. Adjust the spray gun to increase activator flow. Reduce the gun’s moving speed. Wait until the pattern ink is fully activated to an oily state.

7. Adjust the dipping angle to 45ºLower the product down gently and slowly to the hydrographic tank so as to remove air bubbles from between the product and the ink layer.

2. Obvious winkles and overlaps at the corner position after dipping Reasons.

a. The water temperature is too low. (This causes the film not fully soaked or softened)
b.Soaking time(the time of film laying on water)is not enough(this causes the film not fully softened
c. Too early to spray activator to the film(This causes the tension of the ink layer and that of the ground film is not equal. The ink layer is shrunk with wrinkles on surfaces)
e.The patterned ink has not been activated to oily state(This causes the ink peel to appear on pattern surfaces)


a.Raise the wat temperature to about 25℃-30℃
b.Leave the film on the water longer(the soaking time is about 120″ at 25℃water temperature).To see if the film is fully soaked or not, you may make a small test as follows: spray the activator on a corner of the film. If the sprayed area appears no wrinkle and it is slightly stretched, then the soaking time is ok.

c.Do not spray until the film is completely softened and the surface tension is OK and uniform.

d.Do not dip until the film ink is completely activated.

3. The pattern layer peeled off and the ground layer appears: the pattern wave is a blur; the waves appear broken; the pattern appears different in wave color shade 


a. Activator sprayed too much (Over applied activator will cause slipping between the ink layer and the ground film. The pattern will be distorted because of such slipping).
b. The primer is too hard or over-cured(The over-cured prime is resistant to activating effect and reduces the surface between the ink layer and the ground material and will lead to pattern deformation from slippage and shrinkage).

c.Soaking time too long(The ground film will be dissolved because of too long soaking time. Then the ground film loses the function to support the ink pattern. The resultant pattern will be distorted or appear broken and over-stretched.

d.The airflow of the spray gun is too strong(The airflow blows the pattern disorder).
e.Activated time too long. (An over-activated ink pattern is floating and moving on water and the resultant picture on the product is a blur, unclear).
f.The solubility of the activator is not enough. The film ink has not been fully activated. (This may lead to discontinuous pattern waves and over-stretched pictures).

g.Dipping is not correct(This may lead to pattern shade and color difference).


a. Adjust air pressure and atomization value to reduce activator flow.
b. Choose the right primer. Adjust the hardness and curing of the primer.

c. Reduce the soaking time (120 seconds at 25℃ water temperature) to ensure the film is not over-dissolved.
d. Adjust the air pressure of the spray gun. The airflow should not be so strong as to blow the mess of the pattern.
e. In general, dipping should start 60 seconds after activator spraying.
f. Change the activator with higher solubility. Anyway, the solubility of an activator should not be adjusted too high)
g. Dip correctly. The correct start position is always where the activator spray starts first and dips at 45°(This is to ensure uniform waves and color shades of the pattern).

Manual hydro dipping process


Hydrographics , also known as Water transfer printing hydro dipping , water transfer printing, hydrographic printing , immersion printing , hydrographic dipping or cubic printing , is a method of applying printed designs to three-dimensional surfaces with liquid and some chemicals.

The hydrographic process can be used on metal , plastic ( PVC , PP , PE , PET , ABS , ACRYLIC , AND SO ON ) , ceramics , fiberglass , glass , rubber , hardwoods .

The water transfer printing process is extensively used to decorate items that range from entire all-terrain vehicles and car dashboards to small items like bike helmets or other automotive trim .

Hydrographics Films can be applied to all types of substrates including plastic , fiberglass , wood , ceramics , and metal . For the most part , if the item can be dipped in water and can be painted using traditional techniques then the hydro dipping process can be used .

hydro dipping application materials

In the process, the substrate piece to be printed first goes through the entire painting process: surface preparation, priming, Dipping, Washing(Rinsing), drying, and top coating(clear or matte).

After painting but before top coating, the part is ready to be processed. A (polyvinyl alcohol) PVA hydrographic film, which has been gravure-printed with the graphics image to be transferred, is carefully placed on the water’s surface in the hydro dipping tank. The clear film is water-soluble and dissolves after spraying hydro dip activator.

Once hydro dipping is begun, the surface tension of the water will allow the pattern to curve around any shape. Any remaining residue is then rinsed off thoroughly by rinsing station. The ink has already adhered and will not wash off. It is then allowed to dry.

Hydro Dipping Kits

TSAUTOP Hydrographics film is made by the high-quality PVA film imported from Japan , the thickness 35-40μ,high quality durable and consistent ink with UV resistance , printed by 8 colors gravure printing machinery , high definition pattern .

TSAUTOP have the most popular hydro dipping patterns in stock , such as the skull , flame , carbon fiber , camouflage , cartoon , wood grain , stone , metal , abstract , flower.

All types of water transfer printing film has more than 20,000 patterns. In these patterns, carbon fiber hydro dip , camo dipping , hydro dipping skull patterns , flame dip film , wood grain hydro dip are welcomed by hydro dipping man .

Furthermore , TSAUTOP develops 30 new hydro dip designs per month and can customize your hydro dipping patterns in 7-10days.

Besides TSAUTOP can supply blank hydrographic film for the inkjet hydro dipping printer , you can use this printable hydrographic film for printing your hydrographic designs.

patterns of carbon film
DescriptionWater Transfer Printing Film, Hydrographic Printing Film , Hydro Dipping Film , Custom Hydrographic Film , Hydrographic Films, Camo Dipping , Carbon Fiber Hydro Dip , Wood Grain Hydro Dip
ApplicationDecorate items that range from entire all-terrain vehicles and car dashboards to small items, like bike helmets or other automotive trim, Car and airline Interiors, X-box, Guns, Cups, Car Parts, Mouse, Motorcycle, Shoes, Cosmetic packaging, outdoor items, crafts, building materials.
Films can be applied to all types of substrates including plastic, fiberglass, hard wood, ceramics, and metal, rubber. For the most parts, if the item can be dipped in water, the hydro dipping process can be used.
Film SizeWidth A-100CM ; B-50CM;The length 1-250m all ok; thickness:35-45μ
Film PatternsCarbon Fiber, Skull, Flame, Camouflage water transfer printing film, Wood grain, Marble& Stone, , Animal
Skin, Cartoon, Royalty Pattern, Metal, Designer,
Advantage1. high quality PVA film imported from Japan, the thickness 35-40μ,high quality durable and consistent ink with UV resistance, printed by 8 colors gravure printing machinery, High definition pattern
2. Best Price: the Competitive price at the small order, Big discount for large order
3. Timely Delivery : We will ship the order after payment in 2-3 days
4. Best After-sales service: we provide you with Water Transfer Printing skill training, Helpful advises.
5.20,000+ hydro dipping patterns,30 new hydro dip designs per month. The most popular patterns are all in stock.
6. Royalty Popular Water Transfer Printing Film: We developed our own patterns, some patterns only available
7. Customization: We can also print your own hydrographic film in 7-10working days, please send us design picture in all format.This will be your royalty pattern, we will never sell your royalty pattern to any third parties.

As we know , the water transfer printing film have many types , so the activator is not changeless .

TSAUTOP can supply hydrographic activator sample for diy hydro dipping and water transfer printing activator formula for starting hydro dipping .

We can guide all customers to compound hydrographic activator . The adhesion is a result of the chemical components of the activator softening the base coat layer and allowing the ink to form a bond with it .

One of the most common causes of a failure to achieve adhesion between the two layers is a poorly applied activator . This can be either too much activator being applied or too little . Quality activator is one of the most important elements in producing a high quality , professional hydrographic printing .

Moreover , TSAUTOP can provide various HLVP spray gun as your requirements , such as hydro dipping activator spray , base coating spay , top coating spray .

Why Tusatop

TSAUTOP Hydro dipping factory equipped all automatic hydro dipping production line and anti-static dust-free workshop for high quality products

5,000-50,000pcs various items per day

Our master experience is more than 10 years,can do prefect dip

Hydro dipping
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