The process of water transfer printing, or dip-print as it is also known, was developed to apply decorative finishes to a range of items. The unique way in which the film is applied enables intricate shapes to be dipped.
In the process, the piece to be dipped is pre-treated and a base coat material is applied. A polyvinyl alcohol film with the graphic image to be applied is then floated on the surface of a tank of warm water.
An activator chemical is sprayed on the film to dissolve it into a liquid and activate a bonding agent. The item to be dipped is then lowered into the vat through the floating ink layer. The ink layer along with the polyvinyl alcohol backing then wraps around and adheres to the item. 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.
After removing the piece from the water, a clear coat is applied to protect the design. With multiple prints, hydrographic printing can achieve full 360° coverage of the parts surface, including small crevices.