Add Full color graphics to 3D Printed parts!

In this week’s project, we’re hydro dipping 3d printed parts.

Hydro dipping also know as Water Drape Film, Water Transfer or Inkjet Water Slide Decal Transfer, is a post-processing technique that allows you to wrap graphics around objects. So with this method, you can add some pretty cool textures and full color graphics to your projects.

Hydro dipping is commonly used on machined and injection molded parts, but we found it also works great on 3d printed parts. So you’re able to add high quality textures and graphics without lots of post processing. It even works with visible layer lines that you get with 3d printed parts.

Works on moving parts!

Images can actually wrap around 180° – so you can get some nice details on the sides and edges of your parts. We can even apply graphics to mechanical moving parts like this print in place, no bearing fidget spinner!

Here’s how it works.

This type of PVA paper is called “Water Transfer Paper” and it’s mostly used for Hydro Dipping. PVA is the same material you can use for 3d printing dissolvable supports. It smells a lot like elmer's glue and dissolves fairly well in hot water. The paper has a shiny PVA side and a matted backing that is peeled away. The PVA film dissolves when it’s submerged in water. The ink then actually floats on the surface of the water. Once set, you can then dip an object over the ink and into the water. It's actually quite simple!

Here’s some tools and supplies you'll need to start Hydro Dipping. Most of these you may already have. You can get the full list below: 

  • Hot glue gun
  • Masking Tape
  • PVA Film Paper
  • Container
  • Sticks or Solid Core Wire
  • 2D inkjet printer

This guide was first published on Jun 07, 2017. It was last updated on May 13, 2024.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Jun 03, 2017.

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