We’ll use hot water because that will help dissolve the PLA. We set our faucet to the hottest setting and filled the container until the part can be completely submerged. Make sure the container is large enough to fit your parts.
Cut paper to size
After printing our graphics, we need to cut the paper down to size so it can fit inside our container.
We used masking tape to create a frame around the paper. This is really helpful because it makes separating the two layers easier.
The tape also helps keep the graphics together as the PVA film dissolves in water.
Now we can peeling away the backing from the paper. Start by carefully pulling on one of the corners and work your way through the whole piece.
Use both hands to drape the film over the surface of the water with the ink side facing up. Within a couple of seconds, you’ll notice wrinkles start to form. After 20 seconds or so, the wrinkles will smooth out and start to dissolve. That's the sign we’re ready to dip.
It's really important to dip the part slowly and at a 45 degree angle. Gently lower the part into the water until it’s completely submerged. Continue to keep your part submerged until the artwork has covered the part.
Now we’ll need to agitate the water by lightly shaking the part from side to side. This helps separate the artwork away from the rest of the film. Keep shaking until the excess ink has dissolved away. Then we can safely pull the part out of the water.
Use a fan to immediately start drying your part. You’ll need to let parts dry for about an hour otherwise the ink will run and smudge.
After the part feels dry we can go ahead and remove the stick by peeling off the hot glue.
Once the ink dries, it hardens and almost feels like nail polish. It’s not scratch proof but it doesn’t easily rub off, so we think it’s durable enough for regular use. But if you need an extra layer of protection, you could use a coat of some type of protection spray.
And that’s it! A super easy way to add full color graphics to your DIY projects! It’s a lot of fun experimenting with different textures and graphics. Hydro dipping make parts look finished without spending a lot of time on sanding and painting.
I think the most difficult part about hydro dipping is trying to get precise alignment. So if you’re trying to get labels or graphics perfectly centered, you might find it’s a little challenging.