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Stressful day? How about some nice, relaxing hydrographic printing.
December 4, 2013 9:33 AM   Subscribe

Here's a mesmerizing 14 minute long video of a dude doing some water transfer printing on some boring car part things. Despite that glorious undersell, it's actually quite interesting.

As a bonus, you can also use this printing technique to give your nails a bitchin' paint job. (Allegedly. It almost never works right.)
posted by phunniemee (25 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
YOU ARE KIDDING ME PHYSICS AND PURDY SO COOL OMG
/melts
posted by tigrrrlily at 9:41 AM on December 4, 2013


That video left me with so many questions:

Why don't they have a mechanism for lowering the item into the water in an even and consistent manner, with no risk of dropping it?

How does the finish get applied so evenly when it's obvious that the manual lowering of the item is not always smooth?

What do they apply to make the coating to stick/not stick?

What do they apply after, a clear coat?

Can I get this done to my teeth?
posted by furtive at 9:50 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


My daughter used to do this to her fingernails by dripping a bunch of different nail polishes into a glass of water and swirling them, then dunking her finger in.
posted by chococat at 9:51 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Raaaaaaaaad
posted by griphus at 9:52 AM on December 4, 2013



"Hydrographics or HydroGraphics, also known as immersion printing, water transfer printing, water transfer imaging, or cubic printing, is a method of applying printed designs to three-dimensional objects. The hydrographic process can be used on metal, plastic, glass, hard woods, and various other materials. 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 image 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 dippings, hydrographics printing can achieve full 360° coverage of the part surface, including small crevices."

posted by gwint at 9:54 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


How does the finish get applied so evenly when it's obvious that the manual lowering of the item is not always smooth?

I wondered about it, too, but look at the way the printing media tenaciously clings to the object in this segment. It's really at a sweet spot for being elastic yet cohesive unlike, say, the ink in a woodblock print. It just wants to cling to the dipped object, so I think you obviously have some room for variations in dipping speed.
posted by maudlin at 9:58 AM on December 4, 2013


Why don't they have a mechanism for lowering the item into the water in an even and consistent manner, with no risk of dropping it?

Probably because a guy can do it with those kinds of results so you aren't saving anything. A machine that had so many kinds of attachments to hold all kinds of random parts would be quite time consuming and expensive to set up. It's probably as fast for the guy to put it in as it would be for him to set the part accurately on a rig. Also, this is really, really low volume as a process or you'd see more automation.

How does the finish get applied so evenly when it's obvious that the manual lowering of the item is not always smooth?

It looks to me that the design has some surface tension (if you like) to it. It's not lots of little things floating on the water but a sheet of colour that has some kind of bond to it between each part. Surface tension is the closest I can think of to describing what I mean! It looks like he is being gentle so as not to 'fold' the design rather than if he rushed it'd be just a swirl of colours.
posted by Brockles at 10:03 AM on December 4, 2013


Yeah, it sounds like the clear spots are just clear film, not lack-of-film.
posted by griphus at 10:09 AM on December 4, 2013



what

is he a wizard?
posted by Aizkolari at 10:12 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


when i saw this elsewhere yesterday my first reaction was "like water marbling nails!" it's so cool looking.

water marbling for nails is a pain sometimes, but works right if you use distilled, room temp water, and start with the right polish (sally hansen xtreme wear work great and are only $2 a bottle). also, tape your fingers so clean up is a breeze.
posted by nadawi at 10:12 AM on December 4, 2013


I can think of some cool designs, if they'd slowly lower me into the vat.
posted by surplus at 10:29 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes, yes, very cool process, but ZOMG PAISLEY WHEELS!!!
posted by JeffK at 10:37 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Remember those water-transfer decals you used to put on your model cars and airplanes and so on when you were a nerdy eighth-grade kid who built model cars and airplanes in his bedroom after school?

This is approximately one million billion times better than that
posted by ook at 10:44 AM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


This would be a good way to generate (U, V) texture coordinate mappings for arbitrary shapes! Oh sorry, this isn't the computer graphics forum.
posted by scose at 10:53 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Damn, I fell down a youtube hole of these six months ago and I considered making an FPP of them all, but of course got distracted and forgot all about it. Isn't this stuff cool??? I'm glad somebody else brought this to mefi's attention.
posted by Mizu at 11:11 AM on December 4, 2013


I do wish less of it was that fake carbon fibre print.
posted by sfred at 12:01 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Doing this with nails is a lot of fun, but not every polish works unfortunately. I'm still waiting for nail polish makers to get on board and create a line of polishes that are superb for water marbling.

You can also marble fabric this way.
posted by royalsong at 12:07 PM on December 4, 2013


I wasn't really expecting to be so enthralled by that but man, so cool! And I also covet the paisley wheels.
posted by brilliantine at 12:39 PM on December 4, 2013


if we get them to wrap the entire of the blue in fake carbon fibre, do you think they could afford a longer music loop?

I wonder if this is doable at hobby level...

*heads to the googles*
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 12:47 PM on December 4, 2013


ook: "Remember those water-transfer decals you used to put on your model cars and airplanes and so on when you were a nerdy eighth-grade kid who built model cars and airplanes in his bedroom after school?

This is approximately one million billion times better than that
"

Fortunately, the heavy dose of xylene fumes allowed you to believe the effect was about the same.

Good times, good times...
posted by IAmBroom at 1:11 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd say the most dramatic result was the camo over the base coat of Pink Panther pink. It was the last thing I expected when he pulled it out.

Also, not sure if I would be comfortable with a motorcycle gas tank with flames that realistic on it, just sayin.

Could not stop watching.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 2:59 PM on December 4, 2013


Maybe cheating, but the nail polish trick works best if you dip your fingers in warm liquid paraffin, then let it set, and then trim away the paraffin from the nail surface. It is possible to get a very clean mask that way. Don't know how they can cleanly mask the rounded surfaces with the scotch tape. The liquid paraffin also keeps it off the cuticles.

Don't ask me how I know this. Nothing mother, don't come in.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 3:10 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hey, my cousin does this.

From what little I understand about it, he seems to do mostly camo-ing of shotguns and motorcycle tanks/fenders, with the occasional car wheel thrown in. Seems to be doing pretty well. Last time I spoke to him about it, he mentioned that they're thinking about trying to do ipads.

Ook was right, it's a ton like applying decals, only in reverse.
posted by Sphinx at 4:15 PM on December 4, 2013


Fractals!
posted by Chuffy at 4:33 PM on December 4, 2013


Fortunately, the heavy dose of xylene fumes allowed you to believe the effect was about the same.

Oh heck yeah. Nancy Reagan had it all wrong: Testors model cement is the real gateway drug.
posted by ook at 5:06 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


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