How do I order film, equipment, or supplies?
We’d love to help you get set-up and processing right away. Give us a call at 305-258-9622 for pricing and ordering information.
What Is Water Transfer Printing?
Water Transfer Printing (also known as hydrograghics, immersion printing, camo dipping, hydro imaging and cubic printing) is a surface decorating process where elaborate graphics like wood grain, carbon fiber, camouflage, geometrical designs, etc… are applied to a 3-D product surface. 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. 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, the hydro-graphic process can be used. The process utilizes a water-soluble film that contains the printed patterns. The film dissolves in the water and leaves the ink on the surface. In the typical process, the item to be printed is first coated with a primer or an adhesion promoter. After this dries, a base-coat paint is applied which controls the hue of the pattern. So, for instance, wood grain prints often utilize a brown base-coat and many camouflage patterns use a neutral base. After the base-coat is applied, the item is ready for decorating. The film is activated. The item is then dipped into the water and the ink wraps around it. It is then washed and painted with a clear topcoat.
Is Water Transfer Printing durable?
We like to let our product speak for itself. Some of our largest clientele are automobile and boat manufacturers who demand highest standards of quality and durability. Many parts we manufacture spend the majority of their lives in direct exposure, such as boat instrument panels. The clear coat we use is automotive grade, designed to withstand nature and time.
How scratch resistant is the final product?
The clear acrylic recommended is as durable as the paint used on auto exteriors.
How can I match base-coat of a camouflage pattern?
Specially designed paint mixing systems and formulas are available for you to purchase. You can mix as little as one quart of paint at a time. We also carry specific color mix paint available to purchase for all camouflage films and offer paint chips.
What type of spray gun do you recommend?
The DeVilbiss high efficiency spray gun perfectly atomizes activator when spraying, making it the recommended gun for water transfer printing. This spray gun is also used for spraying base paints and clear coats in the automotive industry. The DeVilbiss will give you powerful efficiency, excellent atomization, and a consistent spray. It is the official gun used in the TWN Certified WTP Training Program.
Do I have to spray a decorated part with clear coat?
The Clear Coat is an important part of the paint process. It assures optimal results for scratching firmness and longevity.
What temperature and humidity is best to store film?
The ink films are printed on Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA) based film. It is very sensitive to moisture and temperature. You must store the film properly to ensure long shelf life and proper decorating. The film must be stored in a humidity and temperature controlled environment. HUMIDITY: Below 60% TEMPERATURE: 68° to 77°F
How should I set up my floor plan for maximum production?
You will need to consider many things while setting up your water transfer printing facility. Size of parts to be decorated and amount of parts to be decorated are most important. Depending on these two answers you will need enough space to accommodate fixture, priming and painting, decorating and top coating. Please contact TWN to help you get started properly.
How do I apply final clear coat?
Use a high quality clear coat for the final finish. Whether its flat, semi-gloss or gloss the final coat should be durable enough to protect the part. B. Once the clear coat has dried you need to inspect it for defects. Most minor defects like orange peel look, or debris in the finish can be wet sanded and polished out at this stage. There are a few exceptions to this. For instance if you are using a flat paint for clear coat you would have to sand the defect away and then re-apply the final coat
How much power do I need for my wash station?
It is very important, when picking out or setting up your water transfer printing equipment facility, that you have enough power to supply several machines, decorating equipment, wash station and paint booth. For our WTP-5MWS, you have two choices: 3 phase 220V or 3 phase 380V. This machine contains two reservoirs which contain 2 pumps and 1 heater per reservoir. You will need a large enough wire to accommodate a 100amp breaker at the machine. When running, the machine draws approximately 35amps.
How much power does a continuous flow machine need?
Our Continuous Flow machine is equipped with three 9KW heaters, automatic activator applicator, blower, bubbler, pump and motorized fixture rotor with pockets. You will need to dedicate 100amps for this piece of equipment.
How much power do I need for my static printing machine?
The overall power of each static printing machine listed below is 19KW. As you can see the addition of a production arm to a system does not increase the overall power. WTP-2M WTP-2MPA WTP-3M WTP-3MPA
When do I go to training?
Training will be scheduled after delivery of your water transfer printing equipment. We would like you to have all of your equipment operating prior to training. This will ensure that you are able to start immediately decorating parts in your shop after training. This will help reinforce all that you have learned while at TWN.
How can I purchase my spray booth?
Please contact TWN and we will be glad to assist you in determining which size and booth application best fits your needs. We can also recommend to you someone that can manufacture a custom built spray booth.
What type of spray booth do you recommend?
We recommend an enclosed cross draft or down draft industrial paint booth for most applications where gloss or flat top coats will be used. If your operation is specialized and processes only camouflage in dead flat top coats, an open face spray booth or our compact paint cabinet may work for you.
How do I dry my decorated parts?
After thoroughly washing the part it must be dried. This can be accomplished with a drying room which is heated and has circulating air, or just by air drying. Whichever method you use, ensure that the part is completely dry before proceeding. Other options are thermal drying with heat or infrared, flash drying with heat lamps and circulating air or blow drying with an air knife or blower. B. Once the part is completely dry check it for defects that need to be touched up. If the defect is too severe the part may need to be prepped and dipped again.
How do I wash the decorated parts correctly?
NOTE: Water temperature should be 100°F-125°F/(48°C-52°C.). A. Washing the part after dipping is very important. Volume of water is more important than pressure. You can wash large parts with a hose, but an auto wash machine for production work is recommended. Either way you must wash for at least 5 minutes. You must remove all of the excess film and ink.
How long does it take to create a custom film?
Artwork can usually be taken through the cylinder engraving process to prototype film within 4-6 weeks.
What are the environmental considerations?
By most standards our process is relatively environmentally friendly. However there are several aspects that need to be addressed with the proper environment regulatory agencies. This list includes guidelines for where to start the application process, but by no means implies that additional regulatory issues are not required in your facility. It is the responsibility of the business owner to verify that his company is in compliance with all Federal, State and Municipal requirements.
What is the cost to get started?
Water Transfer Printing is economical and overcomes problems faced by conventional methods such as hot printing, screen printing, transfer printing, and conversion coating. Contact us for a custom quote based on your business needs.
Can items that are not correctly printed be reprinted?
Yes, items that are not printed to satisfaction can be reprinted.
What is the minimum area required for setting up a production line?
The minimum operating space requirement for water transfer printing is approximately 2000 sq. ft. with a floor plan that can facilitate a preparation area, dipping area, spray booth and finishing area.
How difficult is it to learn the process?
14-hours of training is conducted and historically it takes an additional period of two to three weeks to fine-tune the production line.
How is the film supplied?
Most film comes in three different widths. (50 cm wide X 150 or 600 meters long) (60 cm wide X 125 or 500 meters long) (100 cm wide X 250 meters long) You can also order all film by the meter.
What are all the components needed to successfully produce a decorated item?
The essential components are: a. The ink film with selected design/pattern b. Patented activator c. A hand sanding device d. A spray gun and air compressor e. Primer, the selected base coat paint, and clear acrylic paint f. The specifically designed water transfer printing system g. A device or fixture to hold the item while it is being dipped h. A constant water supply, drainage system, and an aerated room
What types of items can be printed?
A wide variety of flat or 3-D shapes and manufacturing materials (plastics, metals, etc.) can be printed.
How long does the process take from start to finish?
It all depends on the complexity of the item being printed. For example, a dashboard for a pick-up truck can take approximately 15 minutes in total hands-on time (this does not include unattended time e.g. drying) to complete.