Picture of Custom hydrographic design for 3D printing
Last month, Bertier Luyt, (president of le FabShop) discovered the existence of the hydrographic technology, with this viral video on Youtube.

This video showing a man dip coating his hand with a carbon pattern can be quite impressive for someone who never heard of this technique before. Also known as immersion printing, water transfer printing, water transfer imaging, cubic printing, hydro dipping or hydrocoating, is a technology wich has been used by the industrials for decades. 

If you ever saw a hunter gun covered with leaves or a moto helmet with a flame pattern, you've seen the result before. 

Anyways, Bertier was extremely excited by his discovery because he realised that it could be applied to almost any plastic object... wich meant it was perfect for... 3D Printing!

We managed to find a simple DIY hydrographic kit on internet. Our first tests left us speechless. This technique really does feel like magic. Here is a guide to your first image transfer on a 3D printed object.

We invite you to follow the process in our video tutorial.

Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Kit and accessories

Picture of Kit and accessories
This is what you need :

  • Hydrographic film (a few samples should be included in the kit)
  • Activator (usually sold with the kit)
  • Primer (usually sold with the kit)
  • 1 container (deep and wide enough to immerse your object in the water)
  • Protections : gloves, mask (the activator is toxic and corrosive)
  • Scissors and masking tape if you want to mask some parts of your object.
  • Clear coat, in spary. (to protect the graphic and fix it)

Step 2: Print your design

Picture of Print your design
For this tutorial, we selected this very simple, yet beautiful, ballerina shoe from Continuum Fashion

You will want to print with the highest resolution. Here, we used the best resolution on our MakerBot : 0,1 mm of layer tickness. 

If you need support material, try to remove as much as possible. 

This is a great idea! These shoes are adorable.

emily_c1 year ago
The hydrographic printing is similar to water-marbling your nails!

water-marbling my nails?
I'm going to have to see if there is an instructable on that.

I tried waterboarding my nails, but my manicurist said it was an inhumane violation of their rights... You can use the watermarbeling technique in a lot more places than just on nails.

Michael_oz1 year ago

To clarify.

This is using standard hydrographic film to cover a 3D printed object.

Not printing a design to use as the hydrographic patern to cover something else.

rhercher1 year ago

Couldn't find a kit on amazon, but I found company that sells printable films (including standard letter size that will fit an ink jet)

Can't wait to try this once my 3D printer shows up!