One of the most popular products that we sell is our DIY camo dip kits (www.camodipkit.com). Customers have found tons of uses for this application (hydrographics) including camo dipping gun parts, deer skulls, car parts, hunting gear, home decor, and much more. We have designed the dip kits to be very user friendly and something that a beginner can pick up quickly.
If you are interested in trying some camo dipping at home, we have included the basic instructions below so you can get an idea on what is involved...
DIY Camo Dip Kits from www.CamoDipKit.com
Important Information for Film Storage
Keep your hydrographic Film in a cool and dry place. Too high of humidity can cause the film to roll back on itself. If you believe the film has been exposed to high humidity, unroll the amount of film for your project then (tape the film on two sides or all four sides so it doesn’t roll back use your discretion) using 1.5”-2”Inch Tape or place a high wattage light above it or you can use a blow dryer at a distance of about 2 feet using a back and forth motion, this should remove any excess moisture in the film. We prefer to use the 1.5” tape around the film to help keep the corners from rolling back while placing the film in the water.
Step One: Choosing the right size Dipping container.
A typical container would be a tote which can be purchased from your local big box store. An 18 gallon plastic tote will work for most small to medium items. For gun stocks and guitars we recommend a larger size such as a 50-55 gallon Tote container. Check the containers for holes and any large stress points before purchase. It is important that your container is deep enough to completely submerge the item during the dipping process. Please make sure there is ample space between the sides so that you can move the item freely so there is no contact with the part touching the container. Also please consider water displacement to insure that water does not spill over during the dipping process. Please protect the surrounding area from damage due to water displacement or container leakage.
Step Two: Preparation of your part.
We recommend that you try the Hydrographic dipping process on some smaller items before diving into it with your most expensive items. This will allow you to understand the process. Light switch covers work good for testing. First thing to do is make sure that the item you are looking to dip can be submerged into water for at least 10 seconds. DO NOT dip any electrical parts or items that can’t be completely submerged into water for 10 seconds. DO NOT dip any items that absorb water. After determining you can hydro dip your part the next step is to clean your part using a degreaser. We use a well-known dish soap to degrease our parts. We also use an automotive wax and grease remover or Rubbing alcohol on different materials. After cleaning your part Use the included scuff pad/sandpaper to scuff the surface so that it has a dulled and non-glossy finish. We recommend that you re-clean the part once again prior to painting using the method you used the first time. After your part has been re-cleaned Use the included Tack Cloth to wipe off any dust or debris. You can now paint your part if your part does not require taping.
Step Three: Taping your Part
For Any area that you do not want dipped, you will need to tape that area off. Where ever you apply the tape that area will not receive the paint or print. It is a good idea to tape, for instance on a pistol or firearm the inside areas of the part where the trigger mechanism goes as these are high tolerance areas. On items such as a light switch cover you shouldn’t need to tape anything. Use your discretion to determine what’s best for your project.
Step Four: Painting Your Part
For best results your aerosol cans should be warmed prior to use. You can allow the cans to be placed inside your home at Room Temp or you can also facilitate the heating process by placing the can in warm water for 15-20 minutes before use. This will help with atomization. Using the included Base color. Shake the can vigorously for one minute after the mixing ball begins to rattle. If mixing ball fails to rattle DO NOT STRIKE CAN. Shake often during use. Try to hold can upright or no more than a 45 degree angle 10-16” from surface and spray in a steady back and forth motion, slightly overlapping each stroke. Keep the can the same distance from the surface. Keep the can in motion while spraying. First Coat should be a light coat, wait 2-5 minutes then apply two or more medium wet coats a few minutes apart to avoid drips and runs. The painted surface should look somewhat smooth. Dry times are based on 70ºF and 50% relative humidity. Allow more time at cooler temperatures. Dries to touch in 20 minutes, to handle in 1 hour. Items should be dipped within 3-8 hours after paint application. This is a general guide as temperatures vary. The paint needs to soften up slightly while the pattern adheres. This is why you should dip your part in this time window. To long of a wait can cause the pattern not to adhere to the part. If To short it can cause The paint and pattern to smear.
Step Five: Hydrographic Film Preparation
Warning: Keep water away from your film. All water transfer printing film is water soluble and should be kept dry and away from high humidity environments. If the hydrographic film gets wet prior to dipping, the film will not process properly.
Once the size of your part has been determined, measure the amount of film you will need for your project. It is best to take your part and place it on top of your film to measure the area. Make sure to use a clean and dry surface. Be sure to take into account for curves, roundness, 3-dimensional shapes, and angles. Use additional film if in doubt.
Using ½” or ¾” inch masking tape, outline your film based on the measurements with tape. Once you have taped completely around your measurement, cut the outside of the masking tape perimeter so the tape retains the film as the tape and the film will be placed on the water. Make diagonal cuts on all corners as well as half way between the corners. These cuts will allow the film to expand slightly. The film will expand after the Activator is applied. The film will actually expand to the border of your container. If you have a large amount of open space in your container the film can and will expand to the point of ruining the pattern. So beware of this and remedy the situation before placing the Film on the water. There are a couple ways to remedy this situation. Use enough film to cover the open area so that the film can only expand ¾” – 1” on all four sides of the film or you can also Use a tape border by placing tape on the water
To contain your film also while leaving enough space to expand ¾”-1”.
Step Six: Dipping preparation
Fill your dipping container with water. The temperature of your water should be approximately 75-90 degrees Fahrenheit. The film needs to be placed on the water a certain way. To test which side lays face down on the water you can wet your index finger and your thumb. The side of the Hydrographic film that sticks the most is placed facing down. Another method to test which side goes down is to spray some of the activator onto a cloth and wipe a small piece in the corner of the film. The side that the pattern rubs off of is the side that will go up. Prior to dipping you can lightly wipe any dust and or debris from the part. Lightly wiping with the included tack cloth will help remove any dust.
Step Seven: Ready to Dip
Place your prepared film On top of the water in a floating manner with the proper side down. It is very important that you place the film on TOP of the water, and do not submerge any part of the film under the water at this time. The best way to place the film on the water is by grabbing two opposite side corners and placing the film in a sling type position. This will allow you to slowly place the film on the water with the center of the film touching down in the water first. Slowly placing the hydrographic film on the water in this manner will help reduce air bubbles. If you do see air bubbles under the film you can gently push them to the edge of the film with your finger. Another method is to blow them to the edge.
Let the film float on the water for about 50-70 seconds to allow the film to hydrate. This time period will depend on your water temp. Typically films will appear to shrink up slightly this is normal. If you notice any large areas that are bunched you can gently manipulate that area with a finger.
Spray a nice even coat of ACTIVATOR about 10” above the film. Spray with a slight overlap roughly 1/8” or less. Typically one complete pass is enough to activate the film with our Activator. Some films may require 2 passes. Passes should be side to side not up and down. Once the activator has been applied, you will notice that the film will expand and then stop when it reaches the edge of your border. When the film is completely activated, the film will typically have a glassy look. This should occur roughly 10-20 seconds after your last pass.
While dipping do not hold any area on your part that needs to be dipped. The Film Pattern will not reach any area that is covered by any part of your hand or gloves. There are several ways to avoid this, you can make tape handles in a place that will not be dipped, Stiff metal wiring, pvc piping to name a few creative ways of making an item easier to dip. You need to take into account any buoyancy your item may have when determining the method to hold and dip your item..
As you dip your part, slowly submerge it at a 30-45 degree angle to avoid air pockets. Try to keep your part at the same angle as you submerge it. Some parts may call for different techniques of dipping. (If you need advice on dipping an item you can check out www.Youtube.com for videos on Hydrographics Dipping. You can also get in touch with us through email, or phone.) Once the project is completely submerged, slowly shake the part in a circular pattern to disperse the excess film in the dipping container. Remove your part from the water.
After dipping your part it should be washed with semi warm to slightly cold water until the part is free of any slippery/slimy residue. Using a shower head type spray handle with medium pressure works best. Continue the rinse for approximately 3-5 minutes. Lightly touch an area that will not be seen to test the feel. Failure to rinse completely will cause film and paint issues. After you’re through rising let the part dry completely before proceeding to the next step.
Step Eight: Touch up
No matter how good you are at Hydro Dipping, you will often find small areas of imperfection. Sometimes you may see little holes in the pattern once you have dipped. Don’t worry, these can easily be fixed.
Take the included paint brush and a small holding container. You can spray some activator into the can overcap, Using a small piece of scrap film Dip the brush into the activator and touch an area of the film that best matches the color of the area that has the imperfection. Apply the film Ink to the area and you will see how easy the imperfections disappear. After your touch up is complete. Wait for the part to dry completely before proceeding to the next step.
Step Nine: Clear Coat
With your project completely dry, prepare a dust-free area where you can apply your clear coat. When applying your clear coat your first coat should be a light dusting wait 10 minutes then spray another light coat wait another 10 minutes then apply 1-2 medium wet coats. Waiting 8-10 minutes between coats. You can apply as many coats of clear as you like. Just let each coat dry prior to each additional application. If your kit contains Matte Clear Please note that too many coats can cause your part to have a gloss look so Use your discretion. Once you are done clear coating, let the item cure prior to use. After 1-2 hours you can move the part to another area for curing if so desired. Be careful not to apply to much pressure to the part as it will still smudge and show fingerprints. The Clear coat can take several days to fully harden. If this is a heavy use item then we suggest waiting 10 days prior to using the part. Don’t rush this process or you will see finger smudges on your project.