Updated: Jul 29
A quick primer-
✅Prep: scuff up/ degrease just like any other paint job
✅Buy activator & film either ready made or print your own (use ink jet printer)
Fractal Camo has hydrographic film for home use. https://www.fractalcamo.com/
✅Tape off areas not to be painted, attach holding stick for dipping & drying
✅Prime / let dry
✅Float your graphic on warm water
✅Dip your part
✅Rinse let dry/ cure
✅Touch up let dry
✅Clear coat for endurance (recommend automotive oil base or a two part auto clear)
Practice 1st, then practice some more.
If you make a huge mistake on your weapon rinse it off right a way in running water using scrub brush on stippled area and green weenie on slide and smooth areas. Get off as much as you can.
Start again: clean well, let dry, prime again.
If you make a second huge mistake......you need more practice. Rinse off right away, start over by removing all coating with acetone and a scrub brush. Degrease, wash, dry, prime.
You can 100% do this.
Completely disassemble your firearm prior to dipping.
How to prep & dip glock 17 9mm Video Woodland Camo
Prep Work: Surface prep is no different than if you were just going to be painting any item. You need to sand/scuff up (if needed), prime it, apply a base coat. This step is imperative to accomplish properly, incorrect surface prep will cause paint failure. Do not cut corners here.
P80 Frame: Use a green weenie (scotch brite) to scuff up only the smooth surfaces you plan to dip. This produces an anchor tooth onto the smooth surface for primer to adhere. Do not scuff stippling. Wash the frame to remove any oils. I use simple green or dish soap and a nail brush to scrub stippled areas. Recommend donning gloves to protect surfaces from transferring hand oil onto surface. Let dry. Tape off areas that will not be painted. Include an attached handle to aide in painting & dipping.
Slide : Scuff up the slide areas to be painted. Where gloves, remove oils with a solvent. Alcohol or acetone works well. Tape off areas that will not be painted, add a handle to ease painting/dipping.
Base Coat: Base/primer coat is a layer of paint that gives the film something to adhere too. It also is the back ground color or secondary color of your design. Most films are intended to work with white or light tan base, but many films may be applied over nearly any color. A film that is designed for white base coat can be applied over another color to completely change the design and make it truly yours.
NOTE: Best to use matt base for good adhesion of the film. The clear coat at the end of the process will give the final finish of glossy, semi gloss or matte as you desire.
Ready to use purchase on line-
Graphics are printed using a special ink on a PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol) film usually with a rotary printer and some small batches on wide format printers using special inks. This film is water soluble and is designed to absorb moisture which allows the film and ink to soften and become more pliable.
I recommend using hydrographic primer with these films. Hardware store off the shelf rustoilum 2x all in one primers don't always work well with film purchased from venders. Try DipWizard available on Amazon or One Hit Wonder (OHW)
Most films are hydrated on 90°F water for 60 seconds. Some films such as Metallic require longer to hydrate, about 90-120 seconds. Set a timer.
When laying the film on the water, be sure to lay the correct side down. Common way to test is wet your finger and thumb, & grab a corner of the film. When you let go of the film, it will either stick your finger or your thumb. Sticky or shiney side goes on the water.
Carefully lay the film starting from one side, lay on the water in a rolling motion so as not to capture air under the film. After laying the film, get close up and look for air bubbles trapped under it. An air bubble will prevent film from hydrating and leave a spot of only your base coat after dipping. If you find air bubbles, gently blow on it to make it move off to the side and out from underneath the film. Some air bubbles get stubborn and you may need to gently poke/press on it to get it to move.
For smaller or more flat items that are being dipped, such as a light switch or phone covers, you can tape off the border of the film to lay on the water and hydrate.
Using tank/tub that allow for barriers can be used. This allows the film to naturally expand/contract as needed when hydrating and dipping. Google for other methods of containing your film. PVC pipe works pretty well as containment. It can modified & made any size to fit your project. Also laying tape in the water to frame the around the film while waiting for 1 minute to pass works great.
Here’s a few links to on line providers I use:
There are many more products, theses are just a few I like. Google search to find your favorites.
Ready made film is very inexpensive, low as $8. You get a large sheet of film with plenty of extra for practice. There are several You Tube videos showing how to use ready made film. Most of the companies ship instructions with the product, some have full kits with all supplies needed.
Here's a short video on how I dip using ready made film from venders
Print your own film at home using a PC & ink jet printer
Graphics are printed using your home inkjet printer on a PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol) film. Blank film is similar to film shipped by ready to use companies. Comes in rolls or cut sheets. You may find film on amazon or google it -search for hydrographic blank film. Amazon was a good source for film at one time. However, am not providing a link as took nearly 3 months to get my last order. Use caution if ordering from amazon...make sure it’s for hydro dip. Water transfer (water slide) is not the same. This path may not be the least expensive but it sure lends itself to personal choice of graphics.
Only USA provider for blank film I have found is- Fractal Camo.
I bought 20 sheets of 8.5x11 with ($10) shipping it’s $65. They also offer 10 sheets of 8.5X11 and rolls.
Ok lets get started...
Prep Work: Follow the recommendations for frame & slide at the top of the article. Here we use white, tan and brown as a base coat.
Slide & Frame Prep-work
Print your graphic: Find a graphic on line, a photo, take a picture, there's no limit to designing your own hydrodip film. If you can print it you can dip it. Recommend following copywrite laws for sports logos etc...
Prep your graphic: After printing let the ink dry. You may find a bit of DIY print information, on line or in directions that comes with film, that states use a “fixer” activator A or fix the print. Fractal Camo sells fixer, however it’s currently out of stock as of 9/24/2020.
1. Ink must be set /sealed before dipping. Can use a variety of fixers to hold the ink: clear poly, lacquer, or even hair spray. I choose matt poly or laqure. Spray a light even coat on your picture. Let dry.
2. Tape all around the graphic. I suggest turning it over and tape over sticky part of tape so it doesn’t cling to fingers when laying on water.
Do not put any tape on the white backing.