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Customize P80 Build with Hydrodip Update Jul 2021

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.

✅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 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.

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:

Activator: Film:

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.

Three wood graphics printed on 1 film paper for practice test. Put tape on then cut into 3 sections.

3. Peel the film off the backing. Important- Take note of which side is up (printed side) and which side the backing was on (shiny side). Peel the film in a backwards motion. Do not pull straight up. Liquid Concepts how to video ⬅️ fast forward to about 1/2 way to watch how it's peeled.

Have a container deep enough to dip the item without hitting the bottom & wide enough to swish it around afterward. Fill with warm/hot water about 90°F. When laying the film on the water, be sure that you are laying the correct (shiny) side of the film facing down. Float the film, if you get water on top the film will melt.

Watch a few You tube videos of laying film on water. There are several techniques to choose from. Whether you start at one end or drape from the middle, lay your film in a manner as not to trap air bubbles under the film. Check for air bubbles. After you lay the film on the water look for air bubbles trapped under the film. An air bubble will leave a spot after dipping. If you find an air bubble, gently blow on it to make it move off to the side. If they get trapped near the tape you may need to gently lift the tape to get it out. Some air bubbles get stubborn and you may need to gently poke/press on it to get it to move. You can watch how to remove air bubbles on you tube. Let your film set about 1 minute.

See a DIY film of laying on water, wrinkle then smooth out Video⬅️

Activator is a chemical that is used in the dipping process that makes it all possible. This chemical is applied to the film after the film has finished hydrating. When the activator is applied, it makes the film dissolve and liquefies the ink /fixer . Under and over activating are two of the leading causes in problems with hydro dipping.

Not all activators are the same. Use a good quality brand activator. I linked 3 for you below Caution: Wear respirator. Use in fresh air or well ventilated area. This is toxic !

When the wrinkles on the film smooth out (about 1 min) spray the activator. You are not applying a layer of paint, you just need enough activator (with a fine mist, fan pattern spray) to cover the film lightly. You will see the film melt and get very glossy.

The film has smoothed out and activator applied, you're ready to dip. Slowly lower (dip) into the film. As the item is being lowered into the water the film/design is pressed to all angles. The film adheres to the surface of the base coat as a result of a chemical reaction between the activator and base coat. The activator softens the outer layer of the base coat which causes the design to bond with the base coat on the item rather than just being another layer over the base coat.

Slowly lower the item onto the film at about a 30-45° angle. It's the same technique used on my short flag dip video above.

Common dipping mistake when 1st practicing is tiny air bubbles.

Keep at it, you'll get it.

Three videos of different dipping techniques to practice with:

After your are done dipping, you will notice that the dipped item has a slimy residue all over it. Let the item set about 1-2 min to allow ink jet film to “etch” into the base coat. The residue needs to be rinsed off. Many different ways to rinse: shower head, garden hoses, sink, use a soft water flow. When rinsing, you can help speed things up by gently rubbing item while rinsing to help loosen the residue. Don't rub to hard or you the design will rub off. I do not recommend rubbing it’s very easy to damage the film at this point. If you must rub, avoid stippling, areas that are proud or sharp. Just let a soft shower rinse the PVA off. Takes about 5-10 minutes. You will know when you are done rinsing as the item will start to have a dry feel to it and all the slimy residue will be gone. Let the item thoroughly dry & cure after rinsing, I suggest over night before doing touch-up or repairs.

Use the same rinse technique as in flag dip video above.

Caution: Again, when rinsing only rub gently on smooth surfaces. Do not rub stippled areas as it will remove the film.

Touch-up and Repair- Common to have a repairs to do. There maybe an air bubble or the dip angle was flat or off. This will result in spots, large area not covered or lines not meeting up.

These areas can be repaired.

Clear Coat: This is it. The final process.

Clear coat protects your design, gives it longevity and the end product look. Use the finish of your choice gloss, semi gloss or matte. Your dip is as durable as the paints and clears you choose to use. If you use automotive grade paint, then your graphics will be as long lasting and beautiful as the paint on a new car. I like to use lacquer or automotive (oil based).

For the most durable finish I can recommend:

Our practice for the first time. About 10-15 dips over a week. Beginning was a disaster. Film came off, rinse to aggressive / too soon, spots from air pockets... then BAM, one day the practice started lookin good.

Practice on wood Half is dipped Completed 1st project

Second dip is my strike frame & slide in a Champagne Pink Base coat

Film Completed G23 .40 S/W

Couple of my fav how-to play lists to help make a great dip & get you excited about customizing today.

Weekly Tips & Tricks by Liquid Concepts

A.T.F. Hydrographics Series- just the tip. How to's for home dippers

PDF instructions to download & take home

Customize hydrodip DIY
Download PDF • 4.89MB

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