Feb.26, 2014

Inspired by a Youtube video demonstrating a man dip coating his hand with a carbon pattern using Hydrographics (see below), also known as water transfer printing or cubic printing, Bertier Luyt, president of French 3D printing company Le Fab Shop, decided to test this technology with plastic object.

"Bertier was extremely excited by his discovery because he realized that it could be applied to almost any plastic object... which meant it was perfect for... 3D Printing!" writes Le Fab Shop.

Hydrographics is a method of applying printed designs to three-dimensional objects. The hydrographic process has been used by manufacturers for decades. Traditional printing methods can not fully print on 3D objects, especially if there are hard to reach areas. The water transfer printing process eliminates these issues by submerging the item into water, covering the whole surface.

According to Wikipedia,

In the process, the substrate piece to be printed is pre-treated and a base coat material is applied. A polyvinyl alcohol film is gravure-printed with the graphic image to be transferred, and is then floated on the surface of a vat of water. An activator chemical is sprayed on the film to dissolve it into a liquid and activate a bonding agent. The piece is then lowered into the vat, through the floating ink layer, which wraps around and adheres to it.


After removing the piece from the water, a top coat is applied to protect the design. With multiple dippings, hydrographics printing can achieve full 360° coverage of the part surface, including small crevices.

Le Fab Shop managed to find a simple DIY hydrographic kit on internet. "Our first tests left us speechless. This technique really does feel like magic." they write. Watch the video for more details, and if you would like to try yourself, follow the guide shared by Le Fab Shop on Instructables.

Posted in Printing Technology


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Alpay Kasal wrote at 3/8/2014 6:24:45 AM:

I have been doing this with my own patterns for a few years now... with my 3d printed graffiti street art. I'm the first graffiti artist to make use of 3d printing and really go bombing... http://twitpic.com/d4fd3n http://twitpic.com/d40kl3 http://twitpic.com/dexk0x http://twitpic.com/d2wxcq

Tom wrote at 2/26/2014 9:16:59 PM:

This is really clever. I can't wait to try this!

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