Q&A with Hydrographics Industry Professionals

With the rate of exposure of hydrographics and water transfer printing moving at an all-time high, more and more individuals are beginning to not only seek additional information on the process, but also to ask themselves, “Is this something I can do at home? How hard would it be to start a hydrographics business?”

In effort to answer these questions and more, Dip Junkies reached out to several already-established hydrographics service vendors and asked them to answer a brief series of questions about their businesses and the industry as a whole.

  1. Give us an overview of your company and the products and services you have available.
  2. What is your opinion on the current state of the hydrographics industry, and what changes do you hope to see over the next few years?
  3. To what extent does the advent of online social media play in the role of your company marketing operations?
  4. Tell us what you know about the invention/origin of water transfer printing.
  5. Please share any additional comments you might have for us or our readers.

The answers we received from participating vendors are presented below in order of no significance.

Wisconsin Hydrographics

Sheboygan, Wisconsin
wihydro.com

Wisconsin Hydrographics Logo

1. Wisconsin Hydrographics is a full time, fully insured, and certified water transfer printing company with a Federal Firearms License. All of our processors are certified through TWN industries. We service everyone from the commercial, mass production, industry to the custom “one off” customer. Some of our previous, and current clients, include Ferrari, Maserati, Bemis, Mercury Marine, Steady Form, Whitetail Country and Fourwerx Carbon Shop to name a few.

2. Wisconsin Hydrographics opinion of the current industry is that it is very unregulated. Too many people view YouTube as a source for their learning and decide this industry is a “Get Rich Quick” business. This way of thinking could not be further from the truth. It takes years to develop a customer base large enough to support your day to day business operation. In addition, the ATF has recently begun to look into non-FFL holders who are illegally printing firearms without an FFL. The result of being caught without an FFL is seizure of firearms that have been done by non- licensed and fines for the shops that have done the firearm.

Wisconsin Hydrographics would like to see more regulations on the industry as a whole. There is a big difference between doing water transfer printing as a hobby for you and your friends and family and another for someone who is claiming to be a business and taking customers money for an inferior end product.

3. Wisconsin Hydrographics budgets roughly $10,000 per year on Marketing. With the Hydrographics market being so saturated with those who do water transfer printing, it is important to stand out from the crowd. Advertising will be a large part of your success along with your business reputation for quality and customer satisfaction.

4. To the best of our knowledge, Hydrographics origin traces back to the late 80’s or early 90’s in China. The auto industry used it to decorate automobile interior.

5. Our advice is to take your time and learn your craft before making this into a cash job. Learn all you can about paints, films and clear coats. Practice, practice and more practice will make you better. Learn how to read your film on the water and how to negotiate angles. Learning how to paint and clear coat will make your job look like it’s worth something. Lets face it, you can be the best at dipping something but if your final clear coat is not good, your whole job will look terrible.

Hydro Designs

Port Adelaide, South Australia
www.hydrodesigns.com.au

Hydro Designs

1. Our company provides a hydro graphic service in the heart of Pt Adelaide using the very best in automotive paints. We have a number of samples on show at our premises for customers to look over to assist with making their decision. Having used a number of suppliers we have settled on the one that provides the very best product which allows us to provide the best finish possible. We have a website showing a number of photos detailing the work we have done in the past. Gun Stocks, car interiors, alloys, sporting goods, and rocker covers are just a few of the more popular services.

2. I believe the current state of the hydro graphic industry is largely unknown to the masses. Word is getting out there slowly but it has a long way to go before it reaches it’s full potential. The hydro graphic industry is slow getting off the ground in Australia due to the fact that the Australian companies were misleading and selling inferior activators that were ineffective.

3. Social media is one of the main ways our business is promoted for this market plus our website. Hopefully as the industry grows word will spread and we will really see it take off.

4. To be honest I don’t have much background information in regards to the origin/invention of Hydro Graphics.

Voyles Performance and Hydrographics

Marietta, Georgia
voyleshydrographics.com

Voyles Hydrographics Logo

1. Our company is known as Voyles Performance and HydroGraphics. We are owned and operate out of Ed Voyles Honda in Marietta Georgia. We specialize in hydrographics. We started about two years ago, from an idea that our dealers daughter had. We dip anything from Bumpers, interior trim, engine parts, golf carts, ATV’s, you name I think we have dipped it.

2. This is a growing business and a lot harder than it appears on YouTube. In the beginning we tried many of the vendors you can find online. After much trial and error we settled on one provider. Many people have no idea what hydrographics or water transfer printing is. Also they are surprised what you can do for very little money. We have seen our business increase every month. Quality is the most important aspect of the business and we take great pride in every dip we do. Our Honda dealership has been in the business for over 60 years, so we do not take the hydrographic business lightly.

3. Word of mouth and social media drive our business. Our YouTube channel has over 700 followers and over a half million views.

4. Not sure of the origin of water transfer printing. Just viewed maybe a hundred videos before starting.

5. If you what can you dip, it most likely can be!

Fuse Coatings

Maryland Heights, Missouri
www.fusecoatings.com

Fuse Coatings Logo

1. Fuse Coatings is an aftermarket decorator who provides a hydrographics service. We have been servicing companies and individuals for 8 years, focusing on OEM finishing and manufacturing applications.

2. The hydrographics industry in our area is luke-warm. Many local competitors have gone out of business due to the high overhead and low profit margins this process yields. While the process is amazing and useful, it is very expensive. We hope to see reductions in film-costs and easier ways of acquiring film in the coming years.

3. Social media is a great way of showing people what you can do. Most customers need to visualize their exact item in the exact pattern they want before they buy. Sharing your work helps your business go viral, as long as you have a website and quoting process that can keep up.

4. Hydrographic’s origins, like ours, is rooted in manufacturing as a way to apply patterns to objects. The film is produced on massive rotogravure offset printers onto polyvinyl alcohol film. The process is messy, wasteful, and prone to human error. Robotic spray guns and dipping arms help mitigate that cost and ensure a consistent quality.

5. Hydrographics is amazing technology with near limitless potential. As an individual it makes a fantastic hobby and dipping anything that isn’t nailed down is pretty fun. But as a business it has horrible margins and high overhead. The key to our success has been streamlining the process, managing waste, maximizing our cycles, and pushing high volume orders out the door.

First Choice Auto Clinic

Hilliard, Ohio
www.firstchoicehydrographics.com

First Choice Auto Clinic Logo

1. First Choice Auto Clinic has a Master Decorators degree in Water Transfer Printing, also known as hydrographics, immersion printing, and hydrodipping. This special process applies printed designs and patterns to three-dimensional objects made of metal, plastic, glass, hardwood, and other materials. But this isn’t just for hot rods and motorcycles. In addition to fenders, rims, under-the-hood components, and body styling, our customers have customized bicycles, display stands, accessories, helmets, rifles, pistols, and paintball masks. We have over 200 ready-to-apply patterns available, from camo prints to flaming skulls! Or are you looking for an ultra-hard painted finish for metals? Our powder coating technology applies a durable, vibrant color finish that’s much harder than conventional paint, chemical-resistant, and a great choice for protecting your car’s chassis. For more information about our hydrographics and powder coating services, check out the samples below or visit firstchoicehydrographics.com.

2. The hydrographics industry is growing. More people are interested in using it for a multitude of applications. We would like to see more designs offered from reputable companies.

3. Social Media is key for all companies and their marketing goals. It is the quickest and easiest way to market to a vast segment of our consumers.

4. Hydrographics has been around for decades. It provides a cost effective way to offer multiple prints without requiring a professional airbrushing which is more expensive and less versatile.

Hydro Concepts Australia

Melbourne Australia
www.hydroconcepts.com.au

hydro-concepts-australia

1. Our company Hydro Concepts Australia PTY LTD is an Australian Owned and operated since 2009 with the strongest support and hands on experience in the hydrographins industry, with strong contractual agreements and National Trade Marks supported by professional business partners including our own production factory in Asia. Our Team is able to support the technology around the world throughout our international base offices with the ability to transfer quality products with wealth of international knowledge faster to our local market with the appropriate support needed to our successful business partners and retails customers Australia Wide. Our local agencies and support teams are the largest in Australia with the largest products available supporting the retail and wholesale sector Australia Wide.

2. In Australia the technology has been available for a number of years however, we believe till we came along in 2009 no company was setup to provide end to end solutions with support and training to develop the hydrographics business industry. We have recorded a high number of interest from the general public in the WTP technology solutions with a small number of them wanting to start business professionally in the last two years as the technology is getting introduced. We expect to see many players having a go at this as we have seen it happened in US however, due to the size of the marker in OZ only the best supported business will survive and continue to provide services to the industry as its growing Australia wide. It’s important to note: THIS INDUSTRY IS NOT A QUICK MONEY MAKING “Get Rich Quick” AS SOME PEOPLE ARE BEING TRICKED TO BELIEVE.

The hydrographics raw products are cost effective enough these days however, the quality output produced with the ongoing support and quality product development will be something everyone will require to stay strong in the industry and for those who wish to start in this business without support and market share they may find themselves in a difficult positions as the market is growing with individuals non pro players fighting for a share in the extremely small Australian market.

We are also been alarmed by the number individuals who started business as a hobby for only a few months and have declared themselves authorised trainers and distributors of the product to attract the general public. Our business have worked in a LABs across the world and received training from the leaders in the technology for 2 years before we developed our own Australian chemicals and transferred support and training to the industry.

We hope that as the market grows the public will understand a lot more about the technology and engage the authorised and fully trained professionals registered companies for services.

3. Social media and WEB in general will play an important role for information and development of companies as it’s already parts of our everyday life. Our Company will continue to work and provide the information our customers’ need through our strong media and URL’s we hold.

4. The story of hydrographics is well documented on the internet and I don’t think we have anything more to submit for reference at this stage.

5. Our Hydrographics advice to those who starting off for the first time, is to try the technology process as per the products supplier or manufacturer and take your time to learn and develop your water transfer printing skills before turn this technology into a business. Our Hydro dip kits are available from our on-line store are perfect to get you started with full support. (NO SPRAY CANS FOUND HERE).

An important element is also to focus on your environment you work with and choice of professional tools you choose as all that can play a big difference to your results. After all this is a chemical reaction process and you need to be in control in every step of the way. Our Technical teams can assist you along the way to achieve the skill you need.

Learn all you can about quality paints systems available and how they react with Hydrographics products like films and chemicals. Learn how to read and understand your films before and during placing in the water and how to negotiate angles against the 3D shape you are working with to cover the object with minimum starching to achieve realising results.

Learn to develop your water transfer printing skills how to mix and apply paints including different types of clear coats which will help you sealing the job and providing the lasting quality refinishing your project’s needs.

The key to hydrographics success is to work with a supplier you trust in their skills and experience in the industry, have hands on experience and develop the product for you, also who are able to provide you and your business with the correct and direct assistance every time you need it.

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