Hydrographics or HydroGraphics, also known as immersion printing, water transfer printing, water transfer imaging, or cubic printing, is a method of applying printed designs to three-dimensional surfaces. The hydrographic process can be used on metal, plastic, glass, hard woods, and various other materials. Also known as "hydro dipping".
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