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Old 26th October 2016, 13:16   #1
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Default Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)

When I saw this video on YouTube 5 years back, it blew my mind!

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What on earth is this magic ?!!!
It's a printing technique called hydrographics (aka water transfer printing / cubic printing).

Ever wondered how the plastic trim on car dashboards & door-pads have a faux wood or carbon-fibre look? This is how!

Any pattern or graphic can be printed onto a 3D object...

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Why am I sharing this now?
The technology was invented 40 years ago, and has already been in India for 8 years (only for large-scale manufacturers).

BUT... this is the first time its being made accessible to individual Do-It-Yourselfers, right here in Mumbai!

The people making it possible:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-a6300472-copy.jpg

Covered in this thread
Post 2 - Samples of work
Post 3 - The printing process
Post 4 - Contact details & pricing
Post 5 - Additional videos

Last edited by Rehaan : 26th October 2016 at 16:35.
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Old 26th October 2016, 13:16   #2
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Samples of Printing done by them:

A Word of (#aesthetic) Caution:

There were a lot of pictures showcasing the wide range of patterns available, but I've removed most of the ones that I think BHPians wouldn't have had the palette for. I've left a few teasers in there though!

Alloy Wheels:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-20160817_112120.jpg

Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-alloys.jpg

Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-car-alloy-before.jpg

Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-unnamed.jpg

Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-01-a6300473.jpg

Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-v-skoda-alloy-wheel-1.jpg

Wheel Caps:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-w13-img20160708wa0001.jpg

Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-w-vw-wheel-cap-1.jpg

Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-wfb_img_1464883340460-1.jpg

Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-wheel-cap.jpg

Car Parts:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-e-200-interior-copy-copy.jpg

Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-carinteriorwoodenfinish.jpg

Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-carfoglight.jpg

Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-fb_img_1462996306800.jpg

Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-show-grill-car.jpg

Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-06-a6300477.jpg

Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-wimg20160805wa0028.jpg

Motorbikes:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-1thunderbird-500-3.jpg

Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-2ns-200.jpg

Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-3thunderbird-500-tank.jpg

Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-4ns-200-new.jpg

Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-5mud-guard.jpg

Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-wimg20160930wa0016.jpg

Non-Automotive Stuff:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-guitar2.jpg

Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-img20160930wa0018.jpg

Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-img20160930wa0023.jpg

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Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-img_4289.jpg

Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-img_4044.jpg

Last edited by Rehaan : 26th October 2016 at 13:18.
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Old 26th October 2016, 13:16   #3
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Experiencing the Printing Process:

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A Quick Overview of the Steps:

1) Priming (The object is painted the desired base colour)
2) 'All Substrate Base' is applied (Essential to having the film adhere to the object)
3) Film is placed on the water & a chemical activator is sprayed on it
4) The object is dipped into the printed film (shown above)
5) Slimey coating is washed off
6) The object is left to dry
7) Clear-coat is sprayed on, giving the object the final glossy or matte finish


The printing space consists of two dipping tanks, a washing tank & a spray booth. On the right you can see the rolls of films and a chemical rack:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-a6300486.jpg

We'll be printing this carbon fibre pattern today:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-a6300502.jpg

The film is rather thin, and has a plasticy feel to it. Parts of it can be transparent, which shows the base colour below the print:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-a6300504.jpg

When put in the water, the edges tend to crinkle up - as illustrated. Masking tape is applied to the edges to prevent this:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-a6300506.jpg

The 'speedshape' we're using has already been painted in a white colour, and the "all substrate base" has been sprayed on. The film is cut to an appropriate size:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-a6300508.jpg

The movable dams are set up so that the smaller piece of film doesn't float around the whole tank:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-a6300510.jpg

The film is gently placed on the water's surface:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-a6300518.jpg

Air bubbles between the film and the water can be blown out:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-a6300522.jpg

If water gets on top of the film, it starts to disintegrate like this:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-a6300521.jpg

A strip of masking tape is applied across both dams to prevent the film from moving around. Notice how wrinkly the film still is:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-a6300527.jpg

An activator is sprayed onto the film to start a chemical process:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-a6300531.jpg

Look now! The wrinkly film has become as smooth as glass:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-a6300532.jpg

Slowly dip your object, first moving straight down for a bit, and then forwards and down:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-a6300537.jpg

Pull it out, and viola!
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-a6300546.jpg

At this stage, it is very sticky to the touch:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-a6300551.jpg

A quick wash with clean water removes the stickyness. Note that h2ographix recycles all their water, with fresh water being put in only every few weeks:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-a6300556.jpg

Oops, a little carelessness resulted in this scratch. The printed object is touchable, but still not protected by the layers of clearcoat that are yet to come:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-a6300560.jpg

Did I mention that I got a chance to do it myself too?
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-a6300572.jpg

Carbon-fibre gloves are a pretty cool by-product of the process:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-a6300579.jpg

After the piece is washed and given some time to dry, 3-5 layers of clear-coat are sprayed on:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-a6300647.jpg

Clear-coat can either be matte or glossy. This is matte, though it looks glossy because it's still wet:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-a6300652.jpg

And here we go, after the clear-coat has dried, you're left with a sexy matte carbon-fibre finish:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-a6300657.jpg

Last edited by Rehaan : 26th October 2016 at 13:18.
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Old 26th October 2016, 13:16   #4
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Services Offered:
• One-off and small-batch hydrographic printing jobs
• You can design your own artwork and have them print it on your choice of item
• Training sessions for improving your water printing skills (Rs. 11,000)
• Consulting, in case you want to set up your own hydrographics business

Specialty / USP:
• Deep experience and understanding of the process, with years of experience in the field.
• They love R&D, and welcome challenging one-off printing projects.

Products Sold:
In addition to the services, and sales of the chemicals required, they also sell a "DIY Kit" for those who want to try this at home.
The kit includes 3 primed & coated speedshapes, gloves, hydrographic film, and all the chemicals required, including your choice of matte or glossy clear-coat.
The only down-side is that if you plan to dip your own item, you'll need a pressurized spray gun for applying the all-substrate base, which is a required step.
The kit costs Rs. 4,000.
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-start-up-kit.png

What I've been to them for:
So far, a tour of their brand new Mumbai facility, as well as having small parts printed for demo purposes.

Max Tank Size:
7 x 2.5 x 3.5 feet
The dimensions of the tank limits the size of the object you can get one continuous print on, though there are work-arounds.

Pricing:
Alloys:
13-16" - Rs. 2,500 / alloy
17-21" - Rs. 3,000 / alloy
Wheel caps - Rs. 800-1000 each (cheaper since there's less printable area, being more 2D)

Pricing includes sanding, priming, printing & clear coat.

Customized artwork / patterns can be printed as well. You need to provide the high-res artwork.
The cost for custom artwork is Rs. 10 per square inch. Calculated as length x breadth of item to be printed.

Contact Details:
Aakash Sheth
+91 88660 82146

Avinash Jhaveri
+91 98207 46047

http://h2ographix.in

H2O Graphix
2nd floor, Kanta Kunj,
Above fitness gym / opposite the Yamaha bike showroom
Teli Gali, Andheri East,
Mumbai

Google Maps Link

Design Patterns Available:
All Available Patterns - H2O Graphix Catalogue.pdf

Some Pattern Samples:
The wood patterns look incredibly real:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-01-a6300655.jpg

Here you can see the difference between a matte finish and a gloss finish:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-02-a6300654.jpg

Graphical patterns are available too:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-05-a6300659.jpg

Photo-realistic images can be printed as well, though obviously they'll warp a bit when put on the shape:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-06-a6300660.jpg

The specularity of the glossy clear-coat and the shape of this piece made it look just like a piece of marble:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-07-a6300661.jpg

And what we've been waiting for... the Carbon-fibre patterns:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-10-a6300665.jpg

Once again, a glossy vs matte comparison:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-11-a6300666.jpg

This is interesting! It's the same print on both, though the piece on the left was painted grey before printing, while the one on the right was white:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-12-a6300469.jpg

A close up of one of the CF pattern:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-13-a6300670.jpg

Looks pretty neat:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-14-a6300672.jpg

Here are some custom developed patterns that the guys at H2OGraphix are only willing to apply on Royal Enfield and Harley Davidson bikes:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-16-a6300663.jpg

I liked this digital-camo look the best:
Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-17-a6300664.jpg

Last edited by Rehaan : 26th October 2016 at 16:31. Reason: Alloy pricing updated
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Old 26th October 2016, 13:16   #5
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Interesting videos from H2OGraphix's YouTube channel:








Last edited by Rehaan : 26th October 2016 at 13:22.
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Old 26th October 2016, 19:35   #6
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Default re: Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)

This is great, I was also wowed by this technique when I saw a video of it.
BTW I was more interested after seeing a familiar face in the photos. Avinash is a classmate of mine from school. Next time you see him tell him Nirant from Maneckji says Hi.
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Old 27th October 2016, 09:02   #7
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Default re: Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)

Great thread and looks like a very professional setup.

I think Nippon Toyota (one of the biggest dealers here) does hydrographic printing for alloys here. And they are open to other brands too, not just Toyota.

They quoted INR 12500 for 4 wheels (15") of the Fiesta. But I didn't take it forward as the carbon fibre finish they have is a bit too loud. Was a bit too sharp with a higher contrast for my liking. But the finish looked good.

Last edited by deetjohn : 27th October 2016 at 09:03. Reason: Adding text.
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Old 27th October 2016, 11:35   #8
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Default Re: Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)

WOW! That's incredible. I never knew this and this is great information to know. Thank you. How resistant is this type of printing? As we all know, wheels are constantly in harsh environments and exposed to elements of the environment. Will this printing technique withstand them?
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Old 27th October 2016, 14:42   #9
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Default Re: Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)

Quote:
Originally Posted by deetjohn View Post
I think Nippon Toyota (one of the biggest dealers here) does hydrographic printing for alloys here. And they are open to other brands too, not just Toyota.
Oh that's interesting! I bet there's a pretty big market there for dipped alloys, given the flair for modifications in KL.

Quote:
Originally Posted by deetjohn View Post
I didn't take it forward as the carbon fibre finish they have is a bit too loud. Was a bit too sharp with a higher contrast for my liking.
It's amazing how much a different under-base colour can change the look of a film. After all, the typical carbon-fibre print film has a lot of transparent patches.

As shown above, see the difference between a dark grey under-base and a white one. The film used on both is the same (though the clear-coat is different):


Quote:
Originally Posted by sudeepg View Post
How resistant is this type of printing? As we all know, wheels are constantly in harsh environments and exposed to elements of the environment. Will this printing technique withstand them?
Yes. The printing itself adheres to the material, but it's the Polyurethane (PU) top-coat that provides an incredibly tough clear coat over it. I'm told it's just as durable as automotive paint + clearcoat.

Last edited by Rehaan : 27th October 2016 at 14:46.
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Old 27th October 2016, 19:17   #10
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Default Re: Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)

Just discovered that Priya Hydrographics does the same in Chennai, too

https://priyahydrographics.blogspot.in

I guess its time for my badly scuffed alloys to get a new look!
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Old 29th October 2016, 16:13   #11
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Default Re: Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)

Very Nice!. How about the durability of the process?
Have any one personally used this? How does it cope with the brake dust and other crap from the road.?
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Old 1st November 2016, 10:01   #12
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Default Re: Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)

Wow! This is so cool! Remember seeing this on Discovery Science.

By the way, I was browsing through one of the Facebook groups and I found this:

Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)-hydrographics_printing.png
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Old 1st November 2016, 12:51   #13
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Default Re: Hydrographic Printing for Alloy Wheels & Parts : H2O Graphix (Mumbai)

Quote:
Originally Posted by marsbhp View Post
Just discovered that Priya Hydrographics does the same in Chennai, too
Nice find... though I have the feeling they have put their own watermark on other peoples' (international) pictures!

Quote:
Originally Posted by autodoctor View Post
Have any one personally used this? How does it cope with the brake dust and other crap from the road.?
See my last response. Shouldn't be an issue...
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Old 1st November 2016, 13:33   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rehaan View Post
Yes. The printing itself adheres to the material, but it's the Polyurethane (PU) top-coat that provides an incredibly tough clear coat over it. I'm told it's just as durable as automotive paint + clearcoat.

It is very durable and quite resistant to scratch too. I had got it done on a few parts of my Ritz (Carbon Fibre Sheets / Self Adhesive Sheets / Stickers) a few years ago and I must say that till the time I sold the car, these showed no signs of fading or peeling or scratches.

Of late, I've been seeing a lot of car dealerships using this process on display cars to jazz them up. Faux wood and carbon fibre treatments seem to be the hot favorites.
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Old 1st November 2016, 16:55   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marsbhp View Post
Just discovered that Priya Hydrographics does the same in Chennai, too
Got the contact from Just dial. A gent in a lazy voice attended.

It costs Rs. 2500 per wheel and will take 2 days it seems. Also he asked to bring the wheels as its not possible to unmount the tyres in the facility.

Now that's a downer

As of now its not a feasible option in Chennai, atleast for people not in the vicinity of Adambakkam area

Giving the address for those who might want to try

No :5, Shanthi Nagar, Adambakkam,
Chennai - 600088, near jayalakshmi theatre
9941266414

http://www.justdial.com/Chennai/Priy...105-Z5D5_BZDET

Last edited by Karthik Chandra : 1st November 2016 at 16:58.
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