All About Hydro Printing


Please find some links and notes from the 2 Regular Guys Podcast. The 2 Regular Guys are all about decorating and when a listener asked us about Hydro Printing, we were stumped. We searched for an expert to bring you details about this unique and useful process and are lucky enough to have Shannon Kroell, the President of Liquid Print Inc. joining us. She is going to give us the 101 Hydro Printing course and follow that up with more details about what you need to get into this type of decoration.

Sponsored by: Equipment Zone and Siser N.A.

Our regular listeners know this, but 2 Regular Guys are all about garment decorating, a bit of fun, and no rants or lectures or selling. We are not doing this for our employers, but rather for our industry. Since February 2013, The 2 Regular Guys have been the first and the most listened to garment decorating industry podcast on this planet! We are humbled by all of you tuning in each week. We work hard to bring you information that will make your business better, and our industry better. Take a look at our incredible weekly guest list and you’ll understand where this industry goes for news, interviews and the heartbeat of garment decorating. Thanks for listening!

News and Notes

  • Amazon Wins Patent for On-Demand Apparel Manufacturing System – Last week, the Seattle-based e-commerce firm earned a patent for an on-demand manufacturing system that would create apparel – and potentially other products, too – after an order has been placed. According to the patent, the computerized system could capture orders from anywhere on the planet and then swiftly develop the most efficient plan for producing and providing the clothing. Factors that could go into determining the most efficient means of fulfillment could include geographic location, fabric type, assembly process and more.
  • Gildan Director Patrik Frisk Named President and COO of Under Armour – Gildan Activewear announces the resignation of director Patrik Frisk. Frisk was named to the company’s board of directors in early May 2017. With his resignation, Frisk takes the helm as president and chief operating officer (COO) of Under Armour. As COO, he reports to chairman and CEO Kevin Plank. Frisk’s responsibilities as COO of Under Armour include developing market strategy and executing a long-term growth plan for the corporation.


All About Hydro Printing

Hydro PrintingTerry: Start by just giving us the 101 version of the hydro printing process. We know nothing…

The basic explanation of the process is transferring an image like transferring a decal onto an item where the only thing that transfers is the image itself. A decal has a carrier that accompanies the image wherein the water transfer imaging industry the carrier melts. The process was developed to be able to print on a three-dimensional object.

Hydro Printing 101:

  1. Place PVA film with an image printed on it in water roughly 90 degrees ink side up.
  2. Let film hydrate for approximately 60 seconds.
  3. After 60 seconds spray a solvent called activator over the top of the film.
  4. Allow the film to wet out or melt approximately 10 to 15 seconds.
  5. Push desired item into the melted film image using the water as the mold to flow the image around the object being printed.
  6. Remove part from printing area and place into a rinse system until all excess PVA melted carrier is dissolved.  

Aaron: Any idea how long this Hydro Printing technology has been around?

We learned the process when consulting in Japan. The story goes that a company in Japan invented the process in the mid-seventies which at that time and still now is called Cubic printing. We were told it was a spin-off from an old Japanese process from the fifties that used rice paper to create the effect.

Terry: What types of companies are currently using the Hydro Printing process?

The process is and has been used worldwide for some time now. The industry operates under numerous titles. Cubic Printing, Water Transfer Imaging, Water Transfer Printing and Hydrographics to name a few.

  • Hunting industry is saturated in the process from guns, archery, knives, ATVs and any related items. 
  • Aviation industry on interior components on private jets.
  • Automotive industry on any and all factory dash trims components you see in wood grain or carbon fiber and so on.
  • Household industry images on hair dryers, blenders and the images you have seen on all the stainless cups on the market.
  • This is just to name a few, basically just about any item that can safely be submerged into water can be decorated.

Aaron: What do I need to get started with Hydro Printing?

  1. Dipping system or apparatus that can heat water and maintain the temperature.  
  2. A rinsing system or apparatus that can spray water consistently.
  3. Spray booth or similar system.
  4. Base coat, primer coat, and top coat paints.
  5. Printed PVA film.
  6. Activator
  7. All the assisting equipment to make the previous function correctly. Such as air compressor, airlines, air dryer spray guns and so on.
  8. And real training from real experienced companies that have a true history in the industry if you desire to do the process commercially. If it’s just a hobby then are numerous avenues.

Terry: What should people look out for when they are getting into this. What are the common Hydro Printing mistakes?

Individuals like to move into this industry as a hobby first for the most part. And that is fine we have even developed My Dip Kit and patent it just for that purpose.  But then they decide to jump into it on a larger level doing more difficult items and not really understanding what is all involved and how the system truly works. There is a lot of bad advice given on the internet by individuals who in all reality have not one clue what they are doing. But they put up a site and show and tell the audience what they want to hear and now they are experts.  

Our advice is truly look at who you are dealing with and the history and knowledge they have in the industry. We’re not saying all the information is bad and that all the people who decided to become distributors are bad. We are just saying depending on the direction you wish to go depends on who you deal with.

Aaron: How can I get started with the Hydro Printing decorating technique?

We recommend starting with a DIY My Dip Kit. You will learn the basic system without all the expense needed. And the kit is just that, a kit to have fun with and decorate an item and experience the process.

Terry: We spend some time here on the show talking about finding your true costs and pricing accordingly. What kind of advice would you give folks asking how much to charge for this type of decoration technique?

Good question: This is a labor intensive process to do correctly. So I’m not sure if there is any true answer there. It depends on so many variables, such as are you cutting corners to do a part or are you doing it correctly. Are you using inferior products just to get by or are you offering the best that’s on the market?  Are you operating from a small shop in your backyard or do you have to cover the expense of a commercial building? And the best of all what is your time worth.

But yes, there are some standard guidelines that have been established on costing. But they are constantly changing depending on who can do it cheaper. There is no cheaper unless you’re doing it wrong or you decided to work just to work and there are many people who do that. We produce everything needed in the industry, from printing the film to building the systems to developing the coatings. So we have a little idea of cost.

So the simple answer is look at what it cost you and make a reasonable profit or you won’t be around next year. Now that is advice for a business. For a hobby make a little and have fun because it’s really cool to see the impression on customers faces when they get something completed.

Shannon Kroell She is the President of Liquid Print, which is North America’s leader in Hydrographics equipment, film development, training and wholesale supplies. She has been in the Hydrographics industry for 25+ years and holds the patent for the original DIY hydrographics kit “MYDIPKIT” designed to introduce those interested in the industry to get them started.

Other Events

  • Complete Screen Printing Business Course – Atlas Screen in Chicago – Aug 5-6
  • How to Make Money with Digital Decorating – Mind’s Eye Graphics in Northeast Indiana – Oct 6-7

Digital Decorating Class

Trade Shows

  • IPIC (International Print + Imaging Conference) – Jul 10 – 12
  • ASI Chicago – Jul 12 – 13
  • NBM Long Beach – Jul 20 – 22
  • NBM Secaucus – Aug 17 – 19
  • ISS Orlando – Sep 7 – 9
  • NBM Denver – Sep 8 – 9
  • ISS Ft. Worth – Sep 22 – 24
  • SGIA (Specialty Graphic Imaging Association) – Oct 10 – 12
  • NBM Charlotte – Oct 26 – 28

Terry’s Books

Screen Printing: A Practical Guide to Starting Your Own T-Shirt Business Just $4.95 as an e-book.

Direct to Garment: A Practical Guide to Starting Your Own T-Shirt Business Just $4.95 as an e-book.

Scheduling and Estimating Production Time for Garment Screen Printing Just $2.99 as an e-book

This show is brought to you for a full hour by:

Equipment Zone, with 20 years experience selling garment printing equipment nationwide. Equipment Zone offers the new Epson F2000 SureColor direct-to-garment printer, their own VelociJet-XL DTG printer, and the all new SpeedTreater-TX automatic pretreat machine with a full 16”x24” pretreat area. Equipment Zone also carries a full line of DTG inks and supplies. Go to

Siser North America’s new and improved website! Just recently Siser NA’s website was updated with a ton of new colors, helpful tools, and fun things to read. Head over to and check out for yourself. A new great add-on to the site is the “Cutter Settings”. You will be able to get an idea of how you should have your vinyl cutter set up for each Siser material type. Then find out how each Siser product is applied, with the instructions available right there for you. Have you heard about the EasyPatterns™? There is a whole separate tab that will show all the different printed patterns Siser offers. Then while you’re at it, check out the Siser Blog. Get a great scope of all the “out of the box” ideas you can achieve with Siser HTV!

This show is for the listeners so please make sure to ask us some questions or give us some topics you would like us to discuss. Also, if you have any event or upcoming items related to our industry that you would like us to bring up on the show, please contact us via our Facebook Page. Also, make sure to interact/follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Google +. You can also find information over at our YouTube Page.