Ways to Achieve Effects Like Carbon Fibre Without Buying the Real Thing!

Carbon fibre is a very strong reinforced material, which despite its strength, remains extremely light. It has become a staple in high-end car manufacturing, both for chassis’, exterior panels and interior trim. While exposed carbon fibre looks striking and is highly desirable by some, its cost tends to prohibit some from owning cars where it is used and is visible.

However, a process has been developed which provides a more affordable way for customers to achieve the same look as exposed carbon fibre. Water transfer printing, otherwise known as hydrographics or immersion printing, allows you to print designs onto three-dimensional surfaces.

There are several benefits to using hydrographics, and possibly the most significant benefit is the range of items which can be used. Anything made out of metal, plastic, glass, hardwoods and a variety of other materials can be wrapped in a new design. As long as the item can be dipped in water, for the most part, it can be used.

The process itself is surprisingly simple but effective. The part which is being covered in the new graphic has to go through several stages as if it were being painted in a traditional way. The item will have its surface prepared and primed and then it will receive a coating of paint. It’s at this point there the item is submerged in water, which is covered in a polyvinyl alcohol hydrographic film, with the graphic to be transferred. Once the item is dipped into the water, it’s the surface tension of the water which allows the graphic to be pulled around the item and cover it.

While carbon fibre is one of, if not the most popular option for hydrographics, there is an endless array of options which can be printed. For car enthusiasts, there is a range of parts which can have hydrographics transferred onto them and look really effective. From smaller items, such as wing mirrors or engine components, up to larger ones such as wheels, dashboard or even panels or wings.

Hyrographics can also be used on parts for aircrafts, bikes, motorbikes and scooters. In recent years hydrographics have also been used to coat items such as shoes. The graphics can also vary, with camouflage, wood effects and other metal effects also popular options. Once anything has gone through water transfer printing process, they are finished with a clear coat to maintain the print.

This article was written in collaboration with Stovrite, who are experts in powder coating and other painting systems, including water transfer printing. 

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