Questions about printing own film.

There is some confusion that I'm hoping someone can clear things up.

I talked to one supplier he told me about an activator A and B

Activator A is sprayed on the film after its printed, and then can be stored until your ready to use it and then Activator B is used to dissolve Activator A after the hydration period.

Then this morning I talked to someone else about the process they told me they use a commercial printer and there is no reason to use the two different activators. They only print the film and cut to length. and its ready for hydration then Activator and then dip.


  • WileECoyoteWileECoyote Posts: 6,617Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    Going to move this to an appropriate heading
  • WileECoyoteWileECoyote Posts: 6,617Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    I also think someone is confusing the term "activator". I will let others chime in here, but I think what you are calling what is the problem.

    @studebaker @mountain_mike
  • randywhite30randywhite30 Posts: 66Member
    I talked to Micheal Gross from Blazing Coatings and hes the one that told me about the first way then I talked to Dennis from modzsupertore here is his email

    That's a whole different type of film.

    Ours is commercial grade films printed on real printing presses

    That part a and part b is for people buying blank pva and printing out on home printers. The quality is not very good in this setup.

    Our inks are uv stable and required no lamination after printing. All you do is cut the film to size place in the water and let it soak the hydrate time normally 60 seconds when using 80-90 degree water. After this time we spray activator onto the film surface to turn the inks back to a liquid. You the dip your freshly based coated item into the image to get the transfer

  • randywhite30randywhite30 Posts: 66Member
    Again I'm just trying to gather all the facts before I jump in with both feet.
  • studebakerstudebaker Posts: 3,118Member, Business Ninja ✭✭✭✭✭
    @randywhite30 Dennis, That is true as far as it goes..... When you buy film from a custom printer, the fixative is already applied. No need for "Activator A". But when you print on a desktop printer with pigment ink, it does REQUIRE a fixative (activator A) to hold the ink together while the film is hydrating.
  • randywhite30randywhite30 Posts: 66Member
    Wow perfect thank you for that.
  • randywhite30randywhite30 Posts: 66Member
    @studebaker where are you based out of, and would you allow someone to come and watch the process?
  • studebakerstudebaker Posts: 3,118Member, Business Ninja ✭✭✭✭✭
    @randywhite30 Yes and no..... I am in Anderson SC and I've had a LOT of customer in the shop buying film etc.... But they were NOT here for the express purpose of being a competitor. All they saw was a really large printer... None of the other processes that are involved in making custom film.

    @mountain_mike and @blazingcoatings are the guys to get that kind of information from, they sells the printers and will explain the whole process to make that printer sale!

    Congratulations on following through on the whole print your own film thing! I hope you post pictures some time soon.
  • randywhite30randywhite30 Posts: 66Member
    That's the part I'm trying to avoid. Learn all the facts I can then make a decision. I don't want buy something just to find out I should have bought the other thing. Or buy the cheaper thing when it does a poor job to begin with, and if I would of spent a few more dollars I could of got the best option. 

  • studebakerstudebaker Posts: 3,118Member, Business Ninja ✭✭✭✭✭
    @randywhite30 Here's another printer to explore in your research....

    And here's the video of it in action...

  • smedlinsmedlin Posts: 1,943Member, Business Ninja ✭✭✭✭✭
    Hold on now.. hold on. Back it up some @studebaker

    In that video.. did he lay the entire thing in the water? Including the white backing paper????
  • MidOhioHydrographicsMidOhioHydrographics Posts: 9,525Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    Yes. I've visited SmartSolve's facility and they actually use a water soluble paper on their film instead of PVA. It's strange, and works ok. The image quality wasn't near as good as the stuff from Studebaker/Fractal Camo
  • smedlinsmedlin Posts: 1,943Member, Business Ninja ✭✭✭✭✭
    ok, just making sure.

    with Fractual ya remove the film from the paper... had me going there for a minute.

    have huge trouble with the Fractal film. Blew thru 2 meters of film.

    Maybe somebody could post a video on how to use it?
  • loochlooch Posts: 1,778Member ✭✭✭✭✭
    @smedlin  youll get practice in a month im bringing some of the film from @studebaker to the remote training 
  • studebakerstudebaker Posts: 3,118Member, Business Ninja ✭✭✭✭✭
    @smedlin The PVA film from Smartsolve works very well. It has a different texture than we are used to but has all the right properties. The reason I don't use it is because my printer requires a stiff paper backing to transport it through the printer properly. I tried to use their film in my printer and it was too soft and pliable to "push" through the printer. I could build a printer to "pull" it through, and I may still do that because I like their film so much.

    Don't be afraid of their film, its great quality.... I wish I could use it.
  • randywhite30randywhite30 Posts: 66Member
    What remote training? How do I get signed up?
  • randywhite30randywhite30 Posts: 66Member
    @studebaker i called that place yesterday to get more information about their solution and got pricing. What model of printer are you using?
  • studebakerstudebaker Posts: 3,118Member, Business Ninja ✭✭✭✭✭
    @randywhite30 I do have a Mutoh printer like theirs, but I have a different inkset than they are using.

    Does this make you more or less frustrated? :-)

    On a side note: I won't give away trade secrets, it's how I make my living. When it becomes common knowledge then I will discuss it openly. Like how Pigment based desktop printers do a good job printing hydrographic film, I'm all about sharing/disseminating that information to the unwashed masses.
  • randywhite30randywhite30 Posts: 66Member
    I fully understand. I can put the pieces together. The price they quoted me yesterday did make a little more frustrating. The hpz2100 or the hpz3100 may do what I want but I still question if they can give me the quality I would want.
  • mountain_mikemountain_mike Posts: 802Member ✭✭✭
    @randywhite30 this guy you were talking too is full of it if he is the US. if there was anyone stateside running film in a gravure printer they would be the most popular company in the industry and i have never heard of the one you mentioned there. Just as @studebaker said you are only going to gain just enough info to have a clue of what you are dealing with without having to spend money. I told you what you would need for a more than adequate set up for in shop printing. If you are looking at a gravure printer just to print for yourself you are talking about spending not only more money than necessary but those printers are not designed for custom print work because for each new design you will need to have cylinders laser engraved for each color in the pattern. For what you described you want i strongly suggest sticking with a digital printer. You are researching beyond the necessity of what you aim to do and confusing yourself a bit
  • randywhite30randywhite30 Posts: 66Member
    What I'm doing is gather facts to decide if it really makes sense to print my own or have someone else print them for me. I have enough of an education and enough experience to know not to buy the first thing someone says I should get. I love the idea of printing my own film but does it make sense with my current customer base or should I wait six months and evaluate things. The only thing I've ask from anyone that is willing to talk to me, is to get information.
    I have a long way to go but any information anyone is willing to give is great.
  • randywhite30randywhite30 Posts: 66Member
    @mountain_mike if your solution makes the most sense then I will more than likely get it, SmartSolve solution doesnt make any sense because its $70,000 and with what I have now there is no way that makes sense for me but this solution seems to have the best quality. To buy a printer off ebay and spend hours, days, or months learning the correct way to use it isnt really cost effective either since the HPZ2100 on ebay costs less than $1000 but it doesnt come with the kind of support your solution offers and I will more than likely spend thousands of dollars more learning it.
    @mountain_mike do you have any youtube videos of you printing your own film. I've ordered several films from blazingcoats to compare to what I currently buy to see how to two compare. I would assume they use the solution that they sell.
  • studebakerstudebaker Posts: 3,118Member, Business Ninja ✭✭✭✭✭
    Here's a couple of facts to put in your fact finding folder, @randywhite30 The blank film costs MORE than the preprinted film from China. And the ink costs $400 - $600 per liter.
  • blazingcoatingsblazingcoatings Posts: 413Member ✭✭✭
    @randywhite30 we appreciate your orders that you have placed by the way. I can assure you that the printer that you would be set up with,will be worth it. Mike will teach you the right way to print and will have the best technical surport. That alone will save you thousands of dollars in headaches. 

    There are lots of new patterns and other things in the works ,including running custom training classes for film printing. You would be basically getting a little taste of that with your purchase of a printer. 

  • mountain_mikemountain_mike Posts: 802Member ✭✭✭
    @randywhite30 you may find one on ebay at that price but its probably from an individual not guaranteed to work, probably only for local pick up, not wartantied and comes with no knowledge or support. You're just their "hit it and quit it" type scenario. If you prefer to go the route of smartsolves stuff i won't say thats not a good way to go if you choose it. I also wouldn't say they have the best quality because the reality here is that @studebaker is the #1 custom film printer and most preferred in the category in the industry and he is using a great system very similar to the way i offered to set you upwith just with different printers. The only issue with smartsolves film is ppl are afraid of it because it is different 
  • studebakerstudebaker Posts: 3,118Member, Business Ninja ✭✭✭✭✭
    I agree with @mountain_mike Support and Training after the sale is REALLY important. Just look through the forum for posts that expound the virtues of attending hydrographic training.
  • SaltyCityHydroDipsSaltyCityHydroDips Posts: 10Member
    Where can I buy activatorba and b at?
  • studebakerstudebaker Posts: 3,118Member, Business Ninja ✭✭✭✭✭
    @SaltyCityHydroDips You can find what you are asking for at Jonathon's FractalCamo website here at this link. The fixative is also known as "Activator A".
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