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Hydration/Activation

As I have been reading the problems encountered in hydrographic printing, it appears to me that the most misunderstood part of the process is proper hydration and activation.
I have seen @K2Concepts repeatedly respond with "underactivation is not just too little activator" but can also be caused by under hydration.
I have also read that certain films need 90 seconds, 2 minutes and some, even more time to hydrate properly before activation instead of the standard 60 seconds.
With that in mind, please explain exactly what I should be looking for in the film that confirms proper hydration?
Thanks,
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Comments

  • K2ConceptsK2Concepts Posts: 12,767Administrator El Jefe
    Glass the film out...is the best you can do and hope it flows...if the liquid ink flows then there will be no cracking...no fading on flat surfaces...minimal fading of stretch (this can also be affected by how much ink is in the pattern as some patterns stretch better than others)...

    Basically a good hit...if it's not a good hit then you need to be able to play Sherlock Holmes and start diagnosing the problem...
  • midnight_dippermidnight_dipper Posts: 51Member ✭✭
    edited October 2017

    Glass the film out...is the best you can do and hope it flows...if the liquid ink flows then there will be no cracking...no fading on flat surfaces...minimal fading of stretch (this can also be affected by how much ink is in the pattern as some patterns stretch better than others)...

    Basically a good hit...if it's not a good hit then you need to be able to play Sherlock Holmes and start diagnosing the problem...

    @K2Concepts That's basically the core of my question. I know that the film needs to glass out as an indicator that it's ready to dip but didn't know if there were similar indicators, that are readable and constant, showing it's hydrated enough before spraying the activator ?

    If there are no constant indicators and I have to do the detective work, are there basic guidelines for longer hydration times, such as the amount of ink, as you referred to above?
  • NotSoFastNotSoFast Posts: 3,147Member, Moderator El Moderator
    Test every film on a speed shape or similar part. Take notes on what you did to get a good hit. That's about all you can do. There is no magical "ready" light that goes off when the film is correct.
  • NWHNWH Posts: 43Member ✭✭

    Glass the film out...is the best you can do and hope it flows...if the liquid ink flows then there will be no cracking...no fading on flat surfaces...minimal fading of stretch (this can also be affected by how much ink is in the pattern as some patterns stretch better than others)...

    Basically a good hit...if it's not a good hit then you need to be able to play Sherlock Holmes and start diagnosing the problem...

    @K2Concepts That's basically the core of my question. I know that the film needs to glass out as an indicator that it's ready to dip but didn't know if there were similar indicators, that are readable and constant, showing it's hydrated enough before spraying the activator ?

    If there are no constant indicators and I have to do the detective work, are there basic guidelines for longer hydration times, such as the amount of ink, as you referred to above?
    Not really. There is no process control when most of these films are made so you have to be able to adjust on the fly some films with heavy inks can flow better then some with a little ink for example there are camouflage patterns that work better the some carbon fiber with just one color.
    When I train a new employee one of the first things I tell them is to watch and study each film from start to finish. Some films use more activator and others use hotter activator some films work best with 45 second soak were others work with 60 second or 90 second this is were the experience factor plays a big roll.
  • K2ConceptsK2Concepts Posts: 12,767Administrator El Jefe
    That's why we have an Excel spreadsheet in the back of every training book for the students to keep track of what they do for each film...
  • airtimegrafixairtimegrafix Posts: 2,123Member ✭✭✭✭
    it all come with practice practice practice!!!
  • smedlinsmedlin Posts: 1,464Member, Business Ninja ✭✭✭✭
    As @NWH said, every film is different. And they all activate differential.

    When I'm working with new film, I'm "waste" a few pieces of it.

    I'll put some in the water and just watch it. How does it look at 60 seconds? At 90 seconds?

    I'll activate a piece of it, knowing I won't dip to it. At what time does it glass out? How long does it take before the film starts to fall apart?

    Much cheaper to "burn" some film then to have to totally redo a part.
  • midnight_dippermidnight_dipper Posts: 51Member ✭✭
    edited October 2017
    @K2Concepts, @NotSoFast, @NWH, @airtimegrafix, @smedlin Thanks to all of you for your responses and insights. I've pretty much been doing it as you've described, figuring out the particular characteristics of each individual film, but thought that surely there was something I was missing.

    I suppose the best scenario is to find a few popular films, get used to them and sell everything you can with one of those patterns.
    And people wonder why it costs so much just to get something dipped. Geez,
    Thanks again.
  • DeviousDipsDeviousDips Posts: 1,417Member ✭✭✭✭
    The best scenario is to learn to read the films. You don't have to settle for a couple different. If you get a new film that you have never dipped just play with it on speed shapes before a customer's item to learn how it acts. Once you learn to read films you will know on the fly if you need more activator or if you need to let it soak a little longer. The biggest thing is just knowing how to read the film from laying it on the water til you dip. 
     Don't cut yourself short on the films you can use just keep data on each film in a notepad so you have a reference to go back to for certain ones
  • K2ConceptsK2Concepts Posts: 12,767Administrator El Jefe
    smedlin said:

    Also.. something I had to FORCE myself to do..

    Just cause you put the film in the water, does not mean ya gotta dip.

    If for whatever reason I don't like the way the film is looking, I'll scoop it up/flush it out and re-cut some more film.

    Film is cheap compared to having to repaint (and use more film anyways).

    This...
  • SreynoldsSreynolds Posts: 1,222Member ✭✭✭✭
    @midnight_dipper , As you grow in this business the problems/solutions will become more obvious. Like @smedlin said , most of the time we see something happening that aint right and just stop.... No need to carry on and waste material. But yes change one thing at a time until u get the desired result is the only way.
  • WileECoyoteWileECoyote Posts: 5,864Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    @midnight_dipper in a nutshell... that's it. If everyone followed those steps and shared their results on this forum, we could take the guesswork out of 95% of the films out there, and even beginners could follow along and have first time success... but getting people to gather data (much less SHARE it) is something like asking for their first born...
  • midnight_dippermidnight_dipper Posts: 51Member ✭✭
    @sreynolds, I understand what you're saying about knowledge coming with experience, but, and I don't mean to be argumentative by any means, everyone keeps saying "when you learn to read the film", but no one has explained what they're reading.
    Since, apparently, every film has to be evaluated for it's own characteristics, @WileECoyote hit the nail right on the head when he said..., "if everyone...shared their results on this forum...", but they don't.
    I say again, if anyone will share their findings on various films and procedures, I will put it all together and make it available.
    Can you imagine how many non productive hours are spent in this industry by guys doing the same tests a hundred other guys have already done?
    Doesn't make good sense when you stop and think about it. :o
  • NWHNWH Posts: 43Member ✭✭

    @midnight_dipper in a nutshell... that's it. If everyone followed those steps and shared their results on this forum, we could take the guesswork out of 95% of the films out there, and even beginners could follow along and have first time success... but getting people to gather data (much less SHARE it) is something like asking for their first born...

    But the trial and error is what will separate most from other companies. If all the information is giving freely to everyone then no ones learns or takes it to a new level.
    As a new member of this forum I do notice that a lot of new dippers (aka start up companies) are always asking how to best do this and that I wish I could of had that advantage but looking back I probably would not be were I am at now in this business. We had to just try and try till we figured it out but that allowed me to take things to a new level and offer my customers more.
    So really the best thing to do is just jump all the way in and go for it or get out because if you are only willing to give 50% then this is the wrong business.
    It Takes money to make money so plan on spending some you will be a lot further ahead by learning from your mistakes then relying on others to tell you how to do it.
  • MidOhioHydrographicsMidOhioHydrographics Posts: 8,947Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    edited October 2017
    ok, We have our activation automated and can eliminate the human aspect from our application. Something that may surprise everyone....We have found that a setting of "25" (in a range from 1-100) with a single pass works on 95% of films... Soak time sometimes varied from 60-90 seconds, and sometimes a 10-15 second dwell time, but overall? Pretty much the same! Crazy, right? And when we do vary the activation speed, it goes from 25 +/- 3. Not ranging from 80 to 10. A speed of about 23-28 and we are covered. You can't even notice the difference with the naked eye... Yes, there are some strange, difficult films, but we always start at 25.

    The problem is the variations between shops... different gun settings, slightly different water temps, differences in the person spraying, their overlap, speed, gun height, etc in combination with the environmental conditions. THIS is why you have to learn to read your film. Every film in various shops with various guns and setups are going to be different enough that most of these sheets are going to be pretty useless when taken to another shop. A good starting point? Sure. But you can't get away from reading your film and/or resulting bad dips. If you get someone's notes, and their water temp was 92, and yours is 88... are you going to wait 4 hours on your water to rise 4 degrees before you complete this project? Or... throw a small piece of film on the water, let it hydrate 90 seconds just to be safe, glass the film out with activator and dip a speed shape at your normal settings and see what happens? The latter will get you done much faster, but you have to be able to read your film and parts. Everyone is looking for a shortcut, and there just isn't one. Learn your profession!

    Keep records for yourself. Share if you like, but from my experience I just don't see it helping unless it's a very quirky film that takes 8 passes of activator (there are some) or maybe prefers K2 Brew over SuperBrew. Even that isn't a set rule. Any activator can work acceptable enough to get a project out the door.
  • smedlinsmedlin Posts: 1,464Member, Business Ninja ✭✭✭✭
    1) I did my initial training at Big Brains. Part of the training was a spread sheet of every single film they had personally used, with basically what your asking for; Hydrate times, best activator to use, more or less activation than normal, dip time.. etc etc etc

    Probably 8 or 9 pages of film.. thousands of films.

    But.. before you ask, BB asks each student NOT to give it out. it's only for paying students :)

    2) Honestly.. unless your in an extremely client controlled dip building/room, your specs are going to change with the weather. Humidity and ambient temp will knock that spreadsheet out the door.

    3) Hence, you learn to "read the film".. which is to learn WHEN the film is ready to be activated.. or does it need more soak time.. after the film is activated, is it ready to dip? Wait longer? Waited to long? ..reading the film.

    4) Reading the film, comes ONLY with experiences and MANY f-ups. Many f-ups.
  • midnight_dippermidnight_dipper Posts: 51Member ✭✭
    I give up. I would venture to say that everyone on here that has commented on this thread is strainer or has been professionally trained by least once and most probably more. 
    The first thing you quickly advise a newby to do is get training. The first things you ask when someone has a problem is; was your temperature 90f, did you soak for 60 seconds, did you activate right away, in other words, you ask if they did it the way you were taught, not how you figured it out. 
    @MidOhioHydrographics, I do understand what you're saying about variances in different shops but if someone tells me that they had to soak a particular film for 90 seconds at 90f, I would hope I could take from that, that 60 seconds ain't gonna cut it. 
    I'm not asking for any shortcuts or handouts from anyone. If you'll read my original post I asked what to look for for proper hydration and that's a long way from asking you to do my work for me. As far as my competition knowing how I'm doing it..., I want them to know as much or about the process than I do and then, and only then, will I have no need to worry about them undercutting my pricing because they'll know what's involved  
    @WileECoyote ..., I now fully and completely understand your first born reference. 
    Have a good day dipping guys. 
  • smedlinsmedlin Posts: 1,464Member, Business Ninja ✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2017
    In reference to what you said..

    The "standard" is 90F water, 60 sec soak time, activate and dip at 20 seconds. 90, 60, 20.

    That's the rule of thumb. It's what you learn with. It's what the trainers teach you.

    I have all my timers set for that. My tank is 90F and my timers are 60 and 20 seconds.

    But remember, the weather plays a HUGE role in it. My shop is in my garage, I usually have at least one of the garage doors open, to help air things out.

    I'm in the deep south. If it's really humid, it affects my 60-20 thumb rule. It really does.

    And the "thickness" of the film and the amount of color/ink affects things.

    This is not a "science". What works in MY shop isn't going to be the same as what works in @MidOhioHydrographics 's shop up there in stupid Packers Land. And @K2Concepts shop will be different out in Cali (3 genders on gov license now?)

    Soo.. there is no "This is how it always works". There are general "guidelines"...there are "this is where you start".

    Even in training at BB they said that.
  • WileECoyoteWileECoyote Posts: 5,864Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    @midnight_dipper peruse this worksheet and pay attention to the date on the original post.

    http://k2forums.com/discussion/5902/spray-gun-set-up-sheet#latest

    I believe Jim even includes this sheet with his training workbook now. I completely agree with your intention, AND with @MidOhioHydrographics interpretation. The settings would be a starting point for a new person starting out and give them somwhere to start while they are trying to wrangle 30 different inputs... Reading your film is what the pros do as they can evaluate what variable may be out of whack today, and adjust any number of the 30 to get their desired result.
  • NWHNWH Posts: 43Member ✭✭

    I give up. I would venture to say that everyone on here that has commented on this thread is strainer or has been professionally trained by least once and most probably more. 
    The first thing you quickly advise a newby to do is get training. The first things you ask when someone has a problem is; was your temperature 90f, did you soak for 60 seconds, did you activate right away, in other words, you ask if they did it the way you were taught, not how you figured it out. 
    @MidOhioHydrographics, I do understand what you're saying about variances in different shops but if someone tells me that they had to soak a particular film for 90 seconds at 90f, I would hope I could take from that, that 60 seconds ain't gonna cut it. 
    I'm not asking for any shortcuts or handouts from anyone. If you'll read my original post I asked what to look for for proper hydration and that's a long way from asking you to do my work for me. As far as my competition knowing how I'm doing it..., I want them to know as much or about the process than I do and then, and only then, will I have no need to worry about them undercutting my pricing because they'll know what's involved  
    @WileECoyote ..., I now fully and completely understand your first born reference. 
    Have a good day dipping guys. 

    Have you been to training?
    If you read my original post I gave you your answer short of coming into your shop and doing for you you are just going to have to put forth the time and effort.
    Now that being said yes I could look at a piece and tell you under activated but there could be a angle problem a activator gun not set up right tank temp to cold to warm so on.
    I am a little different then some on here I blend my activators to do what I want them to do which = experience trial and error on a forum we can give you a idea whats wrong but you still are going need to keep doing it to figure out what works best for you.
  • K2ConceptsK2Concepts Posts: 12,767Administrator El Jefe
    smedlin said:

    And @K2Concepts shop will be different out in Cali (3 genders on gov license now?)

    STFU...you act like everyone in the state was asked if this was ok?...Last I checked no one asked me nor anyone I know...That kind of garbage is voted in by a bunch of "sensitive" tree hugging welfare recipients whose kids walk around in diapers until they are 20 so their feeling don't get hurt and then start breast feeding on the welfare system themselves...

    Can't beat the weather though right?...
  • NWHNWH Posts: 43Member ✭✭

    smedlin said:

    And @K2Concepts shop will be different out in Cali (3 genders on gov license now?)

    STFU...you act like everyone in the state was asked if this was ok?...Last I checked no one asked me nor anyone I know...That kind of garbage is voted in by a bunch of "sensitive" tree hugging welfare recipients whose kids walk around in diapers until they are 20 so their feeling don't get hurt and then start breast feeding on the welfare system themselves...

    Can't beat the weather though right?...
    Dosen't California start with a V for vagina? LOL
  • K2ConceptsK2Concepts Posts: 12,767Administrator El Jefe
    NWH said:



    Dosen't California start with a V for vagina? LOL

    Starts with a C which would explain while you are confused about your sexual orientation...
  • smedlinsmedlin Posts: 1,464Member, Business Ninja ✭✭✭✭

    smedlin said:

    And @K2Concepts shop will be different out in Cali (3 genders on gov license now?)

    STFU...you act like everyone in the state was asked if this was ok?...Last I checked no one asked me nor anyone I know...That kind of garbage is voted in by a bunch of "sensitive" tree hugging welfare recipients whose kids walk around in diapers until they are 20 so their feeling don't get hurt and then start breast feeding on the welfare system themselves...

    Can't beat the weather though right?...
    That right there.. that made my day
  • SingleAction52SingleAction52 Posts: 687Member, Business Ninja ✭✭✭

    As I have been reading the problems encountered in hydrographic printing, it appears to me that the most misunderstood part of the process is proper hydration and activation.
    I have seen @K2Concepts repeatedly respond with "underactivation is not just too little activator" but can also be caused by under hydration.
    I have also read that certain films need 90 seconds, 2 minutes and some, even more time to hydrate properly before activation instead of the standard 60 seconds.
    With that in mind, please explain exactly what I should be looking for in the film that confirms proper hydration?
    Thanks,

    Geez, go in the hospital for a few days and you get way behind..., don't know how I missed this one?
    @midnight_dipper, You have posed a very good question and as you see there are many answers, most leading back to the fact that you will have to do some adjusting and testing on some of the more difficult or different acting films. There are some things that will alert you after you've been at this a while such as films with a heavy pva backing will require a longer hydration time where films with little pva may need less than the 60 seconds , how they respond when you put them on the water, (just set there and do nothing or shrivel up and disappear), etc., and as most have been telling you, that will become more apparent the more you dip and the longer you've been at it. It appears you have the starting points down; 90° water, 60 second soak time, activate and dip but when it comes to the hydrating it's all based on how the film was processed or made as stated by someone above. It would definitely be nice if a basic log for the different films could be put together as you volunteered to do, but unfortunately, it's never gonna happen.
    Take in all you can, get training as soon as you can, if you haven't already, and keep your hands in the water and it'll all be second nature before you know it..., NOT!!

    Good luck!
  • MidOhioHydrographicsMidOhioHydrographics Posts: 8,947Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    I honestly recommend soaking everything longer just in case. I haven’t met a film that wasn’t ok at 90 seconds (I’m sure they are out there) so that’s what I do with Custom jobs. Unless you’re in production, what’s another 30 seconds to be safe? If you have multiples of the same part in the same film, THEN it dialed in to where those extra seconds are making you money.
  • DeviousDipsDeviousDips Posts: 1,417Member ✭✭✭✭
    For a newbie this is a very difficult process which is falsely led thanks to YouTube. That's why everyone's first response to newbies is have you had proper training and if not get some. 
    Everyone here knows the frustration in the beginning and trust me that will be with you for the first yr. I've been doing this about a yr and a half and I still can't get mossy oak films work to save my life and yes I have had training with Jim at the Ohio remote. I can do custom films from fractal like it's an everyday film where some guys that's been dipping for yrs still struggle with. 
    This is a process that's gonna kick you in the teeth over and over and once you think you got it, here comes another sucker punch. Once you get the dipping part down pretty decent then you have to worry about clear coat. Getting a good clear is really tough unless you have paint experience. And trust me alot of guys don't think about that part. Shooting a good gloss clear and then shooting a dead matte finish takes some serious skills. So I guess my bottom line is don't throw in the towel. There is a lot of help here from ppl that know the struggle and just trying to get you to a good product in a paragraph which is tough to do. Trying to explain something to you instead of actually showing you and seeing what your doing is tough over the forum but it can be done. 
    Hang in there bud
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