Trouble with film activation

shau2shau2 Posts: 98Member
Hi Guys I'm really struggling to activate the film properly.

Videos of failed efforts

You can see at the end that I just scoop out the film and it's just a solid sheet. It doesn't liquefy at all, at any point in time. The videos are unedited and everything is in real-time, so you can see the timing.


Activator

I've tried two different activator solutions.

The first is home-brewed 30% Xylene, 70% Thinner. Really it's simple, and there's enough proof that it works out there in the wilderness of the Internet. The brands I use are Digger's Xylene and Yesky thinner:


But to put aside questions of the activator working or not - as of yesterday, I started using professionally formulated activator - namely this NLine hydrographic activator:

Guns

  1. Devilbiss GPI General Purpose Spray Gun with GP1 Aircap and 600ml Pot (1.4mm)
  2. Devilbiss GTI PRO LITE Gold 1.3mm nozzle LVMP Car Paint Tool Pistol Spray Gun
  3. Unbranded 1.7mm

Films

I use films from China. They are something I can afford to burn through whilst learning and cheap enough that I can do it routinely. American or Western films are 15 times more expensive and will send me broke. I understand the quality films may vary, but honestly, if they were that bad, nobody would buy them, and their preponderence in the market couldn't be explained. I'm convinced they must work - at least under the right conditions. My goal is to work with the films I have.

Technique

I hold the gun at a safe distance from the water's surface so as to not disturb the film too much. I use 1bar, the equivalent of about 15psi.
Post edited by shau2 on

Comments

  • studebakerstudebaker Posts: 3,239Member, Business Ninja ✭✭✭✭✭
    Thank you for a complete question with all the pertinent information posted. Normally folks with questions will make us drag the relevant information out of them one tiny clue at a time! Kudo on the elegance of your query!

    There are several things going wrong here at the same time.....

    First thing is that the xylene/ 2k thinner ratio is 20/80, not 30/70.

    Secondly, your film is in two separate environments, literally. The half of the film in the sun is hydrating much much faster because the hotter the film/water interface, the faster the PVA film hydrates. Hence, the sun side dissipates faster when the activator melts the fixative holding the film together.

    Thirdly, your ability to evenly spray activator evenly across the surface of the hydrated film is in serious need of practice. You literally gave up on the second half of your pattern spray.

    PS, we noticed you were wearing a spray mask... Thumbs up.

    Also, WELCOME TO THE FORUM! What part of the world are you based out of?

  • WileECoyoteWileECoyote Posts: 6,891Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    You need to watch A LOT more of Jim's videos. You only sprayed half the film, not enough activator, you were so clumsy in laying film down that half the film was hydrated by the time you got the other half on the water. You really have too many issues to start diagnosing. Just watch the videos and get better at your techniques.
  • shau2shau2 Posts: 98Member
    edited March 13


    Also, WELCOME TO THE FORUM! What part of the world are you based out of?

    Australia.


    the sun side dissipates faster when the activator melts the fixative holding the film together.

    An original and potentially useful point.


    You literally gave up on the second half of your pattern spray.

    Yeah, I gave up because I could see it was just not going to work. Basically, I'll keep dumping activator onto it until it breaks apart, but it won't ever be in that suitable transitional state for dipping.

    Maybe it's my timing, as @WileECoyote says? But I'm sure in the course of 6 months I've done all kinds of timings... I feel like there is something else going on here also...

  • shau2shau2 Posts: 98Member
    edited March 13

    You need to watch A LOT more of Jim's videos. You only sprayed half the film, not enough activator, you were so clumsy in laying film down that half the film was hydrated by the time you got the other half on the water. You really have too many issues to start diagnosing. Just watch the videos and get better at your techniques.

    I'm a big fan of Jim's videos. I'll keep on watching for sure. Meanwhile, I'll take any and all the feedback and pointers I can get.
  • ForsiForsi Posts: 290Member ✭✭✭
    What @studebaker and @WileECoyote said...lots of issues going on. Spend a lot of time reading through this forum and watching videos from trusted forum members (i.e. Jim @K2Concepts ). Get a proper activator, get your gun set up properly, then learn proper techniques, etc. and you will have a much better chance of solving your problems than what is going on in your videos. Good luck!
  • WileECoyoteWileECoyote Posts: 6,891Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    The simple fact is, you didn't get enough activator on the film, that is why it didn't work. You say you have tried a number of different times over the past 6 months, and you should have hit the correct one by now. The fact is there are 6 factors at work here, and you haven't gotten any of them right accidentally all at the same time. I understand where you are coming from, because we have all been there, but you are doing TERRIBLE troubleshooting.

    Set a process and change ONLY 1 variable at a time.

    If you put the film on the water and try to roll it out, getting the first part hydrating and then the last part gets on 30 seconds later, you will NEVER get it to work. Get it all on at once, and if you cant figure out how to do that, don't use the roll method. Cut a piece of film and get it on the water so it can hydrate.

    If one pass of activator doesn't work, try 2 passes, then 3, and so on... but it has to be the same for all the other variables first.

    Your techniques are poor, you need to get a few nailed down first before you get good results,
  • shau2shau2 Posts: 98Member
    edited March 22
    @K2Concepts

    you won't see me or any other professional applicator using some kind of weird homemade cocktail...and that should give you all the more reason to stay away from them...

    But I also use NLine store-bought activator.

    Well, that was mind-numbing...
    But I digress...the Asian films are fine...just keep in mind that there is a "Good, Better and Best" even in China...so not all film quality will be the same...even if the artwork is identical...

    Can you spare a poor soul like me some specifics about which Asian sources you've found to be reliable? Presumably, many of your own stocks originated in Asia? Or are they all US-made?


    Post edited by shau2 on
  • shau2shau2 Posts: 98Member
    Also what nozzle size is optimum for activator application?
  • ShannonShannon Posts: 199Member ✭✭✭
    I’ve found DNACustom Paints activator the best, they are in Melbourne. Not sure where in Aus you are but if you call them up they can direct you to the closest dealer. As for films from China, I’ve found they are fine depending on which supplier you use.
  • shau2shau2 Posts: 98Member
    Shannon said:

    I’ve found DNACustom Paints activator the best, they are in Melbourne. Not sure where in Aus you are but if you call them up they can direct you to the closest dealer. As for films from China, I’ve found they are fine depending on which supplier you use.

    Are you able to be more specific which Chinese suppliers you've found to be reliable? What's been your experience and what have you bought from them?
  • MidOhioHydrographicsMidOhioHydrographics Posts: 9,900Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    @shau2 I use Liquid Image out of China with great results for any non-branded film I need to buy in bulk.
  • K2ConceptsK2Concepts Posts: 13,770Administrator El Jefe

    @shau2 I use Liquid Image out of China with great results for any non-branded film I need to buy in bulk.

    These guys...email lulu at: [email protected] and she will send you a link to her DropBox account with all the patterns in it...tell her Jim from K2Concepts sent you...
  • MidOhioHydrographicsMidOhioHydrographics Posts: 9,900Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    Lulu is my “go to” also. Just ordered 1500m of cherry wood grain from her. LOL And another 300m of various films last week.
  • smedlinsmedlin Posts: 2,086Member, Business Ninja ✭✭✭✭✭
    Howdy @shau2!

    In that second video.. I thought you was under attack! Sounded like an airplane was dive bombing ya! :)

    We do have a couple members here from Aus.


    For film, I've been using topcoat for a few years. Zero issues and pretty responsive.

    I'm not going to repeat what others have said a few times already.

    (worm trails!!)

    Did I understand correctly that you are trying to regulate the gun air pressure at the compressor/wall..then have like a really long hose to the gun? IF so, yea.. that's one of the problems. I've got a regulator at every single "end-point".

    Also, ditch that rolling technique all together. The only time you really need something like that, is if the film is super duper long. As small as those pieces were... not needed. I've never been good at putting the film directly on the water like Jim does (but i don't tape the film).. it may sound weird, but I use the edge of the tank to help slide/skim the film over the water.

    Hmm... I'm not sure if I've seen a video of that. It's how we learned it at BB, and it works for us on smaller items. If it's a LARGE piece of film, I get the wife or one of the kids to help put the film in the water (I know, not everybody has helpers).

    In that last video, I assume you did not tape/dam up all the edges on purpose. Regardless, you was spraying WAY to close to the film. When you get everything set up with your pressure..when you spray, the film should not move at all. You was giving that film a deep tissue massage :)

    Anyways.. keep trying! And Keep learning!

    .
  • shau2shau2 Posts: 98Member
    smedlin said:


    Also, ditch that rolling technique all together. The only time you really need something like that, is if the film is super duper long. As small as those pieces were... not needed. I've never been good at putting the film directly on the water like Jim does (but i don't tape the film).. it may sound weird, but I use the edge of the tank to help slide/skim the film over the water.
    Anyways.. keep trying! And Keep learning!

    I have real trouble with bubbles when laying the film down, hence the rolling technique. Your over-the-edge-of-the-tank technique could be relevant to me. My film is often hydrated from moisture just at room temperature and non-controlled environment in storage. I don't have the benefit of all those fancy environmental controls or even "poly bags" - never even seen one of these - I just hear you folk talkin' bout it. The polybags I can acquire with some difficulty, but environmental controls are out of the question - it's just moist here. Specially during the rainy season.
    smedlin said:


    Hmm... I'm not sure if I've seen a video of that. It's how we learned it at BB, and it works for us on smaller items.

    What's "BB"?
    smedlin said:


    In that last video, I assume you did not tape/dam up all the edges on purpose. Regardless, you was spraying WAY to close to the film. When you get everything set up with your pressure..when you spray, the film should not move at all. You was giving that film a deep tissue massage :)

    Right, I don't really have a good damming mechanism as its a hack job tank. I don't have all the power tools and workshop utilities Jim has in his video on how to make dams. I also work with variable width objects so I'd need to have a damn for every width...

  • PagesHydroDippingPagesHydroDipping Posts: 650Member ✭✭✭
    "BB" is big brain. And you really only need 2 dams. Cut them to fit your tank from top to bottom. Then use tape to make a dam from left to right.
  • WileECoyoteWileECoyote Posts: 6,891Member, Moderator, Business Ninja El Moderator
    @shau2 It sounds like you are fighting a number of problems that are completely out of your control, and you need to control them to get an acceptable product. We have said in other threads that even a hobby set-up will cost you $15,000 to start, there are not alot of ways around that. Without spending that kind of money you will constantly be fighting a losing battle. One day it will be the humidity, one day it will be your tank, and so on... If your film is hydrated before it goes on the tank... it's done. That's it. There is no way around that. This process may be a little out of your reach right now.
  • K2ConceptsK2Concepts Posts: 13,770Administrator El Jefe
    shau2 said:


    Right, I don't really have a good damming mechanism as its a hack job tank. I don't have all the power tools and workshop utilities Jim has in his video on how to make dams. I also work with variable width objects so I'd need to have a damn for every width...

    We only use 3 sets of dams regularly and I am positive we dip a wider variety of projects than you do so no need for a bunch of dams...

    As for tools? All you need is a set of tin snips which can be bought on sale for around $10 US...and a cordless drill...even cheap ones from Harbor Freight will work and they are only $19....

    Granted none of that is as cheap as a roll of tape for 99 cents BUT come on now...
  • shau2shau2 Posts: 98Member
    edited March 25

    shau2 said:


    Right, I don't really have a good damming mechanism as its a hack job tank. I don't have all the power tools and workshop utilities Jim has in his video on how to make dams. I also work with variable width objects so I'd need to have a damn for every width...

    We only use 3 sets of dams regularly and I am positive we dip a wider variety of projects than you do so no need for a bunch of dams...

    As for tools? All you need is a set of tin snips which can be bought on sale for around $10 US...and a cordless drill...even cheap ones from Harbor Freight will work and they are only $19....

    Granted none of that is as cheap as a roll of tape for 99 cents BUT come on now...
    Thanks @K2Concepts . :) When you put it like that it sounds much more feasible. Time for a visit to the hardware store.

    Still leaves me with humidity problems, however. I have a way to dehydrate my films with a domestic dehumidifier, but I'm uneasy about the energy costs and the low efficiency of recovering films in this way, since you have to completely dehumidify the room just for the film's sake and it isn't sustainable around the clock unless you want to pay the associated energy costs. I'm kind of working in a domestic setting. So I don't have a humidity-controlled storeroom. I guess polybags and a humidity avoidance strategy might be more effective. But it feels rather humid sometimes and my films aren't crispy like in your videos. Any helpful suggestions here?

  • K2ConceptsK2Concepts Posts: 13,770Administrator El Jefe
    @shau2 In my training course I tell everyone that they will all have a particular obstacle to conquer...it's just the way business is...even if it's just a hobby for you right now? There will still be challenges that are unique to you and your circumstances...
  • studebakerstudebaker Posts: 3,239Member, Business Ninja ✭✭✭✭✭
    A dead refrigerator with an 60 watt incandescent light bulb running all the time is an excellent dry cabinet for film....
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