Custom Design Dips for Electric Moped and Motorcycle Start-up

LukeLuke Member Posts: 2
Hey everyone!
I'm part of a small New Zealand company that's start building electric motorbikes and mopeds ( We've had a lot of traction already around this idea of working with local artists, businesses and customers to offer one-off or small-run premium customisations options for the side panel/fairings and tank lid of our moped (see mockup in attached pic). We're really keen to explore the feasibility of establishing an in-house hydro dipping setup to cater for this. However we need to get a better understanding of the limitations in terms of accuracy, repeatability and finish quality in order to set certain design boundaries for artists. (i.e. sticking with highly fluid designs where warping and misalignment between the side panels and tank will go unnoticed).

Basically we are trying to wrap our heads around what we need to achieve the highest possible level of finish and we potentially have access to some R&D funding for this hydro-dipping project so could be an exciting opportunity to explore some new ideas!

Might be asking too much here, but it would be amazing if we could hear your thoughts on any or all of the following questions.

1. Getting a true colour finish with minimal base colour influence is key for us. What are the key factors for minimising transparency?
2. We have had various recommendations for pigment and Latex ink printers but have been told a Latex ink printer will give us the best result, we have access to a HP Latex 570, will this be suitable? we are also looking at various Epson wide format printers.
3. Ideally we want high repeatability to be able to align the graphics of our three dipped components (two side panels and the tank lid) fairly accurately. How feasible I this assuming we will only be ever dipping the same three components using automated, rotational dipping arms?
4. What thickness and or company would you recommend for high quality film?
5. What is the best method for minimising film expansion after activation? (i.e. just dams or can this be minimised by using thicker film?)
6. If we use a Latex ink printer, what is required in terms of fixators, activators and what would be a suitable automotive/outdoor standard base and clear coat to use? (i.e. we've heard using 2k can cause problems.)

Sorry for any/all dumb or repeated questions. really appreciate any help!


  • WileECoyoteWileECoyote Member, Moderator, Business Ninja Posts: 7,898 El Moderator
    My best answers to some of the questions.
    1. The amount of stretch on the film GREATLY effects the transparency. Biggest contributing factor is the shape (convex shapes stretch.. no way around that) if you are looking for solid and repeatable color, this process is likely not the right fit. Consistency is difficult without a highly automated and precision process (might I suggest looking into Waterslide decal application or a vinyl wrap? We applied waterslide decals with laser pinpoints we indexed from over head to a fixture presented to the operator)

    4. Repeatability is difficult with this process. If you are looking to have patterns meet on panel edges you are in for a long, and difficult startup.

    5. Only way is dams. Thickness of film is determined solely by the PVA layer, which dissolves at the point of application.
  • LukeLuke Member Posts: 2
    Hey thanks @WileECoyote thats really helpful. Sounds like its going to be a challenging operation. We'll run some tests but sounds anyway and see how far off the mark we are. We were keen to get away from vinyl wraps as a hydrographic under clear coat would feel more like a quality one of kind product as opposed to a bike with some stickers stuck to the side which anyone could do themselves. I will have a look into waterslide application.
    thanks again!
  • MidOhioHydrographicsMidOhioHydrographics Member, Moderator, Business Ninja Posts: 10,578 El Moderator
    Many companies find it more cost effective to outsource to a facility already capable of decorating the items. But May be difficult in New Zealand.
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