Blank PVA film can be purchased directly from Hydrokon. Look online for other hydro dip supplies. See suggestions below. Using these supplies in conjunction with Hydrokon film, will allow you to transfer a customized print/design onto any 3-D object that can be submerged in water.
You can create your own graphic using any graphic design program, such as Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw. If you are unsure of what design to start with, we suggest using a design that has a seamless pattern or pattern that can be tiled. *The lesser chance for a bold, noticeable seam is the most ideal option. You can find an assortment of designs from various vendors to choose from that you can customize. To get started, try checking out Pattern Crew. This might help spark some creative, customized ideas. Other required supplies needed:
- Clear Top Coat
- Croc Shoes
2. Choosing Suitable Containers
Choose a watertight plastic, glass, or aluminum container that is deep enough to fully submerge the Crocs you are hydro dipping. It should also be long and wide enough to leave 5-6 inches (approximately 12-15 cm) between the edge of the container and the shoes.
3. Prepare the item
Make sure that the item you are dipping is free of dust and debris by degreasing it with soap and water. If possible, scuff the item as best as possible with a Scotch-Brite scratch pad to roughen the surface. This is an important step so that you don't get pin holes in the design when dipping.
Before applying the primer/basecoat, use masking tape to block off any parts of the item that you do not wish to have an image printed on. For instance. we taped the holes, from the inside of the Crocs, as well as the opening to the shoe so that the tape was flush to the dipping surface.
Spray the item with a primer basecoat. Typically, white primer is ideal, but if the design is generally a darker color scheme, you may want to use a similar color of paint primer. For instance, the design used for these Crocs is a dark blue design, but a white primer was used first. The final product would have been a more bold color if a bluish basecoat was used instead.
Do not overspray the primer so that it runs. Simply apply 1-2 light coats of the base coat spray and leave the item to dry for one or two hours.
4. Size/Cut Film
Measure the size of the shoes from every side you wish to cover and add 4-5 inches (approximately 12-15 cm) on each side. Be sure to account for the curves. With clear backer still attached, position Hydrokon over the shoes to be sure the whole design will cover the surface. Cut the film accordingly. Make sure that the film remains dry during this process, as getting it wet could cause the image to warp.
- Apply a light coat of the fixative intercoat lacquer to the printed side of PVA film. (Once lacquer is applied, Hydrokon film must be used within 2 weeks)
5. Prepare Water
Fill the container approximately ¾ of the way full with water. Water temperature must be about 90°.
- Place masking tape around the edges of the film, be sure to cut the tape at the corners to allow for film expansion. (The tape will help keep the design from warping/drifting and will help the film to float on top of the water).
- Remove clear backer from film.
- Carefully, pick up the film with printed side up and bring the opposite sides together, holding it like a sling.
- Place the bottom of the sling onto the middle of the surface of the water, and slowly bring the sides down to place the film flat on the water.
- Push down lightly on the film if any air bubbles appear between the film and the water. This will help to get rid of the air bubbles.
6. Hydrate Film & Apply Activator
Use a stopwatch to ensure that the film dwells on the water for 60-75 seconds. After the time is up, spray the activator evenly over the film. Once coated, the film should take approximately 5-10 seconds to turn into liquid ink on the surface of the water.
- When the film is fully activated it will have a distinct glossy appearance and will expand to fill the entire surface size of the container.
- To limit expansion, you can use masking tape on the water to create a 'frame' around the image. This will also help limit fading of colors due to stretching.
Put on gloves before dipping your Crocs.
Dipping one at a time, hold each prepared shoe upside down at a 45° degree angle and slowly submerge it into the water, starting with the toe first. Once the item is fully submerged, even out the angle by pushing it down towards the ink. Keep your movements fluid, firm, and steady for best results. While fully submerged, turn the shoe right side up again and remove from water. This is a quick process, so practice your fluid motions as it takes less than 5 seconds from the second you touch the tip of the shoe to the activated ink.
Slowly, remove the shoe from the water. Hold it carefully, and avoid rubbing its surface. Let the shoe 'rest' for about 5 minutes before beginning the rinse (but avoid letting the surface become dry). Rinse each Croc under cold water for approximately 3 minutes to remove any PVA residue. If using Hydrokon film, you can use a black light to make this determination, as the PVA will quit glowing brightly once the residue is completely rinsed off.
9. Dry & Apply Top Coat
After air-drying the shoes completely, apply an even coat of the aerosol top coat spray. Most clear coats of your choice will work. We used Rust-Oleum for this project. Let the pair air dry before applying a second coat. Continue the process until achieving the finish of your liking.
10. Enjoy your newly customized crocs!
For additional finishing tips and tricks, check out this video: