Water Transfer Printing
I recently took a course that featured a focus on the industrial applications of polymers/industrial chemicals with a portion dedicated to thin films/coating/plating that lamentably mentioned nothing about water transfer printing. The process is an alternative to other traditional methods of laying designs on 3D objects (spraypainting/powder coating) that allows for complex patterns to be used on any non-porous surface. What this means for you and me is the ability to put complicated camouflage designs (Multicam, Mossy Oak, A-TACS) on anything from masks to markers.
A while ago I mentioned that A-TACS now has their design available for water transfer, but the process itself is cool enough that it's worth looking at. Here's some videos that will give you a sense of what the process involves:
I'd love to discuss the science behind it... but I can't seem to find any documentation (even at libraries) about the chemistry of hydrographic printing. The basics are that a polyvinyl alcohol (PVA, a polymer) base film with a solid ink component is placed in water, where it sits on the surface. An activator is then sprayed on the film, dissolving it, and leaving the ink floating as an oil-like liquid on the surface of the water, which then wrapped around the object being printing upon.
If you're in Canada and looking to get your marker etc. dipped, then check out WT Deco, based out of Québec. Here's a pic of a Hummer they "dipped":
Check back soon for more water transfer articles!