Hydrographics, also known as water transfer printing, is probably the best way to apply a pattern or graphic to pretty much any 3D object and is very popular in the hunting/fishing industry. There it is used to apply camo patterns to both guns and archery equipment and it is also used to apply patterns to automotive parts. Almost anything that is able to be submerged in water can have hydrographics applied to it. Things like metal, glass, wood, plastic, etc.
It is a step by step process and must be done properly in order to achieve great results on the final product. Most times it starts by the item being sanded or sandblasted and then thoroughly cleaned and degreased. Once this is completed, the item then receives a base coat of paint and the color of the base coat plays a factor in how the final project looks.
Once the paint has dried, the item is dipped in our tank which contains the pattern the customer selected. The pattern is originally placed on a water soluble film which must be placed in our tank and soaked for a predetermined amount of time before the item is dipped. Once the dip is complete, the item is moved to our rinse station where it is rinsed with fresh water and then allowed to sit and completely dry. The item is then taken and given multiple coats of clear coat for both protection and to add to the completed look. The customer can choose between a Matte finish, Semi-Gloss or High Gloss.
Once completed, the finish is basically the same as that on a vehicle and is very durable and should be treated the same as your car. Try to avoid getting any solvents, fuels or oils on the finish as this can eventually cause damage.
All finished items come with a one year warranty against flaking, peeling, cracking, etc. Things like scratches, scuffs and chips are not covered as is ANY moving part that slides against other parts. Those fall under normal wear and tear or improper care.