How To Easy Make The Hydrographic Activator At Home

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Hydrographic printing is more common to hunters nowadays because of their benefits for hunting. To paint the gears themselves, many people want to know how to make the hydrographic activator at home. But what is the activator? Can we easily make some? And is it dangerous or not? Everything is answered in this guide.

What are hydrography and its effects on hunting?

Before making the hydrographic activator, we need to know what exactly the process is. Hydrographic printing, a.k.a water transfer printing, film dipping, is a printing technique that allows us to paint 3-D objects. It uses a painted design called film and the pressure of hot water to work. If you are hunter, a LED police flashlight is a must have item in your package in any trip.

Water transfer printing is mostly used to decorate things such as cars or helmets, etc. In hunting, we also apply this technique to our gears. There are many types of painting, as well as colors choose, so we can create a unique pattern for our guns. This makes your weapon looks a lot cooler and personalized.

Fashion isn’t the only reason. Most of us will use hydrographic printing to camouflage the weapons. We need to hide our firearm to not scare the animal. If not, our hunt may fail, even before we can take a shot. For me, I always paint my firearm with a pattern that looks like those of soldier’s uniform. No matter the color is, light green or orange, as long as it’s in this pattern. This does increase my chance of success in the forest.

Another creative thing you can do with hydrographic printing is that you can create a watermark. It is to mark your weapon and prevent it from being stolen or getting lost.

The hydrographic activator and the reason for making it at home

If you’ve ever done hydrographic printing before, you would know that the activator is essential. In fact, the process can be completed without the activator, but it’s a harder, more complex and less effective way. The modern technique requires the present of activator for a quick and easy printing.

The activator works a paint thinner. Its job is to soften the painted film in the hot water tank, giving it the ability to stick to the object. The substance is also a plasticizer, which adheres and strengthen the bond between the film with the surface of the object.

Because of its significance, the hydrographic activator cost a quite amount of money. Moreover, it’s only a mixture of chemicals, which has many ways to make. Even fuel can work. So, manually making the activator for water transfer printing at home is a more financial and interesting way to decorate your gears.

The most available and common formula for activator

In chemistry, many different chemicals can produce the same effects. Therefore there isn’t such a thing as the best formula for the activator. As said, this substance is a kind of evaporating paint thinner. And every paint thinner mixture which includes a solvent like xylene can become water transfer activator. So we have a bunch of answers to the question “how to make the hydrographic activator at home?”.

Are you confused? Don’t panic. There still an activator formula that is more common than the others. It can be your solution. It comprises of many chemicals that are often available no matter which country you are in. The formula is also tested and proved, so you can feel safety when following it.

This activator formula contains xylene, isobutanol, butyl, methyl acetate and b-butanone (methyl ethyl ketone, a.k.a MEK). Here is the detailed percentage for each component:

  • Xylene – 42%
  • Isobutanol – 5%
  • Butyl – 17%
  • Methyl acetate – 28%
  • MEK – 8%

Other chemicals that we can use to make the activator

As said, you can have hundreds of ways to make a bottle of hydrographic activator. As long as the alternative components can work the same as the original. Here is another formula with different content for each component:

  • Xylene – 52.94%
  • Methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK) – 25.88%
  • Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) – 11.18%
  • Isophorone – 5%
  • Cyclohexanone – 5%

You can also try texanol or 2-butoxyethanol for the activator. You can refer to the MDSD chart to know how much percentage of each chemical is allowed to use.

Safety notice: do we need to make the activator at home

Every business that includes direct exposure to chemicals is not totally safe. You have to follow a set of strict rules to avoid unwanted accidents. The hydrographic activator is not an exception. Its components are substances that may affect your health, through contacting or breathing. Even the chemical’s clean up can threaten your life. It is especially dangerous when you have to exposure to them for a long time of work, or on a daily basis.

So, remember to protect your health as it’s the most important to you, not the painted car. Here are some safety practices you need to carry out.

Wear gloves always. They may be your life-saver. Your hand is the only mean to work, they are the first part to be affected. A pair of gloves is necessary as they protect your hands and prevent harmful chemicals from going through your skin. You can work freely without being afraid of getting health issues.

Protect your eyes. When something bad happens, I always want to keep my eyes safe first. They are the most sensible and vulnerable parts of my body. They are the hardest organs to cure when being damaged. And, they are my most valuable assets but always exposure to the environment. So, my solution is a welding helmet with eye protection.

Do not break the content limit. When referring to the MDSD chart, you can know the highest allowed percentage for each chemical in the mixture. That is the safety level, which is tested and proved good for user health. If you break the limit, your chemicals can become toxic. These health hazards float on the surface of the water or evaporate into the atmosphere. This will put you in danger as everything around is poisonous. Finally, if there is any redundant part of the paint left on your gun, you can use otf knife to cut & make it lean again.

After reading this guide, we hope you know how to make the hydrographic activator at home. You know the formula and how much content for each component needed. Just mix them up and begin painting your gears. Let’s give your guns and hunting a new look!

About the author

Christopher Wade

Christopher Wade

Christopher Wade is a true outdoorsman. After spending most of his career as a firearms expert and instructor in Nebraska, he retreated to the great outdoors to enjoy retirement.

Christopher’s expertise in handling firearms and hunting gear are what propelled him to create the Shooting Mystery blog. He hopes for all readers to gain useful and practical knowledge for enjoying their time outdoors.