Skip to Content

How to Start a Hydro Dipping Business

Do you want to start a hydro dipping business? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a hydro dripping business with NO money and no experience.

If you have got a knack for arts, then the hydro dipping line of business would be just right for you. If you have artistic skills and can create arts that are amazing enough to be displayed on certain items that are being used every day like video game controllers, bike helmets and car dashboards, then the hydro dipping business might just be the business for you.

Hydro dipping can be defined as a process where objects are painted by dipping them in water containing a base coat of paint.

In other words, it is a process where you can apply printed designs to surfaces that are three-dimensional in nature. The different surfaces where hydro dipping can be applied on are plastic, glass, metal, hard wood and other such materials.

Because of how technical this business is, you will need to conduct a thorough research on the market you are looking to go into. This is because the business requires a large facility where you will be able to dip any item brought to you by your customers.

Once you have gotten the location that will best suit your business and have done the necessary renovations, you will need to make enquiries about film suppliers so as to find out what their rates are, and also find a reliable one that will serve as your supplier.

Before you start taking orders from clients, ensure that you have thoroughly practiced hydro dipping several times on your own, so that you do not end up ruining the items of your clients. This means that you should get the formula correctly at all times so that when a job from a client comes, you are able to carry it out successfully.

The films that you will be purchasing from the film suppliers are designs that have been copyrighted and so you must budget the amount you will need to first purchase the film and then to be able to access the copyright of the film. The copyright aspect of the business is a serious one and if you do not purchase this, you will run into trouble with the law because not only will you be made to pay the copyright fee, you will also pay for royalties as well as damages.

Because a lot of people are into hydro dipping and a lot of DIY kits that will allow the regular person to go into the business are being sold, it is vital that you look for a niche that will enable you to stand out from others, and before you can find out what will give you an edge, you need to write out a business plan.

A business plan is a very important part of starting any business as it allows you know if the business you intend going into will be worth your time and resources by showing you an outline of the business on paper.

Steps to Starting a Hydro Dipping Business

1. Understand the Industry

According to industry estimates, the hydro dipping industry is estimated to be a $1 billion industry with a large chunk of the revenue coming from large scale hydrographic companies, and the smaller percentage coming from individual and small local companies.

The hydro dipping business is said to be growing as more people and industries are getting aware of the possibilities that the industry affords.

The hydro dipping business is regarded more as a craft than a commodity. Those that are into hydrographic as processors or coaters have had previous experience from painting markets. This segment is expected to continue to grow particularly for companies that are of medium scale.

Printers that are established can use this opportunity to key into the industry and grow from there. As at 2010, most of the film sold in the united states was at 4 million square meters with an average cost of mostly to a consumer. The annual market size for film is estimated to be from $20 – $40 million.

The major suppliers to the market have been two Asian film manufacturers and they have had to deal with limited distribution. The origin of hydro graphics can be traced to China in the late 80s as the auto industry used it to decorate the interior of their automobiles.

The hydro dipping business is one that uses amazing technology and has limitless potentials, however, the business is one that has high overheads and a terrible margin. In order to survive, most companies usually streamline the process, manage waste, maximize their cycles and then push out high volume orders.

To some, the hydro dipping business is growing, while to others the market is saturated, but all agree that quality is the most important part of the business as this is how some companies are able to retain their clients.

2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The psychographic and demographic compositions of those that use the services of a hydro dripping business include companies and individuals of different industries. Therefore, if you are looking to define the demographics of your hydro dipping business, you should strive to make it all encompassing.

3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On

Before you can decide on what niche you want for your business, it is important that you conduct a thorough survey on the market as this will allow you know what areas you can go into that will generate substantial revenue for your hydro dipping business. Some of the niche areas that you may therefore decide to go into when starting your hydro dipping business are;

  • Hydro Dipping
  • Glow-in-the-dark Hydrographics
  • Water Transfer Printing
  • DIY Hydrographic Kits
  • Media Blasting
  • Ceramic Coating
  • Sale of hydrographic equipment
  • Powder coating
  • Hydrographics films
The Level of Competition in the Industry

The level of competition in the hydro dipping business industry is totally dependent on the location of the business. This therefore means that you cannot operate your business from just anywhere and still compete effectively.

The internet has made it possible for businesses to be able to stay whatever part of the world they are in and compete because clients can see the services of the company online. This is possible because what clients are interested in is in how good your work is and what kind of films you possess.

However, while this is absolutely possible, it does not work all the time as you would need to concentrate on the target market around you. Therefore, if you are looking to start a hydro dipping business in the United States, you should be prepared to meet with the stiff competition you are likely to face, not only within the country but outside it as well.

Large hydro dipping companies are able to determine the trends in the industry due to the number of films – general and unique – in their possession and their marketing services; while small and medium hydro dipping businesses will be able to compete by giving their clients personalized and quick services.

4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry

In every industry, there are always brands that stand out and the hydro dipping business is no different. There are things that make a brand stand out and they usually are; the quality of services offered by the business, the marketing and advertising strategies used, the quality of customer care, their length of time in the industry and other attributes. Below are some of the well-known hydro dipping companies in the United States of America and even globally;

  • Ozarks Hydrographic
  • Northwest HydroPrint
  • Grabow Outdoors
  • Liquid Visionz
  • Unique Hydro Graphics
  • Hydro Dip Store
Economic Analysis

The hydro dipping industry is one that is regarded as very unregulated and this is because many people entering it are not getting the right training and are also entering the business for the wrong reasons. This has led to a lot of unsatisfied customers who have had to pay for an end product that is inferior.

In order to stand out in the business, advertising is important in this industry and this is because the market is becoming very saturated. Most businesses are exploring both conventional and unconventional means of advertising in order to stand out.

The hydro dipping business has been made it look simplistic on YouTube with many videos showing people how it can be done. However, the business is a lot harder and there are also many unreliable vendors in the industry allowing owners of businesses to be frustrated.

In certain parts of the country, the hydro dipping industry is barely growing and many local businesses have closed up due to high overheads that come from an expensive process and low margins.

5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch

When starting your business as an entrepreneur, you might be faced with the option of starting from scratch or buying a franchise. While both options have their pros and cons, the option you should finally choose should be that which aligns with the goals and objectives of your business.

When starting a business from scratch, several things have to be taken into consideration as you will be in charge of all aspects of your business; an inability to handle all these aspects well might lead your business to crash.

The reason why some entrepreneurs buy a franchise is because they have no managerial experience in certain kinds of business and therefore will prefer to be guided by a similar company with more experience in not only management, but also marketing and training support as well.

If your intention therefore is to buy a franchise, then you must ensure that you study each franchise opportunity thoroughly so as to go with the one that will best align with your goals and objectives.

6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

Every business has certain threats and challenges that it will always face and so any entrepreneur going into business should know this. While some threats and challenges can be easily handled once they crop up, others would require you to just remain optimistic and hope that the moment passes.

Therefore, the threats and challenges that you are likely to face during the course of starting your hydro dipping business are; various governmental and industry policies regarding your business, intense competition from already established and well known hydro dipping businesses, economic downturn that will affect the number of people who want their items hydro dipped, and competition from new entrants into the business running the business from the same location.

7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)

There are several factors to put in mind when choosing a legal entity for your business and they are; flexibility, liability, ease of ownership, control and taxation. While some legal entities offer the owners limited liabilities, it is not so with others and so depending on the kind of requirements your business needs, you would need to look critically at some of these attributes.

If you aren’t sure of which would be good for your business, it is best to seek the services of a lawyer well versed in your kind of industry to help you out.

The available legal entities that exist for an entrepreneur looking to start a hydro dipping business are; sole proprietorship and Limited Liability Company (LLC). While these legal entities are not the only two that exist, they are the most appropriate for this kind of business.

You should note that some of the characteristics of a legal entity might differ depending on the state where you will be running your business from. In a sole proprietorship, the owner is in charge of all the actions and decisions taken during the course of running the business. This kind of legal entity is usually appropriate for those starting at home and on a small scale.

However, should your business run into losses, you will be held personally liable, which therefore means that this legal entity has unlimited liability. One con with this legal entity is that you cannot use it to source for funds from the bank or private investors.

In an LLC, the business is incorporated and is regarded as a separate being from the owners. This means the law sees the business as an entity responsible for all its actions and decisions.

Because of separation of entity from owners, the business can sue and be sued and should any losses occur, the owners are not to be held personally liable.  This is a very flexible form of legal entity and most entrepreneurs most often choose this.

8. Choose a Catchy Business Name

In starting any business, it is necessary that you choose a business name that will allow you operate the business legally. Choosing a business name that is catchy and unique is usually not an easy feat and sometimes entrepreneurs might need to look at well-known names for inspiration on what to call theirs.

It is important to note that not only must your business name be unique; it must also be memorable, easily pronounced by others and also indicative of the industry that you are in.  Some catchy names to use include;

  • OnPoint Hydro Dip
  • Anchor Arts Hydrographics
  • Musez Hydro Graphics
  • Splash Hydro Dip
  • Patternz Hydro Graphics
  • Splatter Hydro Dip

9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You

In starting any business in the United States, it is expected that you ensure that your business is properly covered so that you will not be personally thrown off track when you have to cover certain liabilities out of your own pocket.

Having insurance policies is therefore very important and therefore not only must you create a budget that will allow you purchase these insurance policies, you will also need to consult with insurance agents or brokers that will tell you what insurance policies will be best for your business and which carriers you should go with.

Below are some of the basic insurance policies that you should consider purchasing when looking to start your hydro dipping business in the United States of America;

  • General Liability Insurance
  • Professional Liability Insurance
  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance
  • Business Owners’ Policy (BOP)
  • Contractors Insurance
  • Auto Insurance
  • Property Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Overhead Expense Insurance
  • Employment Practices Insurance
  • Equipment Insurance

10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

The hydro dipping business is one where you will be paying for the right to be able to access the designs on the film which you have purchased from a supplier.

This aspect of running the business is very serious and if you default, you will be made to pay more than you should if you had just paid for the copyright in addition to paying for the film, and you will still be ordered to cease from using the design.

Even though this is a business that involves paying for the copyright of the material you intend to use, you can go ahead and also apply for copyright on the name of your company, logo, domain name and any other materials that you deem should be properly protected.

11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

Even though the hydro dipping business is one that should be started by those who are artistic and who know about the business, just about anyone that is interested enough can go into the business. However, if you have no knowledge about the business, you might need to go for professional training courses that will guide you on how to go about the business from start to finish.

However, while there are several training certification courses available in the industry, none stands out and so you might need to sift carefully through the information given from different training places in order to go with the one that will be most suitable for you.

12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

When starting a business, it is important that you have all the documents that back up your business to make you legal if you do not intend to run into trouble with the law. Businesses without proper registration or incomplete documentation stand to not only get penalized by the authorities but such an entrepreneur might also be banned from running such business within the United States.

Therefore, if you do not know what documents you should have, you should consult a lawyer that is knowledgeable in the business you are going into to help you with what you will need to run your business legitimately. Below are some of the legal documents that you will need in order to run your hydro dipping business in the United States of America;

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Operating Agreement
  • Contract Documents
  • Retail License
  • City License
  • Business License
  • Business Plan
  • Business Permit
  • Insurance Policies
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Federal Tax Identification Number

13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

As an entrepreneur looking to start a business, the issue of finance is a very serious one as it can stall your business ideas. While it is important to have all your start-up capital, it is not usually easy.

It is for this reason that it is advised that a comprehensive business plan be written so that if you intend to approach private investors for funds, they will through your business plan determine the seriousness of your business and how they will likely get their funds back at the intended period.

Below therefore are some of the options that are available to your when it comes to starting your hydro dipping business;

  • Using part of your personal savings or revenue generated from sale of stock or property as part of your start-up capital
  • Sourcing for soft loans from friends and family members
  • Applying for loan from commercial bank
  • Getting a business partner to bring in part of your start-up capital
  • Approaching a private investor for loan

14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

The location where you will run your hydro dipping business from is very important so you should ensure that you make the right decision. If you are determined to work from home, ensure that you have enough space to perform your hydro dipping, but you should know that your home will be seriously limiting as regards the kind of jobs you might accept from your clients.

If your intention is to run your business commercially and compete against similar businesses like yours, then there are several factors that you would need to take into consideration when scouting for a perfect location and they are that; the location is in a high profile area, and that there is regular traffic.

If you have found the perfect location but aren’t allowed to modify, all your efforts must have been in vain, so ensure that you also find out if modifications will be allowed for the business especially as your dipping studio must be water tight.

So, except you are not looking to run your business professionally, you should not consider running your business from the house. Having the right budget at hand with which to run your business is necessary to give your business the boost it needs.

You can engage the services of a business consultant who has the knowledge of your business to help you look for the right location for your business within the zoning regulations allowed by the authorities.

Ensure that you have a signage that is very attractive and conspicuous for your business so that people can see and know where your business is before they get to the building housing your hydro dipping studio. Also ensure that not only are you easily accessible but that your facility is convenient for employees working there.

15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

Because this business is one that requires the use of water, it is important to use a facility where you will have the needed space with which you can dip any size of items that your customers bring. It might be difficult to get a location that will allow for modification on their property, this does not mean there aren’t; you should only just be prepared to spend enough when you get the location you want.

In starting this business, finance is very important as you will need to not only pay and renovate a location but also acquire the necessary equipment and chemicals that you will use to make you deliver an excellent job. If you do not have the necessary finance to start your business, you might need to source for funds from private investors with which to use in starting your business.

In starting your hydro dipping business, there are certain equipment you will require in order to run your business successfully and efficiently.

Some of the equipment you would need are; hydrographic tanks, paint spray booths, paint system, gloves, tape, humidifiers, chemicals, hydrographics films, paint materials, activator, wash and rinse stations, powder coating systems, powder coating ovens, powder coating strippers, powder spray booths, sand blasting systems, racking, powder paints, clear guns, and other accessories.

If you intend to run your business professionally, it is vital that you hire proficient and competent people that do not only have experience as regards the business, but align with your goals and are committed enough to ensure that you are able to attain your set goals and objectives.

Therefore some of those you would need to hire are; Chief Executive Officer (owner), admin and human resource manager, marketing executive, accountant, hydro dipping staff, customer service executive and cleaner. Therefore from the above analysis, you will require at least 8 key staff in order to run your hydro dipping business successfully.

The Service Delivery Process of the Business

The process involved in hydro dipping which is also called water transfer printing includes decorating items of different range from small items like automotive trims to all-terrain vehicles. Films are first applied to different kinds of substrates such as wood, plastic, ceramics, fiberglass and metal.

Then these items are dipped in water, before being painted on using traditional techniques before the process of hydro dipping is used.

The substrate piece that is to be used goes through the process of preparation, priming and then painting. Once the substrate has been painted, a polyvinyl alcohol hydrographic film which has the graphic image to be used already gravure-printed on it is then placed carefully on the water surface right in the dipping tank.

Once the dipping is ongoing, the surface tension of the water will through the pattern curve around the shape that has been dipped.

Once this is done, any remaining residue will be rinsed off well and because the ink has already adhered, it will not wash off. Once this process has been done, the substrate is allowed to dry. This whole process allows before clear coating.

16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies

For a business to be able to achieve its revenue generation goal it must be serious about its marketing plans and this is no different for a hydro dipping business.

However, while certain businesses require having effective strategies to get the needed clients; the hydro dipping business requires a proof during marketing in order to believe that you will be able to carry out the services that you say you will.

So marketing in this kind of industry will require that you anticipate the need of your intended client and choose to meet that need.

Therefore, if you are looking to draft marketing strategies for your hydro dipping business, you have to ensure that you have created a compelling profile of your works, from all that you practiced and got perfect at; to the small clients whose jobs you handled.

At this point, everything that will create the right impression for your client is very important and will help boost your chances when meeting with customers or sourcing for contracts.

However, before drafting any marketing strategies, it is important that you study the market you intend going into properly in order to be able to determine who your target market is, what identifiable characteristics they have, what they are expecting from you and what you should also expect from them.

Your market analysis will also allow you study your competitors, their mode of operation and the prevailing rates for services in the industry. Below are some of the marketing ideas and strategies you would need to generate revenue for your hydro dipping business;

  • Empower your marketing executives to physically market your services to your intended target market
  • Create different packages for various category of clients, that way you get to work within their budget
  • Advertise your hydro dipping business in local newspapers and art related magazines as well as on local radio and television stations
  • Join your local association and any other business networking groups in your locality in order to advertise your hydro dipping business
  • Ensure that you distribute handbills and fliers in various strategic locations around the city you intend running your business in
  • Use your social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, PInterest, and other popular art related forums and blogs in order to market your hydro dipping business

17. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity

The dual nature of publicity is why companies are willing to spend a substantial amount of their revenue in order to boost the awareness for their business and also create a communicable corporate identity for their business.

Therefore, if your intention is for your hydro dipping business to be well known within the country and also beyond international boundaries, then you need to set aside a budget and also create strategies that will allow you boost the awareness for your brand.

There are several avenues you can leverage on when looking to promote the image of your brand to the public and it includes hiring a publicity consultant with experience in this kind of business.

If you are looking to hire a publicity consultant, ensure that there are well crafted guidelines that he or she must follow in order to enable you attain your intended goals and objectives. Setting aside a budget to promote your hydro dipping business is very important so that you do not end up spending more than you should.

Below are some of the publicity strategies you can use to boost your brand awareness and create a corporate identity for your business;

  • Ensure that you install a creative and attractive signage that can be seen from a distance outside your store
  • Create a website and display all your works there thereby using your website as a means of promotion
  • Distribute handbills and business cards and also paste fliers in conspicuous but strategic locations in the city you are operating from
  • Use your social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat to promote your hydro dipping business
  • Encourage your satisfied and loyal customers to help spread the word about your hydro dipping business
  • Engage and participate in community projects so as to bring awareness to your business