A Complete Guide to Headwear Water Printing

September 19, 2016 - By Emily Potter

It’s been a few weeks since we last published in our All About Headwear series. We’ve covered cap anatomy, sublimationsizing and curvature, embroidery, customized cap orders, and screen printing.

But we’re back today to talk about another decoration technique: water printing.

The Process

Water printing is the process of applying printed design to a 3D object using the surface area of water in a tank. The process has many names:

  • Cubic Printing
  • Fluid Imaging
  • Hydro Dipping
  • Hydrographics
  • Immersion Printing
  • Water Transfer Imaging
  • Water Transfer Printing

Water printing utilizes a water-soluble film that contains a printed design or image. The film is placed flat on the surface of the water and a spray activator is applied causing the film to dissolve. Only the ink remains on the water’s surface so that when the cap is slowly dipped into the water, at a 45-degree angle, the ink is transferred to the cap’s material.


A benefit of headwear water printing is that the image will be transferred to every nook and cranny of the hat, something that can’t be achieved with other techniques.

Water printing is virtually universal. The pattern or image will stretch to fit the shape of the cap, because water takes the shape of any object.

Things to Consider

Headwear water printing works best when you want to achieve an all-over pattern for either the entire hat, just the visor, or selected panels. However, you can use water printing to create a single graphic or image as well.

A decorator can print all-over patterns on a blank cap. But if you want to select sections to be printed, it must be completed overseas. This way, individual pieces of fabric can be printed before the hat is assembled.

Headwear water printing works best on 100% cotton pieces. It’s also important to consider the colors in the design versus the color of the cap. Light colored prints won’t show well on dark fabrics. Are you using a camouflage pattern? Consider printing on a hat with a base color of light brown or olive green.

Headwear Water Printing

That’s it! Headwear water printing is a relatively simple method.

What other decoration techniques would you like us to cover? Let us know in the comments below. You can also follow us on Instagram using the hashtag #hatswork.

Emily Potter

Emily is the Content Marketer for Outdoor Cap Co. She holds an M.A. in AD & PR from the University of Alabama and a B.B.A in Marketing. Emily is an avid Crimson Tide football fan. She has a golden retriever named Opie Winston, and a cat named Tide.


Hatswork Round-Up: September 22, 2016


Hatswork Round-Up: September 15, 2016