A very quick guide to your own hydro dipped Xbox 360 controller shell (or any controller shell, for that matter)
Every now and then, I like to read back on previous posts to see if there are any notable additions to those pieces – in the case of what I wrote about controller customization, I thought it would be nice to look at another design approach – like a hydro dipped Xbox 360 controller shell, for instance.
Now while previous posts have mentioned that you can buy custom controller shells that have been hydro dipped, nothing really would discourage anyone from doing the same thing on their own. Other than fear of getting the re-assembly wrong or inability to follow directions, I would say going about designing your controller using this method is very straightforward.
So what do you mean by Hydro Dipping?
Hydro Dipping, which is also known as Hydrographics or immersion printing, is a special method of applying printed designs on 3d-objects. In this process, the piece that is to be printed on has a pre-coated base is dipped into a vat containing a texture or design that is printed on film that has a polyvinyl-alcohol base.
When the film is placed onto a vat or basin of water, a chemical “activator” is sprayed on top to allow the film to turn into liquid form. Once it reaches this state, the chemical reaction from the combination of polyvinyl alcohol and the activator creates an adhesive agent that bonds with the ink from the object and wraps around it. The result is a seamless design that wraps nicely around your object that you can show off to your friends.
So what makes this such a good process aside from the name sounding awesome?
Well for starters, hydro dipping works on any material that you can paint on like wood, metal, plastic and so on. In the case of an Xbox 360 controller (any controller for that matter), the shell is very well suited for the hydro dipping process. The design that goes onto the film can vary from different colours, textures and patterns that you can choose or create from.
Another cool feature in hydro dipping is that the chemical adhesive that was created bonds smoothly on a material’s surface, wrapping only the parts that envelope the material. Because of this, there are no signs of chipping, cracks or excess film that transfers onto the material -> Or in other words, you get a clean design every time (with the right amount of activator applied, of course).
Finally, due to its vinyl base, your material’s finish is easy to clean from stains, dust or unwanted dirt. No need for special cleaning products to get rid of the dirt on your controller, but rather a slightly damp cloth will get the job done in getting your controller squeaky clean and nice in no time!
So now, here’s what you need.
If by this time you are completely convinced that you can take on this project by yourself, I hope these simple steps and reminders will effectively guide the way for you.
1.) You need a controller.
Actually, a controller for any platform ought to do the trick, but for this instance, we will use an Xbox 360 controller, as it is one of the more popular and successful designs for controllers in recent times. Base color isn’t necessarily the big issue here, but the ideal is the white one as you will be able to see the patterns more clearly. Try to find an authentic controller if you can; as much as the second or third-party controllers may be cheaper, there’s no guarantee those product’s quality will be the same as the original one from Microsoft.
2.) Break apart your controller..
As you will only need the shell for this project. These days, the steps needed to disassemble a controller aren’t too complicated or daunting thanks to the multitude of guides on the internet. Here’s one that you can use as reference, please make sure to follow the steps as close as possible (thanks to XboxMod360 for the video!)
3.) Have your Hydro Dipping Kit ready!
Now that you have disassembled your controller, the next step is to have your Hydro Dipping Kit readied. There are plenty of these kits to choose from, but if this is your first time dabbling in hydrographics then we’ll go with the products from the DipKit Store – these guys sell a professional-grade materials that have been scaled to home use. You will be provided everything from the 6.6 ft x 20 inch film (pattern changes depending on which kit you purchase), paint for the base coat, chemical activator, and all the way to gloves, mask and scuff pads.
The Entry Level on its own has good value at $69.99, and should do the job if you wish to put a design on one or two controllers. Any more than that (let’s say if you wish to put graphics on your console, for instance), you may want to consider looking at the Elite or Designer Levels for double or triple the price but with more film and material to work with.
4.) Dip your controller shell into the kit..
Using the instructions that were included in your kit – these written instructions are very straightforward and should be very helpful in getting the dipping process done correctly. Don’t worry if you may not have a professional hydro transfer work table to work with – a basin or a large pail should do the job just fine.
It’s important that your controller shell gets a good amount of the base coating on it in order for the film to wrap nicely around it. Just as well, make sure to apply a healthy amount of the chemical activator as well.
After the dipping process is completed, let the pattern dry first before putting your controller back together.
So there you have it – your very own Xbox 360 controller shell, specially designed through the magical use of Hydro Dipping. This is definitely an interesting way of adding your own personal touch and design to your controller, and will bring you one step closer to having a trendy-cool controller shell design!
Please write your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below!
Categorised in: Controller Articles