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Twenty first century technology has finally

come to the aid of the classic car fraternity with the introduction

of a new state-of-the art woodgraining

technique currently known as water

transfer printing and it could enable you to

give your dashboard a complete makeover.

A real wooden dashboard has long been perceived as the hallmark of a quality automobile, however, all that changed in 1930 when Henry Ford introduced a woodgrained metal dash-board on the Model A, using a process copied from the cash register industry. In simple terms, woodgraining is the practice of applying a woodgrain effect to a non-wood surface and thus creating the illusion of a wood finish. It also helps to increase the natural beauty and appeal of that surface.

Following Ford’s lead automakers across the globe introduced faux wood dashboards using a variety of ink printing and stamping processes to mimic the look of real wood and many carried these fake wood effect dashboards well into the 1950s.

Today, traditional woodgraining is something of a lost art and whilst there are many specialists that can create beautifully veneered dashboards and door cappings, those that can re-create quality faux wood effects are few and far between – witness the fact that many vehicles at classic car shows that originally had woodgrained dash- boards either have a worn out semblance of the original or been restored taking the easy option and having the dashboard painted in body colour.

Water transfer printing, also sometimes referred to as hydrographics, immersion printing or even ‘dipping’ is a stunningly simple, but effective coating process that was originally developed in Japan and patented as cubic printing. One of the rapidly expanding exponents of this process is Wicked Coatings based in Poole, Dorset. The firm was set up by Lyle Meikle and Chris Hinks who both had a background in classic car restoration and auto body repair, but discovered water transfer printing in 2010 and decided to move away from bodywork repair as a result.

In simple terms, the water transfer printing process involves the application of a pre-printed PVA-based film to the surface of a component via a water bath. This simple yet effective process can apply any of 1000s of designs covering a virtual endless range of subjects including natural materials such as animal fur, lizard skins, flowers and stone patterns through to designs more suited to automotive applications such

56 SURFACE WORLD February 2014

as carbon fibre, camouflage and, of course, 100s of woodgrains and patterns. And to make thing even more complicated the vast range of wood designs are also available in a variety of colours and intensity. In essence, you are spoilt for choice.

Good preparation is essential

Wicked Coatings generally prefer to tackle the whole job themselves, which can involve stripping (bead blasting if required to remove rust) primering and prepping the dashboard, facia panels and door trims. As expert painters and finishers, by undertaking the complete process they can guarantee the finished result which is not possible with d-i-y preparation where rust could still be present or the base paint is the wrong colour or type for good adhesion.

Certain wood effects may require a pinkish or orange base coat and if you get this wrong the overall effect might not be too pleasing. So, it’s for this very reason that the guys at Wicked Coatings prefer to handle the entire process themselves so that the end result will be perfect.

Contact us for more information: Telephone: +44 (0) 1202 622258

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