Main St Brewing Custom Resin Tap Handle

Can I use Hydrographic Printing on a Tap Handle?

August 13, 2015 Tap Design No Comments

Hydrographic printing is a widely used technology that allows manufacturers to print customized designs on three-dimensional objects such as tap handles. At The Alison Group, many of our custom resin tap handles are decorated via the hydrographic printing method are of the wood grain aesthetic, as shown. However, hydrographic printing may be implemented using a wide array of materials, including metal, plastic, glass, and various others.

The wood grain on the Alaskan tap handle is decorated using hydrographic printing.


The process of hydrographic printing is quite ingenious. First, the design to be applied to the three-dimensional object is created. This design is printed on PVA (polyvinyl alcohol) film, which can be printed using a standard inkjet printer. The printed design is then floated on the surface of a vat of water. Before the object may be applied to the floating print, the print must be sprayed with an activator chemical. This activator chemical softens the color print, increasing the flexibility of the film and priming the print for application. Once the print is ready, the three-dimensional object is slowly immersed into the water, making direct contact with the floating print. As the object breaks the surface tension of the water, the print adheres to the object and is pulled underwater with the object. During this time underwater, a chemical reaction causes the design to be directly printed on to the three-dimensional object.

The wood grain on the Napa Smith tap handles are decorated using hydrographic printing.


With the power of hydrographic printing, your creative potential in tap handle design is virtually limitless. The vast combination of patterns and colors available allows the brewer to create a unique tap handle with strong character with realistic textures. It is this very individuality that stands out where it matters most- at the point of sale. A well-designed tap handle is often the pivotal factor that would convince a patron to select your beverage over that of the competitor.

The wood grain on the Schubros tap handle base and barrel is decorated using hydrographic printing.

Schubbos custom tap handle

Contact The Alison Group today for a custom tap handle design or quote.

Written by Jeff Schweiger