A group of researchers from Columbia University and Zhejiang University have released a paper showing how they can place a full colour texture map onto 3D printed objects.
They have created software that simulates how the hydrographic film will look when applied to the 3D model. This simulation is then used to alter the texture map image, which can then be printed onto a clear sheet of hydrographics film. A jig with a linear actuator is then used to precisely dip the printed part into the water bath holding the printed film. The results of this process can look very impressive. For full details see the research paper.
The process is still in the research phase, but once completed should provide more opportunities in the future of 3D printing.