Home-made Custom Decals

BakerJohn

Baker, Modeler, Flour Ambassador

Tanker man

G scale and 5 inch ride on
10 Jun 2015
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I have used some of this type of paper, you have to seal the print, otherwise, the ink runs, it can be a bit fiddly on small items. You have to spray 'fix' the transfer, after it is on the item. Another thing to remember is that your printer does not print 'white' , I have another white paper for decals with white print on.
Hope this helps
Dave
 

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
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Other issue with Inkjet Paper as this is is that it may not be UV Secure. Not sure if tech will work but well worth investigating a spray with a UV Inkjet Fix. Would think probably after applying the Decals. Though the rattle can I have says after Printing but suggests always worthwhile to do a Test Spray on your Printout. Perhaps a Test with a Print on a Test Painted and Decalled Test Piece and on some before Application.
 

idlemarvel

Neither idle nor a marvel
13 Jul 2015
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I tried this technique and found it to be very disappointing. I think it is down to the ability of the inkjet printer to lay down colour that is "rich" enough to be really opaque. It looks fine printed on the transfer paper but once applied it seems to drastically increase the transparency. See picture below, you can barely make out the number 4 on the green plastic sample below the printed 4. And of course you can't do white lettering.

IMG_20180222_195410.jpg
 

ebay mike

Retired, but still hoarding. (GOF)
6 Dec 2011
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Just a thought, but would this be feasible for white lettering?
Fill a clean empty cartridge with white ink. There are sources for ones that are chipless or confuse the printer to think they are genuine. Design your required white decals in black, but replace the black cartridge with said white one. Then print. Obviously you would need to experiment for other colours and tones. As it is fairly easy to pick up a secondhand printed on a car boot for around a fiver (or even a new one about £25) it is not a great loss if it isn't a goer.
I've seen some LED UV curable white ink on eBay but haven't done any research on it.
 

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
5 Jun 2013
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You just are not putting enough pigment down.. - Think how long a cartridge lasts? Most have less-then 15ml of 'ink' in them. That is three teaspoons. Most are also dye-based, rather than pigment-based, so not a 'solid' colour.

You can get better results, with a white background to apply the decals to, or a suitable colour for your lighter lettering. A bit of a pain, to mask-up though.

As others have said:
The paper / adhesive properties may not like UV.
The inks may not be colour-fast, water-resistant, or UV stable.
You may well not get a 'clean' edge if you have blocks of colour butting right against each other.

A colour-laser may-well give a more robust (in a colour sense) result, but there gamut tends to be less 'photo-realistic'.
 

BakerJohn

Baker, Modeler, Flour Ambassador
Thank you all for your responses! What I'm taking from all this is that it's probably a fair amount of work for not a great result (re: Dave's post especially). I managed to get quotes from two companies for the same sheet of decals. I think I'll go with the $18 quote. That way I'll just have to cut them out and put them on.
 

maxi-model

UK/US/ROW steam narrow gauge railways 1:1
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Colour laser printers may give you a print of sufficient opacity as they use dry toner powder. But remember they - 1) Use heat to melt and fix a toner powder to any substrate material, so that material must be able to withstand the heat process and not foul the heater elements (rollers) and 2) Laser colour printers can be used to make nice translucent slides for projection on OHP film, so you may still not achieve the opacity you want when applying the transfer to anything other than a white background. I spent a good deal of my working life selling full colour printer/copiers, both ink jet and laser, for Xerox and Canon. Max
 

PhilP

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for Xerox

I love my Phaser! :h::h:
BUT,
It may be that the 'ink' (wax) cooks in the printer? - I do not use it enough, probably?? It is not able to give a decent 'blue'.. :(

Oh, and you are not able to laminate the output! :rolleyes::oops::giggle::giggle:
 

Eaglecliff

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19 Jul 2010
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Has anyone thought of taking a sheet of SafMat (or whatever it’s called) to, e.g., Max Spielmann, with your artwork on a disc (all right, disk), and asking them to print the latter onto the former, assuming they use inkjet rather than laser printers? Possibly the heat might be problem, though. Another option, ask Slater’s Plastikard who does their Methfix printing and approach them to get a quote...
Final suggestion, not mine but one from a modeller that I came across many years ago, is not to accept that it is beyond your abilities, and just practice until you can do it by hand... hasn’t worked for me yet...
 

ntpntpntp

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Not that it really helps the discussion with regards to current technologies, but I still carefully maintain my old Alps Microdry technology printer (Actually a Citizen re-badge of an Alps) and a copy of Wndows ME as it has the best drivers for the printer. I can print colours, metallics and white on decent thin waterslide decal paper. I find it much better than inkjet decal papers and printing techniques. The Alps printers are long out of production, supplies of the cartridges are getting hard to find now, but I shall keep it going as long as I can!

All the white decals on this N scale model were created and printed using the above system back in 2005.

P1040004a.jpg
 

The Devonian

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17 Nov 2009
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Many years ago, when getting into the hobby, some of my initial purchases were Bachmann Big Hauler (1:22.5) coal hoppers.
Matt black paint hid the East Broad Top herald easily but I needed to name them with my railroad name.
My first printer was an HP inkjet as it its replacement.
Using one of the programmes - I believe I used M/Soft office initially and the free versions which I now use on Linux. Knowing white print was not an option I decided to click the white colour choice (from the many colour choices available) and typed my road name, I then clicked on a background colour - in this instance black. This revealed the road name. Needing ten (two per car) I highlighted and clicked copy. I was able to make nine copies. This method is how I remember doing it.
I cut them out and applied wood glue, which dries transparent, to the back and stuck them to the car sides. They stay stuck for a long while and provided, when they fall off are not damaged, can soon be re-fixed. Ordinary paper glue could be used but is not as long lasting.
I made coloured road names for Jackson & Sharpe cars: gold (actually yellow) on maroon by this method. I also numbered the coal hoppers and some Aristo coal hoppers (DATA only ones) the same way. I did make some orange backed decals for a couple of locos and cabooses and box cars. The orange did fade. However, initially I used an orange felt pen (good control over a pen rather than a brush) to renew the orange coloured background. The next time I did it was with a very fine brush and acrylic war games paint. The paint is long lasting.
To me it is a simple and cheap method - ink is cheaper than buying new equipment even if off auction sites. I did describe this here some time ago (maybe in GScale Mad days).
This method can be used for signage but clear varnish, or similar, would be a good idea to maintain a more permanent fixing.
Trial and error of course but the winter is a long time and spring is some way off!
 

Northsider

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3 May 2012
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I have used white laser printer decal sheet successfully. I put a red background (to match my rolling stock) behind the lettering, and cut it tight to the letters; it is only visible in the middle of letters, such as the capital R below. Where printing onto cream paintwork, clear decal sheet worked well. I can't find any square-on photos, but this gives some idea of how they turned out:
F30 outshopped.jpg
 
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dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
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You just are not putting enough pigment down.. - Think how long a cartridge lasts? Most have less-then 15ml of 'ink' in them. That is three teaspoons. Most are also dye-based, rather than pigment-based, so not a 'solid' colour.

You can get better results, with a white background to apply the decals to, or a suitable colour for your lighter lettering. A bit of a pain, to mask-up though.

As others have said:
The paper / adhesive properties may not like UV.
The inks may not be colour-fast, water-resistant, or UV stable.
You may well not get a 'clean' edge if you have blocks of colour butting right against each other.

A colour-laser may-well give a more robust (in a colour sense) result, but there gamut tends to be less 'photo-realistic'.
Colour laser printers may give you a print of sufficient opacity as they use dry toner powder. But remember they - 1) Use heat to melt and fix a toner powder to any substrate material, so that material must be able to withstand the heat process and not foul the heater elements (rollers) and 2) Laser colour printers can be used to make nice translucent slides for projection on OHP film, so you may still not achieve the opacity you want when applying the transfer to anything other than a white background. I spent a good deal of my working life selling full colour printer/copiers, both ink jet and laser, for Xerox and Canon. Max
It must be possible to create Decals after all many Companies and Individuals manage it such as Michael Troeger in Germany with his superb G Transfers. I suspect that the cheepo Net obtained papers and home Printers are just not up to the job. Just look at what Michael charges for his products, reflects the cost of an expensive Printer and Consumables I imagine.
 

beavercreek

Travel, Art, Theatre, Music, Photography, Trains
24 Oct 2009
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Colour laser printed decals on clear or white waterslide material is a good way of producing decals as long as the finished applied decal is given a couple of good coats of varnish, not only to seal it, but also to give some extra protection against fading from sunlight etc.

I have also used my A2 epson 3880 inkjet printer which uses K pigment non-fade inks and this, with a couple of coats of protecting varnish gives goos long lasting decals.

A tip which you may already know is to spray the surface, that the decal is going to be applied to, with gloss varnish as this helps the decal to 'bed down' onto the surface. Coats of matt varnish can then be applied over the decal and surrounding area to 'feather' it in.

Although you can't print white lettering etc with either inkjet or laser (excepting the Apls printer), using white waterslide material, the background of a decal can be filed with the colour that matches the item that it is being applied to and the lettering left white. This can be very effective provided a good backgound match is made.

The other way is to use clear waterslide material, print the background colour and leave the lettering clear. The lettering area is painted white on the loco surface and the decal applied over it to give white lettering.
 

Hutch

G Gauge, Raising Peaches, Apricots
1 Feb 2012
467
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Southwest Oklahoma, USA
I have also used my A2 epson 3880 inkjet printer which uses K pigment non-fade inks and this, with a couple of coats of protecting varnish gives goos long lasting decals.

A tip which you may already know is to spray the surface, that the decal is going to be applied to, with gloss varnish as this helps the decal to 'bed down' onto the surface. Coats of matt varnish can then be applied over the decal and surrounding area to 'feather' it in.


Yes. the quality depends completely upon the ink and media. I have used one commercial grade epson and one high end Canon printer successfully with their premium (meaning overpriced) inks. YMMV
 

maxi-model

UK/US/ROW steam narrow gauge railways 1:1
27 Oct 2009
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A tip which you may already know is to spray the surface, that the decal i"s going to be applied to, with gloss varnish as this helps the decal to 'bed down' onto the surface. Coats of matt varnish can then be applied over the decal and surrounding area to 'feather' it in..

The purpose of applying a waterslide decal to a gloss surface only is only part of the process for "hiding" the carrier film. On any any other type of finish, e.g. matt & satin a decal's carrier film will show irrespective of what finishing lacquer you apply. First prepare your surface with a gloss coat, then just as you apply the decal brush on some Microscale "Microset" this will help settle the decal and also help obscure the decal film. If the model's surface has a compound curvature of is heavily grained then you may want to apply some Microscale "Microsol" onto the decal to soften it and get it to conform to the uneven surface. Make sure your decal is compatible with these products before applying, test a sample first or ask the supplier. When the decal has thoroughly dried you then can apply your chosen final finish. Again make sure the finish is compatible with the decal material supplied - safest is an enamel oil based product. The solvents in some lacquer finishes are notorious for dissolving some metallic print finishes, again check with your supplier or test first. Max
 

John Narvell

Registered
11 Dec 2016
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MD
My question is what other than now ancient Alps printers are the various decal companies using to produce their custom decals?
 

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
5 Jun 2013
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My question is what other than now ancient Alps printers are the various decal companies using to produce their custom decals?

There is a Citizen ( C942, or C924, from memory) that will do white..
BUT
$20k :eek:

You can source white toner (for a laser, obviously).. Use an old laser to print with this, then your colour laser to make a second-pass. - Print OVER white, is always better.

But is it really worth it?

There are a number of people who will do the printing for you. Some will also do the design-work.
If you talk to them, so you send in the best format for their system(s), then it can be cheaper.