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I'm getting tired of my scanner/printer only working on even-number days in months with R when the moon is in a full phase. Looking for a new one, and maybe one that can do decals if I can afford it. Tired of buying ink. Do I want a laser printer? What's good and affordable? Thanks for any advice. 

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I personally, do not like inkjet for decals. I’ve had sub par results, even with the Testors decal coating. Mine run. 
I bought a laser and it comes with intro cartridges. Meaning they are not the full bore cartridge. New ones are very expensive. Ghost makes a white cartridge but it is also very expensive. However, it can do 1400 pages. If you look at your sheet as 4x6 it’s not too bad as you can multiply that estimate x 4.

Today’s printers are cheap but ink and toner are expensive. Don’t prebuy ink. The printers also have a shelf life. I had an HP stop and gave me a code. It needed a print head. 2x what a new printer cost. These things are made to die.

Edited by George Bojaciuk

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1 hour ago, George Bojaciuk said:

I personally, do not like inkjet for decals. I’ve had sub par results, even with the Testors decal coating. Mine run. 
I bought a laser and it comes with intro cartridges. Meaning they are not the full bore cartridge. New ones are very expensive. Ghost makes a white cartridge but it is also very expensive. However, it can do 1400 pages. If you look at your sheet as 4x6 it’s not too bad as you can multiply that estimate x 4.

Today’s printers are cheap but ink and toner are expensive. Don’t prebuy ink. The printers also have a shelf life. I had an HP stop and give me a code. It needed a print head. 2x what a new printer cost. These things are made to die.

George has hit it pretty well.  I have an HP Laserjet MFP 281 that I got at Costco for slightly over $300.  I recently did the decals below for a friend (on white decal paper since I do not yet have the Ghost cartridge).  The color around the decal is the body color of the model (it was slightly lighter since I didn't have the color on hand and had to approximate the RGB, but it worked.  He had a time constraint, so couldn't refine the decal more.

image.png.16a1cc86980a67f73798f63efade9b95.png
 

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I have an HP printer, and George is right: the printers cost nearly nothing, but the ink cartridges are expensive. Especially when you buy the printer manufacturer's brand of ink cartridges, which of course they recommend. 

In fact, some of the printers won't work with off-brand cartridges. It's the little embedded chips that tell your printer whether you are using the "real deal" or not.

Having said that, I found a brand of "aftermarket" ink cartridges on Amazon that work just fine with my HP for like cheap!  In fact, a set - three colors and both black cartridges - costs about the same as a single color with the magic HP brand. It's Miss Deer High Performance Ink. No kidding. Miss Deer . . . that's the brand name.

Best of all, when I put in a Miss Deer cartridge, I get a message from the printer thanking me for using a genuine HP ink cartridge.  You, bet, Red Rover. Glad to buy the best!

 

 

Edited by Danno

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Alps MicroDry printers are best printers for doing decals. They can print white, metallic inks, and they can overlay multiple inks while keeping the paper in perfect registration.  Unfortunately they are no longer being made, and ink ribbons are getting really pricey.  But they cant be beat for printing decals that are often better quality than factory printed decals.  Alps printers are also rather pricey in the secondary market.. I had mine for about 20 years and I don't know what I would do without it.

But remember that the printer is only half of the equation.  Without quality artwork, even the best printer will only produce sub-par results.  Scanning and printing will never be as good as converting the scans (or drawing artwork from scratch) in vector format.  It is time consuming, but the results are well worth the time.

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1 hour ago, peteski said:

Alps MicroDry printers are best printers for doing decals. They can print white, metallic inks, and they can overlay multiple inks while keeping the paper in perfect registration.  Unfortunately they are no longer being made, and ink ribbons are getting really pricey.  But they cant be beat for printing decals that are often better quality than factory printed decals.  Alps printers are also rather pricey in the secondary market.. I had mine for about 20 years and I don't know what I would do without it.

But remember that the printer is only half of the equation.  Without quality artwork, even the best printer will only produce sub-par results.  Scanning and printing will never be as good as converting the scans (or drawing artwork from scratch) in vector format.  It is time consuming, but the results are well worth the time.

I agree, ALPS is the best. Keith Marks uses one and has sent me some great decals in unusual colors. (Hot metallic pink anyone?) My HP inkjet printer is 20 years old and still actually works. I gave up on it because reasonably priced ink cartridges (that actually print) just aren't out there any more. I got a new HP inkjet printer and it prints much better. Good artwork requires you start with a high resolution artwork file with sharp edges. Having your inkjet decals not run/smear is all in the clearcoat application technique and the patience to let it dry overnight. Inkjets are limited on color so no silver or gold. (nor white on clear). Another tip: If the finished file prints too large, reduce the PRINT size NOT the file size or resize the art. That way you do not lose the crispness.When I built my Hotwheels El Camino, I had more hours in the artwork than I did building the actual model.

http://www.modelcarsmag.com/forums/topic/146939-hot-wheels-681968-el-camino/?tab=comments#comment-2157534

 

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Regardless of how high the scan resolution was, converting it to vector graphic will result in the best possible quality. And yes, it takes lots of time to create good quality print-ready artwork.

I also own an old ink jet printer (HP DeskJet 890C) for non-decal printing.

 

Here is an example of a scanned decal (left), and the image I converted to vector format (right).  Of course this image itself its a bitmap, but it still shows how much clearer and sharper the vector-based artwork can be. Even the colors can be easily manipulated (made richer).

ArtworkExample01.png.3a71f6277ce66d1f8253e26e1c9aaea9.png

Edited by peteski

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Yes, printers are cheap, because the real money is in the consumables.

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I can only suggest what not to buy- Epson inkjet. For whatever reason, their technology doesn't work with decal paper. You can print a perfect image on photo paper, and the same image on decal paper will be blurry and runny. I don't think it's the paper, either. I've tried a few brands with the same result. It works fine for everything but decals.

My previous  printer was an HP inkjet. It did decals OK.

 

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9 hours ago, peteski said:

Regardless of how high the scan resolution was, converting it to vector graphic will result in the best possible quality. And yes, it takes lots of time to create good quality print-ready artwork.

I also own an old ink jet printer (HP DeskJet 890C) for non-decal printing.

 

Here is an example of a scanned decal (left), and the image I converted to vector format (right).  Of course this image itself its a bitmap, but it still shows how much clearer and sharper the vector-based artwork can be. Even the colors can be easily manipulated (made richer).

ArtworkExample01.png.3a71f6277ce66d1f8253e26e1c9aaea9.png

You are quite right.  I use CorelDraw to do my vector artwork.  I will use the trace feature to get a rough vector and work from there.  I have "cheated" a couple of times with a good bitmap or doing a hi-res scan.
 

But the quality of the artwork is key

 

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On 9/16/2020 at 11:30 AM, Exotics_Builder said:

You are quite right.  I use CorelDraw to do my vector artwork.  I will use the trace feature to get a rough vector and work from there.  I have "cheated" a couple of times with a good bitmap or doing a hi-res scan.

But the quality of the artwork is key

I've been using Corel  Draw since version 3, (I'm only up to version 12 now with no plans to go any higher).  I have tried Corel Trace many times, but I have never been successful.  Wither the tracings are too loose, or they have too many nodes. I have played quite a bit with the settings, and the resolutions of the scanned images, and I just gave up.  It would take me more time to clean the traced images than to manually trace the bitmaps.  I got quite good at manual tracing.

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1 hour ago, peteski said:

I've been using Corel  Draw since version 3, (I'm only up to version 12 now with no plans to go any higher).  I have tried Corel Trace many times, but I have never been successful.  Wither the tracings are too loose, or they have too many nodes. I have played quite a bit with the settings, and the resolutions of the scanned images, and I just gave up.  It would take me more time to clean the traced images than to manually trace the bitmaps.  I got quite good at manual tracing.

CorelDraw 2020 has a significantly improved trace feature.  Improvements really started about a couple of releases back.  Still needs tweaking, but less work.  Normally, I would import a bitmap image and set it in it's own layer and visible.  Then I would manually trace over it.  Very tedious, but, if that is what you are going after, it may be the only choice.

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1 hour ago, Exotics_Builder said:

CorelDraw 2020 has a significantly improved trace feature.  Improvements really started about a couple of releases back.  Still needs tweaking, but less work.  Normally, I would import a bitmap image and set it in it's own layer and visible.  Then I would manually trace over it.  Very tedious, but, if that is what you are going after, it may be the only choice.

Well, I'm not about to dish out few hundred dollars for the new version (which is probably in the "cloud" anyway).  Like you said, I place the bitmap on a lower layer, lock it, then trace over it.  I suppose that if was was doing repro-decals as a business, I might think of auto-tracing, but I just don't do this often enough to justify getting a new version of Corel.

 

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2 hours ago, peteski said:

Well, I'm not about to dish out few hundred dollars for the new version (which is probably in the "cloud" anyway).  Like you said, I place the bitmap on a lower layer, lock it, then trace over it.  I suppose that if was was doing repro-decals as a business, I might think of auto-tracing, but I just don't do this often enough to justify getting a new version of Corel.

 

Agreed.  Not thinking of updating for some time.  Also trying to decide if the Ghost catridge is a good option, or send any artwork that needs special handling off to be printed.  $300 can generate quite a few decal sheets if one supplies the artwork

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I’m enjoying  reading the variety of opinions here on this subject. It does come down to how much money you want to spend to print an occasional decal sheet. For those of us building a few models a year, what’s that come out to per car?  

For me, I’m fine with my Canon inkjet for the few needs I have. I’m a decent graphics and computer guy, So I’ve been able to get results acceptable to me. 

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There are decal printing companies out there, which use different types of printing (including the Alps printer), which will print your artwork.  Unless it is some very simple text consisting of existing typeface (font), creating the print ready artwork is usually the most expensive part of printing custom decals.  That way, you can design your decal and not worry about buying and maintaining your own printer.

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1 hour ago, Tom Geiger said:

I’m enjoying  reading the variety of opinions here on this subject. It does come down to how much money you want to spend to print an occasional decal sheet. For those of us building a few models a year, what’s that come out to per car?  

For me, I’m fine with my Canon inkjet for the few needs I have. I’m a decent graphics and computer guy, So I’ve been able to get results acceptable to me. 

Me too, and I am surprised that Snake hasn't weighed back in. I am perfectly happy with the Canon inkjet that I have at the office (that I haven't been to since March 20) and the similar one I have at home. I occasionally print engine compartment decals, air cleaner decals, and minor other things. If I wanted wraps, NASCAR or drag car decals I wouldn't be satisfied with what I have currently. It's really not an "all sizes fit all" situation.

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You can get by manipulating non vector graphics and with an ink jet if you plan out your projects...  

EC8A0AAC-984F-43EB-B283-18537A0ECF7A.jpeg.b7bde10e1502b4035d08a4aba6689312.jpeg

All ink jet on clear decal paper. Black is easy. I generally use fonts in Word to do my lettering. 
 

B7E6948D-46E5-4019-B473-5E187016CC99.jpeg.a2a5a5064592d49994edb3d617245174.jpeg

Again Ink jet but on white decal paper. I made these in PowerPoint, yellow is printed. Flamingo and palm tree are just clip art from the web. The benches are upholstered with plain copy paper, printed on inkjet

573EB062-4D9D-4DF0-B8B5-C990296F797C.jpeg.e5b8c27164d368d6b37a213e28c46d9b.jpeg

Here’s where planning comes into play. I designed the paint schemes so that ink jet decals would all be on white paint. On the Falcon it’s all ink jet except for numeral 3. That’s a kit decal and even then I had to double them up to cover the blue paint at the bottom. All ink jet  on Valiant except for some NNL East 30s.

5254467A-7957-401D-8448-784EA0C6E15B.jpeg.7b81b1117865cecb31307d2c065be2e2.jpeg

When I do print, I set up my sheet with many of each decal because some may run or not print nice. I wait 24 hrs prior to the Testors fixative, then another day before wetting them. Yes, I ruin some but that’s why I print extras.

Its nice for some guys to have lasers or Alps, and yes you can have someone print your decals, but don’t let them tell you you can’t use your ink jet. You just have to be crafty.

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