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Plumcrazy Preston

I just received my new decal sheet and still more problems!

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I had Josh Muma, from Bedlam Creations online, print me a decal sheet on a second new order and it came out sloppy too! 

 

It took him about a month to get this order shipped to me and once again I'm disappointed with the cosmetic appearance of the decals.

This was indeed printed from a vectorized PDF and has three Pantone colors: silver, black and white. 

Bedlam claims to use ALPS thermal printing technology. 

 

I carefully examined the decal sheet under bright light with a magnifier. 

The white objects are mostly text letters and they look rough around the edges like white paint that was chipped. The smaller text objects are somewhat distorted. 

The silver about the wolf's heads appears too dark in tone. The airplane windows appear to have serrated lines running through them. There appears to be artifacts as dust particles on some parts

of the sheet that were shellacked over. 

 

So all that said, which commercial online decal printing firm actually produces decal sheets with a very high degree of overall neatness?  

 

Here is a photo scan of the decal sheet I received but you won't be able to really see the defects here. 

 

 

 

 

defective decal sheet.jpg

Edited by Plumcrazy Preston

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⬆️ You asked about this before, and asked about having these decals ALPs printed versus solvent ink printed.

My answer in that previous thread about solvent printing being better based on your needs still stands.  You even had already found a supplier who could do exactly what you needed, and I described exactly the process that they would need to do to get exactly what you were looking for.

I tackle projects like this day-in, day-out for a living; provided that German supplier you found is provided with proper vector artwork and Pantone codes, and uses his machine properly, you’ll be all set.

My identical Roland machine at work would handle this job in 2 minutes or less once I loaded the art up and dropped the ink cartridge in - nothing to it!

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Ok, I will have to contact this German fellow again this coming March. The only reason I passed him up because he is shut down until spring. I had no idea that ALPS made products looked that cheesy when held up under a magnifier. The stock decal sheets boxed inside model kits look so much more refined than what this Muma dude provided me. 

I also wasn't sure of the QUALITY of the German guy. There is cheesy mopeds made in China and there is Mercedes-Benz as an analogy. Is the German printer at least "Mercedes-Benz" grade if not Rolls-Royce grade? Remember that I have white objects. Can the German print white decals with razor-sharp edges? The white objects on the decal sheet Muma sent me are sloppier than the black objects. Some of the small silver text objects have small holes in them, they are slightly broken up. 

The trouble is I can't examine the workmanship samples of all these various printing firms in person. A picture posted on the Internet doesn't provide the same level of detail that a magnifier can provide to the naked human eye. 

Edited by Plumcrazy Preston

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On 1/23/2021 at 2:28 PM, Plumcrazy Preston said:

....This was indeed printed from a vectorized PDF ...

 

16 hours ago, Plumcrazy Preston said:

... ALPS made products looked that cheesy ... 

Not understanding your first bit, and maybe I'm out-of-date on my graphics knowledge, but vector files are vector files. Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW or some new variant that the industry has come up with lately that works identically. What is "vectorized PDF"?  I've turned text pages with photos and graphics drawn in my CorelDRAW program into PDFs just so I could email them to people to read, but I'd assume that means an automatically loss in quality to some degree, which is irrelevant to somebody printing out my page (a resumé or whatever) on the other side of the country to share with other folks.

When it comes to ALPS printing, you might have a very large and unfair generalization there. In the two or so decades I've heard about it, I don't think I've ever heard anyone say the quality of printing was substandard. What you might have in this instance is a single faulty printer and/or an operator who didn't run the machine correctly or did something to the artwork. If the file got degraded in some way, that would only make the problems worse.

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On 1/24/2021 at 11:53 PM, Russell C said:

 

Not understanding your first bit, and maybe I'm out-of-date on my graphics knowledge, but vector files are vector files. Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW or some new variant that the industry has come up with lately that works identically. What is "vectorized PDF"?  I've turned text pages with photos and graphics drawn in my CorelDRAW program into PDFs just so I could email them to people to read, but I'd assume that means an automatically loss in quality to some degree, which is irrelevant to somebody printing out my page (a resumé or whatever) on the other side of the country to share with other folks.

When it comes to ALPS printing, you might have a very large and unfair generalization there. In the two or so decades I've heard about it, I don't think I've ever heard anyone say the quality of printing was substandard. What you might have in this instance is a single faulty printer and/or an operator who didn't run the machine correctly or did something to the artwork. If the file got degraded in some way, that would only make the problems worse.

Clarifications? You asked for it.

 

The original artwork file was a BMP file I authored and then it was modified in a "vector" program by a third-party, copyartwork.com online, for a nominal fee. Then that file was saved as a PDF and sent to me and that file was sent to the decal company, bedlamcreations.com by me. Essentially, the decal printer made my decal set from that same PDF file I received from copyartwork.com. The "vector" work done by the third party was to make everything razor sharp around the edges and ensure the colors were spot colors, Pantone. I want nothing short of razor sharp edges on the decals I'm to place on my home-built models. I paid this bedlam creations $57 and the decal sheet I got looked like crapp for the amount of money paid. I need a highly competent decal printing concern. 

 

The BMP file from copyartwork.com did not look corrupt at all. The image was razor-sharp when examined by me in Adobe Reader and zoomed in. I believe this bedlam creations is a crappy outfit. That's all. I need a printer and operator with top-notch equipment and top-notch skills. I'm going to have to consult with the German bloke when he opens up for business again this spring. I hope he won't disappoint me. 

Edited by Plumcrazy Preston

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Alps neither understand or deals with Pantone colors.  It is a standard CYMK printer, but there are tricks that can be done to achieve solid (non-dithered) colors by layering multiple layers of 100% saturation inks. This techinique is not something mentioned  in the usr's manual - these were developed by hobbyists, after lots of experiments.  I woudl not expect anybody but a hobbyist who owns an Alps printer (and understands all the tricks) to use the Alps spot color method to get good quality results.  Also there is no choice of Metallic silver hues with Alps - there is a single Metallic Silver cartridge and it only produced one type of metallic silver hue.  if you don't like it - tough!

I suspect that you really have to notch down your expectation as what you can get from small custom decal manufacturers.  If you really want to get top-notch decals, you need to hire a "real" decal company which will mix the inks to your exact specifications, and use either the screen-printing method, or a $100k printer to produce your decals.  Company such as Microscale can print custom decals (IIRC in minimum qunatity of 250), or one of the absolute best decal printing companies: Cartograf in Italy.  Then your fantasy models will have absolutely best quality decals.  Yes, it will be expensive.

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15 hours ago, Plumcrazy Preston said:

...The original artwork file was a BMP file I authored and then it was modified in a "vector" program by a third-party ... Then that file was saved as a PDF and sent to me and that file was sent to the decal company ...The BMP file from copyartwork.com did not look corrupt at all. The image was razor-sharp when examined by me in Adobe Reader ... 

Well …., what happened here is you sent the 3rd party outfit a BMP file, and in a technical sense they sent you back a PDF file with a bitmap image in it. When you don't have a vector art program to view the artwork, you'll never see what it truly looks like. There's literally no reason at all to send you a PDF file other than to provide something that you could open up in Acrobat Reader to see what it will approximately look like, and Acrobat may have actually sharpened up as you zoomed in just for computer screen clarity, which doesn't really mean anything. What you needed was the vector file alone to send onto the decal printer. Back when I worked as a graphic artist at two places that created photo etched / cast metal decorative items / nameplates, the two kinds of file types that I hated to receive were BMPs, JPGs or TIFF photo files with their inherently unclear pixelated edges, and PDF files of corporate logos with their own inherently unclear pixelated images. Whenever I could, I urged our sales people to go back to their customers to demand that the artists they used share the original vector files for what they wanted us to reproduce, otherwise our place would have to create the vector files we needed at extra cost to our customers to ensure a super crisp product result. When our salesmen couldn't get our customers to deliver, we were often under a mandate to use the pixelated images as best we could to save time and expense on our part, and the results were always crumbly to some extent, depending on what extent we could put into sharpening the images via photo alteration - contrast /color adjustment, etc.

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I really stepped into something I know nothing about. It's what used to be cheap plastic models for a shelf back in the old days for crying out loud. I didn't anticipate printing decals to be something of "rocket science".  

 

Edited by Plumcrazy Preston

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1 hour ago, Plumcrazy Preston said:

I really stepped into something I know nothing about. It's what used to be cheap plastic models for a shelf back in the old days for crying out loud. I didn't anticipate printing decals to be something of "rocket science". 

I think that it is finally sinking in that these are just plastic toys, not some super-precise and very expensive equipment.  Same applies to decals.  You aren't building a precision stopwatch -  just a plastic toy for crying out loud. ;)

As far Alps printers go, here is an example of decal I designed  and printed (in Corel Draw, in vector format of course) for a fellow club-member. For size reference, the model is 1:25 scale. All the graphics (including the license plate, and the bumpersticker on the back window) were printed on Alps.

AlanGreenCamaro01.JPG.d416091b7c62d5eba15e4817b868da52.JPG

 

All the graphics (including the tire lettering) are Alps printed decals.

AlanGreenCamaro02.JPG.5d6089579088d8bdf84b917cc8d6f471.JPG

Edited by peteski

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I can see: the dotted lines through some of the windows, the incomplete printing on some of the window frames, and some missing ink in some of the fox (?) ears. It looks like the printer wasn't printing at a high enough resolution to avoid these defects. I've bought Alps-printed decals that were junk and i've got some from Gooche that are pretty darned good.

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