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What do the pros use to print decals?


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I've searched every where and can't seem to find anything on what the pros are using to print decals.  There is plenty of info on home printing on decal paper but what do the pros like Revell and Slixx use?

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The vast majority of kit decals are made with what is basically a silk screening process. I don’t have any details beyond that, though. I have often wondered what the actual equipment looks like, and how the process works. 

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Cartograf is one of the top decal printing companies (and very pricey), but there are many others out there. Most kit manufacturers outsource decal printing to one of those companies.  Many use silk-screening process.

 

For home made decals, the long-discontinued Alps MicroDry printer is the best solution. It can print white, silver and gold inks (in addition to standard cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks) and it can overprint previously printed inks (keeping it all aligned), so the color images can be printed over white ink (making the decal opaque, just like the professionally made decals).

But the printer is just part of the process - you need quality designed artwork. For good quality home-made decals you need more than just scanning some decla sheet and printing.  Good overview of what is needed is shown on Rob's page: https://robdebie.home.xs4all.nl/models/decals.htm

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On 8/2/2021 at 1:49 AM, jchrisf said:

Wow.. that is a lot more sophisticated than I was expecting.  So do companies like Slixx design the graphics and send to Cartograf to print or do they have a less sophisticated process?

If you scroll to the bottom of the Slixx home page and click on the image of the decal sheet on the printing press it takes you to a video on their Facebook page.

https://www.slixx.com

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  • 3 weeks later...

Been using the ALPS for a long while now.  The cartridges are getting more scarce all the time.  I know of no other reasonably priced system that will print white or the metallics like gold and silver.  I just ran out of the black cartridge and did not realize I had no more as a backup!  Talk about panic!  I did find a supplier and I have some new black cartridges coming in soon (I hope)!

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1 hour ago, Chariots of Fire said:

Been using the ALPS for a long while now.  The cartridges are getting more scarce all the time.  I know of no other reasonably priced system that will print white or the metallics like gold and silver.  I just ran out of the black cartridge and did not realize I had no more as a backup!  Talk about panic!  I did find a supplier and I have some new black cartridges coming in soon (I hope)!

Charlie, you might find the cartridges on eBay or even Amazon.   There is also http://tangopapadecals.com/inks.htm  and  https://www.paoon.com/decal/index-en.html (difficult to navigate, but lots of useful cartridges). They are all getting pricey though!  There is also an online group for Alps printers with over 2700 members. Might be a good idea to join.  https://alps.groups.io/g/ALPS .  I've been in that group for over 15 years.  I dont; subscribe to emails - I read the messages in the Web interface.

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12 hours ago, peteski said:

Charlie, you might find the cartridges on eBay or even Amazon.   There is also http://tangopapadecals.com/inks.htm  and  https://www.paoon.com/decal/index-en.html (difficult to navigate, but lots of useful cartridges). They are all getting pricey though!  There is also an online group for Alps printers with over 2700 members. Might be a good idea to join.  https://alps.groups.io/g/ALPS .  I've been in that group for over 15 years.  I dont; subscribe to emails - I read the messages in the Web interface.

HI, Peter.  I did find the cartridges on eBay and they should be in tomorrow.  Need now to check my inventory to be sure I have enough of the other colors for a while.  

Walter:  Tell me more about the HP ghost white colors.

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Color laser printers (just like Alps) are CYMK printers.  Some less expensive color laser printers which can print white toner simply replace the black toner with white.  They become CYM+White. They are capable of underlying the white toner under color toners, just like Alps can (to print opaque images which can be applied to dark colored models).  They can also print opaque white images. But since there is no black toner, to print black they use a mix of CYM toners. That results in a black that is not true black. It is very dark, but not a crisp black color.

There are also better grade (expensive) color laser printers which use 5 toners (CYMK and white). Those can print colors, true black and white (as underlay or standalone).

But they still don't come close to Alps capabilities of overlaying inks, and printing metallic and foil colors. No other (consumer grade) printer is capable of that.  The other problem with color laser printers is that their color printing uses halftones which will show up as dots in the color areas.  Wit Alps you can produce many solid (not halftoned) colors by using the overlay function.

The other thing is that the edges of objects printed using laser printer are fuzzy. That is because the toner dots don't have sharp defined edges. It is just inherent to the printing technology. Alps is a thermal transfer printer and the printed dots have very sharp edge.  Even thought Alps is a 600dpi printer, the printouts look sharper and  crisper than laser or ink jet printers which have higher resolutions.

On the Alps group, every once in a while someone brings up laser printers which can print white as a possible replacement for Alps, but after discussing the capability of those printers we always arrive at the same conclusion: Alps is still the best consumer grade printer for hobbyists to print decals.

Alps printers are unfortunately in the end of life stage, but enjoy your Alps while you still can.

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I make some of my decals in an antiquated sort of way, but "TooOld" is the one to message, and maybe get what you need. He's good.

He has a technique that works really nice.

He hasn't been around in a while, but you can find him on the 3rd page of WIP: Model cars, under 1960 Dodge Phoenix Convertible.

If anyone can help you, I recommend him.

 

Good luck!!

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12 hours ago, carbuilder1950 said:

I make some of my decals in an antiquated sort of way, but "TooOld" is the one to message, and maybe get what you need. He's good.

He has a technique that works really nice.

He hasn't been around in a while, but you can find him on the 3rd page of WIP: Model cars, under 1960 Dodge Phoenix Convertible.

If anyone can help you, I recommend him.

 

Good luck!!

Hey @TooOld!

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