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What are the differences in decal solvents?

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I bought a sheet of white Inkjet decal paper to make some stripes and it is very brittle. I know that there is a Microsol and a Microset product. What are the differences and which is used in what situation? Will one of these help the brittleness or do I need to spray a coat of clear on it before? I thought there might be a tutorial on these things, but didn't find one. Any ideas are appreciated.

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It's complicated... ;-P

Most decal solvents are more or less strong solutions of acetic acid (that's why they smell of vinegar). Micro Set and Micro Sol were originally part of the "Microscale Decal System", intended to work with Microscale decals specifically. Set is relatively gentle, and is good for moving decals around and getting them to settle down on a smooth surface. Sol chemically "melts" the decal carrier film and ink, so that it shrinks into all the underlying detail. Sol can be scary -- you're decals will wrinkle and look crumpled, before they eventually dry, magically shrink-wrapped onto the plastic below. You can move decals floated on Set; they should be exactly where they need to be before you hit them with Sol. Sol will render most decals very stretchy, and you can stuff them up permanently if you try to manipulate them while they are "part-melted".

Things are a bit different with decal paper. It's not ink, it's the carrier film that's white. I'm a bit surprised, because if there's one thing wrong with the white decal paper I have, it's that it's TOO flexible. Try and lay down a stripe, and the "paper" will stretch and narrow, like an elastic band, as I try to lay it down.

Sol and Set are part of the same system. You might try buying some Microscale Decal Film, which is a liquid you coat fragile decals with, applying it, and then using Micro Set to apply your stripes.

Alternatively, get a different sheet of decal paper... I'm sure folks will recommend good ones in the US...

All the best,


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There is about a dozen of different decal solutions out there in the hobby market. Some are based on acetic acid (have vinegar smell) while the others (stronger ones)  seem to be based on some sort of alcohol or another similar organic solvent (again based on their smell).

A good primer on using the Microscale decal system is available in http://www.microscale.com/Merchant2/graphics/Instructions/MSISysteminstr.pdf .

While I don't use ink jet decal paper I'm pretty sure that you will need to seal the printed (water-soluble) ink before immersing the decal in water. Otherwise the ink will run when it gets wet.

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