# Printing Decals

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#### zog139

##### Well-Known Member
With all of the resources available these days to clone old rockets and to scale old rockets, I know many people are printing their own decals. I know a little bit about the ALPS printers in that they are dry transfer and give the option of doing white and even metallics. I also understand they are expensive and are not easy to get in this country.

Some are using inkjet printers ? I seem to remember that these have to be coated so the ink doesnt run when dipped in water ?

Some use laser jet printers ? These printers cost more than inkjets and up until the last few years, color versions were very high in price.

So with color laser printers coming way down in price, are more and more modelers using these to do decals? If so what brand/model are you using?

#### FatBoy

##### Random Part-time Hobbyist
I buy clear and white decal paper from decalpaper.com. You can get it in 8 1/2 x 11 or 11 x 17 sizes. You can get a version for inkjet printers and a version for laser printers. I use the stuff for laser printers. But beware, some laser printers get too hot and jamb up. You almost have to experiment. We have a copy center at work that I use when I have my artwork printed. I don't know the model (other than it is a Xerox), but it is an industrial type laser printer. I took some artwork to a FedEx/Kinkos copy center once and their machine got the paper too hot and melted it (big mess - I felt horrible). I have heard that if you are able to set your printer to run transparencies, you will have better luck, as it evidently runs cooler. Check out a similar thread in the "Techniques" section titled "Laser Printers and Decal paper"

#### hardinlw

##### Well-Known Member
I have used inkjet paper in a Epson printer. Set the quality to "best photo" and the paper to "glossy premium" or whatever is closest in your options. A couple of light coats of Rustoleum acrylic clear keeps them from running. Too much clear makes them stiff and they don't settle down.

#### Pem Tech

##### Well-Known Member
I use the same brand of decal paper as Jeff, both white and clear, but for inkjets in an old HP inkjet printer. Generally the results are good but there have been a few instances when the ink would bead up on the paper, making quite a mess. Also, test your clear coat before coating a new sheet of decals, some may make the ink run or bead up on the paper producing an "orange peel" effect. Haven't worked out the beading problems yet, but overall the results are satisfactory.

#### dpower

##### Well-Known Member
I use a Canon inkjet photo printer, today's equivalent would be the MP620. It has separate ink tanks for each of the 3 colors (cyan, majenta, yellow), and 2 different blacks; this helps get real deep blacks when using the photo setting. I use Bare-Metal foil "Experts Choice" decal paper (which my LHS carries), and set the printer to one of the glossy photo paper settings. I then use Micro Scale Liquid Decal Film to coat the paper with a foam brush, after the ink has dried.

Using the photo inks, they seem to be fairly water resistant; I printed some reverse decals (Black on white) for my SLS Laser-X, and needed to trim the decals right to the black ink, and there was no bleeding. Unless you look *real* close, the black of the decal blends very nice with the black gloss paint.

#### zog139

##### Well-Known Member
Nice SLS Laser-X and the decal looks great.

I own an Epson photo quality inkjet, I may try it out and see what type results I get .

#### Peartree

##### Cyborg Rocketeer
Staff member
Global Mod
I have an HP printer and have printed decals with good success. A word of caution to those who suggested printing on ultra uber super duper high quality. The higher quality print settings naturally use a LOT more ink and take much longer for the ink to dry. I tried that while I was experimenting and ruined several nice decals because the ink wasn't dry yet when I tried to seal it. Printing on the 'normal' settings still produced decals that are more than suffiecient and the ink dries in 24 hours. If you choose to print on high quality you may need more than 24 hours. It may take as much as 48 to 72 hours for all the ink layers to be fully dry before you can seal over them.

#### Pem Tech

##### Well-Known Member
Nice SLS Laser-X and the decal looks great.

I own an Epson photo quality inkjet, I may try it out and see what type results I get .
We have an Epson R280 for photo quality prints, and it does beautiful work, but when used for decals it goes through ink cartridges at a frightening rate.
Does anyone else have that problem?

#### RocketT.Coyote

##### Well-Known Member
When I began building most of the models in Peter Alway's Scale Bash, I made up a decal sheet by doing a cut-and-paste of all the various markings needed onto one sheet of 8.5 x 11" paper. Every bare space was filled whether I had an immediate use for the decal or not, even multiples--in the case of the ARCAS models. Then put a sheet of decal paper in and copied it. Krylon gloss clear was then applied. IIRC the decal paper came from Micro Mark. This was just for black lettering of course.

#### Gus

##### Well-Known Member
Jim,

I use an HP inkjet, Bel Decal paper, and agree with Peartree that regular setting is best. I coat the decals with several thin coats of Rustoleum Painter's Choice Clear. I found the old Krylon clear would cause the decals to run (and never use it on Excelsior's ALPS decals). I don't have any experience with the new Krylon which is a different formulation.

The best advice I can give about making your own decals is that, like most aspects of the hobby, experience helps. That's why I would suggest going with the lower cost inkjet supplies at first. It took me a while to learn how much of a Clear coat to give. Too little and the ink runs, too much and the decals are too stiff. Once you get the feel for it, though, it's a really useful tool.

#### zog139

##### Well-Known Member
Thanks for the advice Steve. I think I will try out some of the inkjet paper first. My epson photo printer actually prints a nice looking color document on regular setting. Just have to try to get the clear coat part right. I know the guys doing Alps reccomend using the decal solution by Microscale. Time to experiment

#### Gus

##### Well-Known Member
Jim,

Gordy (Sandman) really likes Microscale solution, as does Fred at Excelsior. I've been successful with it for small decals, but painting a big sheet of decals with it has always been a problem for me. I just can't seem to paint smoothly enough. I think it's a great product, I just am not too adept at using it.

It took me a little bit to become successful with the Rustoleum. I've found several light coats, about 10 - 15 minutes apart seems to work well. I actually think of it as applying a light mist to the paper with each coat. I lay the decal paper down flat and spray it with the can at about a 45 degree angle. This seems to give a nice even coat.

I think the major thing to remember is that the decals you produce are a decidedly different beast from the silkscreened ones that come in kits. But once you get used to making them, it really opens up a whole new world.

Pic below is of my favorite home-made decal so far, glass-block-type windows for my Estes Silver Comet. Printed on white decal paper.

#### zog139

##### Well-Known Member
Nice looking decal on the Comet, and from what I can see nice paint job too! What type of silver paint ? Nice metallic fine looking finish.

#### rokitflite

##### Well-Known Member
Jim,

Gordy (Sandman) really likes Microscale solution, as does Fred at Excelsior. I've been successful with it for small decals, but painting a big sheet of decals with it has always been a problem for me. I just can't seem to paint smoothly enough. I think it's a great product, I just am not too adept at using it.
I coat all of my kit decals with the Micro Scale stuff Steve, I tape them to a sheet of glass, covering all of the edges to at least 1/8" in. I then pour the solution into a disposable plastic cup and use a 2" wide foam brush to spread a thick coat evenly over the decal. It levels out very well so PERFECTLY even is not a must. I finish up by putting a cheap, clear sandwich bag over my hand and squeezing all of the extra solution out of the brush into the cup and then from there pour it back into the bottle.

I am just not sure how well it will do with INKJET decals since Micro Scale is alcohol based. I imagine it smearing and bleeding.

#### bobkrech

##### Well-Known Member
We have an Epson R280 for photo quality prints, and it does beautiful work, but when used for decals it goes through ink cartridges at a frightening rate.
Does anyone else have that problem?
Haven't used my Epson RX680 for decals, but it goes through ink cartridges at a frightening rate in any mode. From my expereince, I estimate that printing a ream (500 pages) in good quality color/text mode uses a $67 set of print cartridges resulting in a$0.14 cents per page ink cost. In the high quality photo mode (which is quite good) I'd guess you'll be lucky to get 100 8x10 glossy photo sheets out of a cartridge set which is $0.67 ink cost per page. My next printer will be a laser printer, probably a Brother. Bob Last edited: #### billspad ##### Well-Known Member My next printer will be a laser printer, probably a Brother. Bob I just made some decals on by Brother HL 4040CN. Grab one the next time they go on sale. #### zog139 ##### Well-Known Member Which model did you buy and what kind of costs are the toners ? I am guessing it has 3 or 4 toner cartridges ? #### Peartree ##### Cyborg Rocketeer Staff member Administrator Global Mod Haven't used my Epson RX680 for decals, but it goes through ink cartridges at a frightening rate in any mode. From my expereince, I estimate that printing a ream (500 pages) in good quality color/text mode uses a$67 set of print cartridges resulting in a $0.14 cents per page ink cost. In the high quality photo mode (which is quite good) I'd guess you'll be lucky to get 100 8x10 glossy photo sheets out of a cartridge set which is$0.67 ink cost per page.

My next printer will be a laser printer, probably a Brother.

Bob