Waterslide decals are remarkably easy to peel off

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neil_w

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I had never tried this until just the other day, and was amazed at how easily I could peel off decals with tweezers. At least, decals that hadn't been clear-coated or Micro-sol'ed. Somehow I had had it in my head that there was some sort of magical permanent bond happening there, but man oh man not even close. I'm going to do an experiment with decal removal after Micro-sol to see if it makes a difference.

One thing I get from this is that an experimental decal application should be a pretty safe thing; if it doesn't work, just peel it off afterwards. I'm going to do some experiments with decal removal after Micro-sol is applied to see if it makes a difference.

Still, if the decal is well-applied the edges do seem to seal against the surface pretty tightly. But it left me wondering how decals could survive long-term if not clear-coated. Does anyone *not* clear-coat their decals? I know @hcmbanjo has been saying in his blog (recently at least) that he doesn't clearcoat his entire rockets, but does clearcoat over the decals to seal them down.

Just wondering.
 

mbeels

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Is this just for water transfer decals printed on a home printer? Usually I clear coat everything, but I do have some rockets with commercial water transfer decals that I haven't clear coated. It seems that they've held up reasonably well, but I haven't tried deliberately pulling them off.
 

mbeels

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Update: I just tried (gently) to peel off a corner of my Estes Supernova decals, and the Low Boom SST (neither of which are clear coated), and both of those seem to be down securely. I'm not sure that they'd come off without some scraping.
 

XrayLizard

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Fwiw the decal paper I just recently used is noticeably tougher ... thicker perhaps.
The one that come with good plastic kits tear easily. But go down really well.
 
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I've had some home printed decals lift up by themselves after three or four years.
Never had an adherence problem with commercial decals.
IIRC, either Micro Sol or Micro Set has "decal remover" listed as one of its' functions on the bottle.
The solutions soften the decal but the adhesion comes from the mucilage on the paper.
 

modeltrains

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In multiple decades of building plastic models, model trains, model rockets, I can confidently state that the durability of decal adhesion ... depends.
On a number of factors.
The brand: are sometimes dramatic differences between brand; are sometimes differences between production runs of same brand.
The type of paint decal is applied to: decals over flat/matte paint are like scotch tape over sandpaper.
The use or non use of decal solvents: some solvents pretty much melt some decals in to the paint.
The use or non use of clear coats over decals.
And I expect that even the nature of the water used has effects.
 

stantonjtroy

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My fist option, go to, method of decal removal is to over lay the decal with glossy scotch tape ( in a pinch I've used high quality clear packaging tape). Run it far enough past the decal edge leaving a "lifting tab". Press the tape over the decal firmly, almost burnishing it down. Then lift sharply at about 90deg to the surface. I've used this on clear coated decals & naked, commercial & home made. Sometimes it takes a couple of pulls; Especially if it's been on for a while and/or clear coated (I've had it lift the clear from the decal then another application to lift the decal). Also try to avoid touching the tape surface to be used and don't use the same piece of tape twice. FWIW
 

neil_w

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I can believe that decal adhesion varies quite a bit from decal to decal. And to be fair, it's not like the decal I tried was falling off... I had to pry up the corner with tweezers and then peel, and it made a good sound like packing tape being removed (on a very small scale). But I was still surprised it came up so cleanly, in one piece. I don't know what I was expecting.

In terms of durability on rockets, I'd think there are two main factors: surface abrasion and edges lifting. Clear-coating readily solves both.

I'm going to do some A/B/C tests: decal alone, decal + Micro-set, decal + Micro-set + Micro-sol. I can definitely do it with some blank decal paper I have, need to see if I have enough spare Estes decals to include them in the test. I'll report back.
 

mbeels

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I had to pry up the corner with tweezers and then peel, and it made a good sound like packing tape being removed (on a very small scale). But I was still surprised it came up so cleanly, in one piece. I don't know what I was expecting.

Ah, I wasn't motivated enough. But that is incentive to clear coat the rest of my rockets.

I can definitely do it with some blank decal paper I have, need to see if I have enough spare Estes decals to include them in the test.

I'd be curious to see if there is a difference.
 

lakeroadster

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Did you build model cars as a kid? I did. The 1st thing that would degrade over time were the waterslide decals. I never clear coated after decals though.
 

BABAR

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IIRC, from plastic model dayz, clear coat the decals is a good idea.
Might want to see opinions at finescale dot com
My one bad experience does not a rule make.

However, obviously you should be sure the final color coat is fully cured BEFORE you apply the decals, and you sure as HECK want to be sure it’s cured before you apply clear coat.

My learning experience was an Estes SR-71.

Primer: check and good

Black Coat: check and good (okay, not @Nathan good, but got enough for me)

Decals (lots and lots of decals): check and good.

Clear Coat: COMPLETE AND TOTAL ORANGE PEEL😭
 

Back_at_it

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I find that water slide decals that are not cleared over tend to deteriorate and come off with normal handling in just a few outings. I had a Bertha that the decals were almost completely gone by my 4th time out. If you want them gone, just handle it a bit :)
 
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