Making your own decals...

I know there was some discussion of this in these ng's awhile back, but I would like to know which printers worked best and which decal film you had
your best luck with. Thanks....
Bob
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On 7/15/2010 1:14 PM Barb/Bob Alexander spake thus:

I have no personal experience with making my own decals. but I can tell you definitively that the best printer for this job would have to be the old Alps printers. Why? Because, among other things, they could print white (and silver) as well as colors, so you could make decals that weren't possible with non-white-printing printers (unless you could get ahold of white decal stock).
These printers used to be available on eBay; anyone know if they still are (plus supplies for them)?
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On Thu, 15 Jul 2010 22:14:07 -0700, David Nebenzahl wrote:

While Alps (or a few of its kin) are the only way to print white decals, using an Alps to print colors other than those available is a labor intensive process of multiple overlays.
Why? Because dithering on a dry ink printer works poorly. There's no spreading of the inks and thus no overlap. Inkjets and lasers deposit wet inks that do merge, making the individual dots invisible or at least a lot less visible.
I have an Alps and an inkjet and have come to the conclusion that the Alps will be used only for white decals. And if I could find a steady source of white dry transfer lettering in a variety of fonts, I might get rid of the Alps altogether.
Just my opinion - YMMV.
--
Intelligence is an experiment that failed - G. B. Shaw

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On 7/16/2010 2:00 PM Larry Blanchard spake thus:

Well, your opinion is worth more than mine in this case. Thanks for your insights here.
--
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On 16/07/2010 17:00, Larry Blanchard wrote: [...]

CDS are good, but the owner is retiring. See:
http://www.canadasouthern.com/tmr/CDS-G.htm
wolf k.
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Retired, over a year ago. Business defunct.
Several people were interested in taking over the business but his demands ware too much.
Get 'em while you can.
--
Roger Traviss

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On Fri, 16 Jul 2010 21:00:38 +0000 (UTC), Larry Blanchard

It sounds like there is an opportunity for an after-market entrepeneur to supply white cartridges for some of the popular printers.
He only needs to do it for one model, and the original manufacturer would sell a heck of them to railroad and other modellers.
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On Sun, 18 Jul 2010 11:01:53 -0700, Christopher A. Lee wrote:

It's been suggested many times. So far no takers.
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On 7/18/2010 11:18 AM Larry Blanchard spake thus:

Probably because it wouldn't work, or at least would not work well, with inkjet printers. The Alps printers were not ink jet, but solid-ink (dye sublimation) printers, like the Tektronix ones still made today, that deposit a wax-based ink on the paper. It would be *extremely* difficult to formulate a white inkjet ink that would be thick enough to cover while still not clogging the ink jets.
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And the market is incredibly small.
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On 18/07/2010 14:01, Christopher A. Lee wrote:

[...]I have an Alps and an inkjet and have come to the conclusion that the

Sounds like a good idea until you mull over the technical and economic problems.
Whether for inkjets or lasers, printing opaque white is tricky. White pigments opaque enough to be useful are oxides (eg, titanium oxide), AFAIK, the rest are metal salts. Both are abrasive, and the salts are chemically quite reactive. Developing a white ink cartridge is not impossible technically, but would be expensive. IIRC, the Alps printer uses a wax, which simply couldn't be used in an inkjet, but a variation might work in a Xerox laser (which uses a wax-based toner.)

How many is a heck of a lot? What would you pay for a white ink cartridge? $15? $25? $50? At $15, about the same as a colour cartridge, and sales of 100,000 per year, the retail gross would $1.5M, the mfr's would be about half that, net would be about 10% of that, or around $75K. Sounds like a lot, but suppose it cost you $500K (a low ball figure IMO) to develop that cartridge: it will take you about 8 years, not counting interest, before to recover your investment.
Are there sales for 100,000 or more white ink cartridges? I don't know, but there are certainly nowhere near that many sales to model railroaders. Fact is, the market for opaque white ink isn't large even in the printing trade.
cheers, wolf k.
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On 7/18/2010 12:04 PM Wolf K spake thus:

Ackshooly, you're a *little* bit confused between laser and dye-sub printing technologies. Close, but not quite.
Laser printers (and most current copy machines) use dry toner which is not wax-based, but usually made of some type of fusible plastic particles, typically styrene, mixed with pigments (carbon black for black, other stuff for different colors). The printer or copier deposits the dry toner on the image areas of the copy/print electrostatically (the paper and toner are given opposite electrical charges at high potential, so the toner sticks to the paper), after which a fuser (basically just a hot roller) actually melts the toner onto the paper. This is why you need special decal paper for laser printers, because of the heat.
Dye-sub printers use a different method; they use solid ink, in the form of wax bars, which are actually vaporized by the printhead, hence the "sublimation" part (the ink goes directly from solid to vapor form, without turning to liquid in between), whence it is sprayed onto the paper. When it cools back to solid, it adheres to the paper. It's almost like using a crayon and a blowtorch to create an image on paper.
These printers are variously called "phase-change" (hence the "Phaser" trade name), dye-sublimation or dye-sub, or "solid ink" printers.
I actually have one here, a Tektronix Phaser, which anyone in the area (S.F. Bay Area) can have if they want it. It's *huge* and works, although it needs a little attention (plus replacement ink cartridges). I've used it to make model RR signs, which are much, much better than inkjet since they don't run or smear, plus they're much more resistant to fading. Print resolution is 300 DPI, I think.
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On 18/07/2010 15:26, David Nebenzahl wrote:

Xerox calls their solid toner a wax. Maybe so's not to confuse potential customers with technical details.
[...]
'ta for the technical details. ;-)
wolf k.
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That is a heck of a deal! I think they still run about $1K for the least expensive model.
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On 7/18/2010 6:02 PM, Lobby Dosser wrote:

Actually....
Phaser 8560/n $599 (after $200 rebate) Save with a trade-in rebate
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Awfully nice of you to make that offer, David!
Kudos!
~Pete
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On 7/18/2010 3:47 PM Twibil spake thus:

Well, it's on Craigslist now (in the free section); someone gave it to me, and it's clear it's in the "I'm probably never going to use it" category, so it's time to pass it on.
If someone here wants it, they can have it (must pick it up).
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See:
http://www.letraset.com/craft/default.asp
wolf k.
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I would also like to know. The Alps thing was so far back, the odds of getting a workable solution using one - if you can find one - might make it not worth the effort.
Also, how about dry transfers?
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wrote:

I've had good luck using an off-the-shelf HP Photosmart C6180 for decal printing. I've yet to find a really good decal paper, but stay away from the stuff sold by Micro-Mark. Bad product.
The film is so heavy that the edges of the decal remain obvious unless you do some serious camouflage work, it absolutely refuses to snuggle down into depressions for the same reason, and it also tends to "silver" a lot.
~Pete
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