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  #1  
Old 05-02-2005, 12:10 AM
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CPMcGraw CPMcGraw is offline
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Post Decal Printing

All,

I picked up a new printer to try out. A Lexmark Z816. Office Max had them on sale for $80, and I figured it was cheap enough to be worth playing with...

My results are mixed, though I'm not at all certain the printer or the inks have anything to do with the problems I've encountered.

The decal paper I'm using is Bel Decal's clear sheet for Ink Jet printers. I printed a couple of test sheets. On each sheet, part of the image printed beautifully, while other areas acted as if the coating was the wrong formulation -- like it might have been either missing entirely, or was the laser paper coating instead. One sheet had almost a straight line from top to bottom where the ink dried correctly on one side, but remained wet after 24 hours on the other!

The next test was after applying three spray coats of clear gloss acrylic. When the decal was allowed to soak in water, the ink started running from the back of the decal, where there should have been a protective layer.

I am terribly disappointed with these results, and as I said before, I don't think it's the printer or the inks that are at fault. I'm more convinced the Bel paper is at fault. Until I can test my theory out on some better papers, I won't know for sure. If it were not for the paper being crap, this printer would be more than adaquate. The saturation of the inks (opacity) in PHOTO mode is great, and the accuracy of alignment is much better than my Epson C84. There was no cracking of the ink as it dried, so the images were solid right up to when I dipped one in water.


Craig McGraw
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  #2  
Old 05-18-2005, 10:47 PM
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CPMcGraw CPMcGraw is offline
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Thumbs down Poor Results From Lexmark Inks / Bel Decal Paper

I have now had an opportunity to try out the Lexmark Z816 printer on a "good" sheet of Bel Decal paper.

It Sucks!

I am not happy at all about this combination, and I still don't know if it's the ink at fault, or the paper, or BOTH.

To be more specific:

I have no major complaints about the printer in normal use, with regular paper or cardstock printing jobs. The text and images are, in fact, far more "in register" with this printer than with the Epson I was using before. The printer creates the output image crisply, and cleanly, and it is very fast compared to the Epson. An example of this is a printing I made of the Centuri Vulcan shroud and fins which looks beautiful...

When printing on Bel Decal Ink Jet Paper, the image prints well, with none of the "orange peel" effect found with the Epson inks. It is necessary to print as "photo" on a "coated" sheet to get the cleanest image, however. In this mode, it produces a complete image, and the ink shows no hint of the problem which is to come. When you apply the clear acrylic, the image stays solid, and there is no reaction between the spray and the ink.

So, I apply two or three coats of spray, and allow to dry completely between layers...

The problem is when I dip the decal into water. The ink immediately starts breaking up between the acrylic outer layer and the paper's adhesive/sealer layer. It is as if the protective layer is only partially there, or is highly permeable to water.

Under these circumstances, all of the decals I have printed this way aren't worth their weight in horse crap.

To say that I am really po'd would be an understatement, and what really chews my haggis is the lack of compatability information from Bel Decal about which inks and/or printers produce the best results with their papers. One would think this would be the kind of information Bel would WANT people to know!

To be sure, I've seen NOTHING in print on the web about ink/paper combinations that work as expected. When one considers this hobby, plus the model car hobby, PLUS the model railroad hobby (which uses custom decals far more than we do!), PLUS the model airplane hobby -- you would think someone has compiled a list somewhere based on their own experiences.

This is beginning to sound like The Neverending Story, in that there may really be no combinations that work correctly. Right now, the feeling I get is it's the paper that is the issue. The paper's protective-adhiesive layer is just not doing its job. This layer is supposed to keep the ink from coming in contact with the water -- certainly a "well duh!" if you think about it: Ink jet printers use water-soluble inks.

To this point, the only ink that I've had any real success with has been the HP line. Fortunately, I have access to a low-end HP All-In-One printer that I'm going to try, and see if I can get at least one good decal from this $25 pack of sheets. As soon as I can test it out, I'll post here to let you know.

Craig McGraw
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  #3  
Old 05-19-2005, 08:34 AM
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Are you using the clear coat recommended by Bel?

If not, that may be the source of the problem.

If you are using the recommended sealer, try another clear acrylic on top of that to see if it will seal better. I would try it on a scrap piece first to make sure it doesn't have a reaction with the decal film.

Personally, I'm having trouble getting the decal to print solid colors without excessive orange peal. Thin lines and letters print okay, it's just large areas of solid color. For example, the skull and cross bones for Der Red Max print fine, but the cross (forgot the name of that), looks like the bottom af a dry lakebed. Don't even think about the band at the top of the rocket.

Randal
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  #4  
Old 05-19-2005, 01:09 PM
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CPMcGraw CPMcGraw is offline
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Unhappy

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShieldWolf
Are you using the clear coat recommended by Bel?


On these attempts, no. I was using the Valspar Acrylic. I have a fresh can of Krylon that I'll try on the next sheet. I really don't think the acrylic itself is the problem: The decals "held together" OK, it was just the water coming through the backing paper that was causing the trouble. The ink was bleeding and cracking "behind" a solid layer of Acrylic...

Quote:
If not, that may be the source of the problem.

If you are using the recommended sealer, try another clear acrylic on top of that to see if it will seal better. I would try it on a scrap piece first to make sure it doesn't have a reaction with the decal film.


I've put as much as three layers on top of the ink, and the problem persists. If it takes four sprays, then we've really got a problem!

Quote:
Personally, I'm having trouble getting the decal to print solid colors without excessive orange peal. Thin lines and letters print okay, it's just large areas of solid color. For example, the skull and cross bones for Der Red Max print fine, but the cross (forgot the name of that), looks like the bottom af a dry lakebed. Don't even think about the band at the top of the rocket.

Randal


Sounds like my Epson C84. The DuraBrite inks are chemically incompatable with the coating on the Bel papers. All I ever got from them was "orange peel".

I'm starting to look for a different decal paper. I've heard about another line called "SuperCal", but all I've found so far were starter sets, and not refills.

I've built the DRM and a "Dopple Max" (two-stage DBRM), so I'll be needing those decals, too.

Craig...
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  #5  
Old 05-19-2005, 02:24 PM
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Bob H Bob H is offline
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I use Bels decal paper with a Lexmark printer and The Krylon acrylic clear. I have found that I have to use 3 fairly heavy coats of clear.

The water seepage problem your having sounds like it is not fully sealed. If there is any part of the topcoat that water can get through, it will, and ruin the decal.

I have started printing little test squares on my decal sheets and I dip those first. If I get any bleed through, I give the sheet another coat of clear.

Make sure you don't cut the decal too close to the printed image so that you break the seal.
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  #6  
Old 05-19-2005, 02:55 PM
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CPMcGraw CPMcGraw is offline
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Smile Another Source for Decal Papers

I'm ordering a starter pack from this company:

http://texascraft.com/hps/home.php

Quote:
Size: 8.5"X11" (215.9mmX279.4mm)
Clear Waterslide Decal Paper Kit. For use in any desktop printer. (Not intended for use with DURAbrite or solvent based inks.)
Item # IAS8511GK

Pack of 5 sheets
Each sheet is 8.5" X 11"
2 fl oz decal fixative
6 foam pads.
Instructions included.
Use in any inkjet desktop printer.

Price: $12.65

This company shows their papers being used with Krylon Acrylic spray...

They also suggest (and sell, of course) a "fixative" that makes the decals thin, but strong. I won't know until I receive the kit if they intend for the fixative to take the place of the acrylic. Their web site information seems to suggest this.

This company does indicate their papers are not compatible with Epson DuraBRITE inks, as these are solvent-based and not water-based.

I did look at the SuperCal web pages, but I think I'll save ordering any of their papers until the very last. The papers are $4.00 a sheet (8.5 x 11), which is 4x the price of any other decal sheet. It may eventually prove to be the ONLY option left, but until then, I'll save it for later.

Now, here's the big kicker for all who need a printed chrome or gold foil:

Quote:
Inkjet Silver/Chrome Metallic Self-Adhesive Polyester
Size: 8.5"X11" (215.9mmX279.4mm)
Pack of 5 Sheets
Color: Metallic high gloss Chrome/Silver
Item # SAP8511G5

PERMANENT Self-adhesive

Some general info about Gold and Silver Polyester self-adhesive film.
This is a 3 MIL quality inkjet printable metallic poly-film.
Now you can use any desktop inkjet printer to make metallic looking placards and signs in shiny gold and silver. You can print onto this film in black and white or in colors. Color images will look great on the silver/chrome film but the gold film is more suitable for printing awards, diplomas and other signs of similar nature using black ink. But the gold film will of course also accept colors.

Price: $9.89

They have a similar pack with the gold foil...

Stay tooned!

Craig McGraw
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  #7  
Old 05-19-2005, 03:30 PM
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CPMcGraw CPMcGraw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob H
I use Bels decal paper with a Lexmark printer and The Krylon acrylic clear. I have found that I have to use 3 fairly heavy coats of clear.

The water seepage problem your having sounds like it is not fully sealed. If there is any part of the topcoat that water can get through, it will, and ruin the decal.

I have started printing little test squares on my decal sheets and I dip those first. If I get any bleed through, I give the sheet another coat of clear.

Make sure you don't cut the decal too close to the printed image so that you break the seal.


The first time I ever used Bel papers was with an HP, and with three coats of clear, I had no problems either. But this package of papers has been anything BUT successful. Several sheets were visibly flawed; some of the sheets had NO coating at all in stripes, some of the individual sheets seemed to be half ink jet paper and half laser paper (the ink refused to dry on half of one sheet even after 48 hours!)...

That's why I'm not at all sure the printer (or its ink) is at fault. I really think the paper is the enemy this time. I attribute that to poor quality control.

I did cut close to the image, but I still left enough clear that there should not have been any bleeding. I might expect bleeding around the outer edges in that situation, but this stuff is cracking and bleeding from the middle outward. That means the water is getting in through the adhesive layer, not from around the outer edges.

If I get this kind of result from the HP, then I'll know for sure.

Craig McGraw
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  #8  
Old 05-19-2005, 08:35 PM
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ScaleNut ScaleNut is offline
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so far Bel paper with HP ink no problems what so ever, but I am still on the first pack I purchased 2 yrs ago

I do know for a fact that the inks differ, HP ink is electronicaly charged to work as it does with an HP printer,, the colors, weight ,and viscosity are specific to different brands

all said,,,this indeeed sounds like a paper problem.

let us know what you can, as I've been very happy with Bel so far. but am running low
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  #9  
Old 05-19-2005, 11:33 PM
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CPMcGraw CPMcGraw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScaleNut
so far Bel paper with HP ink no problems what so ever, but I am still on the first pack I purchased 2 yrs ago

I do know for a fact that the inks differ, HP ink is electronicaly charged to work as it does with an HP printer,, the colors, weight ,and viscosity are specific to different brands

all said,,,this indeeed sounds like a paper problem.

let us know what you can, as I've been very happy with Bel so far. but am running low


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob H.
I use Bels decal paper with a Lexmark printer and The Krylon acrylic clear. I have found that I have to use 3 fairly heavy coats of clear.

The water seepage problem your having sounds like it is not fully sealed. If there is any part of the topcoat that water can get through, it will, and ruin the decal.


I just tried printing a sheet with my mom's HP hydra, and I immediately got different results. The ink works much better, although I am still getting the bleeding effect when I start applying the decal.

Bob, I can see your point. The decal is not being sealed as it should be, and this might be a problem with my Acrylic coats not being thick enough. But I also think the paper has a flaw that might not be found in most of their sheets; in fact, I never had this kind of problem with my first pack from Bel...

ScaleNut, I was not fully aware of HP's electrostatic properties in their inks. It might have an effect on the ink sticking better to the paper. Like Bob, though, my Lexmark prints a beautiful image on the sheet, and it dries without cracking or showing any "orange peel". It just doesn't remain intact when the decal is dipped.

I'm going to try additional decals with this HP, and adjust the number of sprayed Acrylic layers. These last ones had four sprays, and they still bled, but only after applying the decal to the model. I'm going to try adding two more layers to the remaining decals. The spray I'm trying out this time is also a bit different, it has a different smell than the first cans and it dries much thinner. Maybe I'm just not building up the thickness enough.

When the new decal kit arrives, I'm going to try out the fixative spray they ship with it, and see if that makes any difference. They sure imply it will on the website. Interestingly, the SuperCal packages offer a similar fixative with their kits. Their's is applied with a pump sprayer, and they say you only apply one coat, just enough to make the whole sheet shine. Maybe this stuff 'changes' the properties of the ink somehow. I don't know. I'll find out when it gets here...

Craig...
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  #10  
Old 05-19-2005, 11:40 PM
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Bob H Bob H is offline
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I'll be interested in the results you get with the new decal stock. I still have about a dozen sheets of my Bels paper left but lately I have been making a lot of cardstock models and just printing everything on the paper and sealing with the Krylon acrylic. So I'm not making many decals right now.
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