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  #11  
Old 05-20-2005, 12:08 AM
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CPMcGraw CPMcGraw is offline
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Originally Posted by CPMcGraw
The decal is not being sealed as it should be, and this might be a problem with my Acrylic coats not being thick enough.


Additional thought...

It might also be that my can of Acrylic spray was a bit old...

The new can produced a better coat, a bit stiffer than what I had been using once it dried. This can says "dries in 15 minutes", and like I said, smells different than the previous cans. Maybe this is a different formulation...

Craig...
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  #12  
Old 05-20-2005, 12:31 AM
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A Fish Named Wallyum A Fish Named Wallyum is offline
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They all seem to have different smells. I've had a couple that even smelled fruity.
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  #13  
Old 05-20-2005, 12:41 AM
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They all seem to have different smells. I've had a couple that even smelled fruity.


I'm not sure I'd call any of these "fruity", but the smells make me feel "nutty" and "flakey"...

Maybe I should be living in the "Cereal Bowl of America"...

Craig...
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  #14  
Old 05-20-2005, 12:51 AM
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The fruity one was a cheap can I bought at a local Meijer. Never seen that brand before and probably won't again.
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  #15  
Old 06-06-2005, 06:33 PM
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Default Testing A New Sheet Supplier -- Papilio

I thought I'd post an update to my search for another source of decal sheets.

I received my sample kit from Papilio, out of Texas, Friday of last week, and I have printed my first decal through the Lexmark Z816 printer. First observation, the decal seems to print more-or-less completely, though I can clearly see some imperfections in the ink delivery. It's amazing how you always notice some odd spot or two when you really hope to find none.

On an un-sealed decal sheet, the ink appears to 'set' itself into the coating all right, even with the odd spot around the image. I used fresh Lexmark cartridges for this test; there might have been some air bubbles in the ink delivery system, and it may take an image or two to clear this out. Additionally, a flaw in the printer itself has been found. The tiny 'star wheels' that hold the paper down and which are supposed to provide minimal contact with the ink, seem to be collecting gunk and are causing the ink to show a line of very tiny dots where the wheel has rolled through. Except for manually wiping off these wheels, I don't know if I can clean them. Maybe a printer cleaning sheet? Is there generically such an animal? Other than these few flaws, the ink looks solid.

Now, it is time to apply the Clear Decal Fixative to the decal. I went back to the website to see if they recommend airbrushing this fluid, and they do seem to indicate that spraying is the best way to get a thin, even coverage. The fluid takes something like eight hours to completely dry. Finding a place where the fumes won't cause trouble, and where dust and animal hair won't contaminate the surface, is the next task on my list. Papilio recommends turpentine for clean-up, so I'll have to go find a small can of this before I get started. I'll go pick up a can from Lowe's tomorrow.

On their website, they now say their Ink Jet Aqua Slide (IAS) paper is compatable with Epson printers, and that the best result with these printers is achieved on the transparency settings. Now I gotta go dig out that printer and haul it back inside, clean it out, and attach it up to my computer for another test.

Also found this interesting notation -- the Clear Decal Fixative is also called Decal Solution, and Decal Film. You can spray this on an uncoated decal sheet (yes, they do make such a thing) and when it dries, you can print a reverse image onto it, then spray another layer over that to create a thin decal. I suppose you could print a positive image and do the same. This fluid encapsulates the ink completely. One day, I will have to try this feature out.

If this system works, the prices are at least as reasonable as Bel Decal, but there seems to be more flexibility when choosing the printer. There is also much more information about the product available through the Papilio website, which I find is a selling feature.

A 100-sheet pack of clear is $56.60 plus shipping (varies by state, Texas residents add sales tax). The 16 oz can of fluid is $35.37. I don't know how far this much fluid will go, but it is only supposed to take one coat to make the decal. They say you might need two coats, but I guess that might be for large decals or extreme application requirements.

I'll post again when I have the chance to apply this fluid over the test sheet, and report on the results. Aside from the spots, which may only be from bad cartridges, this paper looks good. It is much more glossy than the Bel sheets, whatever that means.


Craig McGraw
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  #16  
Old 06-13-2005, 11:06 PM
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Exclamation First Decals Applied

Tonight, I had the chance to apply some of the first decals printed on the Papilio paper using the Lexmark printer. These decals were sprayed with the Krylon Clear Acrylic, as I have not found a suitable thinning solution for their fixative. It is a thick syrup-like liquid that they recommend pouring onto the decal sheet and allowing it to roll around over the decal. I will try this method on another sheet. Also note, the Krylon I used was not the slow-cure version, but the fast-cure "15-minute-dry" variety. This version works, but it sets up much harder and with a more brittle feel than the slow-cure variety. It is also not as glossy when cured.

The decals came out quite nicely this time, which really confirms the poor quality of the Bel sheets I purchased earlier. One observation about the ink was that you could even cut through the ink after the last acrylic layer had dried, and when dipped into warm water the ink did not bleed at the cut edge.

Large decals are always an issue, regardless of whether the decal is home-made or professionally made. I've had MicroScale decals that would not behave when they were large, and they're considered one of the best in the business. The decals I created were wraps for ST-10 body tubes, and they were measured such that the decals only slightly overlapped at the seam. These decals wrapped around well, but I was not able to fully expunge the air from under the thin acrylic. I think this is a combination of the acrylic spray I used, and not using a decal setting solution under the decal. It took a lot of careful rubbing with a tissue to remove what I could, but some spots were just too stubborn. I'll have to wait until the decals dry, then poke the bubbles with a pin or the tip of a knife, and brush some decal setting solution onto them.

Actually, I'll probably just spray the models with acrylic and go fly them...

The two that I worked in this test were SEMROC's Astrobee 350 and Astro-1. I created decals to mimic the catalog images from 1965 (all-white Aerobee with black decal) and 1969 (white body Astro-1, with black nose cone and fins, and black & red decal), respectively. Yes, in spite of the obvious flaws that I can see in the printing and in the acrylic layers, these turned out rather nicely.

It will take a few decals through all of these printers to see which ones come out the best. Now that I know the Papilio papers are Epson-compatable, I will have to try a sheet through the old C84 to see for myself. I have to admit, the quality of the Epson inks on photographic paper is very nice, with fully saturated colors that decals would certainly benefit from. Those inks are not water-based, but solvent-based, and as such were not compatable with the water-based glue layers on other sheets. We'll see...

Attached is an image taken with my ultra-cheap digital camera, showing the results.

Craig McGraw
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  #17  
Old 06-22-2005, 11:15 AM
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Craig,

Thanks for walking us through this. Any further updates?

-John T.-
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  #18  
Old 06-22-2005, 08:40 PM
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Exclamation More Decal Printing Reports

I finally had a chance to try out the Decal Fixative that came with the package...

FIRST -- This compound uses turpentine for thinning and clean-up, so I can at least say the smell was not unpleasant. It is, after all, concentrated pine spirits. It's certainly a lot better than the odor of acrylic spray. However...

SECOND -- To use this compound effectively, you need a dedicated paint room, with every possible dust-removal system operating. You do not want to use this compound out in the open, or as I'm forced to do, out in the carport. ANY cat hair, dog hair, cobweb, or other airborne nusance WILL find its way onto the decal and contaminate it...

THIRD -- The only good way to apply this compound is highly thinned, and sprayed with a full-blown Campbell-Hausfeld spray gun or detail gun, and not any kind of airbrush. You need volume, not pressure, for this task. The recommended method from Papilio involves the use of foam cosmetic wedges (ask your wives, they'll probably have whole packages of these...) to spread the liquid around. Trust me, this is NOT the best way to apply the compound. It IS the most messy and least-satisfying way to apply it. I believe I have ruined two full decal sheets with this stuff trying to apply it both with an airbrush (experimenting, of course...) and with the foam wedges. The liquid is still too viscus, even cut 60/40 with turpentine.

I am still waiting for these sheets to dry, but I'm not holding my breath for success. What I am likely to do is print these sheets again, but go back to the tried-and-true acrylic spray method of sealing the decals; I will probably stick with this method until I can get my 'big gun' involved. The thing is, before I spray another batch of the fixative, I still need the dust-free environment, and I need to be spraying ten or fifteen sheets of decals to justify the quantity of compound I'd have to mix up.

So, my conclusion to this series of reports is that Bel Decal has slipped in quality to last place, with no obvious quality control procedure to catch bad sheets from leaving their warehouse. Papilio decal sheets seem to be a better decal at the present time, with more variety of products available from this company than Bel. SuperCal is at least twice as expensive as either Papilio or Bel, without the variety. I have not used SuperCal sheets yet, and may have to try them out at some time in the future.

Also, the Lexmark printers can be used sucsessfully with the Papilio sheets, but not perfectly. There are blemishes that are due entirely to the printer which you may either have to 'live with' or move up to a more expensive printer. One trick I found out which does work better with the Lexmark is to set the printer for transparencies instead of treated. The paper is drawn into the machine slowly, instead of rapidly, which tends to knock the sheet out of alignment.

I will also try out the Epson printer with these Papilio sheets later, when I have another batch handy. The Epson ink is already waterproof, which means you should be able to cut into the decal and not have any 'bleed' problem.

I do not recommend the Papilio decal fixative at this time. Stick with the acrylic spray cans -- it's easier and neater to work with.

Craig...
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  #19  
Old 06-29-2005, 05:32 PM
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Default Bel Decal Follow-Up

Of course, everyone knows that as soon as I say "Bel Decal paper is rotten, doesn't do what it's supposed to, the ink doesn't... whatever...", I'll try another sheet to find that it works perfectly, without any of the flaws that prompted my rants and ravages earlier.

I just printed a full sheet of decals on one of the Bel Decal papers that came with my most-recent order -- Yes, a sheet from the same package as those which failed so horribly! Want to guess how it came out?

Right... No errors related to the paper. The only flaws I could see this time were related to the image, and these I could actually see in the TIF when I examined it closer in Photoshop.

So, what happened?

Human error, for sure, with Bel not carefully examining the quality of the papers they were shipping. Mechanical error, for sure, in that the sheets with the problem had incomplete layering, probably at the very beginning of a run, or at the end of a run. Bel should have spotted these problems and discarded these edge sections instead of dumping them on the customer.

Will I ever order again from Bel? Maybe. I want to see if the Papilio papers are truly compatable with the Epson first, and if so, then I'll stick with them. I like the Epson inks a little better than I do the Lexmark inks, because I think the opacity is better. The waterproof aspect of the Epson inks is a genuine plus for waterslide decals, but the paper has to be compatable. If it isn't, then there's no advantage at all.

This story is not finished yet. There's still the SuperCal decal papers out there, and one day I want to try them out, to see if they're worth the higher price.

Craig
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  #20  
Old 06-29-2005, 08:35 PM
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by CPMcGraw
This story is not finished yet. There's still the SuperCal decal papers out there, and one day I want to try them out, to see if they're worth the higher price.

Did you ever try the paper that Tango Papa sells?
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