Re: Decal problems


Alps printed decals can be tough to get to settle around surface details, especially rows of rivets among other things. This depends a lot on how they were printed and, to some extent, cannot be avoided. The reason for this is the number of layers of ink that may be involved in the printing of Alps decals. If the printer (the person not the machine) is using spot colors the number of printing passes may vary from one to several and will almost for certain contain at least two unless the color of the print is black or metallic gold or silver in which cases only one pass may be used.

If the printer is using the normal color matching system there will be four passes involved at a minimum. add to either method a layer or two of white for opaqueness and you can get some thick ink. Now for black or the metallic colors a white undercoat it not necessary of opaqueness.

The best way to decal using Alps decals is to soak all the glue off the decal and lay it on a paper towel to dry. Then place a puddle of Solvaset or other stetting solution on the place where the decal will be placed and position the decal on top. This does require quick work as there is very limited time to get the decal positioned before it becomes so soft that any attempt to further move it will damage it. This method is used by many for all kinds of decals as works very well to settle the decal around surface details. There have been several articles in the modelling press over the years espousing this method and it does work well.

The problem with gettingĀ  the decal off the backing may go back to decal paper problems from a couple of years ago when almost all paper suppliers had problems. There are few providers of bare decal paper world wide and at one time one of them made a bad batch of paper. Bare decal paper is teh backing, usually light blue in color to which the decal carrier film is placed. This is the printing surface and is the film that we all have to soften in order for the decal to settle down and that we then apply overcoats to help hide the film on the finished model.

The paper in question made it near impossible to get a decal to slide off eh backing without breaking up into unusableĀ  pieces of confetti. I had some and I had gotten it from more than one of the printer ready decal paper suppliers. There is nothing to do for it if this is what you have. If you can get your supplier to reprint for you fine, other wise your are s.o.l. I had to reprint several orders using exactly the same method on new paper to replace the bad stuff and the re-prints all worked just fine. I also had to toss several sheets of the crappy paper. Oh well, stuff happens.

While the settling situation can be difficult to work with be aware that Alps decals often are more opaque than any other method of printing. The simple fact is that any decal that is fully opaque is going to have ink or pigmented color (i.e., paint) that is going to thicker than "normal", whatever that is. And thicker means stiffer. I have had several customers remark at the opaqueness of my decals as compared to others using screen or offset printing methods. Yes this will include some very recognizable names.

John Hagen

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