Re: Epson decal printing

Scott H. Haycock


While I haven't absorbed all of this post yet, let me warn you of one thing- the Claria colors used by the Epson 1400 are dye-based inks, not pigment-based inks. They were designed to solve different issues in the photo printing world. The dyes tend to soak in-great for photo papers of a matte, or flat finish, or more absorbent designer photo papers. The pigment inks tend to sit on top of the substrate. they need to be set aside to "dry", before handling. These inks are used for glossy-type photos. Keep this in mind as you experiment.

By all means, though, keep us updated on your efforts.

Scott Haycock


Mike and Friends,

While snooping around a local hobby shop last week I discovered Testors Decal Paper No. 9201. It is a package of six 5.5 x 8.5" sheets. I paid $11.25. I also purchased a 3 ounce can of Testors Decal Bonder Spray No. 9200 for $5.25.

I tried this "paper" in my Epson Stylus Photo 1400 which uses Claria "inks". The decals printed very well when the setting was for "plain paper" and quality set at "normal" per the instructions. One sheet was printed with the "glossy photo paper" setting, and the lettering came out fuzzy (I couldn't change the setting for some reason, but later copied the file and appended it to another already set correctly and it worked fine the second time). I let the ink dry for 24 hours, then shot each sheet with two coats of the Bonder Spray (laying on and laying off). There's enough in the can to do about eight sheets with two coats.

Except for the one software failure, I am pleased with the results so far. As I don't have any of the models planned for these decals ready, I haven't yet applied any. I will experiment with them shortly.

For comparison, I printed one sheet of Microscale TF-0 clear trim film and experienced the same problems of the ink not drying. Into the trash!

If I experiment further, I will test other types of coatings such as Testor's Dullcote or Krylon to see how they will react with the inks, and whether decals treated with them will hold up during application.

I'm also going to try having my files printed with a laser printer on the Microscale paper by a local copy shop/printer I've used for other special jobs. Our planned acquisition of a laser printer at work didn't happen.

After poking around on the internet, I found some interesting information about the Epson "inks". Epson Claria "inks" are not inks at all, but dyes. They don't have the same drying properties as HP, Lexmark or Cannon inks. That is why you can't generally print with an Epson in color on photo paper or other media from manufacturers other than Epson. The only non-Epson photo paper that seems to work is Office Depot's house brand which I can no longer get in my area (our OD store closed, and the closest is 75 miles away in Richmond). My earlier Epson 440 worked just fine in color on almost any paper. This machine used real inks.

And by the way, I used a light yellow-orange color for decals for my Sacramento Belt line, a fictional Western Pacific subsidiary. This is similar to what the WP applied to most of their new and repainted cars starting in 1955. Decals intended for my Virginia Midland equipment were printed in a very light gray which approximates silver. It will be interesting to see how these look. I also did some in black, including lettering for a gray Detroit & Mackinac boxcar I've always wanted.

Yours Aye,

Garth Groff

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