John Hagen <sprinthag@...>
Dennis, Ray Breyer and group.
The problem is not being able to print white. There are several ways to do that nowadays. No, not with your off-the-shelf $100.00 - $250.00 Inkjet or laser printers but there reasonable priced units that can print white.
The problem comes in if you need to print anything else except white or black. The colors are not opaque at all. If you were to place a red image on, say a medium to dark blue background, the red image would basically disappear.
What is necessary is to have a printer that will print a layer or two, depending on the darkness of the background, of white and then be able to print the color layer on top of the white while retaining registration. That is what is needed to get opaque colors, no matter what printer you are using.
There are printers that can do it all in one pass but they run in the $20,000.00 - $30,000.00 range. You would have to have really healthy decal business if you’re going to turn a profit, respectable or meager, when HO sets go for $6.00.
This is why has problems with thick ink. Apparently that is the amount of white ink needed to be opaque. Plus the white has to go under any part of the image that is not black.
Yes, anyone who has the necessary equipment to do so can make custom runs for anyone who wants them. However, the set up costs for offset and even screen printers is not inexpensive. So if you want HO Coal Porter decals you had better want enough sets to do a full, scale length unit train if you don’t want to spend $40.00/set. What is needed are printers that can print directly from artwork. Like inkjets, lasers and. Oh yes, Alps. The printer Tichy (and others) uses can do it also. That really, really lowers and set up costs. With an Alps there are no setup costs other than artwork which is just the labor on the part of the artist. In my case, that is me. So the cost of an Alps decal sheet is the same for the last one as it is for the first one. There is no economy of scale. But, if you have big sets costs, the price per set come down the more sets you print. If you were to want maybe more than 25 sets of the average HO set, an Alps gets to be more expensive. But for 1, 2, 3 or 10 sets, Alps is the best deal around.
I can print you a 5.5 X 8.5 sheet of waterslide decals (5.0 X 7.0 print area) of any color you want for $20.00. Less if you only need black print. They will be printed on an Alps. They will be of very high quality albeit the maximum resolution will be 600 d.p.i. The numbers of color hues are limited unless I dither the colors (there will be an obvious dot matrix on close inspection). If at all possible I used layered colors to achieve different hues so the color is solid.
For reasonable cost, short run decals it is still not possible to beat an Alps. With well drawn, scalable vector graphics artwork (used by anyone worth his salt) and a real working knowledge of what an Alps is capable of and what it is not capable of, excellent decals can be had. But the printers have not been made for over twelve years and are getting real scarce ---- and expensive. They are finicky as all get out and repairs are only done by one company located in Japan. Their prices really are not bad but you’re looking at $500.00 shipping each way. Inks are also expensive and some of the process (tinting) colors are not available at any price. And the white ink that is so very important for our use is sky rocketing.
To this end I am looking for others who can do my printing for me using my artwork. But so far I have not come up with anything that is what everybody wants. I will continue and I will continue printing Alps, provided I can keep at least one decent operating one.
I just may attempt that reverse printing. Getting the reverse printed images on the decal paper can be done with any printer that prints a properly registered white layer, like an Alps. Developing a method to reliably remove the film without messing up the images is the problem.
>.Thu Nov 2, 2017 7:59 am (PDT) . Posted by:
>I think the key to the problem was mentioned several pages of messages back... The big problem with short run printing of decals is finding a system that can print white, since most computer printers rely on the white paper showing through. ALPS printers used a ribbon that was thermally >set to the decal paper, and included white for use as a backer to overprint transparent colors like red over other colors. The ALPS technology is almost history now.