Laser Printed Decals



Scott mentioned using a laser printer to do the decals for his Red 6 build. Well, I don't have a laser, especially a color laser, but I did like the crisp look of his decals. So I checked Micro Mark and verified that they carried decal film especially for laser printers.

Then I called the local office supply store (Staples in this case) and found that they would print from my file, onto the decal film for just under half a buck a sheet. The only requirements they had was that there was nothing on the sheet -- stickers, etc. -- that would come off in their machine. I thought that was not asking to much as I have watched a tech have to clean the guts of a laser printer before.

So, if you don't have your own laser printer you might check your local office supply store, between your artwork and their printer you could have those custom decals (sorry Scott, I can't remember the correct spelling of Decal).

You can also buy White and Clear decal sheets that you can run through an Inkjet printer. They run about $4-$5 for an 8 1/2" X 11" sheet
Yikes. I once tried that decal paper for laser printers. It destroyed our laser printer, because it went partially off, thus destroying that weird cylinder, which applies the color to the paper. Or something like that. At least I have weird stripes over everything I am trying to print now. :'(

Generally I'd say, that a inkjet printer is much better for this job. They usually have a higher resolution (up to 600 dpi, I heard?) and you don't have the problem with heat coming to the decal sheet. One day I really need my own inkjet printer along with some decal sheets.

Hm.. Or I'll just buy Scott's star wars (and future sci-fi?) decal sheets.
I was recently looking into printing my own decals for an upcoming build and found the necessary sheets on line. One question for the guys with experience: what program is best to use to print your images with? Do you use an ordinary windows program or something else? Please fill me in! ;)
I'm building a Chevy truck and going to make my own decals. I bought the Testors ink jet print kit at the LHS. The disk it comes with has some sample stuff on it. Personally it looks like you should just buy the correct paper for your printer (inkjet and laser use different paper) and just use whatever drawing program, or word program and shrink it to the size you need. I did a couple of test prints on regular paper and couldn't tell the difference. Then you spray the printed decals with a coating that keeps the ink from running when you dip it in water. I didn't see an advantage for purchasing the whole kit. Just buy the paper and spray. I'll let you know how mine turn out.
Well imho it's always best to use a vector based program like Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator. Especially Corel is easy to use, quite powerful and actually quite cheap! If you combine that with a Postscript-able and 600 dpi inkjet printer, you can easily print very, very, veeery tiny letters and stuff like that. Vector gives you the sharpest edges possible on printed text.
Elend is right. A vector program like Corel Draw of Adobe Illustrator is your best bet for nice sharp text, lines and curves. Vector creates shapes based on mathematics and therefore can be scaled infinately without any quality loss. I use Corel Draw all the time. It's affordable and once you get the hand of it, really easy to use. Easier than Adobe Illustrator in my opinion.

Photoshop, on the other hand is a bitmap edited, or raster, pixel, editing software. Pixels loose quality when resized.

My laser printer is a Xerox Docucolor 242. It prints beautiful full color up to 13" x 19" (12x18 full bleed) at 1200x1200 dpi. The micro mark laser decal paper works great - and does not require a fixative spray.

I am just about finished the first DEKULZ sheet. It will have both clean (vector) and weathered (bitmap) versions of the graphics. The reason for the weathered version to be bitmap is that you can do alot of cool effects and painting in Photoshop that you can't do in a vector program.
Be sure to let us know about, when they are ready. I'd like to order a sheet then and put those decals randomly around my models (and room).
I have a color laser and have printed several of my own decals. Most were just simple things that could be done in any Windows based program. I am not artistic so I haven't tried my own artwork, I usually clip something from the web and edit it a bit.

Certain colors, especially yellow, don't show up well on clear decal paper. If something has a lot of color or has white in it, I use white decal paper. Trouble with that is you have to trim away all the excess areas as they are not clear.
And if you realy want to go all out, buy an alps printer.
They can print white as well. so you could have a non transparent decal on a clear decal sheet by first applying a white mask for non transparent decals.
And contrary to common belief that they aren't made anymore: you can still buy ALPS printers, they are still produced in japan, but they do have japanese drivers.
The only place for an ALPS with english drivers is company in New Zealand as far as i know.
And eBay. True about the yellow tip jetjock. I've been looking for one for a while, From what I can tell the MD5000 looks like a good grab, if you can get it and a pile of cartridges for under 300ish. Didn't' know that Kitty, thanks.
If you realy want a new ALPS, here is a link to that NZ based company:

they ship them from Japan to you and include the english drivers.
They also have plenty cartridges and replacement parts and since the MD5000 is still produces those cartridges will be available at least 7 years (japanese law requires that supplies and replacement parts be continued at least 7 years after production is stopped)

But under $300 is something you can forget, they cost about $1000 canadian, shipping not included.
These printers never were cheap because of the quite expensive dye sublimation method used.
They are not to be compared with a laserprinter or Inkjet.
These things can print on practicaly anything, including frisket, vinyl and silk.
They can also print gold and silver and other metalics if you get the apropriate cartridges.
I woudn't buy a seconhand one, you have to be realy carefull with the heads of those printers, they can't stand dust and secondhand ones usualy are broken or near the end of their life.
kitty -

Thank you so much for posting that link. I (like many) had heard that ALPS was dead.
You've proven that untrue and I look forward to trying to scrape the money together for one of those toys.

I've gotten some pretty good results with color-laser on clear decal sheet, but the inability to print white has always been a deal-killer for a lot of designs. ALPS makes that work and then some.

Thanks again!
Anyone ever try one of these printers?

It is also a Dye sublimation printer. I have never once printed a decal, but might have to do so soon. I have a lot of really old models I want to put together, and I would like to scan the decals into the computer first.

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