Equipment and supplies for making decals at home

husafreak Jan 6, 2021

  1. husafreak

    husafreak TrainBoard Member

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    I'm looking for a "laundry list" of what you guys (who do this) have found to work well when making decals for Z scale trains.
    First, we have printers and from my You Tube studies appears that Laser printers are the best for making them. I have Epson and HP Deskjet Ink jet printers so I'll probably need another printer. Hopefully an inexpensive one.
    Second is the decal sheet, there are several brands and the choice might be a big deal in our scale. I like the idea of using Bare Metal Foil products and their line of Microscale solvent and sealers, or Testors spray lacquers, which I have. But they don't make white sheets so I'll need white decal sheets, and a sharp X-Acto knife, for a lot of decals.
    Finally I plan to use web images resized with a MAC program (?) to shrink them.
    Thanks for any advice.
     
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  2. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    The best way was taken away from us in 2000, when they discontinued the Alps MD printers in the US. They are still available used, but command a hefty price. The bottom line is you need to have white ink under the color, and be able to apply color on top of color with perfect registration.

    I have a Windows XP thin net client with Corel Draw 9 and a parallel port connected MD1000 that I bought for a rainy day. I bought 3 MD1000 printers, and about 1000 ink ribbons before the supply dried up way back in the day. The method is super complex, far too hard to teach as you have to learn to draw vector art and creatively lay out layers, then overlay every print layer. Get the order wrong, and you have to start over.
     
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  3. husafreak

    husafreak TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks Robert, you have previously tried to help me in this pursuit and I know the way you do it is probably the best it can be done, but way to hard for me to do it that way. I didn't know they had printers that can do white backgrounds! I wonder if images downloaded from the internet and shrunk to Z scale can be printed on white decal sheet would be acceptable? Not necessarily excellent quality, just acceptable.
     
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  4. rvn2001

    rvn2001 TrainBoard Member

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    Hi Eric,
    I use Print Shop with my ALPS printer. I've also used it with my inkjet printers. Testors makes white decal paper. The quality is not as good as the way Robert and others use but it is acceptable.
     
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  5. husafreak

    husafreak TrainBoard Member

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    Testers decals and an inkjet printer. That I could do. The cheapest ALPS I see is $700 refurbished from ALPS website. They are on EBAY too but expensive. All too expensive for a few decals but fine for someone going into business.
     
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  6. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    Sadly, those Alps printers are probably all worn out and would not last a business long. What they are good for is a guy creates all the artwork he is ever going to need for his railroad, buy used Alps, printout all the decals he needs, and sell the printer for what he bought it for.
     
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  7. husafreak

    husafreak TrainBoard Member

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    Indeed!
     
  8. bostonjim

    bostonjim TrainBoard Member

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    I find a lot of n-scale decals are acceptable. I have used them on locos and buildings without them looking totally out of scale. I don't understand why there is nobody making z-scale decals for the market. It has been a topic of discussion for ages. All of the decals on this consist are Microscale n-scale decals. RSCN4614 (2).JPG DSCN4602 (2).JPG
     
  9. John Bartolotto

    John Bartolotto TrainBoard Supporter

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  10. shortpainter

    shortpainter TrainBoard Member

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    Doing it at home is very difficult. You could get help from the many semi professionals around the internet. I recommend a search on Etsy for custom water slide decals that can print white ink. There are a few Etsy venders that specialize in model railroad decals as well as others that do general color decal prints.
     
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  11. Curn

    Curn TrainBoard Member

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    Has anyone tried the ghost white laser toner? I have a printer that they make cartridges for and was thinking of giving it a try. The only practical issue is you replace the black toner with white. So if you were going to do black on white printing, or even dark colors over white, it wouldn’t print right. And without registration, you can’t print white and then over print the black/colors in a second pass. So for a complex decal, you would print the white background and a separate overlay decal, and combine them when applying it to the model.

    https://www.ghost-white-toner.com/

    Thoughts?
     
  12. poppy2201

    poppy2201 TrainBoard Member

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    You could also contact CMR Products to see if they could do custom work for you.
     
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  13. CNE1899

    CNE1899 TrainBoard Member

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  14. husafreak

    husafreak TrainBoard Member

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    Great posts everyone! Now I really understand that decals are a big challenge! Who would have thought that in this day and age anything would be difficult to make at home? 3D printers are a miracle, but decals are apparently more so... I am impressed with the use of N scale decals, my first thought was no way! But the reality is they look good. Bostonjim's loco looks terrific, so I guess it is a bit of the old "scale effect" going on. The N scale decals are too large, but they are legible, so our eyes accept the big lettering, they are just happy it is legible, which it should be, and so the effect is that it looks scale. Well, here's hoping some enterprising business will develop a way to economically and accurately print decals in the near future!
     
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  15. zdrada69

    zdrada69 TrainBoard Member

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    My experiance is very simple and maybe of some help. The lack of rolling stock and decals for Polish PKP was a problem for myself at the very beginning of my interest in Z scale. I tried to ask for helppeople who were making decals semi-commercially for HO scale but in most cases it did not worked... Finally I found a small company designing and selling decals for models of sport cars and they also print decals as a service using my own designed files. The problem is that it takes some time and the best is to send A4 format to be printed (a lot for Z scale). I also get in touch with fellow modellers making Z - they can ak me to add decals for them (especially those I already have designed). ome N-scale friends asked me to enlarge my Z decals.
    I belive it is a good alternative to find such a service supplier and design by ownselves. The cost is around 40$$ for A4 format.
     
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  16. bostonjim

    bostonjim TrainBoard Member

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    Hi, Charles
    I have purchased some of CMR's stock items. They are very good quality. I use them as a source for safety striping that is in z-scale. They have several different roads with different safety stripe designs. I think there are copyright issues with just printing and selling certain designs and logos and may be why there aren't many available. It is good to see all of the resources available in one post. Jim
     
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  17. Uncle Nugat

    Uncle Nugat TrainBoard Member

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    There are companies out there that will do custom work as "zdrada69" pointed out. Here's the thing and as we are all aware "things don't really come cheap/or readily available" in Z scale. A lot of times we have to make it ourselves if we want to finish a custom project. I use to ask some of the guys with the Alps printers if they would do some work for me - most of the time their response was "sorry I have too much on my plate" to design and print what I wanted/needed and I completely understand that! So I thank one of those guys for taking the time to basically tell me what Software I needed and to learn that software(I believe he knows who I'm talking about). So I went out and purchased a vector graphic software, and learned the program and now design the decals I need. Once you have your file completed, you can find vendors that will print your decals - not real cheap but what is? It's not the equipment I want it's the final product that I need and there are companies that can deliver that. The great satisfaction is having something that WAS ONCE on your wish list now is the REALITY. I've used some N scale decals and they do work in some situations real well but there's nothing like making it yourself - at least for me, plus, you've improved your modeling skills.
     
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  18. ZFRANK

    ZFRANK TrainBoard Member

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    Also think a little outof the box. If you just need black decals or colored letters or patches on black you can just simply print with a just black laser printer (tranparent letters or patches). I even handpainted small areas within a decal and put another decal over it to get the contours right. For white I go to a guy which has an Oki profecional printer who can simply swap the blacktoner drum for a white one. Here you can do the same trick with handpainting adding another decalover it. Not perfect but often close enough for me. This way I have already been able to model different pieces of roling stock. /Frank

    Verstuurd vanaf mijn ANE-LX1 met Tapatalk
     
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  19. eit27

    eit27 TrainBoard Member

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    Reach out to CMR, they will do custom decals at a reasonable price. If you decide you need more, they like $4 a set. I had a set done and they turned out great.
     
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  20. SJ Z-man

    SJ Z-man TrainBoard Member

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    I use a lot of the MicroScale N decals, especially the Graffiti and Tag. The problem is finding what you want, on their site or catalog. It’s random and no useful images.
     
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