The term "decal" is today's lexicon generically means any graphic transferred to any surface, by any method. The term was originally "decalcamania" in the late 1800's for the one and only method being a simple "water release paper" technique. Over the decades, the term was shortened to just 'decal' and two more advanced methods called Cut Vinyl and Dry-Transfer came on the scene.
The Basic 3 Methods:
1 - Water Slide
2 - Cut Vinyl
3 - Dry Transfer
There are two other alternative methods to create decals. These include the Dymo label type imaging devices and using clear plastic sheets run through a laser printer, but these just aren't real techniques per-se and do not generate a professional appearance. These just doesn't compete with the more advanced techniques described here. If you're not familiar with these methods, here's a quick run-down...
1. WATER SLIDE:
Basic 1890's technique using a medium weight paper coated with a simple water-release agent called Dextrin. On top of this Dextrin coating is a thin layer of lacquer applied at the factory which becomes the "base" for any printed image. The paper is then run through on an Ink-Jet printer. After an image has been printed onto the paper, the image has to be sealed by a sprayed-on coat of lacquer (or acrylic, Poly-U, etc). The ink-based image is now waterproof being locked between two clear-coats. Trim the image as close as possible to the graphic as the surrounding 'clear' lacquer areas will visible be part of the finished image.
Now the image is put the paper in a water tray. The back of the paper absorbs the water which dissolves the Dextrin coating to release the image from the paper in about minute. The byproduct of Dextrin is also an adhesive, so, when the image slides off the paper and onto your target location you simply (and VERY carefully) squeegee-out excess water and let the Dextrin dry for about an hour or two. The "halo" effect can be minimized but it takes time to dissolve the edges to flare-out the edges.
• Very low cost using standard lacquer-coated water-slide paper
• Usable with conventional inkjet printers. (Some paper types can be used on laser printers)
• Permanent, non-removable clear 'Carrier' (the halo look around the image)
• Color images must be transferred to white background, else color shift
• Images can easily tear during transfer
• Graphics are easily damaged without applying a protective overcoat spray
• No metallic colors
• No white capability (unless you use a 'white-base' sheet over clear lacquer base)
• Always leaves a permanent clear carrier (halo) around the image area
2. CUT VINYL:
A roll of adhesive-backed vinyl with a protective liner on the bottom. A micro-rotating knife cuts out the image, then all of the vinyl outside of the shape is removed (called "weeding") to remove non-image components and inside of enclosed shapes and letters. Very time consuming!
• Durable images
• Best for very large images
• Limited colors
• Expensive device
• Can't make small text or ornate graphics
• Can be very time consuming to remove (weeding) all cut-out elements
• Failed cuts are common
• Thick material to the touch
3. DRY TRANSFER:
Also referred to as 'pressure-sensitive' or 'rub-down'. It's a rather novel yet simple technique using "differential transfer". A method by which two adhesives are used, one stronger than the other. The weaker one is used to bond a temporary carrier to the top of the graphic or text, while the other (stronger one) is under the graphic to bond to the target location. Only hand pressures are needed to secure the image, then the carrier is peeled away leaving the image on the target location. This is the best method of the three but has always been the most expensive and untimely method... until now that is.
Before the development and introduction of DecalProFX in 2005, all dry-transfers were sent-off to be commercial fabricated from your artwork, typically costing about $100/page... per/color with wait-times or 2~4 weeks or more. If you were to do a full-color image (4-color process) that can get real expensive real fast. Now compare that to our 8-minute process costing under $2.50/sheet in ANY number of colors.
If you were to send out the above 5 sheet to be fabricated by a commercial service bureau, it would cost you about $500 with weeks of waiting time. Conversely, to make these same layouts in-house with DecalPro®, you'd be done in 40 minutes (8min per sheet) and cost about $10. DecalPro is revolutionary for the ultimate for an on-demand graphics system. The total 'upfront' cost for the DecalPro 'starter kit' and the Tamerica SM-330 10-mil laminator is only $230 and be able to make 20 8"x10" master layouts. Hands- down, DecalProFX is the best, most powerful, dynamic, reliable, easiest and most efficient method for fast creating real dry-transfers. And it's the only DIY system on the market since 2005 when we first introduced this unique product& technique.
• Unlimited colors: White, Grey, Black, 13 Metallics, 2 Holographic 2 Special Effect and 16.7million pigment colors with a color laser or copier
• Use any color laser or conventional copier
• Text transfer as small as 4pt (4/72")
• Images as large as 8"x10"
• Affordable kit replacement components reorder when starter kit supplies run low
• Transfers are made with light finger pressure so you can transfer to extremely delicate surfaces without damage
• Fast process
• Requires use of a suitable 10mil type pouch laminator
• No Brother® brand printers as they changed their toner formulation which does not play well with our process.
• Not for mass-producing as it takes 8 minutes to make up to an 8"x10" image.