What is Digital
In essence it is a commercially printed decal utilising
modern digital printing processes. It is also generically known as DPS or DPS2. Mine is similar to the later but with a few improvements of my own. The
end result is a continuous sheet decal printed on stock decal sheet which
behaves the same way as silk screen produced decals.
This process differs from silk screen in that
whilst it will print white, it cannot print metallic. It is also vastly cheaper than silk screen
production as it is without the need for large print runs per subject to cover
the expensive silk screen master costs which in turn result in high inventory
costs and capital outlay which is simply unaffordable for me.
Do I need to overcoat
Tips for using Digital decals
I have tested the decals produced this way and all one needs
to do is cut them out and give them a quick dip in warm or cold water. DO NOT OVER SOAK. Usually the decal slides off after 30-60
seconds “rest”. The decals do not bleed.
However – whilst the decal sheet itself is very thin – which normally is good
for getting to settle around complex curves – the solidity of the colours does make the decal ink fairly thick and feedback indicates a decal softening solution may be needed to bend them round complex or harsh curves.
However all decals new or reprinted since April 2016 have been printed on a new laser controlled flat deck printer and the thickness problem has largely vanished without any opacity issues.
The nature of the ink used by the Printers means that the
decals have a gloss appearance. You may
wish to overcoat them with a satin or matt varnish before application.
Many modellers choose to overcoat all varieties of decals,
or completed decaled models, with an appropriate coating to seal from dust and
These options are a matter of choice and personal
The Digital decals are of a comparable quality to the laser
/ digital / and some silkscreen decal sheets provided in the kits. However in general the Digital decals are
less sharp than my photo quality inkjet decals.
This is a technology issue. It is
why leading PC commentators such as PC Magazine recommend all organisations
requiring high fidelity colour use inkjet printers for that need. The differences generally shows up in the
readability of very small writing and, to a lesser extent, general
If you need / want the higher fidelity and are prepared to
put the effort into the extra handling required using inkjet decals then ask me
for an inkjet version of the decal you want – the cost will generally be the
Solidity of the colours.
The Digital decals are very solid.
There is no bleed through even when placed on gloss black and yes, that
includes white. I have tested decal
segments containing white, yellow, light grey, dark blue, black and red on
white, light grey, dark grey and gloss black backgrounds.
Bonus extra – The printers inform me the ink used in the
Digital decals includes a UV formula which prevents (or at least substantially
reduces) fading due to direct sunlight exposure. The same printer ink is used for producing
outdoor billboards and window decals.
What does the use of Digital printing mean for custom decal requests?
There may also be a wait time of up to three months to get DIGITAL printed – unless you are prepared to fund a significantly higher price for a special run. Even then the turn round from the printer is proving to be around two weeks. This assumes I have decal stock in country at the printers - this can take 2 weeks to achieve as they are sourced directly by me from the manufacturer in the USA. The reality is that I have no real leverage with the Printers who see even a “big” order from me as a small filler run to be fitted in around their core business.
The options including potential timings will be discussed with you at the time. The inkjet format will generally be both cheaper and faster to produce.
Why do the words on the back of the decal backing sheet of white backed decals say “INKJET”?
Some of the earlier DIGITAL decals were printed on INKJET decal stock. This was to use up old stock on hand, the Digital print process is agnostic as to the type of decal paper used. This also happens on occasion when there is a snafu at the printers and I need to supply INKJET decal stock to enable a print run to be completed. These will vanish over time as newer reprints succeed those so printed. The INKJET sheets are actually better quality but the white background makes small white markings very difficult to see / find hence the preferential use of the blue backed laser decal sheets.