New Method of Printing Decals?

New Method of Printing Decals?

Postby Bernd » Sat Nov 14, 2015 3:29 pm

A discussion on Model Railroad Hobbyist about fallen flags turned into a discussion about printing decals and directly on the cars themselves. I think this is very interesting.

http://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/node/24220

For those you don't want to read the post on the forum here's a link to Alibaba, the Amazon of the East.

http://nuocai.en.alibaba.com/product/1511653719-213771989/A2_size_direct_image_printing_machine_for_pen_glass_metal_photo_plastic_leather_ceramics.html

Here's the video of the machine.



So I guess the Alps printer can finally fade into history. Also note that the printer is cable of printing on anything with a height of 14cm (approx. 5.5") Which would mean you could print right onto the side of a car or engine.

Comments?

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Last edited by Bernd on Sun Nov 15, 2015 5:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Mwthod of Printing Decals?

Postby krokodil » Sat Nov 14, 2015 3:51 pm

Märklin uses similar machine for its Z scale cars. The problem is with the surface. According the manufacturer it adjusts the focus automatically, but I am not sure that it can really print on surfaces which are common for our models. The print head must be very close to the surface but it is not small enough to follow the complex relief.
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Re: New Mwthod of Printing Decals?

Postby j p » Sat Nov 14, 2015 4:23 pm

No, this is not new.
UV-hardening inkjet printer is on my wish list for more than a year (for work). I even got some good results printed at the dealer. I wanted a more reliable machine though - check http://www.mimakiusa.com/
This one would be enough for model railroad use: http://www.mimakiusa.com/products/uv/ujf-3042/
The Chinese machine from your link looks like a cheaper copy, ignoring the safety regulations.

Your conclusion about the ALPS is simply wrong. At least for the moment. The reason is the price. UV-inkjet is much better than ALPS, but the machine costs a fortune (I have a quote in my office). Printing itself is much cheaper on this machine than on ALPS and the colors are better. If I could find a "sponsor" who buy that toy for me...
And, of course, it is not capable of printing on "anything". I had to help it a lot to get a reliable print on certain materials. But almost anything used in model railroading, yes. It needs flat surface to print on (or cylindrical). Not suitable for tank cars, perfect for boxcars or gondolas. Ribs on the sides of the boxcars are not a problem, the limit is around 2mm. It can even print rivets.
I know someone in Copenhagen, who has the Mimaki machine, but unfortunately I cannot borrow it from them.
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Re: New Mwthod of Printing Decals?

Postby Tom Dempsey » Sat Nov 14, 2015 6:00 pm

I think it's a good looking technology, but, I'd stick with the pad printer until the technology is more mature. However, I will admit, getting rid of the machine work would be a significant improvement to the process. Looks to me like you still have to do the artwork, but you can also skip film positive and negative, and the screen. Might work OK for RTR cars, but how does it replace the decal business?
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Re: New Mwthod of Printing Decals?

Postby j p » Sat Nov 14, 2015 7:19 pm

Tom Dempsey wrote:I think it's a good looking technology, but, I'd stick with the pad printer until the technology is more mature. However, I will admit, getting rid of the machine work would be a significant improvement to the process. Looks to me like you still have to do the artwork, but you can also skip film positive and negative, and the screen. Might work OK for RTR cars, but how does it replace the decal business?


This technology is for small series or individual models. It seems to be mature enough. My test samples were sent to the test department for torture (chemicals, wear resistance, scratches, temperature, UV radiation etc.) and it passed - when printed with a protective transparent layer.
Using it for industrial production of z scale models is OK, but not OK for TT because it is slow. If the production can be arranged in a way that the operator would only change the models in the machine, start the print, and then continued in doing some other work while the machine prints, then there might be a chance.

Of course, you have to do the artwork. You can also print on surfaces which are impossible for pad print or silkscreen. You could theoretically skip the artwork by having a perfectly aligned photo (but then it is really slow because then it has to print everything, incl. the background color of the car).
You can make multicolor prints in photo quality. That is not possible with pad print or silkscreen.
It can be used also for making decals instead of ALPS for geometries which are impossible to print directly.
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Re: New Mwthod of Printing Decals?

Postby Bernd » Sat Nov 14, 2015 9:00 pm

Tom Dempsey wrote: Might work OK for RTR cars, but how does it replace the decal business?


It doesn't get rid of decals, it enhance's them it. Doing one or two goes much faster.

So did anybody take a look at that boxcar that has printing on the side on the MRH forum that has ribs on the side. The printing is flawless from what I can see. Here's the guys website that uses one of these printers.

http://netzlofdesign.info/ModelProducts/

Maybe looking at getting one. There's more you can print than model railroad items. Nice thing about them is you can do fast custom work on them. Once you have the files created it wouldn't take much to print out what is needed. I think "netzlof" is ahead of the curve. We'll see if he's still around in a year or so.

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Re: New Mwthod of Printing Decals?

Postby Tom Dempsey » Sat Nov 14, 2015 11:50 pm

So, if I have an undecorated car on my workbench, ready for artwork, can you print me the artwork, and ship it to me, so I can apply it? Perhaps I'm misunderstanding what I'm seeing here.
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Re: New Mwthod of Printing Decals?

Postby Bernd » Sun Nov 15, 2015 9:59 am

Tom Dempsey wrote:So, if I have an undecorated car on my workbench, ready for artwork, can you print me the artwork, and ship it to me, so I can apply it? Perhaps I'm misunderstanding what I'm seeing here.


The biggest thing about this is the fact it can print white. Second is that you can either print on decal paper and apply to said car as usual or send your car in and have it printed right on the car. From the specs on the printer it looks like it can take anything in thickness from paper, such as decal paper, to anything that is 5.5" thick. This means you could lay your car on the flatbed and have the printer print directly on to the car. It's similar to pad printing on a car side except it works like a ink jet printer using UV curable ink, thus the blue light you see in the video.

j p mentioned that the maximum distant from the print heads can only be 2mm IIRC. So if you have ribs on the car side that .040" or higher it's a no go.

Anybody purchasing this machine can print more than just railroad items. At least we now have another vendor in the decal printing service we can have decals made.

Printing on the sides of cars or making decals is not the only thing. Think signs on buildings or a brick pattern printed on the side of a plastic structure. There are more possibilities if you let the mind wonder.

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Re: New Mwthod of Printing Decals?

Postby j p » Sun Nov 15, 2015 3:23 pm

Maybe I have formulated it wrong. Sorry Bernd.

j p mentioned that the maximum distant from the print heads can only be 2mm IIRC. So if you have ribs on the car side that .040" or higher it's a no go.


The 2 mm is a limit for good sharp print. Normal ribs are less than that, it is 9½" on the prototype. Anyway, the distance from the printing head is not limited, it will only get more blurred.
If you buy this printer and offer printing on decal paper, I would be happy to place orders.
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Re: New Mwthod of Printing Decals?

Postby Bernd » Sun Nov 15, 2015 3:44 pm

j p wrote:If you buy this printer and offer printing on decal paper, I would be happy to place orders.


As soon as I collect my inheritance. But a laser printer is first. Followed by a 3D printer, then the UV printer. So it could be a little wait before I do decals. :think: :lol:

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