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Veteran Member
Apr 26, 2011
Brisbane, Australia
A few months ago I experimented with some do-it-yourself decal material I'd bought at a scale model exhibition.
I'd bought two types of the special paper, one type was the traditional waterslide decal paper in which the image is printed normally as you would look at it, then cut out, dipped in tepid water for 30 seconds and carefully
slid off onto the receiving surface. This type is the same as you have in a model kit. The other type of decal paper is for printing a reverse image, after which the piece is soaked with IPA or methylated spirit, rubbed, applied then heated to bake it on. This is more like the toner transfer method and is sold to be used to apply photos to cups, tiles, fabric and so on.

As I had generated an SVG scaled to the correct physical size for the test, I printed off a test arrangement on a piece of paper and then cut some decal paper and taped it to be in the same position. This was to economise on the material. After printing this one moderately successfully, I did a group of them on bigger pieces of decal paper. Testing the decal was simply a matter of placing it in water, wetting the surface of a scrap of white styrene plastic and then sliding it on and carefully pressing out the bubbles with a kleenex.

The result looks reasonable when compared to the original DIGITAL PDP-11/05 emblem as shown. One would only need to cut a strip of 20 thou styrene, round the corners, airbrush to the correct colour (a creamy white) and then apply the decal.

I didn't really have any pressing need for doing this decal (yes I am aware than Mattis Lind's PDP-11/05 could do with one) but I thought it would be fun and some good practice for one I do need to make, sometime a replacement emblem for the front panel of a TU60 decassette drive. Although that one may be more suited to screenprinting or vinyl stencil cutting owing to the more solid black/white image.
I have not yet tried the alcohol transfer paper yet. The instructions for that type of paper say it the receiving surface needs to be heated to set the image after the alcohol has evaporated.

Test print to find location for decal paper strip taped to A4 sheet which is then fed back into the printer
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Group of SVG images to be printed, and results normal and reversed for the different decal papers
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Standard waterslide decal paper (left) and alcohol reverse transfer paper (right)
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About to dip and apply waterslide decal to a test piece of scrap of styrene (at lower left)
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Result. You can see the edge of the decal. I should have given it more blank spacing so the top and bottom edges are further away and greater the edge of the 11/05 plate.
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Close up detail. Should have let the laser printer toner fuser warm up more before printing. But, acceptable.
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Comparison to original panel, which is what I scanned a while back then converted to SVG
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