- Date: Tue,
18 Jul 2000
From: Tom & Sheila
Subject: [Frame] Re: Alps printer for decals
List-Id: Amateur and
professional bicycle frame building
First I bought a recondidtioned Alps MD-1000 from the
Alps web site for $150, which was quite a deal,
considering it came with a full warranty and they
normally go for $300 to $350. I don't think they have any
more of these right now, but it might be worth checking,
or inquiring via e-mail.
So far I have been printing on clear adhesive mylar
sheets (I buy it at Kinkos). On my first try I printed up
a sheet and tested the durability of the ink and the
mylar. The mylar is good, really tough stuff, although
its adhesive is not super strong --- un-clearcoated
decals can start to peel up at the edges after some wear
and repeated bike washings.
The ink, though, at least on this mylar stuff, is not so
good. It can be scratched off with just a fingernail. And
it is attacked and dissolved by many kinds of chain lube
and degreaser. And when I tried to spray a clear coat
over as a protectant, the ink got all cracked and crazed
(this was just clear urethane out of a spray can, but now
that I have a real spray gun, I'll try some "real"
So I have been solving that problem by laminating the
decal with another layer of the clear mylar. This works,
but it is time consuming, and the end product is fairly
thick. Automotive clear goes over it fine, but it would
take many clear coats with sanding in between to really
bury the decal and have no bumps.
The overall print quality is pretty good, but the one
thing I don't like about it is that you can often see
striations (that's a fancy word for "lines")
where there was a slight overlap of passes by the print
head. These lines are oriented horizontally on the page,
so the effect is minimized in images less than 7 1/2
inches long, which you can print "portrait"
style. But things that are longer, like downtube decals,
must be set up "landscape" style and they end
up with many tiny vertical striations (there's that word
again). The result is not completely awful, but is
something less than professional. And it's more noticable
with some colors than others. From the demo I saw, the MD-5000
model is quite a bit better about this, but it runs $500+.
The cool part about the whole thing is that you can print
up one-offs or or small batches of anything your heart
desires. And you can print in metallic colors (silver,
gold, cyan and magenta), which look pretty neat. You can
also print in white, although it's not perfectly opaque.
I've tried printing a double layer to get less show-through,
but the second layer of ink rarely goes down right. I
suspect this is because my media (the mylar and its
backing paper) is too thick.
So that's about where I am. Has anyone else has success
printing multiple layers? Any recommendations on other
"papers" to try? Had any luck clear coating
directly over the ink?
Thursday, 29 January 2009