Printing white

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by ezdays, Sep 13, 2003.

  1. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    I would like to make some decals with white lettering and am kinda stumped. Pete, (Sumpter250), did a great job on the C&H car he left on a siding on the CSRR a few weeks ago, and he says he uses an Alps printer. Does anyone know another way to do this? I guess I could use rub-on letters, but they don't make them small enough for N and they don't have the Canyon State RR logotype on them either. I have done screenprinting but don't have the equipment anymore, beside I worked on large stuff and doubt that I could do that sized fonts.

    I have some white background decal material, but then I'd have to get an exact match on the car color for that to look right, especially black on black.

    I think I'm out of workable ideas, anyone else got some?

  2. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    You are not alone Don, I have given up trying to make decals as home made ones with an ink jet printer only work with a dark text or pattern that is placed on a light coloured object. I wanted some white letters to put on a tender of steam loco and have not been able to do so. The white backed decal paper only works if you cut the decal out and that is a pain and doesn't look right.
  3. csxengineer

    csxengineer Member

    crazy, but it worked.

    A few years ago I had the same problem. I went to Kinkos with a 5" x 5" copy of a logo. They reduced it to n scale and laser printed it on to white sticker sheet. I cut it, carefully peeled the adhesive backing and presto!!!! It was so thin, it looked alot like a decal to the untrained eye.
  4. Ray Marinaccio

    Ray Marinaccio Active Member

    I know people that refill their own ink cartriges in there printers. I wonder if one could flush out an old black ink cartrige and refill it with white ink. Then you could set up your logo on the computer as black and print it on your clear decal sheet in white.
    Not sure what kind of ink you would use.
    Anyone in the printing industry amung us?
  5. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way


    I have plenty of white sticky-back and even some white decal paper, but for example, cutting out individual letters that are N scale for the sides of boxcars, which are about 3 point in hight, are out of the question. What I need is white printing on a clear background.


    That's a thought, but I would guess that seeing as how white ink is very pigmented, it would clog up the printhead. I'm not sure, but I think the Alps printer uses a white ribbon. I'm going to do a Google search and see if I can find out a bit more about that. White printing is hard to do.

    Yellow might be a good alternative, but I don't recall ever seeing yellow printing on cars or engines. Has anyone else seen a steam engine with other than white lettering? Or a freight car with anything other than black or white letters.

  6. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    OK, after a short Google search, I find I was wrong about the Alps printer, it does use a white ink cartridge. I found plenty of places to buy the cartridges, but only one place that was offering an Alps printer. It was 59,300 yen, but didn't say if I had to go to China to pick it up. :eek: Plus I don't know the current exange rate to determine if that's a good deal or not. :rolleyes:

  7. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    No fear, Don, you just have to go to Japan, that's a good 1000 miles closer :D :D :D

    I think your best bet will be to have the decals made for you or do a rectangular boarder around the lettering that contrasts and goes well with the paint scheme, and use transparent letters (what you get when you print white with a standard ink jet). Then you can paint white where the decal will go, or use the white decal paper.
  8. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    There are several railroads which used yellow lettering on steam, C&O was one. If you are doing freelance, that would work. I had my freelance decals made. Unless you have other reasons for buying an Alps printer, it is much cheaper to have them made!
  9. Ben H

    Ben H Member

    Friends of mine have purchased Alps printers of of Ebay and have been able to do a lot special decal work.

    Try searching under these headings when looking for the Alps printer and inks.
    Home > All Categories > Electronics & Computers > Computers & Office Products

    Its sad that these printers are on their way out. Not being manufactured any more because, it is said, they can easily print governments looking documents even counterfeit money.

    Don't know if this idea is true but do know that they are going and the only ones still around are used. Saw a notice a year ago from the Alps ink supplier that indicated another three years and then no more.

    Thermal color printers are great, but now because of their ability they are going.
  10. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    A Possible Solution

    Most any screen printing shop that does "flat work" can produce the decals for you. You will need to have your own black and white artwork(probably at 200% so they can reduce the image without loosing it). Tell them you want "waterslide" decals on high quality decal paper. The initial cost is a bit high but once they are done and you need more all they have to do is pull your positive and/or screen and print some more. In any event they are a darn sight cheaper than an ALPS printer.

    Another solution...many copy shops that have laser color printers can print white. You will have to furnish the decal paper. Discuss it with them beforehand. Some laser printers use high heat and won't accept the decal paper because it is coated with lacqure.
  11. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    :mad: :mad: :mad: Cobbler's Knob Kinkos said NO when I asked last year :mad: :mad: :mad:

    Perhaps a real copy shop would be better. I never checked.
  12. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Hmmmm Jon....Maybe thats why they have the name "Kinkos":D :D ....Seriously there's a local copy shop here that will do fact they did some in G scale for me and a buddy. We were putting images of business cards or logos onto G scale box cars for a local bar. The bar would then charge patrons a monthly fee to have their "adverstising car" running around a layout in the bar.

    Strange thing is that we were getting $30 a car to letter them and the decals were only costing us $4.50 a sheet. :eek: As a wise man once said..."Fools and their money are soon parted..":D :D :D :D :D
  13. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way


    We had a business that we sold a few years ago that included screenprinting and I still have access to it. We did large (up to 36" x 48") screens, and wouldn't attempt a line that was narrower than .015 with the screens we were using. I suppose I could always buy a finer mesh screen, but, we did have a gal in our old building that did those small die-cut magnets that they give away with phone numbers and a picture on them. I could give her a call. She also has a camera that she can shoot a positive film from original artwork.

    I was just hoping there was another way to do this other than screenprinting or using an Alps printer. Like maybe a clear, photo-sensitive decal paper with a white coating that after exposure, could be developed with a solution that wouldn't activate the water-soluable glue.

    Yeah, dream on, but something to think about.....:rolleyes:

  14. NYCentral

    NYCentral Member


    I have an alps printer and white cartridges, send me an e-mail.
  15. Pete

    Pete Member

    Going by the current exchange rates on 59,300 Japanese yen equates to about $510 USD.
    Sorry I have no other help to add...

  16. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Geeze, I was all set to go to the wrong country. Thank you Jon and Pete for setting me straight. :rolleyes: Japan is a lot closer, and easier to get into. No, I take that back, China is probably easier to get into, just a lot harder to get out of though.:eek: :eek:

    D:cool: N
  17. Bill Stone

    Bill Stone Member

    If all else fails you might try this:

    Way, way back in the days before lazer and ink jet printers, and before custom decals were readily available, many model railroaders used rubber stamps for lettering. They are quite inexpensive to have made, and can be used with white paint.
    But it does take a whole lot of experimenting to get them to print nicely, so don't rubber stamp that expensive rolling stock before playing around with it.

    Bill S
  18. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Ironic that one of the columnists for PC Magazine mentioned this in the latest issue. Someone asked the same question for the same reason as I did. Unfortunately, he had no answer. Apparently the Alps was the only printer capable of printing white on clear, and it's no longer in production.:( :(

  19. Mellow-Mike

    Mellow-Mike Member

    What they don't tell you about an ALPS printing in white, is that it is used as either a spot color - or - a background color only.

    The top of the line MD-5000 is rated at 2400dpi which is awesome, but that is for the CMYK primary inks only. White, being a spot or background color will only do 600dpi.

    The thing about a color printer, is that on your computer monitor, the white you have in your artwork was intended to go onto a sheet of white paper (like any typical home or office printer). Therefore - what happens? Since the paper is white - the computer sends a no-ink signal for the white areas. When you print onto clear decal paper using an ALPS, the same thing occurs. The white on your artwork does not "tell" the white ink cartridge to print white. You end up with clear areas where the white is supposed to be.

    Using spot color mode, the ALPS will make a pass with the white ink, but it's merely doing a white version of the regualr colors, and mostly in their location. Plus it's 600dpi next to 2400dpi colors and black. SO... white in spot color mode is essentially a thin white layer, a little fuzzier, behind your other colors.

    Using background mode... the ALPS will run a solid silhouette of your images (heralds, text lettering, whatever is on the page) in pure white as a base color. (You know those people interviewed on TV who want to hide their identity - and show up as a black shadow of themselves? Well... this would be in white). Then you run the CMYK layers over that. At least NOW your white areas show up white on the sheet. But, here again, the white prints 600dpi and the colors go on 2400dpi. (Yes you can make the colors print 600dpi also, but then you don't get to use V-photo mode which is what you want). So now you have a halo white glow around your color images and even worse, your black lettering! And - depending on how many images you cram onto a sheet - that is a LOT of white ink being used!

    A remedy some have tried, is to take a white cartridge and put the label bar code from a black cartridge on it. To fool the ALPS into thinking it's a black cartridge. I won't go into real detail, but the ALPS works by shuffling each ink cartridge internally, finding them by scanning the bar code labels. So... if you have a fake black cartridge (which has white ink)... you simply have the computer do black lettering, and it comes out white, but in the sharper 2400dpi. As the bar code labels are metallic tape, you have to be careful removing them and so forth.

    Myself, I now just run my full color stuff on one sheet, and my single color lettering on a separate sheet. That way I use the white background on the full color images, but not on my black lettering. The urge to conserve decal paper originally had me cramming image after image on an 8.5 x 11 sheet... but after my crisp black road names came out with a thin white outline, I went the separate route.

    Which brings us to printing white lettering and numbers. Without doing the label swapping - you pretty much run your sheet of black lettering and numbers - starting with a white background layer. Then re run the white background layer, and cancel out the rest of the color passes that would have followed. White lettering but in 600dpi, which will pass for HO and N road numbers and initials.... but not tiny data such as weight limits and build dates. Plus the ALPS printed white lettering will not be as sharp as pad printed factory lettering, such as that on a new freight car body.

  20. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Mike, what an excellant post! Information here I've never heard.


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