Decals are produced and used by millions of people and businesses for advertising, decoration and identification purposes.
Decals are a cost-effective way to:
-- apply an advertising message;
-- graphically enhance a vehicle or piece of equipment;
-- carry a warning or instruction;
-- display corporate identity;
-- differentiate one item from another.
Decals can be produced in a variety of styles with any combination of colors. They can be applied easily to most surfaces. When screen printed, they are both fade resistant and durable.
The use of decals varies greatly. Decals can be applied to store windows, toys, furniture, trucks, buses, taxis, boxes, clocks, or just about any surface. They can be used as product identification nameplates and panel fronts...or for imitating fine leathers, wood grains or other surface grains. Decals can be applied to glass, metal, ceramic materials and porcelain enameled surfaces, as well as many other substances.
The size of a screen printed decal is limited only by the requirements of the job - the planned use of the decal.
"Decal" was originally an abbreviated form of the French "decalcomania," a design printed on special paper for transfer to another surface. Current usage includes pressure sensitive markings, as well as water-slide transfers...or any and all designs that are externally processed prior to application to an end product, substrate or surface. Any copy that can be drawn, photographed or printed can be produced as a decal.
Screen printing is a most practical method for producing decals: large or small sizes can be accommodated...a heavy deposit of ink can be printed...very fine detail can be obtained...various designs can be printed on one screen...the thickness of the printed coat can be controlled...and thousands of impressions can be obtained from a single screen.
Decals are generally defined according to their application method: simplex, also called water-slide or slide-off; varnish-on, also called lacquer-type; heat release, or ceramic decals; and pressure sensitive.
Simplex decals are printed on a special, highly water-absorbent paper with a coating of water soluble adhesive on one face. The design is printed onto the adhesive surface. Decals are applied by being dipped into water and "slid off" onto the prepared surface.
With varnish-on decals, clear lacquer is printed onto duplex paper...followed by the design...then another lacquer coat. Adhering varnish is then applied to the surface, and the decal positioned and applied.
Ceramic decals are printed in a similar fashion to ordinary decals; however, the image is printed on a decal paper with low-fire ceramic inks. The decal is attached to the desired spot and then fired or burned onto the surface.
Pressure-sensitive decals - also called dry-release decals - do not have to be wet be applied, they are applied by removing the backing liner to reveal an adhesive coating and "pressing" them into place. Such decals have grown in use because they are easy to adhere for permanent or temporary application to varied surfaces or to materials where exceptional resistance to exposure, moisture, heat, cold, chemicals, abrasion, etc., is needed.
Screen printing is one of the oldest of all printing production processes. Yet it is thoroughly progressive, fast, cost-effective and astonishingly precise. In the past twenty years, screen printing has undergone a technological revolution of staggering proportions.
With today's technology, screen printing and graphic imaging can be one of the best ways of designing and printing words and pictures. It is also one of the most advance methods for reproducing images.
The basic principle of screen printing is not hard to understand:
Fabric is stretched tightly on a frame to form a screen. Part of the screen is then blocked with a stencil, leaving open mesh areas which will print the image. When ink is deposited into the screen and frame assembly, pressure is applied to push the ink through those areas of the screen that are not blocked by the stencil. This is accomplished by the use of a flexible plastic or rubber blade supported by a holder, called a squeegee. When ink passes through to the surface below, that surface - the substrate - is printed with the image defined by the stencil.
Graphic imaging allows designers to create, edit or alter production designs with a minimum of effort. The process enables screen printers to view and manipulate a finished layout design before it is committed to full production.