Frustrated with custom decals? Me too!

At one point I thought I had a great system figured out to get decals made timely. Like many things, once you get something figured out it changes. Thus my current dilemma. I have 5 projects that are complete, for a couple months and waiting the decals! Grrr.. I am not mad at anyone just frustrated as hell. It is shocking there is such a huge gap in custom decals.

On one hand there are the hobby guys that make decals, get overwhelmed, and cut back or quit, my current situation. Not mad as I understand the situation totally. Then there friends of friends which is great but it reverts back what I currently experience. Then there are a variety of decal printing companies online that do not want to jack with one off custom stuff or do not specialize in my work.

Seriously, we are talking about projects that generally fit on the end of a pencil eraser. One would think this would be easier. Actually this reminiscent of my 3D experience a couple years ago.

I cut 3 videos for DIY decals explaining that anyone can make a cool decals to stand out on a white or very light colored vehicle using inexpensive supplies and a descent ink jet printer. Where we run into trouble is making these same decals stand out on a dark colored vehicle. To make these types of decals work a layer of white must be first printed with the color of our chosen font or image on top of the white. Desk top printers are not capable of doing this.

The only desk top machine that can print white then color is an ALPS printer which is no longer manufactured. Reconditioned units exist and a few NIB units are around but hard to find. According to a decal man I know all reconditioned units should be purchased with buyer beware as the machines may not be sold with complete integrity. And this is for a $300-$700 machine. Plus it appears the ink must be ordered from overseas!

So where am I at now? I searched and have found a company that will print for me. I have sent them a test set of decals to see how they decals will print and if a long term relationship can be made. If all goes well I will definitely report back so Rockin H Fans can be served with the decals their models deserve.


Until next time, keep creating.




  1. John Nomax on May 29, 2014 at 8:45 am

    I understand your frustration with getting custom decals made Eric.The fact is there are very few independent “CUSTOM” waterslide decal makers to supply this market for model type graphics, ie, white based decals.Anything else will have bleed through.But I always applaud your efforts at findings solutions,which you always usually do find a way.

    Most online decal websites only offer WYSIWYG.The reason for this is making custom white base waterslide graphics is very expensive and time consuming which makes for a longer turnaround as opposed to to ready made graphics,which no doubt can be very frustrating to the consumer.I cut back myself to the very minimum due to slow timeline turnaround and drastically underestimating the online market needs.

    As for ALPS printers?There very versatile printers and good for the home based hobbyist if you wanted to put the time and effort in.There are others types available but with there prices up to the stratosphere there just not feasible for most.. if you do venture to purchase one make sure you have the necessary hardware to run it,XP or a virtual window.

    But as Eric stated,”buyer beware”always ask for a “self test print out” on any open box ALPS,if one can’t be provided then keep looking.

    Wish you all the best in your endeavors Eric,your persistence and researching will no doubt take you to the end result your looking for.

    • Eric Haselhorst on May 30, 2014 at 2:50 pm

      John, thanks for the comment and your wisdom. I am grateful.