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Digital or Inkjet?

Wherever I am showing a Digital decal the option to procure an inkjet version at the same price exists.


The reverse is NOT true but if you think it is a popular subject that might be on my list to convert in the near term please ask me through the Contact Us page.


The purpose of this page is to help you decide.

Quality


Inkjet decals will always, until technology for other printing methods improves, provide crisper printing of colour items, especially in the smaller scales. The technology was designed around the high fidelity requirements of printing photographs. A frequent feedback includes the comment “I could even read the writing in 1/144 scale!” What this means, amongst other things, is that I can provide usable small markings in smaller scales than is possible by other mediums.


On the downside my inkjet printer, like most, cannot print white and light colours when printed on clear decal sheet can be translucent on dark camouflaged surfaces – a problem common to laser printed decals as well.


The solution for inkjet printers is to use white decal sheet with the item printed on top of a surround colour that approximates the background it is going onto. However as we modellers all know matching the surround colour exactly to the paint you use is impossible – every tin or bottle of paint is slightly different to the next, never mind the differences between brands. Even a white surround for a white background (as on most airliners) the white surround will be a different shade to the white paint you use. However this method does give solid white and colours and generally impressive results.


My inkjet decals have been used on award winning models at serious competitions both in NZ and the USA that I know of.


The Digital printer’s strength is its ability to print white which, for some unknown reason, seems to come out sharper than all other colours. However it struggles to print really small and fine markings and in general the printing is noticeably less crisp than the same decal printed on the inkjet printer for the smaller scales. The colours and white are, however, very solid even when applied over the ultimate test - gloss black paint. They also contain a UV ingredient that will preserve the colours even in direct sunlight. This may be a significant factor for some people.

Ease of Use


There is no hiding it – inkjet decals require messy and time consuming special handling – and as a consequence are comparatively easy to ruin. The pitfalls and solutions passed on by many of you are detailed on the web page About Inkjet Decals, and are provided in typed form with each and every inkjet decal I sell.


On the other hand the digital decals are solid in colour and usable straight off the decal sheet (after cutting them out) with no special handling required. The ink however is quite thick and the decals can be difficult to bend around corners without the use of softeners and other decal use products. This is a common issue for DPS decals.

Summary


It is horses for courses.


If fineness and fidelity is your thing, and you are prepared to put the extra effort into handling, (and probably ruining a decal or two until you get the hang of it) then in most cases inkjet decals (except perhaps a few airliner subjects with vast quantities of white on colour backgrounds) is the way to go.


If ease of use is your thing, and the model is not for competition where some lack of finesse of the decals may be to your detriment, then Digital is the way to go.

At the end of the day it is your choice.


Happy modelling!