Can You Use Any Printer for Waterslide Decals?


If you’re an arts and crafts enthusiast or just looking for a fun and unique way to personalize your belongings, you might have heard of waterslide decals. These thin sheets of paper with designs printed on them can be applied to various surfaces, such as glass, ceramics, wood, and metal, by soaking them in water and sliding them onto the desired object.

If you’re wondering whether you can use any printer for waterslide decals, the answer is both yes and no. In this how-to article, we’ll explain why and how to choose the right printer for this purpose, step by step.

Choosing the Right Printer for Waterslide Decals

While waterslide decal paper can be found in various sizes, colors, and finishes, they all have one thing in common: they require a printer with specific features to print on them accurately and vividly. Here are the factors to consider when selecting a printer for waterslide decals:

Inkjet vs. Laser

There are two main types of printers available: inkjet and laser. For waterslide decals, inkjet printers are recommended because they use liquid ink that can penetrate the decal paper’s surface and produce vibrant colors and fine details. Laser printers, on the other hand, use toner that can’t bond well with the paper and may smudge or crack when transferred.

Dye-based vs. Pigment-based Ink

Within inkjet printers, there are two types of ink: dye-based and pigment-based. Dye-based ink, which is commonly used for everyday printing, is more vibrant and can produce more color shades. However, it can also bleed and fade over time when exposed to moisture or sunlight. Pigment-based ink, which is more resistant to water and UV rays, is preferred for printing waterslide decals.

Wide-format vs. Standard-size

Depending on your project’s size and complexity, you may need a printer that can handle wider paper than the typical letter or legal size. Wide-format printers, which can print up to 13 inches or more, are ideal for printing large decals or multiple designs on one sheet. However, they can be expensive and bulky, so consider your budget and workspace before investing in one.

Tips and Tricks for Printing Waterslide Decals

Now that you know what to look for in a printer, here are some tips and tricks to help you achieve the best results when printing waterslide decals:

  1. Test print on regular paper first to adjust the color and alignment. Once you’re satisfied, print on the decal paper.
  2. Use the highest quality setting and resolution available to produce sharp and clear images.
  3. Let the ink dry completely before handling the paper or applying the decal to the object.
  4. Apply a clear coat or sealant over the decal to protect it from scratches and moisture.
  5. Store the remaining decal paper in a cool and dry place away from sunlight and humidity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a laser printer for waterslide decals?

No, laser printers are not recommended for waterslide decals because they use toner instead of ink, which can’t adhere well to the decal paper and may crack or smudge when transferred.

Do I need a special ink for printing waterslide decals?

While dye-based ink can be used for waterslide decals, pigment-based ink is preferred because it’s more resistant to water and UV rays and produces more vivid and long-lasting colors.

Can I print on both sides of the decal paper?

No, only print on one side of the decal paper, which is the side with the designs or coating. The other side is usually blank or has a protective layer.

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