Decal Paper Saga

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Ceramic decal lamination method

By Rob Hullar, Rosetta Technologies president

Jump to Lamination Method How-to Video

Jump to One-Step Paper How-to VIdeo

Over the years, CerPrint has tested many different decal papers. Some were better than others. Some didn’t work at all for ceramic decals. Sometimes the printer fuser wasn’t hot enough or the fuser was too hot. Some papers frequently jammed in the printer. Others were not made right and had pits or points in the film. I could go on and on.

Additionally, we experienced quality variability. One batch of paper worked great, but the next one had issues. We started providing a 1-step ceramic decal paper containing flux when we launched the CerPrint 3500. It worked very well and was pretty consistent. However, there came a time when we could no longer get that specific paper.

We switched to another paper. It worked but required internal printer setpoint changes to work well. Another pain, because we had to issue a technical bulletin telling users how to make those changes.

I finally had enough. The variability was just too great and some of our users had issues.

I had been playing around with what is known as the lamination method in the meantime. I realized a couple of things. Because we print on what’s known as white waterslide paper, we were eliminating the issue of surface quality. Waterslide paper is a somewhat thick, very absorbent paper used to make all decal papers. It has a shiny side which coated with an organic release agent that dissolves when soaked. Because it is made in huge quantities the process is highly mechanized. It results in consistent surface quality from sheet to sheet and batch to batch.

What we are really doing with the lamination process is making a decal sheet. You print on the shiny side of the white waterslide paper. Great and consistent image quality. Laser printers like smooth surfaces! Then you take a sheet of what’s called donor paper and lay it over the printed side of the white waterslide sheet. The donor paper consists of a thin backing sheet and decal film. Then you run the sandwiched sheets through an inexpensive laminator, like the ones used to enclose ID cards in plastic. Some of the artists using CerPrint run the sandwiched papers through the laminator more than once. We recommend the Scotch TL906 model available through many retailers like Amazon.

After running through the laminator, you peel the thin backing sheet from the donor paper and discard it. The film on the donor paper has now been laminated to the white waterslide paper that you printed. Now, you have a complete decal sheet with your images. It is ready to cut, soak and apply, like any other decal media.

I am a convert. No more banging my head against my desk due to damaged and unusable decal sheets. Lamination is simple and works the same way every time.

We now have three different lamination donor papers available. A high fire (1550F), a low fire (1200F) and an unfluxed paper for in-glaze firing. You can order waterslide and lamination donor papers for your CerPrint ceramic decal printers on this site in our Shop.

Check out our short video below showing how to use the lamination method.

Please contact me at by email if you have any questions.

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