Waterslide decals or transfers are the most effective way of applying high definition graphics to three-dimensional substrates.
- Full colour and highly detailed
- Simple to apply
- Customisable in size and shape
- Can easily be made scratch-resistant
- Easily conformable to contoured substrate
Here at QPS, we’ve taken the same principles of waterslide decals often used for pottery and models and added our own expertise to make them much, much larger.
What Are Waterslide Decals?
Waterslide decals are full-colour graphic images initially printed on a backing sheet and then transferred onto a carrier by the use of water.
From this carrier, the image is placed onto the product and allowed to dry. Once dried, the carrier is removed leaving the graphic permanently fixed.
They allow for the decoration of complex three-dimensional objects to be produced simply and consistently.
How Are They Produced?
Most suppliers of waterslide transfers create their images on sheets designed for small format inkjet or dry toner machines.
This print technology limits the size to around A3.
Fine for models but not for bigger projects and items.
At QPS we use the same techniques as with the smaller decals, but by having both in-house large format digital print plus a screenprinting department, we can utilise the unique attributes within each department.
The large format digital printers first create the vibrant and highly detailed image.
The definition and clarity possible with these machines mean a larger graphic doesn’t have to be a trade-off in quality.
From bright eye-catching artwork to small point text, most custom requirements are achievable and our production team has the knowledge to make the most from your artwork files when producing waterslide decals.
After the image has been printed, we then apply our tried and tested screenprint solution over the top.
This solution acts as the carrier for the image – more of this in the application information below.
QPS Print’s Large Format Waterslide Decals
The big difference with other waterslide decal producers and ourselves is that we can produce transfers up to 800 x 600mm in one panel.
That’s a surface area approximately 4 times bigger than A3!
If 800 x 600mm is not enough, we can even tile up multiple panels to create even larger graphics.
Considering the durability of waterslide transfers, a much greater print size opens up a wide range of product uses across many different industries.
Who Uses Waterslide Transfers?
We’ve supplied them to a multitude of business sectors from amusement arcades and theme parks through to high street retail and engineering companies.
We know through our discussions with product specifiers that they could be of benefit to many more industries.
Many just weren’t aware that the technology is available to manufacture at the size we can.
How Are Custom Waterslide Decals Applied?
After the image has been printed and the screenprint solution applied, the large format transfers are applied in the same way as their smaller counterparts.
The whole transfer is submerged in water and the image is ‘slid’ off the printed sheet along with the screenprint solution carrier.
The carrier, complete with image, is then placed in position on the final substrate and is left to self-cure.
Once dry, the carrier is simply removed to leave just the printed graphic in place.
Benefits And Advantages of Waterslide Transfers
Once the carrier has been removed, the printed image is incredibly thin in depth.
In reality, it is only one layer of ink so it can follow any contour or shape as closely as if it was a second skin.
This cannot be replicated by applying vinyl graphics or by printing directly. If the end product has any 3D shape, direct printing is impossible to effectively print.
When applying waterslide decals, no heat is needed. Products which are sensitive to temperature or delicate are no issue.
In fact, the small amount of water needed to float the transfer onto the substrate is so minimal, waterslide decals could be the most effective option for many products that struggle with more traditional forms of graphics application.
If the product will be handled after printing, we recommend the use of a clear lacquer to seal in the image.
This clear lacquer (plus the print itself) is still so incredibly thin – the lacquer adds durability only.
Once applied, the image has zero chance of being scratched or picked at.
Large format waterslide decals and transfers are just one of the specialised print options we have developed at QPS.