How to Print Water-Slide Ceramic Decals

Ceramic Decals have been used worldwide for many years for customization and design purposes. Whether personalizing drink ware, tiles, or other ceramic products, ceramic decal printing can be done in just a few steps, allowing you to customize your items with full color, everlasting images. Below you will find the step-by-step processes for printing Ceramic Decals with both semi-automatic and automatic decal printers.

Step 1– Your artwork is created in vector-form, and separated by color. Each color of your design is printed one by one onto positive film. The positive film sheets are exposed onto silk screens, coated with photosensitive emulsion, dried, exposed to extreme light, then washed, allowing each screen to show each color as a separate layer.

Step 2– Once the silk screens are ready, they are placed into either the Automatic or Semi-Automatic Decal Printers for printing. When printing ceramic decals, Water-Slide Decal Paper is used.

Automatic Decal Printer: When printing with the Automatic Decal Printer, the first screen is placed into the machine to begin the printing process. Ink is then poured on the screen for the corresponding color layer you are printing. The automatic machine then moves quickly, using a vacuum line to pick up one decal paper at a time and sliding it through the machine. Pressure is placed on the ink into the screen using a squeegee motion one at a time, and each paper then slides into drying racks to be air-dried between color applications. With an automatic decal printer, thousands of ceramic and glass decals are able to be printed in very just minutes.

Semi-Automatic Decal Printer: Like the Automatic Decal Printer, the silk screens are adjusted into the semi-automatic machine (also known as the clamshell press) one color layer at a time. Unlike the automatic machine, each decal paper needs to be hand-fed into the clamshell press. The hard part about the semi-automatic machine is that every adjustment needs to be made by hand. A logo is printed with a specific amount of ink for the decal – half tones (less ink), or solid (which requires more ink done in 2 printing passes), and many designs are often processed on the same decal paper. It takes the upmost skill to make sure everything turns out perfect for application.

Step 3– In both the Automatic and Semi-Automatic printing processes, the decal paper is the coated with lacquer or cover-coat once all color applications have been printed. The lacquer allows the ink to dry together, allowing you to move onto the application process.

Step 4– To apply Water-Slide Ceramic Decals, first center your decal on your product to insure correct placement. Next, place the decal in water, and slowly separate the water-slide decal from the back paper. Center the decal on your ceramic and slowly use a squeegee to remove excess water and air bubbles, flattening decal onto product.

Step 5- After decals are in place, the ceramics are fired in a kiln at high temperatures, between 580-2000 degrees. When finished firing, the ceramics are cooled to room temperature to create a permanent, ever-lasting customization.

Some of the benefits of using decals on your ceramic products is that after firing, the designs are both fade resistant a dishwasher safe. Because of their high-quality appeal and durability, ceramic decals are often used for promotional products, coffee mug designs, personalized favors, and more. You can find your own decal materials and silk screen kits from many suppliers, or order your own pre-printed water-slide ceramic decals, ready for application and firing to make your own personalized ceramics.