Okay LAH owners, the time has finally come for the clear plastic decal. I'm all about full-disclosure and informing people about my creations before they purchase them, so please review all of the details below. A special thanks to all of you who helped me with this project by providing input, outlines, scans, and even sending me sample plastics to use for color matching and shaping.
- I used the best color matching capabilities and tools I possess to "match" the OEM plastics. What I will tell you is that I've come close, but not exact. Bottom line is that I'm using completely different print techniques and materials than the original plastics, so it is impossible to create an exact match. However, from the photo you will see that I'm not that far off (obviously different lighting reacts differently to color as well). This photo was taken in a room with no artificial lighting on, just indirect sunlight from a few windows.
- I tested a few different paper stocks, and what I decided produced the best results is OEM ultra gloss photo paper. The colors are a little more vibrant and it produces a better overall sheen. The paper will also still let light through when the lamp below the plastic is illuminated.
- To create the decal, I print on OEM gloss photo paper with a 6 color inkjet photo printer using OEM inks, I then coat the bottom (white side) with 3 mil adhesive gloss vinyl for protection and durability, and then cover the top with a high tack adhesive film. The film is not as glossy as I wish, but it is the best alternative I have found in my few years of making these types of things. Also, as you can see, the adhesive does create a slightly uneven tone. However, under lighting, the viewing angle, and the distance you will be from the decal this effect is greatly reduced if not eliminated altogether when the plastic is installed.
- As you can see, the actual plastic I'm working with is quite damage. It has a big chip out of it, and it is extremely scratched which impacts the overall application of the decal. However, it does give a fairly accurate impression of what the final product will look like when you apply the decal to the plastic.
- Once applied you will need to cut out the hole from the bottom side of the plastic yourself. I did this to allow for variable hole positions and the fact that not everyone will be able to apply their decal exactly the same every time. It is very simple with a hobby or razor knife to cut out the circle.
1) Remove the plastic from your pin, and thoroughly clean both sides using your choice of cleaner. Be sure to rid the plastic of all grease, smudges, etc. and once cleaned do your best to only handle it from the edges until decal is applied.
2) You will be applying the decal to the bottom side of the plastic, so be sure that everything you do positions the plastic in the correct orientation. I find that placing it face down on a solid surface works best for me.
3) Before applying the decal test fit it on the plastic and make sure you are comfortable with how to position it. Personally, I like to align the decal first with the side that has the two screw slots then make sure the alignment is correct on the other axis.
4) Remove the adhesive protection layer from the decal, and only hold it from the edges - do not touch the adhesive side.
5) The adhesive is high tack and you can easily damage the decal if you stick it then attempt to unstick it due to poor positioning, so take your time and do it right the first time. When applying, have some sort of plastic edge or squeegee available (even a stiff credit card will do). It is best to apply the decal in a rolling/partial fashion while applying pressure to the areas of the decal where it makes contact with the plastic. Slowly progress in applying the decal applying pressure by wiping with your plastic edge until the entire decal is making contact.
6) Once applied, use your fingers to apply as much pressure as possible over the entire decal to ensure best adhesion.
7) Apply extra pressure to the decal where it is covering the hole in order to create an outline of the circle. Use your hobby/razor knife to then cut out the circle from the bottom side of the plastic.
8) If your particular decal has any overhang as a result of a little misalignment during application or possibly your plastic is slightly differently shaped than my test piece, then you can use a hobby/razor knife to trim the overhang of the decal if you decide it obvious enough or bothers you (typically won't hurt to just leave it if 1mm or so in areas as you won't notice in once the plastic is in place).
9) Install plastic back into pin & enjoy.
If preferred, I am happy to make a version that adheres to the top of the plastic. In this instance, then adhesive would be on the bottom of the decal and the gloss vinyl laminate on top. This will provider a glossier look to the decal, but will not appear to be as consistent with the other plastics with the graphics on top versus applied in reverse from underneath.
HOW TO BUY:
Okay, hopefully I have detailed everything in a comprehensive manner that provides all the information you need before making the decision to purchase one of these decals or not. As you can tell, I've put significant effort into creating the decal along with the complexity, time, and materials it takes to produce them (each one is hand made). As a result, I've decided to offer them for $15 each or two for $25 (includes postage to US locations - will ship outside of US but will need to quote additional cost for postage once address is provided). All decals are made to order (I do not pre-produce them), and I imagine I'll have several respondents initially. I have a busy week, and TPF is coming up this weekend, so I ask that you give me at least a week from today to produce orders (I may very well be able to get some done sooner than a week, but just want to set expectations). I will only make decals for orders once I receive payment which will be via PayPal.
So, if you would like to purchase a decal, please PM me and I will detail payment process (i.e. provide PayPal details and also have you provide your name and mailing address). I don't expect that I've met everyone's standards or expectations (after all, these are not professionally silkscreened plastics), but hopefully my solution is good enough to enhance LAH in a way that many will appreciate and enjoy.
Added 19 months ago
As a point of clarification, I am only offering a decal to use with your existing clear plastic piece. I am not actually providing a replacement plastic piece.