Decal Style Printing on Acrylic Glass

One of the neat features with printing on acrylic directly with the technology at FinerWorks is there is a way to actually print in “decal mode”. Decal mode allows you to control what parts of the image are fully transparent and what is full color.

In most instances, when printing is done, the color white is not an ink color applied by a printer. White is determined by the surface of the paper or other substrate you are printing on and very importantly, determines the brightness and contrast of colors. But with the type of flatbed UV printing FinerWorks uses, actual “white” ink is widely used. When printing on a transparent surface like acrylic glass, the white ink is applied in a separate pass so your image will not have a washed-out, semi-transparent look.

However, there may be instances where you want to limit where the “white” ink is applied. Take for instance the 8×10 music plaque on acrylic glass example. White ink is only applied in isolated places where you want. To achieve this look, you must have access to an image editing program like Photoshop which allows you to work in layers.

This is printed in decal mode on acrylic glass. The ink is applied in isolated areas and left transparent  in others. This is achieved by using a program like Photoshop and uploading a TIF that includes a standard RGB color layer as well as a masking layer called “white”.

Use 2 Layers

Layer Color – This is the original artwork layer. Normally the background would be white because the printer would apply a layer of white ink behind the elements in the image.
Layer Mask – This will be your layer mask and should be all white where you want the image print and transparent where you want your print to be transparent. It is IMPORTANT to title/name this layer as “white” within the software. This way FinerWorks processing software will know to use this as the mask and isolate out everything else.

Saving the File

Save the file as a TIFF but make sure your software is preserving the layers and not flattening the image. This way our processing software can extract the white layer and use it to mask out the part of the image you want.

Final Results  – Part of the image is printed and part is transparent. Note the white of the woman’s jacket is visible. This is because the masking layer was used to indicate white ink should be applied behind the color inks.

We also have a video which illustrates this process:

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