Q: Do I have to use special software?
A: The software required to operate the DCT system is Adobe Photoshop. Other graphic programs
could be used, but Photoshop allows complete printing and imaging control that other programs can’t
Q: What is a ceramic water slide decal?
A: A decal printed on a special, water-slide paper using ceramic overglaze color, flux, and covercoat.
Q: What is water slide decal paper?
A: A special, water absorbent paper impregnated with water soluble gums.
Q: Can I use any type of paper to make decals?
A: No. Decal paper is engineered to release, or slide, a printed image when moistened with water.
Q: What is covercoat?
A: Covercoat is a laquer based product that is either screened, sprayed, or laminated on top of a
print that is used to maintain the image integrity during the transfer and firing process. It
holds all the colors in the print in position while applying the decal.
Q: What is flux?
A: The flux we use, is basically ground frit, or “glass”, that when fired, melts at firing temperatures,
encapsulating the pigments in the printed decal, and provides a glossy, protective coating that fuses
with the glaze of the ware being decorated. Flux also provides wear and chemical resistance.
Q: What methods are used to make decals?
A: Decals can be made a multiple of ways, including, but not limited to: hand painting, screen printing,
lithography, air-brushing, etc. At DCT, we also use high tech laser printers by Ricoh.
Q: Can you need a computer to make decals?
A: Yes. A computer is required to operate a system from DCT.
Q: Can you make a decal of a photograph?
A: Absolutely! DCT systems are ideal for making high resolution photos, graphics, artwork
reproductions, etc. If you can image it on a computer monitor, you can make a ceramic treasure!
Q: What are digital ceramic decals?
A: Digital ceramic decals are water slide decals printed using high tech ceramic overglaze colors,
imaged using a full color laser printer.
Q: How does a ceramic fired decal compare to sublimation?
A: Sublimation is a heat transfer process. A tile or mug, that has a polyester, plastic coating, is
heated with a sublimation transfer print in tight contact to approx. 400 degrees F. for a set amount of
time. Sublimated items are subject to scratching, fading, chemical attack, and wear. Ceramic decal
prints are permanent. Highly resistant to chemicals, paints, wear, and sunlight. In fact, they will never
fade, and the only way to damage the print is to damage the tile or ware it is fired onto.
Q: What temperature do the decals fire at?
A: The decals mature at 1550 to 1600 degrees F.
Q: What happens when a decal is fired?
A: The covercoat and other organic elements burn off at around 800 degrees F. As the temperature
rises, the colors and flux melt and fuse into the ware’s glaze.
Q: Do you have to fire a decal to use it?
A: Yes. If the decal is not fired, it has no durability, and will fail.
Q: Is it expensive to make ceramic decals?
A: In comparison to other methods of decorating, ceramic decals are more cost effective. Less labor
intensive, less waste, less set up time, less cost for ware (compared to sublimation items), and less
clean-up makes our system highly profitable.
Q: What kind of equipment is needed?
A: A computer with Adobe Photoshop software. A laser printer from DCT set up with our toner
system. A work station for cutting and transferring water slide decals. a kiln and kiln furniture for firing
the ceramic ware. Assorted tools such as scissors, paper cutter, squeegees, spray bottles for water,
etc. We will provide you with a complete supply of the basics to get you started, as well as additional
suggestion to consider.
Q: Can a screenprinter make ceramic decals?
A: Screenprinters have a unique situation, and can take huge advantage of using the digital system in
conjunction with existing production equipment. Digital ceramics fits exceptionally well with a
Q: How long does it take to make a decal?
A: A single decal can be produced and ready to transfer in 20 minutes time. Of course, depending on
complexity, size, etc., the application process can be longer. Experience and technique will make a
Q: How long does it take to fire a decal?
A: Depending on the kiln and how it’s set up, a typical firing cycle can be about 8 hours, then allowing
for additional time for the kiln to cool down to a temperature that is manageable to safely handle the
fired product without cracking or causing burns.
Q: What is firing a decal?
A: Once a completed decal is successfully applied and allowed to dry thoroughly, the decorated ware
needs to be heated in a kiln slowly to 1600 degrees F. The high temperature matures the colors, and
melts and fuses the colors to the ware for permanence.
Q: I’m a screenprinter...can I take advantage of my equipment and supplement my range of products
with digital decals?
A: Absolutely. We have found that screenprinting and digital ceramics go “hand in hand”. The
can be very advantageous for medium to large scale production setups.
Q: What kind of materials can be decorated with ceramic decals?
A: Ceramic and porcelain tiles, pottery, stoneware, mugs, porcelain dolls, china dinnerware, etc. If
the item you want to decorate
has gone through a firing process, the chances are good that it can take a digital decal. Testing is
Q: Can a ceramic decal be used in a swimming pool environment?
A: Yes. If properly prepared and fired, digital ceramic decals are ideal for swimming pool
applications. In fact, one of DCT’s
owners worked over 15 years for the largest pool tile importer /distributor, running the tile graphics
division. He has extensive
experience that customers can take advantage of.
Q: Can these decals be applied to bisque?
A: Unfortunately, no. We have tried, with very limited success.
Q: Do decals have to be applied to flat items only?
A: Not at all. Making prints to conform to compound curves is a distinct advantage that ceramic
decals provide. Take a look
at the images in our gallery to see examples.
Q: Are fired decals on dinnerware food safe?
A: Yes. Our decals are lead-free and safe to use for items that come in contact with food and
beverages. You can
buy a lead test kit at any hardware store and test them for yourself.
Q: Can I apply and fire decals to natural stone tiles?
A: Unfortunately, no. Natural stone will not hold up to the firing temperatures required.
Q: Can decals be used on glass?
A: With a special flux engineer to work on glass, yes. Again, the type of glass needs to be tested for
Q: How long will a fired decal last?
A: Depending on the use, fired ceramic decals can last forever. Signage printed with ceramic decals
are impervious to
sunlight, as well as graffiti resistant. Power washers and solvents are routinely used to clean off
Environmental conditions are not a problem either...if the tile is freeze/thaw resistant, then so is the
print. If you use a
tile not appropriate for the installation, that would pose a potential failure. Heat or flame is not an
remember, they were fired to 1600 degrees from the beginning. Bottom line, if you damage the tile
or ware, you would
damage the print. A hammer blow would not be good.
Q: Will decals hold up to outdoor installations?
A: Yes. Ceramic signage and graphics have marvelous qualities. Chemical, environmental, vandal
resistance are all
inherent properties of ceramics.
Q: How much square footage would I need to dedicate to a decal making system like yours?
A: It’s conceivable in a space as small as 50 sq.ft. a decal system could be used. All you need is the
room for a computer, the printer, a bit of storage, and a small test kiln. Keep in mind that careful
consideration must be used in setting up a system. You will be working with items that generate
tremendous amounts of heat, so always factor that in when laying out a floor plan.
Q: What kind of power requirements are necessary?
A: Normal household current is used for the printer and computer. Depending on the size and
production requirements needed for the kiln, power requirements will vary. There are small kilns that
run on 120v current that would be applicable for single piece firings, as well as testing. Larger kilns
that run on single phase 240v, and 3 phase 480v are also considerations. Check with
your local electric company to see what would be practical and sensible for your requirements.
Q: Is there a limit to the size of a mural or design I can make with your system?
A: The beauty of ceramic tile and digital decals is the fact that the tile is “modular”. It’s much like
creating a jig-saw puzzle with equal size parts. There is virtually no limit in the size and scale that you
can produce murals. It is important to size all your images
in relation to the tile size you are working with...and on the computer that is simple to do. Our
systems will allow you to make decals as large as a nominal 12x12 tile. Always measure the tile you
are working with, since a 12x12 may range from 11-1/2 inches to 12-3/8 inches or anything in
between. Tile sizes are always “nominal”.
Q: How do you make sure color on the computer monitor is what will print on the decal?
A: We will teach you the “tricks of the trade” with techniques and software we use to achieve color
consistency, accuracy, and most importantly, repeatability.
Q: Can you print gold metallic and silver metallic colors with a decal?
A: At this time, no. However you can create a “faux” metallic look using your graphics program. We
are continuously working on new products and updating our color chemistries, and metallic’s are
Q: How do I know what kind of kiln to use? Gas or electric?
A: The systems we sell utilize electric fired kilns. They are set up with computer controllers for firing
accuracy. We do not have much experience with gas.
Q: Do I need to be experienced in ceramics to be successful printing decals?
A: Experience is always a plus, however, it is not required. We will work with you during your training
and after, as needed, to help you gain that experience.
Q: Do you have the resources to help us set up a shop?
A: Yes. The staff at DCT have each been involved in multiple shop set-ups...from small “garage”
operations to facilities as large as 25,000 sq.ft.
Q: I’m sure there is more to successfully setting up a shop then just the printer. Can you help us with
A: As mentioned in a previous question, the owners of DCT have had years of experience operating
production shops with many different production systems. We are uniquely qualified in helping you in
all phases of shop operations and production.
Q: Can multiple decals be layered to achieve different effects?
A: Creativity can go a long way. By experimenting with different techniques, processes, firing cycles,
etc., the potential for wonderful images are endless. If you do want to experiment with layering,
remember...always layer on a fired decal. Adhering an
un-fired decal on top of another un-fired decal is NOT going to work. For each layer you want, you
must fire the ware before applying the next layer.
Q: Can decals be re-fired?
A: Yes. For several different reasons, you may find it necessary to re-fire your ware. Applying other
decals, fixing any small defects (we can supply you with a “repair kit” of overglaze colors to be used
for touch-ups) If you have a lot of experience with ceramics,
you know that “interesting things” can happen in the firing process. That’s just the way it seems to
go. Having the ability to do touch-ups is invaluable sometimes. Sometimes you may want to add
additional flux for a glossier finish, or apply a bit of silica to make an item slip resistant. Again, testing
Q: Does the tile have to be white?
A: The base ceramic surface does not have to be white, however, for the truest, richest color
reproduction, it does need to be white. Overglaze colors are inherently translucent / transparent.
Application of decals on light colored items can work quite well...depending on what the overall look
of the image is desired. Using a background glaze, and incorporating that look with a decal can
render stunning results. Experience, testing, and a creative eye can go a long way in creating
Q: Can textured tile or ware be decorated by decals?
A: Yes, however the heavier the texture, the more difficult it is to slide a decal, and the chances of
“voids” or defects increase. The decal needs to be in perfect contact with the base glaze in order to
fire properly. If the texture of the ware prevents good contact with the decal, moisture may be
trapped and you can get “steam blow-outs” during the firing process. Testing is highly recommended.
Your One Stop, Full Service Digital Ceramic Supplier
Systems - Toner - Kilns - Decal Paper - Covercoat - Flux - Blank Substrates - Graphics - Training - Support
Q: I have never done any ceramics before, is it hard to learn?
A: No it really isn't difficult. There is a learning curve but with our training, we will help you master
this. We don't just show you how to use the printer, we also teach you how to produce quality
products and show you how to avoid many common mistakes. watch our video at
Q: Where do I get blank memorial plaques to make the Ceramic Memorials?
A: We carry a full line of blanks which we import directly from the manufacturer in Italy. We import
large quantities which means we can offer you low wholesale prices. They ship quickly from our
warehouse in Glendale, AZ
Q: I have a system from another company and want to convert it to your toners, is this possible?
A: Yes, we can convert it for you at a very reasonable cost. Give us a call at 602.416.1036 for