Water slide decal

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This article is about the decal. For the water based-amusement, see Water slide.

Water slide decals (or slip decals) are water-mounted decals generally printed face up and rely on the dextrose corn sugar residue from the decal paper to bond the decal transfer to a surface. A water-based adhesive layer can be added to the decal to create a stronger bond or may be placed between layers of lacquer to create a durable decal transfer. The paper also has a layer of glucose film added prior to the dextrose layer which give it the adhesion properties, the Dextrose layer give the decal (lubricity) the ability to slide off the paper and onto the substrate.


Water slide decals are thinner than many other decorative techniques (such as vinyl stickers) and as they are printed, they can be produced to a very high level of detail. As such, they are popular in craft areas such as scale modeling, as well as for labeling DIY electronics devices, such as guitar pedals.

Until recently, water slide decals were professionally printed and only available in supplied designs, but with the advent of printable decal paper for colour inkjet and laser printers, custom decals can now be produced by the hobbyist or small business. Even without this, decals have been made at home by modellers. Gummed paper tape was used as a base and adhesive, with layers of hair spray (a shellac varnish) built-up to form the transparent layer. The difficulty with this in the 1970s was in printing the coloured image neatly by hand, as this pre-dated accessible computer printing.

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