Q: I have never done any ceramics before, is it hard to learn?
A: Not at all! Our training will help you navigate the learning curve of ceramics. We don't
just show you how to use the printer, we also teach you how to produce quality products
and avoid common mistakes. Experience is always a plus, but it is definitely not required.
Q: I have a system from another ceramic decal company and want to convert it to use 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
Q: What is a ceramic decal?
A: A ceramic decal is a decal printed on special waterslide paper using ceramic overglaze
color, covercoat, and flux.
Q: What is waterslide decal paper?
A: Waterslide decal paper is a special, water absorbent paper impregnated with water
Q: What methods are used to make decals?
A: Decals can be made multiple ways, including, but not limited to: hand painting, screen
printing, lithography, air brushing, etc. At DCT, we use high tech laser printers by Ricoh.
Q: What are digital ceramic decals?
A: Digital ceramic decals are waterslide decals printed using high tech ceramic overglaze
colors and imaged using a full color laser printer.
Q: Can I use regular printer paper to make decals?
A: No. Decal paper is engineered to slide, or release a printed image when moistened with
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 melts when fired, encapsulating
the pigments in the printed decal. It provides a glossy, protective coating that fuses with
the glaze of the ware being decorated. Flux also provides wear and chemical resistance.
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 slowly in a kiln to 1600 degrees F. The high
temperature matures the colors, and melts and fuses the colors to the ware for
Q: At what temperature should I fire the decals?
A: Ceramic decals mature between 1540 to 1580 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: 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
discoloration, and wear. Fired ceramic decals are permanent and impervious 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: Is it expensive to make ceramic decals?
A: In comparison to other methods of decorating, ceramic decals are more cost effective.
They require less: less labor intensive, less waste, less set up time, less cost for supplies
(compared to sublimation items), and less cleanup. This efficient use of resources make
our system highly profitable.
Q: Do I need a computer to make decals?
A: Yes. A computer is required to operate a printer system from DCT.
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 provide.
Q: What kind of equipment is needed to make ceramic decals?
A: A computer with Adobe Photoshop software
A laser printer from DCT converted to use our toner
A work station for cutting and transferring waterslide decals
A kiln and kiln furniture for firing the ceramic ware
Assorted tools include scissors, a paper cutter, small squeegees, spray bottles or small
tub for water, etc.
Q: Where can I get the small rubber roller and small red squeegee you used in the Youtube
A: We give you a set of those tools to you for free when you purchase a printer. Since they
can be hard to find, we provide them for your convenience.
Q: I’m a screenprinter...can I make ceramic decals?
A: Absolutely. Screenprinters have a unique advantage in using the digital system in
conjunction with existing production equipment. Screenprinters can supplement their
range of products with ceramic decals which is why the two go “hand in hand” in a
medium to large scale production set up.
Q: How long does it take to make a decal?
A: A decal can be produced and ready to transfer in 30 minutes. The application process
can take longer depending on the complexity and size of the decal or the surface to which
it's being applied. Experience and technique will make a big difference.
Q: How long does it take to fire a decal?
A: The typical firing cycle is about 8 hours with additional time allowing for the kiln to cool
down to a safe, manageable temperature to remove the fired product without cracking or
causing burns. The firing cycle time will depend on the particular kiln and the kiln set up.
Q: What kind of materials can be decorated with ceramic decals?
A: You can fire a decal onto anything ceramic or porcelain that has previously been fired
and glazed (within reason). Ceramic and porcelain tiles, pottery, stoneware, mugs, plates,
bowls and China dinnerware are just a small list of items that have been successfully fired
with ceramic decals. Testing is always necessary!
Q: Can a ceramic decal be used in a swimming pool environment?
A: Yes! Pool water does not affect the integrity of a properly fired decal on a porcelain
product. Decals can be a great opportunity to make a custom pool product.
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: Definitely not! You can make decals conform to compound curves with a little practice.
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 leadfree 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 yourself if
Q: Does the ware have to be white?
A: For best results in recreating photographic images, the surface should either be a white
ceramic with a clear glaze or any ceramic glazed with white glaze. This will result in the
truest, richest colors because overglaze colors are inherently translucent/transparent.
Applying decals to a ceramic surface that is not white will produce varying results.
Incorporating decals with different background glazes can produce very unique pieces.
Experience, testing and a creative eye can make awesome results.
Q: Can I apply and fire decals to natural stone tiles?
A: Unfortunately, no. Natural stone, like granite or marble, will not hold up to the firing
Q: Can ceramic decals be used on glass?
A: For glass projects, we offer a special flux engineered to work on glass. The type of
glass needs to be tested for performance.
Q: How long will a decal last after it's fired?
A: Generally speaking, fired ceramic decals last forever. Any fired decal is impervious to
sunlight and can be power washed or cleaned with a solvent to remove graffiti with no
damage to the decal. A hammer is the biggest threat to any ceramic project, with or
without a decal.
Q: Will decals hold up to outdoor installations?
A: Yes. Ceramic has marvelous qualities like being naturally resistant to damage from
water, fire, chemicals and the environment. Tile that is freeze/thaw resistant can be used
for outdoor projects with no chance of damage.
Q: How much square footage would I need to dedicate to a decal making system like
A: All you need is the room for a computer, the printer, a bit of storage, and a small test
kiln. The printer Your kiln will a generate tremendous amount of heat and needs to be well
ventilated. It’s conceivable in a space as small as 50 sq.ft. a decal system could be used.
We are happy to share our experience in setting up workspaces.
Q: I’m sure there is more to successfully setting up a shop then just the printer. Can you
help us with that?
A: The owner and staff 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: What kind of power requirements are necessary?
A: Normal household current is used for the printer and computer. The power
requirements will vary depending on the size and production requirements of the kiln.
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: 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: No, not at this time. You can create a “faux” metallic look using your graphics program.
We are continuously working on new products and updating our color chemistries, and
metallics may be possible in the future.
Q: How do I know what kind of kiln to use? Gas or electric?
A: We suggest using an electric kiln when firing ceramic decals because they are set up
with computerized controls for firing accuracy.
Q: Can multiple decals be layered to achieve different effects?
A: Creativity can go a long way in making beautiful art with decals. 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 unfired decal on top of another unfired 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 refired?
A: Yes. For several different reasons, you may find it necessary to refire your ware. If you
have a lot of experience with ceramics, you know that “interesting things” can happen in
the firing process. Having the ability to do touchups and fix small defects can be
invaluable. Sometimes you may want to add additional flux for a glossier finish, or apply a
bit of silica to make an item slip resistant. Testing is always recommended.
Q: Can textured tile or ware be decorated by decals?
A: Yes. One thing to keep in mind is that heavier the texture, the more difficult it is to slide
a decal, and the chances of “voids” or defects increases. 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 blowouts”
during the firing process. Testing is always recommended.
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 jigsaw 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 111/2 inches to 12
3/8 inches or anything in between. Tile sizes are always “nominal”.
Q: Where do I get blank memorial plaques to make the Ceramic Memorials?
A: We carry a full line of ceramic 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 Phoenix, AZ