Does anyone print onto wood?

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davedoublem

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I'm thinking of investing in a small router or laser cutter within the next few months as I'm starting to use a lot of craft shapes for various projects and am having to purchase these from various suppliers. At the moment I'm purchasing craft shapes both in mdf and also poplar (3mm thick). I'm trying to find methods of printing onto this wood. I've had success in the past using a heatpress and certain transfer papers with birch wood. Themost success hasbeen using some t-shirt transfer papers, although I'm having to use quite expensive papers. The issue is it's impossible to get a white print since printers don't print with white toner (i'm aware some newer machines do but it's quite complex). Therefor any white within a design does not show up on the wood. This is not too bad with poplar or birch as this wood is fairly light but when working with a dark wood such as mdf most prints are too dark.

I wondered if there are any transfer papers that are specifically for wood whereby they actually press directly over the wood ie with some kind of glue that reacts with a heat press so as to create an ultra strong bond. I have a clock and also a sign where it appears there is a type of transfer that has been applied to the the surface of the wood. It feels smooth with no grain, and you can see a thin transfer layer above the wood so there is obviously something stuck to it. I'm not sure if these are precut prior to applying to the shape or how these are done.

I'd be interested to know if anyone has any ideas. I can't currently invest any any new machinery at the moment but I do own a heat press, ink jet printer and laserjet printer so looking for something that could possibly work with any of these.
 
I have printed the odd thing but it's hit and miss. Use some kind of non absorbent film, I used the wrong side of overhead projector acetates because I had some but I guess file folder covers or similar would work. Print reversed on an ordinary inkjet, with great care place on wood ink side down and press for a few seconds, lift off without smearing. Not brilliant but worth a try.
 
I'm thinking of investing in a small router or laser cutter within the next few months as I'm starting to use a lot of craft shapes for various projects and am having to purchase these from various suppliers. At the moment I'm purchasing craft shapes both in mdf and also poplar (3mm thick). I'm trying to find methods of printing onto this wood. I've had success in the past using a heatpress and certain transfer papers with birch wood. Themost success hasbeen using some t-shirt transfer papers, although I'm having to use quite expensive papers. The issue is it's impossible to get a white print since printers don't print with white toner (i'm aware some newer machines do but it's quite complex). Therefor any white within a design does not show up on the wood. This is not too bad with poplar or birch as this wood is fairly light but when working with a dark wood such as mdf most prints are too dark.

I wondered if there are any transfer papers that are specifically for wood whereby they actually press directly over the wood ie with some kind of glue that reacts with a heat press so as to create an ultra strong bond. I have a clock and also a sign where it appears there is a type of transfer that has been applied to the the surface of the wood. It feels smooth with no grain, and you can see a thin transfer layer above the wood so there is obviously something stuck to it. I'm not sure if these are precut prior to applying to the shape or how these are done.

I'd be interested to know if anyone has any ideas. I can't currently invest any any new machinery at the moment but I do own a heat press, ink jet printer and laserjet printer so looking for something that could possibly work with any of these.
I’ve used a laser cutter to do deep ‘engraving’ as well as grey scale image printing direct to wood. It works very well and a super cheap laser engraver can do the job very easily.

I have transfer printed using T-Shift transfer film with my laser printer though not to wood but see no reason it wouldn’t work. These work very well and actually take a layer of the film with it.

As a slight modification to that you can also laser print to standard transparency film and heat transfer that to hard surfaces. In this case just the toner gets transferred. I’ve done that to brass to act as an etch resist.
 
I have printed the odd thing but it's hit and miss. Use some kind of non absorbent film, I used the wrong side of overhead projector acetates because I had some but I guess file folder covers or similar would work. Print reversed on an ordinary inkjet, with great care place on wood ink side down and press for a few seconds, lift off without smearing. Not brilliant but worth a try.
Laser printer works VERY much better than ink jet.
 
many thanks for your replies so far. It is more of a case of wanting to try and get a solid white colour to parts of my prints. If I can't print with white as I don't have a printer that allows white printing such as some Oki printers, then maybe there might be a transfer paper for wood that actually applies directly to the wood surface with a glue backing that could also be applied with heat application. Instead of removing the transfer as one would with t-shirt paper, to reveal the image, the printed transfer paper would remain glued to the surface. At the moment I'm only needing to print simple shapes with wording, so I don't need to weed or cut out transfers for complex shapes.
 
many thanks for your replies so far. It is more of a case of wanting to try and get a solid white colour to parts of my prints. If I can't print with white as I don't have a printer that allows white printing such as some Oki printers, then maybe there might be a transfer paper for wood that actually applies directly to the wood surface with a glue backing that could also be applied with heat application. Instead of removing the transfer as one would with t-shirt paper, to reveal the image, the printed transfer paper would remain glued to the surface. At the moment I'm only needing to print simple shapes with wording, so I don't need to weed or cut out transfers for complex shapes.

I've used a different approach, with some success, BUT it's a fairly time-consuming process and the special papers I've used are not cheap. But if it helps, here goes. You'll need:

1. Inkjet colour printer, any printer seems to be OK, but needs printer settings set to min 300 dpi resolution (higher if available); high gloss paper type; photo gloss print setting.

2. Acrylic clear varnish, either gloss or "silk", as you prefer. I've used rattle cans which as we all know, are about the most expensive way to buy any "paint", but I found the convenience of the rattle can outweighed the cost.AND, unless you want a huge design on the wood, you don't need a lot.

3. Special transfer papers, similar to T shirt transfer paper, but different to those, so I'm told. The papers I used come with both a completely transparent backing, OR a dense white (so that's your white problem taken care of). The papers I bought came off the Internet from:

McGonigal Paper & Graphics, P.O. Box 134, Spinnerstown, PA 18968-0134, USA.
Tel: +1 215 679 8163
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.mcgpaper.com

Being an American company they deal in US foolscap paper sizes, rather than our A4, but other than that, seem to be a small family-run company, and unlike some US firms I've dealt with, seem to have no problems with "overseas" customers. Very good & quick service, but as said, certainly not cheap (I seem to recall packs of 10 sheets). Sorry, I still have some left and can't remember the actual costs.

Paper is called "decal paper", and they claim it sticks to any surface (inc. plastic, metal, ceramic, glass, Mylar, glass, AND SUITABLY TREATED SMOOTH WOOD.

Recommended, (both the product and the supplier), usual disclaimers.

Here's how you use it.

A. Work out your design and it's size using any graphics program - I just used MS Word (see pic below).

B). Print out with inkjet paper (settings as above). NOTE: According to the design you use, and the decal paper you choose, you MAY need to print out a mirror image of your design. See above website for more info.

C). Decal instructions say leave print out to dry for 2 to 3 hours. I found this MUCH too short, and still got smudged print outs after 3+ hours. I learnt to leave overnight, making sure that nothing touches the print out while drying.

D). Give 2 or 3 LIGHT coats of clear Acrylic varnish

E). When dry, roughly cut around the image, scissors or sharp knife, leaving a goodly margin around the outside of your design. Don't forget if your design/s are quite small you can get many on 1 sheet - saves money!

F). Use a saucer of WARM (not hot) water and lay the individual cut out designs on top of the water - doesn't matter if it sinks or not. After just a few seconds you'll see the design float free of it's backing paper. Easy to see if you design has a white background, not so easy if clear!

G). I used tweezers and cotton buds to slide design off backing paper on to PRE-PREPARED WOOD (see below).

H) CAREFULLY sponge away any excess water (tissue and cotton buds) A LIGHT touch needed here.

I) When thoroughly dry give the whole lot (design and wooden item) another 2 or 3 LIGHT coats of the above clear varnish.

Wood prep:

I was putting the MG (car) logo - found on the Internet - onto (mainly) 25 mm birch ply. I sanded the surfaces thoroughly, down to 400 grit if I remember. Then v careful to remove all dust, spray painted 2 coats Hammerite silver/Aluminium colour (I therefore choose the transparent matt finish decal paper). Here's a typical result:

Bling 1 - Dummy Knock-Offs.jpg


As said, not particularly cheap, quite time-consuming (I needed total 12 of the above logos in various sizes), but I would NOT want to do a batch run of say 100 this way. But I found fine for the odd "one-offs" like the above.

Sorry the above is long, but HTH.

Edit for P.S. Yes, the centre of the above logo transfers IS slightly yellowed, but nowhere near as bad as it looks in the photo.
 
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Dave,
I did some transfers onto wood clock cases a few years ago that worked really well you print onto the sheet not using much ink you have to (change your print settings to basic) then you leave it to dry for about 30 minutes, cut out the shape you have printed then soak in water a few minutes until it slides off put to one side and let it dry, then you need some real Turpentine then brush a good coat over your wood and place and press down the shape onto the wet wood to get rid of any bubbles and leave to dry for a few hours and it will melt into the wood then when dry it will be white as part of the wood to keep it white use a water based varnish.
Take a look at www.lazertran.com
 
many thanks for your replies so far. It is more of a case of wanting to try and get a solid white colour to parts of my prints. If I can't print with white as I don't have a printer that allows white printing such as some Oki printers, then maybe there might be a transfer paper for wood that actually applies directly to the wood surface with a glue backing that could also be applied with heat application. Instead of removing the transfer as one would with t-shirt paper, to reveal the image, the printed transfer paper would remain glued to the surface. At the moment I'm only needing to print simple shapes with wording, so I don't need to weed or cut out transfers for complex shapes.
I have two types of T-shirt transfer paper. The one for transferring to black shirts provides the white as no printers print with white. The one for white shirts is transparent.

Needing to print in white us a problem. What you could do is get a cheap laser cutter and cut a mask then use that to spray white paint on to the wood.
 
I have two types of T-shirt transfer paper. The one for transferring to black shirts provides the white as no printers print with white. The one for white shirts is transparent.

Needing to print in white us a problem. What you could do is get a cheap laser cutter and cut a mask then use that to spray white paint on to the wood.
That's a good point regarding the type of t-shirt transfer paper. I have only ever used jet pro soft stretch for light garments which in the past has been great for most birch wood types, however there was a thicker 10mm birch I printed on and the colours bled in places. Also the white showed the wood colour underneath. The items were still OK to sell but not perfect.

The good thing with JPSS light paper is you didn't need to cut around a shape. Once removed from the heat press you just pulled it away from the wood shape and any excess areas would just peel away from edges once the main paper was lifted. I'd be intrigued to know if this would happen if using paper for dark tees. I would imagine it might be a heavier and thicker type of paper that might have a more plastic appearance so less likely to pull edges.

I think I will try dark t shirt paper as I only need to cut a simple small square that contains a design which is only going onto part of the wood area. I there for need it to be relatively thin with little hand, rather than looking very raised from the surface of the wood
 
Never tried white, but for anything else you can use this method. Print design with a laser printer (never tried it with inkjet because all the guides I have read say it doesn't work well). Lay the print face down on the object. Run over the back of the paper with a cotton wool ball dampened with acetone and the ink will transfer to the surface. The more you rub it the more ink transfers so you can control how dense the print is. This works well if you don't want any visible margin round the design. Obviously need to be sure the surface won't be harmed by the acetone. For white I would use waterside transfer paper. You can get it in inkjet and laser compatible versions. Print the design on the paper, give it a couple of coats of lacquer to seal, then cut it out and place in water, after a few seconds you can slide it off onto your object. The paper comes in clear and white, I have never used the white version, but the clear works well. If you don't want a visible margin round the design then just make the margin about 1/2 inch wide and when dry feather it in round the edges by spraying with lacquer and rubbing down carefully with 1500 grit wet and dry to feather it in. This waterside transfer paper sounds very like the stuff AES is using, widely available here via various online sellers, you might even find it in somewhere like Hobbycraft. As he says it's time consuming but it does work well.
 
Thanks for the replies. I've been messing around with a few ideas last night and the most successful was printing off an inkjet design using gloss photo paper. I've used many over the years for various things and now use one of the better papers. It's somewhat waterproof to a degree. I then paint a matt varnish over to reduce the gloss shine. It sticks very well to mdf and the gloss has a far more sticky back than matt paper types. The edges/border are all hidden from view under other areas of wood, so can't be lifted. This could be the best option. Its definitely the quickest...
 
I have a cheap 3018 "engraver" from Banggood which is just a CNC router.

I use Inkscape to create the design and jscut to produce the Gcode.

Once the design is routed in the wood I fill the void with wood filler and sand it back to flush before painting/spraying.

I guess it would be possible to use dyes in the wood filler or an alternative product to fill the void to give a better colour range.

2694CE9E-41E1-4219-978E-3634A612A133.jpg
 
I have a cheap 3018 "engraver" from Banggood which is just a CNC router.

I use Inkscape to create the design and jscut to produce the Gcode.

Once the design is routed in the wood I fill the void with wood filler and sand it back to flush before painting/spraying.

I guess it would be possible to use dyes in the wood filler or an alternative product to fill the void to give a better colour range.

View attachment 155820
I like the design and the finish on the bowls. What did you use to get the gloss? Cheers
 
It’s often said that 'you can't print white lettering on ‘waterslide transfers' ('decals').

That's true that, you but you can easily create white lettering on a solid background colour using white decal paper, which gives the effect of white text. The printer will apply colour everywhere on the decal paper that isn't white. Hence, when that decal is applied to a surface, all the white areas on which no ink (or toner) has been applied - lettering or whatever - will appear as white, just as though white ink/toner (which doesn't exist on normal printers) had been applied.

My main hobbies are woodwork and restoring vintage vale radios for which I occasionally create replicas of the makers’ logos which they applied to the tops of wooden radio cabinets. Also paper labels with white text that they attached to the back panels of radios. Sometimes I have the luxury of a good scan of an image. Other times, I need to create one, which model makers do all the time for model boats, trains and ‘planes. Using MS 'PAINT' or whatever, you simply use black text in whatever font you wish, draw a shape of your own choosing around the text, then use the 'Select Image' facility, right click on the image, and left click on the 'invert colour' tab in the drop-down menu. That will create a 'negative' of the image, so everything that was black will now be white. In other words, you'll have white lettering on a black background.

It's unlikely that you'll want a black background, so the next stage is to select whatever colour of the rainbow you want, then use the 'paint-bucket' tool to pour your chosen colour as the background. The white lettering will stay white. You'll also need to pour 'paint' into any closed letters - 'O, P, Q, R, A'. (Trivia: Hull is the only English football club which has no closed letters!).

An easier option, if say you wanted white text on a solid coloured background, (blue for example), just create the blue background, then select white to write the text and type away in white, then if you print onto either white waterslide decal paper or plain white paper, you will get white text on the blue (or whatever) background.

To show what I mean, I've quickly drawn a sheet of examples in 'PAINT', (about ten minutes work), using the fictitious and unimaginative name 'TAYRONICS' to create a simple logo to show the stages. The shape can be anything you care to draw and whatever size you wish, within the limits of your printer and paper.

Having created your decal, there is a skill involved in applying them, which I've mentioned in other threads. If you try to slide the transfer off the paper, (they are after all called 'water-slide'), you will fail - the transfer will wrinkle up. You must always hold the transfer, still attached to the backing paper, over the position where you wish to place it, then you slide the backing paper from beneath the transfer and smooth the transfer down. It helps to wet the surface to which it's being applied, so you can slide it about a bit to get it exactly located before you smooth it down permanently. Once smoothed down, they're very durable and need no protection, though if desired, can be sprayed with clear acrylic varnish, (which you need to do in any event to seal the paper after printing).

I’ve attached some pictures of labels I’ve printed with white lettering, on radio back panels I’ve made using a router jig. Also, some replica logos of radio manufacturers HMV, where you’ll see ‘Nipper the dog’ who has white fur. It’s also true of course that you can’t print gold or silver on a conventional domestic printer, but id you look at the HMV and Bush transfers, you’ll see that the eye can be fooled into believing that they are gold in places.

(If you click on each image, it will enlarge)

I hope that’s useful to someone.

Clear and White waterslide decal paper for both ink-jet and laser printers is widely available. EG:

Decal Paper - Home printing of Hand Made Products - Water Slide Paper

David
 

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If you are thinking of batches of different logos ,pics etc have you thought of a Cricut machine it will even cut ply up to 3mm it prints onto so many different substrate's have a look
 
If you know a plastic modeller or modelling club there should be someone there with an alps printer. These old printers were great for printing on transfer /decal paper and you can print in any colour you like including white and metallic. I've attached a repair logo that I did a while ago using black and silver spot colours.
Cheers
Andrew
telelogo.jpg
 
look for lasertran online. They make transfer decal papers that you apply just like on a model plane kit after printing. They are available in clear, white, various metalics and some other colours. I used them about 12 years ago when I repainted my bike to be in Irn Bru colour scheme with all the logos in full colour and slogans such as "made in Scotland from girders" in in white text. Once applied you just need to give it a quick coat of laquer to protect it and give some UV protection. I'll put a pic up later.
 
many thanks for your replies so far. It is more of a case of wanting to try and get a solid white colour to parts of my prints. If I can't print with white as I don't have a printer that allows white printing such as some Oki printers, then maybe there might be a transfer paper for wood that actually applies directly to the wood surface with a glue backing that could also be applied with heat application. Instead of removing the transfer as one would with t-shirt paper, to reveal the image, the printed transfer paper would remain glued to the surface. At the moment I'm only needing to print simple shapes with wording, so I don't need to weed or cut out transfers for complex shapes.
Print single or double layer image in white PLA on 3D printer. Such thin prints in PLA can be used for T-shirts as prints and are applied with a hot iron melting the organic plastic into the cloth fibres. Obviously you need a non stick paper between the iron and plastic during the heating phase. Most PLAs are extruded at between 200deg C and 220deg C. Most 3D printers have print areas around 200mm.x 200mm.
You can also glue onto wood with CA glue as PLA and CA love each other... No need for any heat.
 
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