Vinyl Decals

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TXFlyGuy

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A suggestion was made to use vinyl decals on my plane. We are looking into having some made, including a decal for the nose art.

Anyone here have experience with decals? Do they do well in the elements? Easy to apply?
 

TFF

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Many N numbers are vinyl. It is a fast way to get insignia. I hate to say it but with an epoch build like yours, it's a letdown. $20k airplane ok. I would rather fly it bare aluminum with nothing.
 

Topaz

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Yeah, I've got some experience associated with vehicle wraps, of which "decals" are a sub-set. You see them all over busses, tradesman trucks, etc. Far, far more than just lettering or insignia, you can do any kind of artwork you want - even photographs. Every member here has seen a thousand examples on the road. They're everywhere.

Any vinyl application that's going to go over seams, rivets, other fasteners, curves, etc. you want to have professionally applied. Don't try and do it yourself. You're looking for a vendor who does "Vehicle wraps", because they understand how to work over projections, seams, and curves, and how to seal down the edges against peeling up. The inks they use will be designed to be colorfast against harsh UV exposure on a vehicle outdoors. If you can find someone who's done airplanes or at least racing cars before, that'll be good for your peace of mind. They do exist. You can have the artwork created to your concept either by the shop themselves or, more often and more professionally, by a separate design/graphic production firm. You don't want to create the artwork yourself, either. While the requirements for artwork for large-format printing are easier than those for conventional print, they're still more stringent than for web graphics, and you need to know what you're doing if you want to avoid color shifts, "jaggies" in the printed piece, or problems processing.

Properly printed, on the right material, and professionally applied, these should last for years, even with full exposure to the elements.
 

Kyle Boatright

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Vinyl has held up for 18 years as stripes and the checkerboard on the rudder on my RV-6.

The key is to get vinyl designed for outdoor use with UV protection. The other thing that helps me is that the airplane is hangared.

I imagine printed decals do not hold up as well as extruded vinyl single color material, but I don't *know* that. There probably isn't as much you can do for UV protection on something you print, as opposed to something you extrude and/or laminate with a protective UV layer.
 

Victor Bravo

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If you're willing to fly the airplane to Seattle, I have an old friend who has been in the vehicle wrap and vinyl decal business for 30 years. He has done more than one airplane, and will deliver a truly professional result. He is also a pilot and understands aircraft structure, how to work on and around aircraft, etc.
 

Topaz

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... There probably isn't as much you can do for UV protection on something you print, as opposed to something you extrude and/or laminate with a protective UV layer.
Colorfast inks and UV barrier technology have made leaps and bounds in the last decade. Even the stuff used ten years ago is only just now starting to fade, if it was done right in the first place. The new stuff should last 20 years or more. On the other hand, I've seen lots of small businesses and the like "go cheap", and get exactly what they paid for - installations that started to fade and/or peel in a year or so.

If you're willing to fly the airplane to Seattle, I have an old friend who has been in the vehicle wrap and vinyl decal business for 30 years. He has done more than one airplane, and will deliver a truly professional result. He is also a pilot and understands aircraft structure, how to work on and around aircraft, etc.
This is the sort of vendor you're looking for, TXFlyGuy. Probably worth the trip.
 

radfordc

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All the markings on my Sonex and Eindecker are vinyl graphics. Very easy to apply and very durable. Affordable too if you get them from Callie Graphics... https://callie-graphics.com/

She can provide you with markings made from your own photos. She did my buddy's Sonex nose art of his daughter.
 

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TXFlyGuy

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At first I was extremely reluctant to even consider any vinyl decals. But this is encouraging, for sure.

And I have found at least one or more companies that specialize in aircraft application. One company even does vinyl graphics for an aviation museum.

http://www.highergraphics.com/

Here is my squadron patch, being made into a decal. We will see how it works out.
814C0398-7F9D-4BE5-9D84-46CD6DC4BEB7.jpg

Here is nose art, done by http://www.aerographics.com/pictureview.php
252F922F-8303-4234-AEAA-1B6FEDADEC07.jpg
 
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Mad MAC

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Hamilton New Zealand
From a few issues with fake decals on airliners a couple of years ago that I had to dig through (problem was solved by finding the real decals were actually cheaper than the fakes if you could find the part numbers) I can offer the following:

The two big killers of these materials on aircraft is UV light exposure at altitude and speed.

One of the materials they use on the airliners is VS7704, its very pricey, needs to be screen printed, has a restricted number of suppliers but is very UV resistant, expected life on an airliner is 3 years (noting that some of these aircraft do 18 hours a day except on Sundays when they do a maintenance check, so for ever by GA standards). Plus it still needs edge sealing*.

3M Control Tac 180 is one of the materials they use for truck wraps. It is commonly available, machine printable and will meet FAR 23/25 burn requirements if required. On a Boeing 737 it will fade within a couple of months and tear even if edge sealed. On a Fairchild Metro it suffered from tearing if not edge sealed or on leading edges. So if you are not spend lots of time really high and typically not too much faster than 200 knts, this is a practical material for the GA end of the market and probably the one most places will offer.

Edge sealing improves the life expectancy of the decals on faster aircraft or those that fly IFR, or where there might be fuel spill however making it look pretty is quite difficult.


*Edge sealing is where a clear varnish or the like is used to seal the edges of the decal to prevent moisture ingress and uplift of the edges.
 

Daleandee

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SC
“Best to go with vinyl. After the divorce, it’s easier to change the name”.
Maybe we should have a thread about aircraft names!

I came across the name for my Cleanex by listening to a wonderful Southern Belle lady from church. Everything she owns she refers to as "my own" but with that sweet southern drawl of hers it was quite distinguished in pronunciation. I told her I was gonna name my airplane after her and she said, "so you're gonna call it Linda?" Nope ... I'm naming her "Myunn!" :roll:

Dale
N319WF
 

TXFlyGuy

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An update...we have several decals, all from Aero Graphics. They are all very nice, and all single piece multi color vinyl.




 

mcrae0104

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Go Loveland! I just flew over Loveland today doing some hood time.

Looikin' good, Tex.
 

TXFlyGuy

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Time for an update...installed a few more vinyl graphics, by AeroGraphics. Their service is the best!
P1050689.JPGP1050690.JPG
 
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