Decals – From Finalized Design to Production

by Sabinna on February 19, 2011

There was some cycling action last weekend with a report on the day’s event here. Another view of the day is available in the accompanying video.

The main part of today’s post concerns the outcome of part of the process of aligning decals to a frame.

When a color and graphics scheme for a frame is finalized by a designer, it is still just that: a design. The production of the decals in the agreed quantity can only be done once a mold is produced. The mold is actually the most expensive part of the process.

One mold is created for each set of decals for a particular frame size. Usually one set of decals from one mold will be extended over adjacent sizes. Producing a mold, and therefore a set of decals specifically for each size, is prohibitively expensive.

It is not unheard of for the bigger bicycle manufacturers to resist covering the cost of molds where they are dealing with smaller decal suppliers. They insist that the size of their orders are enough in themselves and that they can take their business elsewhere if (small) suppliers don’t like it. That’s the way the rough and tumble of outsourcing can sometimes play out these days.

Anyhow, the decal makers take the design files and begin the process of aligning them exactly to the frame. This involves producing image printouts at various calibrations for the decal and the R-film.

When the fit is complete, a mold can be produced and then a batch of decals from that.

taiwan high end bicycle frame components carbon alloy

taiwan high end bicycle frame components carbon alloy

The decal makers bring the frame used for a model fit back looking like this.

When the  decals have been produced and the painters have applied the base colors, decals, and clear-coat, it looks like this.

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