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How to make Car Decals using Film-Free Metallic

How to make Car Decals using Film-Free Metallic


Film-Free Metallic Waterslide Decal Paper also available as Standard, is our popular "ink only" transfer for Laser Printers.offering a seamless, high-quality durable transfer from your home or office Laser printer to endless surfaces. With no remaining film, unlike traditional decal paper. This durable transfer is excellent for automotive use, where precision is everything. This Metallic variant adds a touch of sophistication available in many color options. Great for intricate designs as well as promoting your business with a metallic logo, text or graphic.


Suitable for endless surfaces such as Wood, Metal, Glass, Ceramic, Plastic, Leather. In this guide we will cover how to use it for Metallic Automative Decals.


This product is part of our Waterslide range, meaning you can adjust the position of the decal by sliding it around on the surface before pressing it down. This is a game changer for miniatures and other projects that require precision, allowing you to get the perfect alignment for your transfers. No more sticky hassle.




The Metallic Tattoo Paper package consists of four types of paper. 

  • Decal Paper (Blue Backing).
  • Coating Paper (White).
  • Metallic Foils (Special dual layer design),
  • W1+ required.


It's very easy to use and creates really impressive results. Everything is explained in this guide.


Materials Needed:

  • Laser Printer
  • W1+ Glue.
  • Paint Brush.
  • Scissors, Craft Knife or Cutting Machine.
  • Squeegee, Tissue or Popsicle.
  • Laminator 75°C (167°F) minimum.
  • Lukewarm Water.
  • Blow Dryer.


Metallic Waterslide Decal Paper doesn't need mirroring (flipping the image).


    Step 1: Print

    The image must be all black or brown, this is to create a thick layer of toner the metallic can bind to..


    You may notice we used multiple pages to print large decals. If you are also printing large decals, please be careful as some printers may not print border to border, and instead will crop your images, leaving oftentimes a 5mm margin, so you may need to crop your images into smaller pieces to work with your printer model. Please print on plain paper first if you're unsure.



    Make sure your Laser Printer Settings have been set accordingly:


    PAPER TYPE: Label Paper (175g or more) / Thick Paper / Decal Paper.

    DPI: 600 or above. We recommend higher DPI for miniatures / dioramas.

    Maximum Photo Resolution.


    We advise you to use the manual feed in your printer (not the paper tray).

    Print on the glossy side of the decal paper.


    Step 2: Attach the Metallic Foil


    Place the the Metallic foil onto the decal paper.

    We recommending securing the side that's going into the laminator by using normal glue.


    Step 3: 1st Lamination


    Feed the layers through the laminator.

    We recommend setting the laminatiion heat to 75°C (167°F) minimum, this cures the metallic layer to the image.


    Step 4: Peel Excess Metallic Foil


    Peel off the Metallic foil when ready.


    We advise against using 3rd party foils. The foils provided with this product are dual layered, allowing to release the excess metallic easily.


    Step 5: 2nd Lamination


    Place the Coating Paper with the glossy side against the image.



    Feed through the laminator again. This secures the metallic.


    Step 6: Remove Blue Backing


    Wet the blue backing, and remove from the Decal.


    Step 7: Cut


    Cut out your decals using a cutting machine, craft knife, or scissors.



    At this point your Film-Free Metallic Decals are ready and can be stored away in an airtight bag or used right away.


    Step 8: Apply W1+ Glue

    Please make sure the surface you are applying to is clean and free of any oils or dirt which could affect the transfer.



    Shake the glue, and apply an even coating of glue where the image will be placed.
    More glue is better. Ensure there is no missed areas where the image is being applied.


    Step 9: Submerge the decal


    Submerge in lukewarm water until the image has separated from the backing paper.
    You'll know it's ready if the two layers glide between your fingers. Don't leave in the water for too long as this can ruin the decal.


    The backing is meant to slide, but do not take off the backing yet.


    Step 10: Apply


    Place the decal face down against the surface (where the glue was applied), and gently slide off the backing paper.




    You can now slide around the decal on the surface gently until you are satisfied with the position, then press down to start securing the image.


    Step 11: Squeegee out excess moisture

    Once the decal is in the desired position, gently remove any excess moisture by using a squeegee. A tissue is useful for wiping away excess water.



    You can gradually press down harder to squeeze out any excess moisture, while the adhesion starts to secure the image.

    The decal will start to look dry if done correctly.


    We strongly recommend using our squeegee or similar, as it has a large contact area, ideal for Waterslide Decals.


    Step 12: Curing


    Blow Dry evenly for 3 min per page. 

    The drying times may vary slightly depending on the surface material, dryer temperature, ambient temperature and size of decals.


    Maximum Durability:

    The glue is permanently cured when dried for 8 mins at around 100°C~120°C (212°F~248°F) per sheet. Lower temperatures may take longer. Shorter drying times will also work, at the cost of reduced durability..


    The film is removed in the next step.


    Step 13: Peel away the film


    Once completely dry, carefully peel off the final film with fingertips or a craft knife.

    Be careful not to make scratches as the transferred image is still weak.


    Clean off any remaining glue with tissues or a cloth, dabbed in alcohol.

    Ink does not dissolve in alcohol but scrubbing too hard can damage the image.


    Step 14: Final Dry


    Blow Dry for another extra 3 minutes. This is to make sure the film stays stronger and waterproof.



    The decal will increasingly harden over time. However, to further improve the durability, we recommend adding a protective coating. This will protect the coating against cleaning and debris.


    How can I maximise longevity and durability?

    We recommend choosing an appropriate finish for your transfer, such as Clear Acrylic Sealant, Clear Polyurethane Spray, Ceramic Glaze, Paint Protective Film (PPP), Automotive Sealants. This will protect your decal and allows you to make the finish glossier or more mattified to match the rest of the vehicle.

    W1 Top Coat, will also work but is not designed for automotive use.


    Can I transfer non-metallic images this way?

    You can use the original Film-Free Waterslide Decal Paper to do this. There are fewer steps, and no laminator required. You can see it in action here.


    What other surfaces can I use Film-Free on?

    This decal paper transfers well to most surfaces. The difference depends on the glue used.

    W1+ Glue: Smooth, Hard Surfaces (e.g Glass, Ceramic).

    W2 Glue: Rough and Porous Surfaces (Wood Grain, Powder Coats)

    Natural Dry is possible in warm weather. 25°C (77°F) or higher for a minimum of 4 hours.


    Is there an option for Inkjet available?

    This product only works with Laser Printers. Inkjet uses ink, which is water soluble and has terrible properties for binding with Metallic Foil or Heat Curing.


    I made a mistake, how can I remove the transfer?

    To remove the Film-Free decal, you can use nail vanish remover or paint thinner. Please be careful as thinner can also damage the existing paint on your vehicle.





    If you have any questions, difficulties or need some advice, feel free to contact us. We'll be more than happy to help.