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I have designed a game that requires custom dice. Specifically, I've wanted to create dice approximately 3" in size, for party games. My first round of making dice used styrofoam and paint. After several games, the dice chipped - as to be expected.

The second attempt at custom dice used foam dice from Oriental Trading painted over to fit the needs of the game. These, too, had paint coming off.

As Oriental Trading and other retailers have proven, however, it is possible to have permanent images affixed to faces of a cube on foam dice. Wood, metal, and other hard surfaces are undesirable as they are too hard for use indoors. What ways are there to create dice that look like those found on Oriental Trading?

  • Is this for a prototype or the final product? If it's for a prototype I wouldn't worry. Once you mass produce, you will have way different options anyway. – Robert Nov 21 '17 at 2:53
  • The game is well developed at this point and I've prototyped it quite a bit. I'm looking to give it a somewhat professional look. – ZachTheRiah Nov 21 '17 at 4:11
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You may have better luck if you start with a coat of primer that is intended for foam, such as this: http://www.krylon.com/products/craft-foam-primer/

Also, a clear top coat might help.

  • Hmmm. That's another good idea. – ZachTheRiah Nov 21 '17 at 4:09
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If you are ok with sacrificing money for durability, you may want to look into 3D printing services. There are several online printing services available that you may be able to find to print the dice for you with different materials.

For instance you could get the dice printed in steel, flexible plastic, or metallic plastic. Shapeways is just the first thing I came upon when googling, there are lots of other options if you want to look for other specific features.

Keep in mind that if you do get 3D printed dice they will not be "fair" like actual purpose built dice and may have some biases depending on the printing process. However it seems like the game you are making is fairly causal so that might not actually be that big of an issue for you.

  • I'll have to look into this. I had thought about 3D printing. I knew "fairness" would be a minor issue, but for the purposes I'd be using it for the exact "fairness" doesn't matter all that much. – ZachTheRiah Nov 21 '17 at 4:07
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If the images or icons you want on the sides of your dice are not complicated, you could etch them into the foam and then paint the resulting valleys. That should make the paint much more durable, as it will be a bit protected from abrasions.

Depending on the type of foam, something as simple as a pencil or butter knife might etch well enough, or you might need something sharper. Acetone (nail polish remover) also "burns" away some types of foam.

  • Interesting idea. I hadn't thought about that. – ZachTheRiah Nov 21 '17 at 4:08
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As a prototype, try printing your design on cloth and pinning the cloth to the Styrofoam near the corners. This should allow you to both protect the underlying foam while keeping a clean image on top.

Of course if it gets crushed there's nothing you can do, and if it's an adult game, there will be drinking, which means it will get crushed, but you could always have it removable and put on a new piece of foam.

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Boardgamegeek sells prototyping dice. If you mainly want to control face distribution, that may be what you want.

If you want to add custom symbols (to these dice or any others, I recommend making stickers that you can attach to the sides of your dice. Find a blank sticker sheet and print your designs on it, then place them on the faces of a die.

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