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I am interested in the topic of printing game pieces, specifically, cardboard tokens and pieces. Usually these pieces come on cardboard sprues that you push out. I am curious about exactly what equipment commercial manufacturers of board game pieces use. I want to learn specifics about the names of the device families (not specific printer models) and techniques used by commercial printer. For example there might be a technique called 'fusion printing' (fictional name) that I could use to search for various manufacturers of 'fusion printers' on my own.

When I searched for this topic, I found two answers on how to make these game pieces. One is arts & crafts which uses printing, sticking and adhering, usually paper to cardboard or wood. The other is to use a commercial printing service online.

I am not interested at all in the arts & crafts solutions - any kind of amateur DIY production as this has been asked and answered all over the internet. I'm asking this question here because I could not find a scrap of information on what commercial manufacturers use, or what you might start looking for if you wanted to print pieces as professionally (and commercially) yourself but on a smaller scale.

For example, I can see through research something called Dye Sublimation Printing and there are cheap printers that can be used at home that can do this. But I only found it relating to the methods of producing plastic ID cards. I don't know if it's the correct technique for cardboard game pieces, but it does seem a step closer to what I'm looking for than using a standard laserjet printer.

I am sure there will be a specific technique or techniques used with pieces and I am curious to learn about them.

To state my question specifically:

To produce cardboard printed game pieces to the same or close to the same standard as commercial board games, what types of printer and/or techniques are used to create them?

I ask close to the same because I am also interested in both a large industrial and smaller scale perspective and there may be slight differences.

I am also interested how the pieces are cut to shape within each technique. Commercial games almost always use cardboard sprues and can cut into any shape. Cutting circular or irregular pieces cleanly looks complicated. It would also be a bonus for any other information about each printing technique, such as how pieces are finished.

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As someone who really likes boardgames and has a career in the graphical industry I can tell you from experience that flatbed UV-printers (Industrial Epsons, Rolands an Arizona's) and CNC table cutters (like ElCeDe, Zund and Kongsberg) can get you real close to the real thing.

These (usually large format) printers can print directly on thick board, often with a white primer if the substrate (The material you are printing on) isn't white or opaque and finishes like varnish/gloss effects.

CNC-cutting machines can cut the paper or board in the shape you wish, even making creases and half-cuts (for folds) and perforations.

They are great for prototyping games.

Some printing shops which also make stand-ups or signage will have both of these machines, so they may be a good place to start.

It's industrial material. Not many people can put one or both in the garage.

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  • Great reply, flatbed UV printer looks like a great avenue to explore, as does a CNC machine. Versions are available that put themself into the home enthusiast price range and it looks like they'd produce the desired result. Many thanks!
    – NibblyPig
    Mar 29 at 14:47
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Have a look at blogs or mediasites of Game Companies: for example this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BIgDpvooA8 "How board games are made" by Czech Games Edition, makers of Codenames and Mage Knight. Videosites like youtube have more similar videos, search for "board game manufacturing" or "boardgame factory visit" an so on. Also on https://boardgamegeek.com/ have a look at the developer diaries and the forums and you'll likely find more good information.

If you want to have your own Game components, ask your local printer, they may have a collaboration with a card manufactory offering, also for manufacturing small series of your own card/boardgame there are some shops online. I don't want to link to anyone since I don't have personal experience with any of them, but have a search for "custom boardgame" or "own cardgame" you'll find some. Use your native language for search words and/or add your city/region/country to find something close by.

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    Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the video link for reference. Can you edit your answer to summarize important parts of the video to answer the question (by naming the commercial printers and describing the process)?
    – ryanyuyu
    Mar 18 at 16:52
  • @ryanyuyu: Basically i agree with you, but its takes to much of my time, and on this network, i experienced way to often that somebody deleted/closed something I put effort in - for no real reason other than disagreeing. Until this policy changes its not worth my lifetime. Mar 18 at 20:42

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