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.