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Subject: Who can print onto transparencies? rss

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Richard Massey
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I’m working on a game which uses transparencies with images printed on them which are stacked one on top of the other. The important thing is that you can see through several layers to read whatever has been printed on lower cards, but if anything is printed on part of one of the overlaying cards then this will obscure whatever is underneath it. Did that make any sense?

Anyway: does anyone know of a company which can print onto transparent acetate cards (or any other transparent plastic)? I want to create sets of about 80 individual cards, approx. 100mm x 100mm, which are see through and clear, except for an opaque image, which will be a different size and shape for each card.

Initially I would like to do a small print run to thrash out play-testing, then many, many more copies when my game enjoys its inevitable runaway success...

Any help would be much appreciated.

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Andrew Tullsen
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Any copy shop can print on transparencies - or are you looking for a thicker material?
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Richard Massey
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Howitzer_120mm wrote:
Any copy shop can print on transparencies - or are you looking for a thicker material?


...but generally these are transluscent (for overhead projectors), so not what I'm after. Plus, yes, I am looking for thicker material.
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What if you printed onto transparency sheets, and then sleeves them in card sleeves to thicken them?
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Richard Massey
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indigopotter wrote:
What if you printed onto transparency sheets, and then sleeves them in card sleeves to thicken them?


But whenever I've printed onto transparencies the ink has been semi-see-through...

This is how I made my proto-prototype, and I had to paint Tippex on the other side to make them opaque.
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I Spy Ready, Set, Silhouette has thick cards like what you're talking about - maybe the publisher would give you some info?
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A.J. Porfirio
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This can easily be done - at least for prototyping - with a laminating machine that can be had for cheap.
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Robert Beachler
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There are different thickness of acetate that can be used so you should be able to make them more sturdy. I would think any printer would be able to help you figure that out. For a prototype I would just use regular cheap as you can find transparencies though.
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Carson Dech
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What Vanrydergames said. Print it onto paper, cut it out and laminate it. (or cut the laminate sheets to size, insert picture and laminate it). Either way it makes a thicker, stiffer and more crystaly clear plastic with no see through on the picture part.
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Denis Maddalena
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I'm pretty sure your best bet would be an actual print shop, not a copy shop. I'm talking the guys with the big printing presses and stuff. It's not very cost economical as you need a bulk run to make it worthwhile, but you can also do your own silkscreening instead.

The key is in the inks the printshops use, which are more pastelike. We're talking about the stuff you'd use to print t-shirts, which are, by nature, flexible, and that ink needs to bend without cracking whenever someone pulls their shirt off in the evening. This applies very well to card shuffling.

Take a good look at Gloom or other clear games, like Hecatomb. These had solid blocks of art that covered up a likely ugly reverse image. Unless your palette is limited, you'll be doing color overlays, and you need to cover up on the BACK of your clear film or else it'll be some terrible looking blob of colors. If you do a simple blue or something (not full-blown art), you won't have to go this far.

There are a lot of print companies that can help you make acetate silkscreens. This, too, is an expensive option. Hell, the silkscreen acetate is expensive by itself, and if you cut too deep, you can ruin it. I would suggest some test runs.

The way you already did it was probably the best way to go, honestly.

Oh, wait, brainstorm...

Invest in an airbrush, create some stencils, and go at it with some airbrush t-shirt paint. I'm not sure how well it'll grip to your clear film, but it could work. They make some matte textured film, I'm sure...

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Edward Wedig
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You may want to check into having your designs screen printed onto acetate or even thin plexiglass. That would make the ink opaque.

-Ed
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Sturv Tafvherd
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CPAG wrote:
I’m working on a game which uses transparencies with images printed on them which are stacked one on top of the other. The important thing is that you can see through several layers to read whatever has been printed on lower cards, but if anything is printed on part of one of the overlaying cards then this will obscure whatever is underneath it. Did that make any sense?

Anyway: does anyone know of a company which can print onto transparent acetate cards (or any other transparent plastic)?


In recent memory, I've seen a game called Redakai that has that kind of transparent-stacking that you described. So you may want to go find out who made their cards.

Just be warned: I've seen Redakai on the clearance shelves of my Target and Walmart stores in past months (and currently, I no longer see any Redakai anywhere). I'm not sure why the game was put on clearance (I never even got the chance to play it).
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John "Omega" Williams
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I asked a simmilar question a year ago.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/533579/suggestons-for-pr...
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Joseph Kopena
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Aren't you pretty much talking the same kind of effect as Gloom uses with its cards?

Some of the card manufacturers can print those kinds of transparent cards. Unfortunately I don't remember any offhand, it's been a long time, but I've seen the capability offered by a few companies. They'd be pretty expensive for very low run prototyping, but for large quantity prototyping or actual manufacturing it should be very easy to do, just poke around for one.
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monchi
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the one thing you need to watch out for is that if you use the wrong stock of wrong type of printing the image will scratch off in no time. Digital is really bad for this. Screen printing is probably the best format, but for prototyping it is not going to be cost effective. I think as someone mentioned using a laminating machine will give you the best result.

I am sure that you will find all kinds of people that "can" print on the kind of material you want, but the big difference is the durability. You also need to see how they are going to print it as it might require you doing your artwork in reverse. It all depends on what you are going for.
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Jake Staines
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monchichi wrote:

I think as someone mentioned using a laminating machine will give you the best result.


I've been thinking of something that sounds similar, and that was my plan for prototyping if I ever get the time to give it a run:

- print majority of card layout, including crop marks, on home-printable transparency
- print opaque data on labels, cut out and stick to transparency (or: simply cut out and stick labels to rear of opaque area on transparency)
- laminate everything with matte laminate (or: sleeve everything)
- cut out into individual cards.

IMO gloss laminate is out, because it reduces friction too much - it becomes near-impossible to stack more than a couple of cards on top of each other if they're all gloss laminated. I've never really got on with sleeves personally, but if you can find decent sleeves that don't have opaque backs, they may be a better idea for at least the first few prototypes, so it's easier to peel off and re-stick different labels when necessary.

If any of that makes the stack of cards hard to see through, first try giving players sheets of bright white paper to stand their cards on, which should help if your surface isn't already bright white! You'd need incredibly clear or very thin plastic to see more than a couple of levels down, though, so the feasibility depends a lot on how many cards deep you need to see for your design...
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Matt Lee
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I might be mistaken, but I think Gloom's cards and some other transparent novelty card decks have the designs printed onto thin plastic stickers that are then stuck onto the thicker transparent materials in the correct places before cutting, sort of how chipboard gets the front and back full color printed labels glued on and then cut out to make tiles.

Don't forget that the back side of the images need to be blocked out with a more opaque color as noted above, or the designs will get washed out.
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