Production and mockup design questions

Komisar_Kastan

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Hi, I am new not only here but also in the poker chip industry. On the other hand I am working in very close industry, in the boardgaming. And now we are preparing board game where one of the component could be a custom poker chip. It is our first game with chips so I want to research possibilities, different technologies and their pitfalls when designing chips. We have some preliminary designs for the chip so I want to share it to hear comments from more experienced community. And I am glad that I found this site as it looks like the right place where to ask.

So I will start with a few concrete questions but do not hesitate to comment on whatever you want. I am not decided if we want to have these chips ceramic or iron clay. I really don't like chips with "sticker" in the center. Our goal is to achieve the best tactile experience and iron clay chips look like the right option. But at the same time, it looks that this technology has more limitations for custom design.

From the production perspective we need to make some samples before we decide what design is the best. How it works in this industry? Are manufacturers able to make some preproduction samples with satisfying quality or it is necessary to invest in tooling?

Thanks a lot for your comments and maybe some hint where to read something already written on this great site.
 

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RudysNYC

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Welcome to PCF! Most manufacturers are ready willing and able to produce samples. If you’re looking for something truly unique and custom, such as your own unique mold, then you’ll have to invest in tooling/custom mold fees. If not, you should be able to get samples pretty easily.

what type of board game, if you don’t mind?
 

Komisar_Kastan

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Hi, it's the expansion for the Project L.

And do you think they are also able to produce only for example custom printed ready made chip? If I understand the work flow right, in case of ceramic chips, they have blank white chip and after that they will print custom design on it.
 

Darthhoodie

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If you don't want a sticker or inlay in the center, then go traditional ceramic, which allows for full face and rolling edge printing. I'm not familiar with the term "iron clay".

^^^This, ceramic will allow you to print whatever you want directly to the face and edge of the chip without any sticker or inlay.
Here are some examples, but you are limited only by your own imagination with this medium.

1012.png


GDFULLSET.png

IMG_0367.jpg
 

allforcharity

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Maybe the term is only "clay poker chips", sorry, new one here:)

I don't think traditional compression clay chips will work from your preferences. First, most clay chips are done with a vinyl inlay in the middle, which you didn't want. That leaves hot stamping which is your only other option, which is usually only a single colour metallic foil, and the tooling costs to make the stamp die (which can be quite expensive).

So, I go back to my original recommendation of traditional ceramics as your most flexible and cost effective option.
 

raynmanas

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I'm not familiar with the term "iron clay".

Lol yeah where did iron clay come from? :)

Iron clays were board gaming chips that originally came with the new deluxe versions of the Brass games; they were quite popular and therefore later had their own Kickstarter. I have never handled them personally, but I am almost certain they are just regular ceramic. I kinda like them.

https://www.meeplesource.com/proddetail.php?prod=IronClays200

1597686539357.png
 

raynmanas

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Hi, it's the expansion for the Project L.

And do you think they are also able to produce only for example custom printed ready made chip? If I understand the work flow right, in case of ceramic chips, they have blank white chip and after that they will print custom design on it.

I am in agreement with @allforcharity that a custom ceramic is definitely the way to go.
 

RichMahogany

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Iron clays were board gaming chips that originally came with the new deluxe versions of the Brass games; they were quite popular and therefore later had their own Kickstarter. I have never handled them personally, but I am almost certain they are just regular ceramic. I kinda like them.

https://www.meeplesource.com/proddetail.php?prod=IronClays200

View attachment 513456

I’m aware of those but since they have zero to do with compression clay chips and the OP seems to know what ceramics are, wondering how he connected clay with “iron clay”
 

Komisar_Kastan

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Iron clays were board gaming chips that originally came with the new deluxe versions of the Brass games; they were quite popular and therefore later had their own Kickstarter. I have never handled them personally, but I am almost certain they are just regular ceramic. I kinda like them.

https://www.meeplesource.com/proddetail.php?prod=IronClays200

View attachment 513456

Yes, this is the source :D So they lied to their backers that they are buying clay chips?

I don't think traditional compression clay chips will work from your preferences. First, most clay chips are done with a vinyl inlay in the middle, which you didn't want. That leaves hot stamping which is your only other option, which is usually only a single colour metallic foil, and the tooling costs to make the stamp die (which can be quite expensive).

So, I go back to my original recommendation of traditional ceramics as your most flexible and cost effective option.
I think that vinyl inlay is ok because it is made before the final compression right? I saw in other baord games chips with label evidently glued on the chip at the end of the production. That caused the sticker to peel off.
 

Komisar_Kastan

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Thank you guys for your comments. Maybe it will be good to get some sample package with different chips made with different technology. Do you have a tip for this "newbie package"?
 

Komisar_Kastan

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We have two designs where we are working more with custom mold and I want to ask if it is possible to make custom mold also for clay chips or only for ceramics?
 

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Kid_Eastwood

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Another possibility could be a "faux" printed mold on the ceramic chip.
Ex. here (pic from Inca911) or here
 

Darthhoodie

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I feel like real custom clay with custom molds is not a very realistic option for board game chips unless you are charging several hundred dollars per game, like $300+. Even 100 chips per game will run you well over $100 at cost just for the chips on a preexisting mold, never mind creating a new mold. I guess you can go the china clay route that would cost maybe a third of that amount and a custom mold is defiantly possible, @Apache just did one for his 18xx bank chips. Now that I think about it a little, maybe the china clay route makes the most sense, its cheaper than ceramic and you can make a custom mold. These were just made by Apache for board games.
https://www.pokerchipforum.com/threads/payment-thread-for-project-board-gamers-chips.45899/
https://www.pokerchipforum.com/threads/board-gamers-poker-chip-interest-thread.43144/
 
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Komisar_Kastan

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I feel like real custom clay with custom molds is not a very realistic option for board game chips unless you are charging several hundred dollars per game, like $300+. Even 100 chips per game will run you well over $100 at cost just for the chips on a preexisting mold, never mind creating a new mold. I guess you can go the china clay route that would cost maybe a third of that amount and a custom mold is defiantly possible, @Apache just did one for his 18xx bank chips. Now that I think about it a little, maybe the china clay route makes the most sense, its cheaper than ceramic and you can make a custom mold. These were just made by Apache for board games.
https://www.pokerchipforum.com/threads/payment-thread-for-project-board-gamers-chips.45899/
https://www.pokerchipforum.com/threads/board-gamers-poker-chip-interest-thread.43144/
Thanks a lot for this feedback. In the game there is only 35 chips but still it can't be so expensive, you are right. I tried Apache but they stopped doing custom poker chips unfortunately:/
 

Darthhoodie

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Thanks a lot for this feedback. In the game there is only 35 chips but still it can't be so expensive, you are right. I tried Apache but they stopped doing custom poker chips unfortunately:/

Yes but I wounder If you can find a manufacturer in china to make you china clay chips with custom mold similar to what Apache is doing. If he is able to sell them for 40c each I wounder what price you can get directly from the manufacturer.
 

mipevi

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I would stay away from China clays. They smell and might not age very well. I’d love to see a boardgame with real clay chips included, but honestly some form of ceramics are probably best suited for OP’s intended use.
 

Komisar_Kastan

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Yes but I wounder If you can find a manufacturer in china to make you china clay chips with custom mold similar to what Apache is doing. If he is able to sell them for 40c each I wounder what price you can get directly from the manufacturer.
I am not sure if I understood you well. You mean that Apache was buying clay chips from Chinese manufacturer?
 

TrainGamer

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Iron clays were board gaming chips that originally came with the new deluxe versions of the Brass games; they were quite popular and therefore later had their own Kickstarter. I have never handled them personally, but I am almost certain they are just regular ceramic. I kinda like them.

https://www.meeplesource.com/proddetail.php?prod=IronClays200

View attachment 513456
I believe the iron in "Iron Clays" refers to a metal insert inside the chip to add weight and maybe stiffness or strength. Many chips are advertised as clay but really are some sort of plastic. I have handled the Iron Clays and they feel like plastic but a bit heavier.

I believe "ceramic" chips are also some sort of plastic but a bit harder than the "clay" chips. It is my understanding that "ceramic" chips do not have metal inserts. So they are generally a bit lighter than "clays" with metal inserts.
 

allforcharity

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I believe the iron in "Iron Clays" refers to a metal insert inside the chip to add weight and maybe stiffness or strength. Many chips are advertised as clay but really are some sort of plastic. I have handled the Iron Clays and they feel like plastic but a bit heavier.

I believe "ceramic" chips are also some sort of plastic but a bit harder than the "clay" chips. It is my understanding that "ceramic" chips do not have metal inserts. So they are generally a bit lighter than "clays" with metal inserts.

All modern chips are a variation of plastic. Believe it.
 

CrazyEddie

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@Komisar_Kastan , hello and welcome to the Poker Chip Forum! I'll do my best to answer your questions, but I am far from an expert.

Iron Clays are the name of a particular chip made specifically for the gaming market. They are injection-molded plastic with a metal insert. They are not at all related to what the members of this forum call "clay chips".

Almost everyone selling poker chips now calls theirs "clay" or "clay composite". They can do that even though they're made out of plastic because almost all plastic composites contain some amount of minerals. So the people who made Iron Clays weren't lying to their backers - their chips do contain some clay even though they are basically just plastic.

The chips that members of this forum call "clay chips" are also made of plastic. The plastic composite they're made of contains more minerals than other chips, so they're more clay-like than most chips but they're still just plastic. However, the way in which they're made - compression molding - is a much more expensive process than is used for most other chips (injection molding), which is why these "clay chips" are more expensive. They would probably be far too expensive for you to include in your game.

Apache contracted with manufacturers in China to produce injection-molded plastic chips to their specifications. These are known as "China Clays" because they're somewhat similar to the chips that forum members call "clays". But because they're injection-molded, they're quite a bit cheaper. Unlike compression-molded clay chips, the printed centers are just adhesive labels that are applied after the chips are molded; with compression molding, the printed centers are pressed into the chip during the molding process and are known as "inlays". Compression inlays are more durable and are far less likely to come off than labels on injection-molded chips. That said, most labels are actually quite durable and will rarely come off, assuming that the labels are high-quality and the application process is high-quality.

If you're familiar with contracting with manufacturers of injection-molded plastic items, then you could do the same thing that Apache did and have poker chips produced from scratch to your specifications by a factory in China.

Otherwise, you could use ceramic chips. These are produced as white blanks by companies in China, and then they are printed on by various companies in various places, including China and the US. They can be printed with any design you like. The printing covers the entire face and the sides (also called "the rolling edge") of the chip. There is no label or sticker; the printing is fused into the surface of the plastic chip and is permanent.

Finally, you could use blank chips and apply custom labels. There are a wide variety of blank chips available; they are all made from injection-molded plastic. They come in different weights, and are usually weighted with metal inserts, although some are lighter and have no metal inserts. The blanks come in many different colors and have many different types of designs around their rims; the centers are all plain, as they are intended to have labels applied to the center. They are available from many different sources, especially in China. Many of the suppliers will also print custom labels to your specifications and will apply them to the blank chips before they deliver them to you. This is probably the most affordable method to obtain chips for your game, but you will want to be very selective in choosing the right kind of blank to complement your label design.

If you have contacts in the board gaming industry, you might try to find the people who produced the board game Splendor. That game had at least three different types of chips made: the first edition had heavy chips with metal inserts and labels; the second and later editions had lightweight chips with labels but no metal inserts; and they produced a premium set of chips used as convention promotions that had translucent chips with labels and metal inserts. I believe in every case the blank chips were custom-produced to their specifications (especially with respect to color) but they may have used some standard molds that the manufacturer already had. If you ask them, they might refer you to the sources they used to produce their chips.

And, of course, you could reach out to Roxley Games, who made the Iron Clays. Those look and feel quite a bit different from most of the chips I've described so far, and they may be the most appropriate to emulate for your game. Iron Clays are injection-molded and have metal inserts, similar to most cheap blank chips, but they are fully custom rather than using a blank and applying a custom label. Unlike ceramics, their graphic design was not printed onto the chip; instead, the graphic design was molded into the plastic using injection molding with two different colors of plastic. This definitely required custom molds. This probably made them more expensive, possibly too expensive for your game. But if you can, you should ask them what they did and who they worked with.

I hope this helps! Let me know if you have further questions and I'll do my best to give you guidance.
 
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