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Plastic Manufacuring

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Anonymous

I have a game that is ready for production (assume I've done due diligence to play testing, etc.). I am trying to find a plastics manufacturer who can make my game tiles. I've looked in the Thomas Register, but there are thousands to choose from and I'm not even sure which process to go by.

I would like to get some help in determining which process to use so that I can narrow my search down a bit. If you happen to know of a reputable plastics manufacturer who can make my game tiles, even better.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Carey

Hegemon
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Plastic Manufacuring

I don't know what you travel budget is but you may want to attend the West Pack show in early 2006 and talk to all the plastics guys there. Here is the URL to the show
http://www.devicelink.com/expo/wpack05/

I went to the East Pack show a while back and had a good time showing off my plastic box and finding out who could make it. If you can't make the show, here's a list of everyone who will be at it:
http://www.devicelink.com/expo/wpack05/exhibit/showall.html

Be aware that custom tooling for plastics manufacturing isn't cheap - and ask each vendor you meet if he has anything "off the rack" that meets your needs.

jkopena
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Plastic Manufacuring

What sort of process are you looking at using/how many are you looking to produce? Since they're your tiles (rather than figs or something) I guess there's a lot of pieces. If you're going to produce a lot of copies you might be able to go with injection molding, how toys and such are produced. It's really cheap per run, but I've gotten quotes for tooling costs on the order of $10K US; it requires *huge* quantities to be effective. For smaller runs, I've been looking into resin casting. A lot of short run models/railroad & wargaming scenery items/some miniatures are made this way. You can find a bunch by searching around on the web, or I could dig up my list if that is a method you're interested in.

Anonymous
just some input here

Another option is looking into casting with fiberglass molds which is relatively quicker to have tooling made and inexpensive BUT if the quantity is too large it could become too tedious to be cost effective. Thermoforming or vacuum forming is inexpensive but the resiin molds for these are relative in price dependent on how many you need. I paid 2500 USD for a mold resin type for protoyping and I run a thousand sheets with it and no warpage on a product of 38" square. Now you could go with wood molds if the tiles do not necessarily have to be precise on the duplications being EXACTLY alike. Wood is relatively cheap to do too just double check the thermoformers requirements for running such and the mold sizes and thicknesses needed and get it done by a local woodworkers shop not a mold making facility even if they are doing wood as the woodworkers shop will be half the cost with same results given the proper specifications.

Anonymous
Plastic Manufacturing

Sorry for the delay in responding. My game uses 40 tiles (W 1 1/16" X H 1 1/2" X D 1/4") printed on both sides. I made 300 wooden boards in my brother's cabinet shop for next to nothing. I now need 12,000 tiles to complete the project. I got a couple of quotes back from some manufacturers and didn't realize I had to pay for the die as well as the tiles. Their bids have been amazingly high (roughly $4K for the tiles and die), but it also includes printing.

"I've been looking into resin casting. A lot of short run models/railroad & wargaming scenery items/some miniatures are made this way. You can find a bunch by searching around on the web, or I could dig up my list if that is a method you're interested in."

"Wood is relatively cheap to do too just double check the thermoformers requirements for running such and the mold sizes and thicknesses needed and get it done by a local woodworkers shop not a mold making facility even if they are doing wood as the woodworkers shop will be half the cost with same results given the proper specifications."

Both these ideas sound good, but I still have to find a way to print on them. I guess I could try silkscreening them. Any suggestions on printing if I make them using this method?

Carey

Anonymous
Plastic Manufacuring

If you have access to the cabinet shop just make it out of wood and search thermoformers who will run a wood mold. Thats the cheapest and when you make the mold for your imprinting Just use a mirror and show yourself how to draw these onto the mold. This will eliminate the screen printing as well as have them in a mold. You can always make the bottom of your mold as seperate grids of the size of the tiles or group them so that you can run so many of this one and more of the more prominent ones you need and interchange the mold as a lego building kit.

With 12,000 pieces IF you plan on making many more than that I would look into the injection molders and look at the small shopd first as they may consider doing the molding if they are in a competitive region just to gain access to another client and repeat business.

If you go for a flat tile then choose to engrave is another route which eliminates a larger tooling cost BUT increases man hours to do so. They also have computerized laser cutters which may be an option for you to look at with a extruding company or straight STANDARD sheets not cut to size THEN request the laser cutting to size as a piece work and do by weight NOT by piece count which will allow them to not spend man hours counting or QA checked. Using standard sheets and not cut to your size off the start then cutting you have a DRASTIC reduction in price as well as availability.

These are a few more options. I work in the plastics industry so I have more options if these dont solve your issue. Let me know.

Just an opinion though not an expert.

jkopena
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Plastic Manufacuring

leadingedge,

That's all pretty interesting. I'm going to have to look into it, but can you speak a bit about the sort of game pieces that thermoforming might be suited for? Tiles seems like an obvious one. What about meeples (small 2.5D abstract figures like in _Carcassonne_)? To how thick of a stock can thermoforming be applied?

Thanks

Anonymous
Plastic Manufacuring

To the figures of that particular game I am not familiar with.

As to the thickness I run ABS which is cheaper to run than styrene as it leaves a matted finish instead of the gloss finish and its alot cheaper. I have run up to a thickness of 1.25m but can go to 1.5m. I am sure there are others who can run alot thicker depending upon their equipment.

Thermo can make alot of different items. It is easier and more cost effective if the one process is done and not having to do a second piece to combine them. ( A mountain pulled down by the vacuum for its form is easier to do in one time through the machine rather than a top for an advertising campaign as an example I will use the top of the Camel cigarettes roof top piece in the bell shape. It was easier to run 2 pieces and glue together rather than design a modl for a pull down all at once to get the definition in the part for detail work.)

My advise is go to a thermoforming shop and talk with sales rep. They will help you out as they try to find a solution to get as much work in the door as possible and do it as cheap as possible. Some may not do injection or tooling but are partnered with guys who will and they get a better quote than you will ever see.

Also they may have a solution to get it done injection wise and then other parts done thermo and some done injection depending on all your needs and they put it as one quote from their house shop so it will be on their shoulders to shop it around for outsourcing to complete job. Its a cut throat business BUT it is also a very close knit when trying to combine different parts in one quote.

If going to use standardized sheets try to search your area as I see Philly and Atlanta are very cheap and big on the industry. Also look around for similiar items and look at who manufactures them as they may have obsolete or molds kicking around which are for sale or corporately owned or have permission to allow others to use them for a fee rather than retooling your own.

Anonymous
Plastic Manufacuring

leadingedge wrote:
If you have access to the cabinet shop just make it out of wood and search thermoformers who will run a wood mold. Thats the cheapest and when you make the mold for your imprinting Just use a mirror and show yourself how to draw these onto the mold. This will eliminate the screen printing as well as have them in a mold.

Not being familiar at all with the plastic industry, is Thermoforming a fairly inexpensive process? Do they require making a die that they would then charge for?

As for cutting 12,000 tile pieces, I'd rather not. Besides being time consuming, I'd worry about not making them all exactly the same size.

I would like my tile pieces to feel solid and have some weight. If you ever played Rumikube, the tiles should be similar to this. Can thermoforming provide that kind of characteristic?

Carey

Anonymous
Plastic Manufacuring

Similiar to Rummikub???

They could be done with thermo BUT probably better to run with injection. Now since we are talking only a small run and not millions of pieces I would not bother going that route either.

A Thermo mold done with resin mold you would be looking at about 2500 or that ball park unless you went with a small mold which if you make for a smaller machine and put more man hours on it than you could prolly get it done for around a 1000.

Now I would investigate your local shops as some may have a laser cutter in their shop which if set up like a table saw you can run your pieces through with automatic feed and have them done precise and cheaper.

You can also got through a extruder since you want cut slices. Just get a flat die cut for the extrusion press to pump the plastic through and have cut while still coming off the press. A flat thickness with a standard die equal to that thickness would be suffice and then use an engraver to engrave your artwork or cuts you need in the tiles after they cool.

Time frames on making molds vary so highly it is not even feasible to try to guess how long it would take. I had my one done in 6 weeks and the other took 8 months. Try Minnesota or North Carolina for mold makers as they are usually the quickest for turn around time.

Anonymous
Plastic Manufacuring

Since your game boards are made of wood (and already made), you should really consider having the tiles made of wood. There should be a supplier somewhere that can sell you pre-cut wooden tiles that are somewhat close to the size you need.

From there, your problem would be getting the image onto the tiles (both sides, right?). Your options for doing so will depend on the specs of your images.

Silk screening comes to mind immediately. In fact, the company that makes the tiles for you may even be able to handle the silk screening of the images onto them.

If you want to do it yourself (hey, you made the 300 boards so you're obviously willing to invest time in your game), then you have a few options.

You could do the silk screening yourself (surprisingly not that hard to do). You could even have the screen set up for you so that you could imprint 60 or more at a time (place them side by side and then print the entire series of them at once). There should be a variety of resources available to you for making the screens, though I don't know how much they would charge ($100-200?).

Depending on the number of images (does each of the 40 pieces have a different graphic or are they more standardized?), you could have rubber stamps made of your artwork and then stamp the images on. That would take more time, but would be very inexpensive (I had some rubber stamps made for about $6 each).

If your images are full color (or use more than 1-2 colors), you could use clear inkjet labels. Nosissies made a prototype game using clear inket labels from rippedsheets.com. They were made from aspen tiles about the size you want and had the images printed on the clear label applied to the front and the back. I can personally attest to the professional look of the pieces (and to the durability)! Very cool!!

Best of luck with your game (and let us know if you post them online somewhere so we can see the final results).

Anonymous
Plastic Manufacuring

SiskNY wrote:
Since your game boards are made of wood (and already made), you should really consider having the tiles made of wood. There should be a supplier somewhere that can sell you pre-cut wooden tiles that are somewhat close to the size you need.

Anyone know of a wood supplier that could make these?

SiskNY wrote:
From there, your problem would be getting the image onto the tiles (both sides, right?). Your options for doing so will depend on the specs of your images.

I actually thought of silk screening and stamping, but I worried about the quality. 12,000 piecies leaves a lot of room for errors.

I suppose if I could set up a process that removes most of those errors, silk screening would be more permanent than stamping.

Carey

xantheman
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Plastic Manufacuring

I have a business making wooden toy weapons (www.rentoys.com) and may be able to make tiles out of my scrap from other products. 12,000 is a lot, but with the equipment that we have we could probably do it pretty easily. Since I would be using scrap, the material cost would be nothing, it would just be a matter of labor.

Since you are in Oregon, you could probably find a local wood product manufacturer that could make them for you as well.

Xan
www.rentoys.com

Anonymous
Plastic Manufacuring

xantheman wrote:
I have a business making wooden toy weapons (www.rentoys.com) and may be able to make tiles out of my scrap from other products. 12,000 is a lot, but with the equipment that we have we could probably do it pretty easily. Since I would be using scrap, the material cost would be nothing, it would just be a matter of labor.

Since you are offering, how much would you charge for 12K units? I can send you a CAD image of the tile. Should we talk about this one off line?

Carey

Anonymous
Plastic Manufacuring

SiskNY wrote:
If your images are full color (or use more than 1-2 colors), you could use clear inkjet labels. Nosissies made a prototype game using clear inket labels from rippedsheets.com. They were made from aspen tiles about the size you want and had the images printed on the clear label applied to the front and the back. I can personally attest to the professional look of the pieces (and to the durability)! Very cool!!

Do you have any pics of the finished product? If so, I would love to see them. What much did they cost and how difficult would it be to stick them on 12000 pieces? Know of an easy way to do this?

Carey

xantheman
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Plastic Manufacuring

cjgrayso wrote:

Since you are offering, how much would you charge for 12K units? I can send you a CAD image of the tile. Should we talk about this one off line?

Carey

I wrote down your specs and I will check out a few things in the shop tomorrow to see what I can do. I will post another message to let you know.

Anonymous
Plastic Manufacuring

Quote:
Do you have any pics of the finished product?

Check out the link to nosissies' thread regarding his game (in my original post). The link to the image doesn't work, but if you PM him, he should be able to send you a picture.

Also in his thread, I noticed his reference to a dominoe maker that offers personalization of their products. They may be able to do the personalization on blank dominoes for you. It's not the size you wanted, but it may be close.

As for putting the labels on, it would take a while, but it would look great! At 8.5 x 11, you would need probably 500 sheets or so. Cutting them out would be a matter of setting up a cutting fence on a paper cutter. Once they're cut out, it's just a matter of getting a few friends to help you out or taking a few hours a day until they're done.

Unless you're shipping them all to a fulfillment center, you can even assemble them as orders come in.

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