Cardboard, dye-sub printers, lamination, and related

One of the weird things that keeps coming up in my life, from a range of approach angles, is the ability to “print cardboard” in some suitably high quality - think board game playing pieces, sheets of cardboard to secure products for sale, etc.

My understanding of the process is that most of this is done by finding suitable backing cardboard, printing a label sheet (probably with a dye sub printer, as the quality is untouchable), and laminating the two together with a roller press sort of thing, then trimming to shape with a cardboard die cutter sort of arrangement.

Has anyone actually done anything like this, or have any ideas of places to learn more about it? I don’t mind the capex for the equipment, I just don’t know what all I really need…

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Buy one! It’s on sale!

Depending what you’re trying to “print” a CNC machine can also be used this way if you rig up a mechanism for it to hold different colored pens and maybe a razor/laser cutting head.

It probably won’t produce as nice of results as the approach you’re talking about, but likely good enough for playable board game pieces. Plus it has the bonus of involving getting/making a CNC machine which is presumably useful for lots of other stuff!

The IU-1000F does slightly exceed the budget I have for such things.

I don’t really want a CNC machine. I want a printer that prints high quality images that I can laminate on cardboard. A CNC machine with pens isn’t in the slightest bit what I’m looking for, sorry. I’m also interested in having “archival quality photo printing,” which also leads in the dyesub direction.

There are some threads around on Board Game Geek (which you may have already seen) such as : Manufacturing equipment for cards and printed components

I suspect that for anything below (some large amount) hiring it out is almost always going to be cheaper unless you find surplus equipment.

The “home budget” solution is almost certainly going to be a dye sub poster-printer and some form of massive laminator - print the poster, laminate it to the cardboard. Printing on a sticker is just going to result in bubbles.