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How Much Does it Cost to Print a Board Game?

The cost to print a board game can vary based on several factors, including the raw material costs, the cost of the printing plates for your board game, and the process of calibrating the printing machines. These all add together to result in a total printing cost.

One thing to be aware of is that printing is mostly made up of fixed costs, such as making the printing plates for your custom board game and setting up the machines. This means that the smaller your print run, the higher your cost per unit of your game will be.

If you’re planning to make a board game, it’s important to keep in mind that the total cost per unit is made up of more than just printing. 

For example, in addition to printing your game pieces, there’s also the cost of coating, gluing, cutting, assembly, and then packaging to keep in mind. 

We’ve explained the printing process for games and its costs below. If you need more help working out how much it will cost to print your game (or if you need help with any part of the board game design and manufacturing process), please contact us.

Pricing for Board Game Printing Basics

The cost to print your game will vary based on the following factors:

  1. Your choice of paper size. Paper comes in several sizes, each of which requires a different type of printing plate. Creating a cost-effective board game involves choosing a paper size that allows you print everything you need while minimizing waste per sheet.
  2. Your game artwork. Your artwork plays a big role in determining your printing costs, as the time required to set up a printing sheet can take anywhere from an hour with good art assets to one month for badly made artwork.
    If your assets comply with printing standards, the price of your game can be lowered by up to $200 per component type. Our team can work with you to make sure no space is wasted and your print run is as efficient as possible.
  3. Your print run size. Because the printing process involves a lot of fixed costs, large print runs are much less expensive on a per-unit basis than small runs or the creation of a prototype.
  4. The grade of paper you choose. Paper comes in various grades, or weights, measured in grams per square meter (GSM). It’s also available in different levels of whiteness, which determine the color quality of the final printed item.
    The “perfect” weight can vary based on the type of game you’re creating and this, with your choice of paper whiteness, will impact your raw material costs for printing.

The quality of the printing machine. Many different printing machines are used for board game printing, and some machines may offer pricing advantages over others.

Printing Plate and Paper Sizes for Board Games

A critical thing to keep in mind in terms of printing costs is the numerous varieties of paper sizes and printing plates.

As there are numerous combinations of paper sizes and printing plates, we cannot cover all of them in detail. Instead, we will cover the most frequently used options, I’ve shared the most cost-effective and relevant dimensions for board game creators.

If you have a question, please comment at the bottom of this article, or contact us.

Disclosure: This article is written mostly for Small and Medium Publishers. If you are a large publisher that exceeds 10 tons of a single raw material per print run, you can customize the size of paper to your game’s needs without any additional costs.

Paper Size Categories

There are two elements to consider regarding the size of paper for a board game or card game:

The first is the size of the printing plate. In our manufacturing facility, we use the following four types of printing machines, with corresponding plate sizes:

    1. S: Heidelberg Speedmaster SM 52-2 with a printing plate size of 490X330mm (19X12 inch)
    2. M: Heidelberg Speedmaster SX 74 with a printing plate size of up to 540X780mm (21X30 inch)
    3. L: Heidelberg Speedmaster SX 102 with a printing plate size of up to 720X1020mm (28X40 inch)
  • The LITHRONE G37 with a 64x94cm printing plate. (25x37inch) (Used for game creators that want low quality books)

There are also other types of printing machines available in the industry, so if you are already using a printer, ask them for their sizes.

The second is the size of paper that’s used for printing. The sizes of paper can be divided into three major categories: small (S), medium (M), and large (L). For the best value for money for your printing process, we need to match the size of the printing plate with the correct size of paper.

Offset Printing Paper Sizes

While large publishers can customize their art and paper to fit the printing plate’s size, small and medium publishers are constrained to the paper size. Your goal should be to waste as little paper as possible. Using excess paper isn’t just environmentally wasteful — it can also increase the cost of printing your game.

Here are available off-the-shelf papers:

Small (S) Size Paper

  1. 295x295mm (total print area 285x285mm) – (11*11 inch). Many game creators wrongly use this size for token sheets. It’s best used for tuckboxes and small token sheets. 
  2. 294x440mm (total print area 280x420mm) – (11*16 inch). Best used for token sheets, a few reference cards, small boxes, and small rulebooks. This is the most cost-effective paper size.

Matching Printing Machine

These two paper sizes all fit into the smaller Speed Master SM52 printing machine.

Cost Range

The cost for setting up the small printing machine is roughly 160 USD, including waste. 

Then the cost for printed paper is 0.011 USD per sheet. 

(*not including price of paper, coating, cutting, and gluing if needed.)

Common Uses

These small sizes are best used for tokens, a few reference cards, small boxes, and small rulebooks.

Medium (M) Size Paper

  1. 394x440mm paper (total print area 374x420mm) – (15*16 inch) – This is best used for small foldable game boards.
  2. 440*590mm paper (total print area 410*560mm) – (16*22inch) – This is best used for medium size rulebooks, medium game boxes, large map tiles for your game, and foldable game boards
  3. 540x780mm paper (total print area 520x760mm) – (20.4x30inch) – This is the default sheet for playing card printing and some larger game boxes. 

Matching Printing Machine

For these paper sizes, we use the Heidelberg Speedmaster SX 74 which is the most common in commercial printing and has the best color control across all sizes.  

Cost Range

The cost of setting up this machine can go up to $300 USD.

And each sheet printed with the machine is roughly $0.019 USD.

(*not including price of paper, coating, cutting, and gluing if needed.)

Common Uses

Please note, that token sheets with small cuts should not be used with these paper sheets as they will not cut properly. 

Large (L) Size Paper

    • 590*882cm (total print area 570*862mm) – (23*33 inch). This paper size is most commonly used for large rulebooks, and for large boxes.
    • EXTRA LARGE 780x1080mm (total print area 760×1020).

Matching Printing Machine

For these papers we will use the Heidelberg Speedmaster SX 102 or the LITHORNE G29, depending on the quality of print you need to use in your game.

Cost Range 

The set up cost of this printing machine is roughly $620 USD, and printing each sheet is $0.03 USD. 

Note that this is the machine used also for printing on holofoil and PVC though printing on these materials is an additional $200 USD set up and an additional $0.005 per sheet, due to the immediate UV coating the printing assets get.

(*not including price of paper, coating, cutting, and gluing if needed.)

Important note:

The 780×1080 cannot be used as boxes or game boards as it is too large to cut safely. 

Recent Developments

Recently, there have been developments in card cutting and collating technologies, and with careful printing, we can actually fit 64 poker size cards in one sheet. If you have a game in the process, feel free to contact us about this.

Important Notes:

There are several other important things to take into account regarding graphic design and printing:

  1. Don’t forget to add a bleed to your art. Bleed should be 3mm on each side and should be considered when choosing the right paper size.
  2. Bleed for playing boards and boxes should have an extra 15mm on each side. Don’t forget to add it to the calculations.
  3. Use millimeters (MM) , not inches. We have added some sizes in inches for convenience, but you should always use millimeters when preparing your art and determining which paper size is most suitable for your project.
  4. For color-rich art, avoid adding too many printing components. Sometimes it’s best not to add too many printing components if your game art is color-rich, as the colors might not turn out sharp. For heavy board games, it’s best to first consult with the machine operator.
  5. There should not be more than 80 cards in one sheet. It will harm the cards in the cutting process. 
  6. We did not include cutting and finishing prices in this article. Like mentioned previously, the cutting process depends on your components, and finish adds anywhere from $0.15-0.30 USD per sheet.

Large publishers who want to become more cost-effective should control the supply chain all the way from the paper mill to assembly. The printing factory does not necessarily know the ins and outs of paper sizes.

Contact Us for Help

If you need help working out the printing costs for your board game or card game, or with any other step in the manufacturing process, we’re happy to help.

Contact us now to talk to a member of our team and get a free quote for your game, advice on the manufacturing process, or anything else you need.

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