In this article, we will go by the manufacturing process and cover first gluing and then cutting.
There are three ways to glue printed papers and cardboards. By hand, Semi-Automated, and fully automated. When making your game, we need to decide which gluing machine to use. They all have their advantages, disadvantages, and set up / operational costs.
There are two things to consider when choosing the best machine for the game’s needs: Size and shape of the component, and quantity.
The fully automated machine can run up to 7-10 pieces a minute and has a 95% accuracy rate. It can glue playing boards with wrap around the edges and even make boxes up to 25*25*7cm in size. However, it has a high setup fee of around 300USD, and hence it is only reasonable to use it for orders larger than 1500/2000 sets and up (which will take a couple of hours and not get done in an hour or so). (operated by 1-2 people)
The semi-automated machine is perfect for small two side token sheets and pages up to 44*59cm. It is cheap to set up, only around 50USD, and it has relatively good accuracy (+-85%). Also, it has a high output of up to 10-12 sheets per minute. However, it is limited in its option and will not be suitable for playing boards, boxes, and boards with wrap around the edges. (operated by 2 people)
The third gluing option is by hand. There is no setup fee, the output is about four pieces a minute, and it is incredibly versatile. You can make with it any size box, any size playing board, and anything else you would like. The only downside is the high hourly labor cost for the machine and the relatively low accuracy of around 70-80%, leading to additional hours and waste. (Operated by at least 4 people).
So for quantities of less than 1500 or for large/complex components, it is best to glue by hand.
As gluing is a simple process, the price of labor for it in China is about 4USD an hour for good in-house staff. To check the cost of gluing for your game, you can calculate 4 pieces per minute * 60 minutes to see how long it will take to make your component, and then multiply the number of hours by the number of people required for the job—gluing by hand costs around 0.1USD per side.
Cutting is a more complicated process and requires a machine operator that understands the cutting mold’s capabilities; it cannot be done just by anyone. Hence, the hourly rate for such a person is between the 9-10USD an hour.
The cutting machine’s output is 4-5 sheets per minute as it requires constant checking of the mold and the cut, so it comes out around 4 cents,
Besides the labor costs, there is the cost of making the cutting mold, which can be between 30-100USD. For simple straight lines, it will be 30USD, while for a token sheet with up to 30 pieces, it can be $60, and for larger sheets (for playing boards) or sheets with over 30 cut-out pieces, it can reach even up to 100USD.
Therefore, for a standard board game the mold cost, will be between 0.015 for 3000 sets and 0.13 for 500 sets.
Some creators ask if we can keep molds and reuse them, thus saving the mold’s cost. However, it is not possible as the knives are made of metal which rusts after 3-5 months, and has to be changed.
The final cost you get from Hero Time is the component’s cost, including all the mold gluing and finish costs.
Feel free to comment and ask us any questions.