How are scratch cards made?

Do you remember the first time you saw a scratchcard? Scratching away the top layer and revealing the message underneath probably seemed like magic back then; how on earth did this mysterious new object work?

These days, scratchcards probably feel a lot more commonplace; but we’d wager that most adults still don’t know how they actually work. What materials and processes are used to create that magical scratch-off effect?

Let’s go through the production journey of a typical scratchcard...

Starting from scratch

The first step in any scratchcard print run is producing the plain cards themselves. The printer will take your card artwork and print it out onto cardstock sheets, with several individual cards on each sheet.

The printing at this stage includes all the content which will be hidden under the scratch-off panels on the final cards (such as prizes, matching icons and verification codes). Digital variable data printing can apply different details to each individual to create ‘winning’ and ‘losing’ cards.

Creating the scratch-off sections

Here comes the fun bit. After applying a transparent varnish which allows the scratch-off panels to scratch away without damaging the rest of the card, those panels are then created by ‘printing’ scratch-off liquid latex (also known as rub-removable latex ink) on specific areas of the card using screen printing technology. 

This latex is designed to come away from the card with the scratch of a coin or fingernail. Once the latex dries, the card is now a scratchcard!

Over-the-top printing

This step is optional, but it certainly helps if you’re looking for scratchcard prints that’ll grab the customer’s eye. 

The silver rub-remove latex can either be left as-is, or the card sheets can be fed through the printer a second time to print additional content on top of the scratch-off panels. 

Overprinting is often used to add game instructions or calls-to-action on the front of the card to entice customers to try their luck, but with a bit of creativity you can also blend your card’s base atwork and overprinted artwork to create seamless designs or ‘hidden’ panels.

All the trimmings

So your cards are done, except they’re all still stuck on the same sheets with their neighbours; the last step is to cut each card to its final size using a professional paper guillotine.

Each card is printed onto the sheet with trim marks, so the guillotine operator knows exactly where to cut. Here’s where setting up a bleed perimeter and safety zone in your artwork design will pay off, as it will prevent the tiny imperfections in the trimming process from harming the presentation quality of your finished cards.

So now you know how scratchcards are made - and if you’re interested in printing a few for your next promotional campaign, ScratchcardPrinting.co.uk is here to help. Call us on 02380 878030 to discuss your requirements, or drop us a message online today!

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