Playing Card Manufacturer: Shuffled Ink The vast majority of custom decks of playing cards are produced by big printing companies like the United States Playing Card Company (USPCC), European-based Cartamundi, and Taiwan-based Expert/Legends Playing Cards. But there are some lesser known playing card manufacturers, and there are some good reasons why you should know about these smaller players in the playing card industry. Buyers will want to know what they can expect in terms of quality and handling of a deck printed by a lesser known publisher. But this will especially be of interest to creators of custom decks, because you will want to know what options you have for producing your decks besides the usual candidates. These smaller companies will especially be of interest to designers wanting to print a small run of prototype decks, or a number of decks of your own design for family or friends. Companies like USPCC or EPCC/LPCC typically require a minimum order of 600-1000 decks, which quickly becomes out of reach if you're just printing a prototype or making a custom deck for relatives or workmates. As a result many designers typically turn to MakePlayingCards.com (MPC) for smaller scale projects like this. MPC is a printing and production company based in Hong Kong with a factory in China, and their strength is that they take small sized orders. Even if it's just half a dozen decks that you want printed, they'll do it for you. MPC's playing cards don't match the quality of a Bicycle deck in terms of handling, but they do offer playing cards with an embossed air cushion finish, and the quality is superior to budget printers like Artscow. As a result they are the printer of choice for many designers looking to print a dozen or so decks, since for many creators they are the option they know about. So what about if I told you about another printer that offers a similar service? That playing card manufacturer is called Shuffled Ink, and it's even based in the United States. So let's find out more about them, and see if they are a viable alternative for those who might otherwise use MPC for printing their decks. The Shuffled Ink company Shuffled Ink was previously known as QPC Games (Quality Playing Cards & Games) ahead of a rebranding that happened in 2016. Based in Orlando, Florida, the majority of their playing card products are printed at their United States printing and manufacturing facility. This makes them of immediate interest to North American consumers, because it means that there's real potential for reduced costs in shipping and delivery time. Some of the other things they produce (e.g. board games) are outsourced to China and shipped to the US for assembly, but aside from extremely high volume orders, nearly all their playing cards are printed directly in the United States. They also boast that they create products that are environmentally safe, since their materials are all safety-certifiable - something that can't always be said of the competition. They have been in the business of professional printing and manufacturing for many years, with Charles Levin beginning the company on his dining room table in 1999. From there it grew into his three car garage the following year. After initially outsourcing all production, eventually in 2013 the move was made into the 8,000 square ft manufacturing facility that it is today, with over 20 employees. Growth continues, and there are plans to open a 17,000 square ft facility in the middle of next year. It's a family run business, with Charles taking care of marketing and sales, and his son Matthew running all domestic operations. Their clients include big names like Barclays, Verizon, T-Mobile, Disney, Google, Walmart, and World Poker Tour, so we're not talking here about a backyard operation run out of someone's garden shed, but about an established and respected printer. They describe their strengths as including the following: "An emphasis on our customer service, communications and responsiveness are huge added values when combined with our quality, best prices and turn around times." Reports that I came across about the game components that Shuffled Ink produced under their QPC Games label were very positive. Printing custom board games is something they've been doing for around 20 years now, so they have a lot of experience in this area, and they've fulfilled many projects funded via Kickstarter. It's not just the game itself that they can handle, because their services also include taking care of producing any accessories that a board game might need, including tokens, dice, chips, spinners, timers, instruction books, mats, and boxes. This even covers custom pieces, so clearly they have access to a very broad production range. They're also moving more and more into providing fulfilment for customers as well. But besides customized board games, Shuffled Ink also print cards, and that's especially my area of interest. I should mention that their printing of cards this isn't limited to traditional playing cards, because they also produce custom card games, custom flash cards, and custom tarot cards. In other words: anything card related, and they'll print it. Not surprisingly, they've manufactured millions of custom card games for customers and Kickstarter campaigns, along with whatever accessories and customization these needed. I didn't know there was a big market for flash cards, but apparently I'm wrong - it turns out that flash cards are very popular for many educational purposes, and are used for things like training employees, teaching new languages, educating children, or study purposes. Tarot cards are a large but niche market that is somewhat separate from regular playing cards, but in the interests of completeness I'll mention that Shuffled Ink also produces fully custom tarot decks, using your own artwork or photography, with a minimum order size of ten. They are a member of the American Tarot Association, which gives them access to official tarot resources and materials, to ensure a thoroughly professional job. The printing on some sample Tarot decks that I looked at was clean, crisp, and impressive.