I’ve been dabbling in print-and-play games for a little while, but I recently saw a YouTube video that inspired me to take my print-and-play skills to the next level. This video by print-and-play master Martin Gonzalvez demonstrates how to make laminated print-and-play cards. By following all of his steps, the cards have a similar look and feel to professionally printed cards. Martin made the process look so easy that I decided to give it a try!
Buying the equipment for making laminated print-and-play cards
In the video, Martin describes precisely what equipment and supplies he uses to create laminated print-and-play cards. You will need a printer, 65lb cardstock, a laminator, 3-mil laminating pouches, a paper trimmer, and a corner rounder. (The exact brands Martin uses can be found in his video.) I already had a printer, but I needed everything else.
I ordered all of the equipment online, but you could probably find everything at an office supply store. The only thing they might not have is a corner rounder. It appears to be a specialty item.
Finding print-and-play games
A popular site to find inexpensive print-and-play games is www.pnparcade.com. I believe most of Button Shy Games’ 18-card line of games can be found there as well as games from other publishers. Many of the games can be purchased for $3.00.
I support Button Shy Games on Patreon, so I have access to the print-and-play files for their most recent games. This is where I obtained the files for today’s print-and-play project: Count of the Nine Estates.
Printing out the cards
As Martin describes in his video, printers are finicky, and you have to get to know your printer to achieve the best print quality. I have an older HP laser printer I have never tried with cardstock, so I was curious how well it would work.
To my delight, the HP laser printer worked pretty well for printing the cards for the Count of the Nine Estates! The quality of the printed artwork was very good; however, I did have some trouble with the alignment of the fronts and backs of the cards. Martin recommends you use manual duplexing for printing on the front and back of the same piece of paper. Manual duplexing was the only option for my printer.
The first card sheet I printed I accidentally put back in the printer the wrong way, so the printer printed on top of the card images. I learned my lesson, though, and didn’t make this mistake a second time.
Laminating the cards
After printing out the card sheets, the next step is to laminate them. This part of the process is fairly self-explanatory, and I don’t have much to report. However, I did have an issue with the laminate starting to peel off the cards after I cut them out. I resolved this by sending the cut-out cards back through the laminator a second time. (For one card, I even had to send it through the laminator a third time!)
I believe the peeling laminate is going to vary depending on your laminator. Martin didn’t have this problem in his video, but he used a different laminator than mine.
Cutting out the cards
Cutting out the cards was probably the most tricky part of the process for me. You must ensure you line up the cut lines with the paper trimmer to get a good cut. I found that I had to apply quite a bit of pressure to the trimmer, so the card sheet didn’t slide out of place. Martin recommends that you lift up the trimmer and place it inside the paper, so you don’t trim off the cut lines. I highly recommend you do this! On the first sheet of cards I didn’t, and it was much more difficult.
I also missed a few cut lines on each of my sheets, which required me to go back and trim some extra bits off the cards. With some more experience, I don’t think that will be a problem in the future.
Rounding the corners
Rounding the corners was my favorite part of the process! For some reason, it’s very satisfying to me to put in a square corner and see a round corner come out. I found that I needed to press down on the corner rounder button twice to get a clean cut. Otherwise, I would be left with a bit of debris around the corners.
Final thoughts about making laminated print-and-play cards
Overall, I’m very pleased with how the cards turned out using Martin’s method! The cardstock gives the cards a nice weight, and the laminate makes them feel finished. Plus, the corner rounder adds a nice touch to the cards and eliminates the sharp corners. My primary challenge was getting the fronts and backs of the cards aligned, but I think this could be resolved with practice.
It took me about two and a half hours to make the 18 cards for the Count of the Nine Estates. However, much of this time was spent learning the process and fixing the little mistakes I made along the way. Next time, I bet I can do it in under an hour.
I also enjoyed the relaxing and mindful nature of the entire process. Working with my hands to craft this game required soft focus, meaning that I didn’t have to concentrate too much, but it did require my attention.
If you’re interested in learning more about using this method to create laminated print-and-play cards, check out Martin’s video, which was the inspiration for this post.