Dice Manufacturing 101
Dice manufacturing is accomplished through a variety of techniques. The molding of the cube itself is done through compression molding of a granular urea material, or injection molding a variety of materials. It’s all about the effects you want to achieve- color, weight, detail, special patterns, transparencies, images, etc.
There are tradeoffs to both methods- compression molded urea gives dice (and dominoes for that matter) a heavy, dense feel. It’s the material that everyone thinks of when they picture standard spot dice and dominoes. Also, they are less costly to produce, as the urea material is cheaper than other plastics. There are a few downsides however. Due to the method in which the raw granular urea material is manufactured, the available colors are limited to the primary ones. Another draw back to this method is compression molded urea is an extremely hard material, the manufacturing process requires that after molding, the dice are “tumbled” to soften their edges and apply a shiny appearance. This tumbling process cuts down on the precision of the dimensions.
Manufacturing dice through injection molding opens up the project to a tremendous variety of colors, effects, and detail. The color of the dice can be very specific, matched to PMS colors. The effects can range from one to multiple opaque colors. They can be transparent, translucent, have swirl patterns, glitter flecks, and more. The downside? Cost. Injection molded dice are typically more expensive to produce, due to the cost of the various plastic resins.
As far as the images are concerned on the surfaces of the dice, again there are multiple methods. They can be molded (“debossed”) into the surface of the cube. They can be tampo printed (also called pad printing) on each of the flat sides. Silk screen printing and heat transfer printing are also available. Ink colors can be customized, matched to PMS numbers.
So the options are rather endless. It boils down to what you want to achieve for the effect!