Monday, 18 March 2019

Ludocards Best EU based POD review!:)

Warning; Selfpublishers Only! Following text may be to much to handle if you aren't one!:)
scroll down to see pictures of printed decks & boxes! Keep reading if you are in to *Print & Selfpublish your own deck & wish to know more about BEST EU POD I've find so far!:))

As promised here is my full review of EU (Italy) based Print on Demand company I discovered, 
official web page here; http://www.ludocards.com/
printing & shipping quotes here; https://www.ludocards.com/quote/custom-cards
& read all info at official faq page; https://www.ludocards.com/faq

Disclaimer; My English is Not Perfect & I will only review *services I used & all info presented here are just my opinion  according to experience I have by July 2021 feel free to agree or NOT & feel free to correct me if I'm wrong & if you have any doubt or questions about info presented here note me or best visit official web page & ask directly, with that said here is my review on ludocards POD

if you have any experience with POD especially as publisher (my fav are US based; thegamecrafter & drivethrucards & China; makeplayingcards & printerstudio) you can tell this web don't look similar & there is BIG DIFFERENCE how it works so I'll try sum most of its *perks in hope you'll find it useful deciding is this POD for you as there is plenty of HOW TO differences here that may require some time to get used to I'm testing upgraded ludocards interface & will update this review if needed!:)

first you'll notice minimalistic web & you create your acc by click on person icon in top right corner & fill your email & pass to create acc or log in if you already have one!^^
after log in there is more options available including Instant Quote you access by click on 1st icon:
here you pick specifications & quantity for each component you wish to personalize, review cost, & download templates:
then add to your cart & proceed to add next component accordingly if you plan to use booklet box etc: Side menu displays Total value & detail specifications of each component you add to your cart, I find it useful & wish there is weight/dimension data as well that would allow shipping cost calculation as it would be useful at this stage esp for kickstarter!:)
Note you can see significant price difference between prototype aka single design item & how production cost drop for every 5, 10, 20 etc units!:)
 
when you have all required components in your cart you can review & name your project!:)
for example here you can see my Ancient Lenormand Bridge size deck components quantity & cost
 & Next Extras is where you opt for File check (Recommended!:) & Test prints!:)
You can also add your remark for each component in Notes (: for example I included note I do not wish to ship to my home address & prefer to use drop shipping option for Ludocards to ship my decks directly to costumers worldwide but drop shipping option is not yet fully integrated!://

After proceeding to fill Billing & Shipping address you finally get to Checkout where you pick payment & dispatch option!:) Note EU VAT tax is calculated only if you are in EU!:D but be sure to check your country import regulations as you are likely to be charged import tax & fees if you are receiving big international parcel!:)

Your Order will be confirmed after payment & you can proceed to upload your required printer files for each component by click on person icon & My Orders Option:

Red Circle indicate action needed & green uploaded files you can access & review all details by click!:)

Scheduled dispatch is when your order is expected to ship but it will usually take bit longer depending on how well you are with tech part & preparing printer files so I advise placing your order when you have all files print ready also keep in mind pro printer will usually take around 2 to 3 months to print & ship big number of decks so anything less is better than average esp considering our crazy times!;)


back on topic;
"ludocards print service review & how it differs from standard POD we know (tgc/dtc/mpc/ps) & what you'll need to know to make it work for you;

1. Printing; ludocards will print *ANY number of cards & any size & there is no minimum number of decks you can print with ludocards!:) but more you print better your price per deck/box/book will be!:D & there is discount for larger quantities so that's good news for Selfpublishers!:) & whatever number of decks you decide to print you can ship it 2 ways;

2. Shipping, options;
A) by default ludocards will SHIP ALL your PRINTED DECKS AT ONCE TO YOUR HOME ADDRESS with FREE SHIPPING worldwide, or if you prefer;
B) DROP SHIPPING OPTION is supposed to allow you to ship your decks orders directly from printer to costumers worldwide all with tracking number & best available shipping provider at the moment I was told it was supposed to ship bi weekly, but it's not fully functional yet so in future hopefully!:)
 C) ship All your decks at once for free to fulfillment or pro shipping service like https://www.mbe.it/en or mailboxde.com that'll do further drop shipping job for you!:) read my full review here etc also keep in mind your order will ship in 1 big heavy pallet (unless you agree differently with your printer!;) so be sure pallet size & weight is within limit you/your storage provider can accept & handle!;)
back on topic ludocards ,,,

Most important & Main Reason i'm using this printer service because; ALL DECKS ARE PRINTED & SHIP FROM ITALY/EU SAVING YOUR EU COSTUMERS ANY EXTRA IMPORT CHARGES & POST COLLECTING FEES Great for ks esp as EU started taxing even small value parcels July 2021!:)


3. Creating your (publisher) account on ludocards is now simple!:D after that you can log in to your ludocards acc where you can check quotes & review your info & order details & upload print files interface here is greatly improved but may need some time to get used to!:)

4. Print file preparation aka; "How to set up your card images properly" instructions here: https://www.ludocards.com/instructions.pdf is tricky as you are expected to upload several separate pdf files (after you log in to your ludocards acc & click *Orders & *Open file list button) ;
1 pdf with all images of your cards front & backs saved as pages,
1 (or 2 pdf depending on your option) for box design (unless you opt for no box or blank/white box)
2 pdf for booklet cover & interior pages 
all with set with specific color profile at the moment Jul 2021 Fogra 39

You start preparing your print files by inserting your deck specifications (mm or inch, card size & number of cards in deck & your box option!:) & downloading your auto generated templates here; https://www.ludocards.com/quote/custom-cards

Note; even it say: "will print any size" best to pick 1 offered preset or keep it within *normal EU sizes (aka your card size numbers should be whole cm & mm as it's easier to print precisely!:)

if it seem complicated in my experience ludocards have good print control & you will be contacted by costumer service if they notice any possible printing mistake/disaster!:P ;)
but just in case be aware of mistake I noticed on their template generator page;
*Card design instruction button will tell you so called *bleed area (aka part of your card img that is cut out in printing process!) is 2mm on each card side but imo it's more likely standard 3mm as mentioned in their instruction pdf (I've asked costumer service to check with their printer service before uploading my cards pdfs for print & got confirmed it's 3mm but card generator template is still working with 2mm, will update this review moment it's fixed!x,x)

so here is how you determine your digital image card size in pixel & template you need to work; *your printed card size in mm (i.e standard Tarot is 70x120mm) +3mm of bleed area to each side adds total of 6mm to each of this numbers = 76x126mm converted to pixel = 898x1488px by 300dpi within this size you can see template red line mark 3mm from each edge representing line where your cards are expected to be cut in printing process (aka bleed) & another blue line 3mm from that one representing so called *safe area you should place all important card text & elements you wish to be visible after printing in case print end up off center (3mm drift is considered acceptable by most standard printers!:) you can download Tarot card 7x12cm & fitting 80 card special 2 piece sturdy box templates I've used here; http://fav.me/dd30ioa

Tip; be sure to remove that guideline template before saving/exporting your img or pdf!:)
you can also use Scribus to prepare your pdf for print!:)

also if you already printed your cards with gamecrafter /other standard printer that use 900x1500px Tarot size template you can drop these img over ludocards 898x1488px & 300dpi template (i.e in gimp:) & export as; png img or single pdf I find guidelines are compatible!:)
& if your pdf files are to many MB or you wish to fix cmyk specifications you can open your pdf in Scribus & export as pdf with these settings; (see attach img!) Untested Not Advised!:D


Note ignore numbers from last capture here idk how to delete lol!:)

& that's it for cards!:)

same goes for box design (download template, export your box design as pdf & upload to your acc!) 
& booklet & other components as well!:) Note: ludocards recommended box size is card size +2mm at sides I would say it's a tight fit for Tarot size deck rigid box & would recommend minimum 3 to 4mm for better fit!:)


5) Print quality; plenty of card boxes & book options make this Best EU Based POD at the moment!
default card specifications options all have rounded corners & print on *special 330 gr/sqm casino quality triplex paper (i'm told this is 330 gsm black core silk smooth paper) assuring zero transparency. Easy to shuffle and resistant to worn-out. You can also chose 350gsm whiteboard that seems to be popular Kickstarter option or 300gsm if you prefer thinner game cardstock, 

ludocards got 320gsm Black Core linen cardstock (aka canvas like texture I prefer!:) &  matt Gold Gilded Edges I printed my cards July 2021 & must say it turned Perfect ! !! I luv Everything ! ! ! Quality of ludocards sturdy box with Matt finish linen cards & booklet is Top my fav & recommended!^^ =D Note: Gilded edges option is still under development & may show some imperfections such as missing white & darker chips & bits around card edges!:)

ludocards offers plenty of card sizes & shape options including round cards as well as special materials including PVC & special Metalic effects gold/silver foil prints are available, contact costumer service for any *special request quote  HERE
 
You can also request print proofs & digital file check service as well as designer service or sample deck, all info here; http://www.ludocards.com/faq.php

best part; Ludocards.com is an eco-friendly company
Ludocards entire operations are powered by solar energy & printing procedure follows the strict standards of environmental friendly codes: the papers are not only premium quality but also CE certified and rigorously selected and supplied by European paper mills; the inks for printing are of food level; nearly half of our production is artisan process that is made with hands. We try our very best to look after our planet earth.


6) Production Time; How quickly will ludocards print your deck & when you'll receive your order?
depends on timing of your order (i.e it will take longer if you start this *printing adventure before holiday!:) as well as how good your *print ready pdfs are!:)

In my experience depending on quantity & specification of your order ludocards production time is around 30 to 60 days from payment to ship ready! Express services is provided at extra cost. Processing time don't include time required for delivery, which varies from 1 to 5 working days subject to destinations. Ludocards is not responsible for any delays caused by the couriers. Delivery date for your products will be delayed accordingly at your own responsibility for any delays in production caused by the errors in file formats, incomplete file submission and any other issues resulting in “not ready to print” files.

so if you are planing kickstarter or other project with fixed timeline best to confirm with costumer service all your files are *print ready BEFORE placing your Order as that may save you unexpected delays.
 
I'm Happy with my ludocards Bridge & Tarot size decks print quality & fast Shipping service

my only remark/wishlist is;
1. fix card size template generator! (bleed area is 3mm not 2mm!)
2. parcel weight & drop shipping cost calculation integration
2. ludocardsStore that will allow people to order my decks directly from printer
4. better Status Update & communication solution as I did not received any status update after placing my order & was mailing costumer service with standard questions: "when will you print?" , "are Gilded edges completed?" , " when will my Order ship?" etc it would help if there are automated messages that will let you know when your cards, booklet, box print assemble ship etc!:) so I don't need to bother asking!:)

& with this I conclude my review!:) Congrats for reading this long*cough*hopefully not too boring* text!;D  hope you find it useful!^^:) here is your eye candy pic gallery of my printed Tarot size decks & boxes!^^:) & if you need more than pretty pic check this Awesome youtube review!:)
& table review of Print on Demand Companies I've used with my opinion on quality of their service;

Tarot deck 80c
& firm box!:)

ludocards

gamecrafter

drivethrucards

printerstudio

makeplayingcards

print cost &
quality
& extra options

Best production price & Quality +extra options!:) Gilded Edges Metalic Print Option Full Color Book Sturdy Box!:D

standard card quality linen & UV & Holo & Transparent card stock option +extra box & other option

standard card quality linen stock option
& tuckbox


% go up by quantity!:)

same as mpc
- effects & box options!x.x

standard + best selection of card stock options & effect including holo & gold edges etc+ box options including Tarot size tins!:) ok for printing +100 decks!:)
too expensive otherwise!x,x

discount @

+1 decks!:)

100 decks!


best for printing 60 Tarot decks & up!;)

shipping cost & quality

fastest shipping!:)
& FREE SHIPPING to your home address but only if you ship all your printed decks at once!:)

not working drop shipping!x.x
see here;
https://www.ludocards.com/quote.php

Ok for US & International
extra options
UPS not perfect!x,x

fast & ok for US & your home address, Not for International!x,x
check it here https://support.drivethrucards.com/hc/en-us/articles/207347643-Estimated-Shipping-Costs-For-Printed-Products

ok












same as mpc

ok pricing & service, charge extra for *insurance BUT tracking is lacking & your only protection is paypal https://www.makeplayingcards.com/shipping.aspx

production time

15/60 days

3/15 days

5/7 days

5/12 days

shipping time

Best!;)

ok

ok

ok

ok

traffic/exposure

no shop option yet!

Best

ok

not much

costumer service

ok & helpful!:)

annoying & not always helpful?;)

Best & my fav!:)
Brian is King!:)

ok & helpful!:)

ok when you are asking about ordering info, not ok if lost parcel /other issue


 

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