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  • Sorting/shuffling machine for trading cards (sports, Magic, Pokemon, etc.)

    Discussion in 'The main mechanical design forum' started by donvenado, May 19, 2015.

    1. donvenado

      donvenado New Member

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      Apologies if I posted this in the wrong section but I'm new :)

      I work with a company that buys and sells millions of trading cards every year but the majority of these are sold for fractions of a penny if they're sold at all. From what I can see there are two options for this company to get more out of these cards, both of which are incredibly time-consuming and not worth the effort without the process being automated. I'm hoping someone here can help direct me towards a solution for either option that I'll detail below.


      1. Often times the cards are purchased in large lots where boxes may contain cards primarily from the same year/set, i.e. 10,000 2012 Topps baseball cards, 20,000 2015 Upper Deck baseball cards, etc. The idea would be to take cards from various sources and shuffle them in a way that there is little or no consecutive duplication, basically creating "grab bags" of X number of cards per package. Think of shuffling 10 decks of playing cards simultaneously then dealing 10-card "hands" that are individually packaged. The trick is making sure those 10-card hands have a variety of cards instead of all from the same set.


      2. This one is much more difficult but I can't imagine it wouldn't be possible given advances in OCR technology...same as option #1 but have the cards sorted by teams and then randomized.


      Potential issue is handling/shuffling of the cards as they can't be damaged, so that needs to be addressed in any possible solution.


      Any ideas feel free to contact me directly, whether individual engineer or corporate. I would especially be interested in hearing from anyone who has already built similar machines (xerox copiers, coupon sorters, etc).
       
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    3. bin95

      bin95 Member

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      To expand the business, a better option than creating one or a few more products by re-packaging, if to use technology to let customer customize product. (IE: a website where they buy in packs of 10, they pick which ten.) Then you also have advertising review form website. Then you build on it, communities, clubs, etc.

      Another, but more difficult approach is to build a new industry of which the card manufacturing is a part. (I/E coffee table with collector cards displayed on top, etc.) Partnerships with existing compatible businesses.
       
    4. Dana

      Dana Well-Known Member

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      I believe shuffling machines are already in use in casinos, but they just take a stack of cards and rearrange the stack, not subdivide it.

      #1 could be accomplished by having a feeding machine that picks cards from multiple stacks, say 10 (or more) stacks of 1000 (or more) cards each. Presumably each stack is homogeneous, then the software could randomly (or not randomly, if that's what you want, i.e. one from stack A, one from stack B, etc.) pick cards from the stacks and deposit any number desired into the "out" stack. It doesn't even have to be truly random, you could, for example, set up a few dozen combinations and cycle through them; this would guarantee the stacks deplete evenly and the end purchaser would perceive them as random.

      For #2, make a system like the above but with OCR or pattern recognition (or barcode the cards), and sort the cards to multiple output stacks or streams.

      The mechanical part is all straightforward stuff that's been done in the paper handling industry for years.
       
    5. K.I.S.S.

      K.I.S.S. Well-Known Member

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      When you're dealing with such large numbers it should be hard to NOT actually get an acceptable degree of randomness, if an initial scrambling system is used in conjunction with a large enough sample.
      Treat the sample in batches and then subdivide once more, feeding sub batches into the second scrambling.
      To scramble them without damage, how about a miniature version of those skydiving tubes that people who are afraid of heights use?
      It doesn't have to be violent, just enough to get everything jumbled up, and when the fan is switched off, all the cards fall onto one of four takeoff belts (or wheels). Repeat with 1/4 of the takeoff for the second scrambling.
      As Dana says, the handling part of it well understood.
       

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