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Sorting/shuffling machine for trading cards (sports, Magic+)

  1. May 19, 2015 #1
    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).
  2. jcsd
  3. May 19, 2015 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to the PF.

    What have you found so far in your searching? It would seem something like what the Post Office uses for sorting letters could be used in your application. You can probably buy low-end versions of the letter sorting machines for not too much investment, I would think.
  4. May 19, 2015 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    Follow-up question -- do these cards typically have a barcode on them somewhere?
  5. May 19, 2015 #4
    I'm just starting my search now so haven't seen anything yet. Frankly I'm not sure where to start...Alibaba is too difficult to navigate without knowing exactly what to ask for which is why I was hoping someone with experience could help.

    I don't think the Post Office sorters would work as there isn't any need for them to be gentle with envelopes so the cards would get damaged too easily. And no, the cards do not have barcodes.

    Easiest way to visualize this is to think of automatic card shufflers like those used in casinos...they just need to be able to handle huge quantities of cards, not a small number of decks.
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