Title:
Method of manufacturing gaming dice and die made thereby
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Method of manufacturing a gaming die or dice and die or dice made thereby. The method includes pad printing at least one of spots and text on at least one surface of the die or dice.



Inventors:
Zapata, Fred (Las Vegas, NV, US)
Application Number:
10/151999
Publication Date:
11/27/2003
Filing Date:
05/22/2002
Assignee:
THE BUD JONES COMPANY, INC. (Las Vegas, NV, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/04; (IPC1-7): A63F9/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
OMGBA, ESSAMA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Ronald C. Gorsche PLLC (Las Vegas, NV, US)
Claims:

What is claimed:



1. A method of making at least one die of a pair of dice, the method comprising: pad printing at least one of spots and text on at least one surface of the die.

2. The method claim 1, wherein before the pad printing, the process further comprises: sizing the at least one die.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein before the pad printing, the process further comprises: finish cutting a section from bar stock.

4. The method of claim 3, wherein before the finish cutting, the process further comprises: rough cutting the section to form at least one die.

5. The method of claim 1, wherein before the pad printing, the process further comprises: subjecting the at least one surface to finishing.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein before the pad printing, the process further comprises: cutting a section from bar stock; shaping the section to form the at least one die; and subjecting the at least one surface to finishing.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein before the pad printing, the process further comprises: cutting a section from bar stock; shaping the section to form the at least one die, stamping text on at least one surface of the at least one die; and subjecting the at least one surface to finishing.

8. The method of claim 1, wherein before the pad printing, the process further comprises: finish machining a section of material to form at least one die; stamping text on at least one surface of the at least one die; subjecting the at least one surface having text stamped thereon to scalping; and subjecting the at least one surface having text stamped thereon to finishing.

9. The method of claim 1, wherein before the pad printing, the process further comprises: cutting a section from bar stock; first cutting the section to form at least one die; second cutting the section; stamping text on at least one surface of the at least one die; subjecting the at least one surface having text stamped thereon to scalping; subjecting at least one surface of the at least one die to finishing; and pad printing at least one spot on at least one surface of the at least one die.

10. The method of claim 1, wherein before the pad printing, the process further comprises: cutting a section from bar stock; first cutting the section to form at least one die; second cutting the section to form a cube; stamping text on at least one surface of the cube; subjecting the at least one surface having text stamped thereon to scalping; and subjecting at least one surface of the at least one die to finishing.

11. The method of claim 1, wherein before the pad printing, the process further comprises: cutting a section from bar stock; first cutting the section to form at least one die; second cutting the section to finally size the at least one die; stamping text on at least one surface of the at least one die; subjecting the at least one surface having text stamped thereon to scalping; and subjecting the at least one surface having text stamped thereon to finishing.

12. The method of claim 1, wherein before the pad printing, the process further comprising: machining a section from bar stock; first machining the section to form a cube having a first size; second, machining the section to substantially finally size the cube; stamping text on at least one surface of the cube, subjecting the at least one surface having text stamped thereon to scalping; and subjecting the at least one surface having text stamped thereon to finishing.

13. A die comprising: a plurality of sides; and at least one spot arranged on one of the plurality of sides, wherein the at least one spot is pad printed.

14. A method of making gaming die comprising: forming a die with a plurality of sides; and pad printing at least one spot on at least one of the plurality of sides.

15. The method claim 14, wherein the forming comprises: sizing the die.

16. The method of claim 14, wherein the forming comprises: finish cutting a section from bar stock to form the die.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein before the finish cutting, the forming further comprises: rough cutting the section.

18. The method of claim 14, wherein the forming comprises: subjecting at least one of the sides to finishing.

19. The method of claim 14, wherein the forming comprises: cutting a section from bar stock; shaping the section to form the die; and subjecting at least one side to finishing.

20. The method of claim 14, wherein the forming comprises: cutting a section from bar stock; shaping the section to form the die; stamping text on at least one side; and subjecting the at least one side to finishing.

21. The method of claim 14, wherein the forming comprises: finish machining a section of material to form the die; stamping text on at least one side; scalping the at least one side having text stamped thereon; and finishing the at least one side having text stamped thereon.

22. The method of claim 14, wherein the forming comprises: cutting a section from bar stock; first cutting the section to form the die; second cutting the section; stamping text on at least one side; scalping the at least one side having text stamped thereon; and finishing the at least one side having text stamped thereon.

23. The method of claim 14, wherein the forming comprises: cutting a section from bar stock; first cutting the section to form a cube; second cutting the cube to form the die; stamping text on at least one side of the die; scalping the at least one side having text stamped thereon; and finishing the at least one side having text stamped thereon.

24. The method of claim 14, wherein the forming comprises: cutting a section from bar stock; first cutting the section; second cutting the section to finally size the die; stamping text on at least one side of the die; scalping the at least one surface having text stamped thereon; and finishing the at least one side having text stamped thereon.

25. The method of claim 14, wherein the forming comprises: machining a section from bar stock; first machining the section to form a cube having a first size; second machining the section to substantially finally size the cube; stamping text on at least one surface of the cube; scalping the at least one surface having text stamped thereon; and finishing the at least one surface having text stamped thereon.

26. The method of claim 14, wherein the forming comprises: machining a section to substantially finally size a cube; stamping text on at least one surface of the cube; scalping the at least one surface having text stamped thereon; and finishing the at least one surface having text stamped thereon.

27. The method of claim 14, wherein the forming comprises machining a section to substantially finally size a cube, and further comprising: pad printing text on at least one of the plurality of sides.

28. A die comprising: a cube; and at least one spot arranged on a side of the cube, wherein the at least one spot is pad printed.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates to a method of making or manufacturing gaming dice and to a die which is made by the method. The invention can be used to make any kind of dice, e.g., board game dice, but has particular application to making gaming dice (whether a single die or a pair of dice) which are used in major casinos or professional gambling establishments.

[0003] It should be noted that the term gaming dice, as used throughout this application, is intended to encompass either a single die or a pair of dice, whether used for gaming or otherwise. Moreover, the invention is not limited to dice which are cube shaped, and may have application to dice which have more or less than 6 sides, e.g., 4-sided, 5-sided pyramid shaped dice or dice having more sides, e.g., 8, 10, 12, sides etc., whether cube-shaped or otherwise.

[0004] 2. Discussion of Background Information

[0005] The gaming dice used in casinos in the United States typically are used for approximately 8 hours, after which they are destroyed. When such dice fall on the floor, or are otherwise removed from the gaming table by a player, they are typically checked to make sure they have not been switched and/or otherwise replaced by counterfeit dice. Casinos are willing to go to great lengths to ensure that the dice they use are those which they approve of. As a result, casinos usually require dice that have security features and/or properties which they can verify.

[0006] FIGS. 1-9 illustrate a conventional method of making gaming dice. In FIG. 1, a section 1 is removed or cut from a bar of plastic, resin, or polymer, such as cellulose acetate. Cellulose acetate is available in extruded rods as well as in extruded slabs which can be cut into bars. Both the rods and the bars can be cut and/or sawed into cubes to form cube sections 1. Bars having a square cross-section are also commercially available in various lengths. Rough cubes or cube-shaped sections or cellulose acetate are also commercially available. With regard to the invention, dice are currently manufactured by processing the rough cube sections which arrive as the raw material from which each die is made.

[0007] With reference to FIG. 1, it can be seen that the section 1 is substantially cube-shaped and has six sides, with the front side 6 being clearly visible. Because it is cube-shaped, the back side 7, which is not visible, is arranged opposite and parallel to the front side 6. The cube also has a left side 5 and a right side 3, as well as a top side 2 and a bottom side 4. As is evident from FIG. 1, the left side 5 and right side 3 are parallel to one another, and so are the top and bottom sides, 2 and 4, respectively. At this stage in the manufacturing of the dice, each cube section 1 is oversized, i.e., the cube section 1 which will form a die of a finished pair of dice has sides which are larger in dimension that the sides of a finished cube. This can be seen when comparing the relative rough size shown in FIG. 1 to that of the dashed lines corresponding to the final die size.

[0008] FIG. 2 shows the rough cube after being subjected to a first cutting or rough cutting, i.e., material is removed (e.g., by machining) from each side until the cube reaches a predetermined size, which can be accurately positioned for the next procedure, i.e., drilling (see FIG. 3). In performing this cutting, typically, the two opposite sides of each die are cut simultaneously using automated machines. The importance of this first cutting procedure is to accurately size the cube for fixturing, but the procedure also has the advantage of removing enough material from the surfaces so that the surfaces are clean, i.e, free of imperfections, dents, scratches, bumps, etc. One efficient way of sizing the cube in this first cutting procedure is to utilize three jigs (i.e., one for each stage of simultaneous cutting of two sides). Each jig is used to hold a number of dice and is configured to secure one die at a time while a cutting machine having two cutting disks simultaneously cuts two opposite sides of the die, e.g., by machining sides 2′ and 4′, in the same pass of a twin cutting disks. The cube is then moved to another jig to have two other opposite sides machined, e.g., sides 5′ and 3′ are then cut. Finally, a third jig is used to cut the remaining two opposite sides, e.g., 6′ and 7′.

[0009] FIG. 3 shows the cube being subjected to drilling, i.e., material is removed from specific locations to create the recesses which will form the spots for the finished die or dice. Typically, each of the six sides or surfaces of the cube or die requires a different number of spots and at certain locations, i.e, one centered spot on side 2, two opposite corner spots on side 7, one center and two opposite corner spots for a total of three spots on side 5, four corner spots on side 3, one center and four corner spots on side 6, and two rows of three spots for a total of six spots on side 4.

[0010] The drilling in this procedure may occur as follows: the cube is placed in a fixture and a drill or a flat bottom milling cutter is plunged into a side of the cube to form each hole until the required number of circular recesses or holes are formed, i.e., one for each spot. It is preferred that the holes have a flat bottom and that the hole be relatively shallow, i.e., not very deep. The purpose of the holes is merely to retain the paint that will be poured into them later on to define the spots (see FIG. 4). Moreover, if the holes are made too deep on a particular side, i.e., thereby removing even more material from the sides, this can make the die or dice unbalanced. Accordingly, in order to remove enough material to retain a significant amount of paint, but not so much that the dice become unbalanced, it is preferred that the holes be between approximately 0.010 to 0.030 inches deep. As can be seen in FIG. 3, the front side 6′ has been drilled with five holes, of which only two and half holes 8 are shown. Side 3′ has four corner holes which have been drilled to a depth, of which two holes 8 can be seen (by virtue of the die being partially sectioned) to have approximately the same depth “d”. However, since the sides will be subjected to further material removal later on, the particular depth of the holes is not critical at this point. Nevertheless, it is important that whatever depth “d” is used for the holes 8, that such depth be consistently maintained from hole to hole on each of the sides and from side to side, in order to avoid causing the dice to be unbalanced.

[0011] The drilling is typically performed manually by an operator and is very labor intensive. The operator usually places a die into a right angle (90 degree) stop or fixture and pushes the die against the stop with one hand. With the other hand, the operator brings down the drilling unit, thereby drilling one hole at a time. The drilling machine is first set to drill corner holes of sides which require such, i.e., sides which will have two or more holes. Thus, sides which are to have 2 and 3 spots will have only their opposite corner holes drilled, whereas sides which are to have 4, 5 and 6 spots will have all four corner holes drilled. The operator will typically drill up to as many as 800 dice in a batch, e.g., 8 boards of 100 dice each. Then, the operator changes the drill position so that the outer middle holes of the side which will have 6 spots can be drilled. Finally, the drill is positioned and/or set to a position wherein the middle holes can be drilled on the sides that will have 1, 3 and 5 spots.

[0012] In particular applications of the dice, such as those used in professional gambling houses, it is important to drill the holes to a consistent depth. This allows for the production of dice which can be more substantially balanced. If the differences between the depths of the holes on different sides is too great, there may result a weight difference between the sides or faces of the die which can produce a die which is biased and/or otherwise unbalanced, i.e., one or more sides of the die may have greater or lesser weight and one of more other sides of the die.

[0013] FIG. 4 shows the cube after all the drilled holes 8 are filled with a paint 9. This procedure is commonly called spotting and can be accomplished in any number of known ways. One way is to inject or deposit a specific amount of paint 9 into each hole 8. Preferably, the paint 9 will have a color that contrasts with the color of the die material. In one embodiment, each of the dice are made from a translucent type red plastic while the paint is white. As can be seen from side 3′ of FIG. 4, the paint 9 is applied in sufficient amount to more than fill the holes 8, i.e., side 3′ of FIG. 4 shows excess paint protruding an amount “p” from two corner holes 9. This amount “p” can be any amount, and is typically between approximately 0.003 to 0.015 inches. The reason for this is that the paint may have a tendency to shrink during the drying or solidification process. Moreover, the paint may need to be subjected to a polymerizing process or treatment, which can further cause the paint 9 to shrink. Thus, a certain amount of overfilling is desirable to ensure that when the paint 9 is fully dry, cured, or otherwise solidified, there is a sufficient amount of paint remaining in each hole 8. In many instances, the paint that is disposed in at least one spot on one or more sides of the die, will usually include security features such as UV pigments and/or laser pigments.

[0014] Spotting is typically a hand operation performed by an operator and is similarly very labor intensive. The operator usually places a batch of boards (with each board containing 100 dice), all of whose same sides face in the same direction, e.g., such that all of the sides that will receive 5 spots face upwards. Next, the operator uses a manual dispenser and drops a sufficient quantity of the appropriate paint, e.g., white paint, into each hole of the dice. When all of the upward facing holes of all of the dice in the batch are filled with paint, the operator places the boards of dice into a cabinet in order to allow the paint to dry for a certain time. In the case where the curing is to occur at room temperature, the paint can take overnight to cure and/or dry. In the case where it is desired to dry or cure the paint in a quicker manner, an oven can be used to reduce the curing time down to a few hours or less, e.g., by heating in an oven for 15 minutes at a temperature of approximately 150 degrees F. The curing can also be accomplished using a UV curing process and the appropriate UV sensitive paint. It should be noted that curing or drying, as used herein, refers to the solidifying of the paint. The spotting process is repeated for each side of the dice that is to have its holes filled with paint, until all of the sides of all of the dice are spotted.

[0015] The paint is usually a white very opaque type resin that does not shrink away with age and that bonds well with the cellulose acetate. It is also important that the paint is of the type which does not fall out of the spot holes when the dice are in use.

[0016] In particular applications of the dice, such as those used in professional gambling houses, it is important to use paint that has a density which is very close and/or substantially equal to the density of the material from which the dice are made. This allows for the production of dice which are substantially balanced. If the differences between the density of the paint versus that of the dice material is too great, there may result a weight difference between the sides or faces of the die, resulting in the die being biased and/or otherwise unbalanced, i.e., one or more sides of the die may have greater or lesser weight and one of more other sides of the die.

[0017] FIG. 5 shows the cube after all the paint 9 protruding from the holes 8 is subjected to material removal or cutting. This procedure is commonly called scalping and can be accomplished in any number of known ways. In performing this scalping, typically, the two opposite sides of each die are scalped simultaneously using automated machines. One way is to scrape, broach or otherwise shave off some amount of the paint 9 that protrudes from the holes 8. The result is that the paint 9 protruding from each hole attains a flattened outer surface 10. As can be seen from side 3′ of FIG. 5, the flattened surfaces 10 have reduced the amount of projection “p” (see FIG. 4) from each painted hole. The projecting height of the flattened surfaces 10 shown in side 3′ of FIG. 5 is exaggerated, and it is preferred that the flattened surfaces 10 be reduced to the point where they are level with surface 3′, i.e., to the point where the flattened surfaces 10 are essentially and/or approximately flush with surface 3′. Of course, this should also be the case for each of the other sides, since they will all have one or more paint filled holes. Because the dice have not yet reached their exact final size or dimensions, this procedure allows for some amount of material removal from each of the sides 2′-7′. Thus, each side can be scalped to an extent wherein a very small amount of material is removed from each side 2′-7′ simultaneously with the removal of the projecting portion “p” of the paint 9. In such case, the sides of dice would resemble those shown in FIG. 6, with the flattened surfaces 11 being flush with the sides, e.g., side 3″. However, a preferred way to perform the spot scalping is to use a machine like that shown in FIG. 42, whose detailed operation will be described in detail later on. For this scalping operation, the disk pads 55 and 56 would have a rougher grit than those used for finishing.

[0018] FIG. 6 shows the cube after all of the sides are subjected to material removal or cutting. This procedure is commonly called diamond cutting and can be accomplished in any number of known ways. In performing this cutting, typically, the two opposite sides of each die are cut simultaneously using automated machines. One way is to subject each of the surfaces 2′-7′ of FIG. 5 to cutting in a manner similar to that of FIG. 2, except that the resulting surfaces 2″-7″ are made to have a finer or a smoother surface finish. This can also be accomplished by using a cutter that has more and/or finer teeth than the ones used in the cutting described with respect to FIG. 2. This smoother surface finish can also be accomplished by increasing the cutter speed, and/or decrease the feed rate, and/or any combination thereof. The result is that each of the dice is substantially sized to a final cubic dimension. This procedure also results in all of the painted spots 11 being made flush with each respective surface 2″-7″. Typically, approximately 0.010 inches is removed from each side 2′-7′ to arrive at a final cubic dimension of approximately 0.750 or 0.775 (depending of the size of die required) inches between any two opposite sides 2″-7″.

[0019] FIG. 7 shows the cube after one or more of the sides is provided with a logo or text. Typically, side 2″ of each of the dice, i.e., the side which has the single center spot, will have some text provided thereon because it is the side having the most area that is not obstructed by spots. This procedure is commonly called logo stamping or monogramming and can be accomplished in any number of known ways. In performing this stamping, typically, one side at a time of each die is stamped using automated machines. Preferably, the text will have a color that contrasts with the color of the plastic. In one embodiment, each of the dice is made from a translucent type red plastic while the text is gold. One way is to subject the side 2″ to hot stamping wherein the desired text 12 is impressed into the surface 2″ using a hot press die. However, this has the effect of displacing material from the surface 2″ outwardly, thereby causing some of the displaced material to project from the surface 2″, i.e., the surface 2″ is no longer flat and smooth as a result of the logo stamping. Moreover, this logo stamping or monogramming procedure also tends to produce text 12 which is too thick, i.e., each letter has the appearance of being made by wide lines, thereby giving an appearance of smudged letters.

[0020] FIG. 8 shows the cube after the side or sides which were subjected to logo stamping is subjected to scalping. This procedure is commonly called logo scalping and can be accomplished in a manner similar to that shown and described in FIG. 5. In performing this logo scalping, typically, the two opposite sides of each die are scalped simultaneously using automated machines. One way is to subject the side 2″ to scraping, broaching, or shaving in order to render surface 2′″ flat and smooth, except for the text 13 and spots 11 which will have a desired depth but which will not protrude above the surface 2′″. Moreover, this logo scalping also tends to produce text 13 which is thinner, i.e., each letter has the appearance of being made by lines which are thinner than those made in the previous procedure, thereby giving an appearance of thin, crisp, and clearly defined letters. However, a preferred way to perform the logo scalping is to use a machine like that shown in FIG. 42, whose detailed operation will be described in detail later on. For this operation, the disk pads 55 and 56 would have a rougher grit than that used for finishing.

[0021] FIG. 9 shows the cube 15 after each of the sides is subjected to finishing which can include sand finishing, sanding, or polishing, in order to render the surfaces smooth, improve their shine, and otherwise remove any apparent surface imperfections and/or scratches. Finishing can be accomplished in any known manner. In performing this finishing, typically, the two opposite sides of each die are finished simultaneously using automated machines. One way is to subject each side to sanding in order to render each surface flat and smooth, except for the text 14 and spots 11, which will have and/or maintain a desired depth but which will not protrude above the surface 2IV. Moreover, this surface finishing also tends to produce text 14 and spots 11′ whose upper surfaces are flush with each corresponding surface, e.g., surface 2IV, thereby giving an appearance that the spots and text were not merely painted on the surfaces 2IV-7IV. The finishing may also include buffing and/or cleaning, as necessary.

[0022] FIG. 39 illustrates one preferred way to perform the finishing of the dice. Each die, e.g., 15 and 15′, of a plurality of dice 15 (usually around 26) are placed in a finishing apparatus 50. The apparatus 50 is designed to sand opposite sides of the 26 dice. As can be seen in FIG. 39, the apparatus 50 includes a disk, basket or carriage 54 which has as many openings as the number of die to be finished (in this case 26 openings for 26 dice). Only two of the openings 54a and 54b are shown. Each opening 54a and 54b is circular and has a diameter which is adapted to receive a die. Two dice are shown, respectively 15 and 15′. The openings 54a and 54b are sized to retain a respective die snugly so that the die will not move more than slightly when it is positioned in the opening. As can be seen, the carriage 54 has a thickness which is significantly less than a thickness of the dice 15 and 15′, and is designed to retain (in a respective opening) the dice substantially around each die's center of gravity. The carriage 54 is loosely engaged by (i.e., dragged by) and/or loosely coupled to a shaft 57, which is in turn coupled to a moving device (not shown) or which is otherwise movable by the operator. The carriage 54 can be moved laterally, e.g., back and forth and/or side to side, as well as in a circle within opening O (such movement being designated by the arrows). A top plate 51 is arranged above the carriage 54 and is coupled and/or otherwise attached to a shaft 58. The top plate 51 is designed to be movable up and down and is otherwise adjustably and/or controllably movable in a downwardly direction. This movement allows the top plate 51 to be moved upwardly a sufficient amount so as to allow an operator to easily place (and/or otherwise access) each of the die into the openings of the carriage 54. Movement of the top plate 51 downwardly can be made controllable and/or otherwise controlled by an operator so that the proper amount of finishing can be precisely controlled. Arranged below the carriage 54 is a bottom plate 52 which is designed to be statically mounted to a support table 53. Both the top plate 51 and the bottom plate 52 have an abrasive pad mounted thereto that is designed to abrade a corresponding opposite surface of the dice. In this regard, an upper disk pad 55 is mounted to a bottom surface of the top plate 51 and a bottom disk pad 56 is mounted to a top surface of the bottom plate 52.

[0023] The finishing operation will now be described. Each die, e.g., 15 and 15′, is placed into a corresponding opening 54a and 54b of the carriage 54. At this point, each die has its bottom surface that is supported on bottom pad 56. Then, the top plate 51 is lowered until the upper pad 55 contacts the top surfaces of the dice. Next, the carriage 54 is caused to move in any number of directions, e.g., side to side and/or in a circular or partially circular direction, for a desired time interval. While this movement is occurring, the top plate 51 is lowered in a controlled manner until the desired amount of material is removed from the opposite sides of the dice and/or until these sides of the dice have achieved the desired finishing. Water and/or oil are poured on the dice during the finishing. Normally, an amount in the range of between approximately 0.0005″ to approximately 0.015″ can be removed from each side of the dice using this apparatus 50. Dice which are designated as ¾ inch dice will usually be finished to a final size dimension of 0.750 inches+/−0.003. Other gaming dice may be made to a dimension such as, e.g., 0.775 inches+/−0.003 inches.

[0024] Thereafter, each die is removed and re-positioned into the carriage 54 so that another two opposite sides can be finished in the same manner. Next, the dice are removed and re-positioned into the carriage 54 so that the last two opposite sides of the dice can be finished in the same way. Finally, the dice are removed from the apparatus 50 so that another set of 26 dice can be subjected to finishing.

[0025] FIG. 41 illustrates some of the prior art die designs. Design A illustrates a plain die configuration, as evidenced by the use of plain and solid circular spots. Additionally, design B illustrates a single-ring bird's eye die configuration, as evidenced by the use of spots having an outer painted ring and an inner painted small spot. Finally, design C illustrates a double-ring bird's eye die configuration, as evidenced by the use of spots having an outer painted ring and an inner painted ring.

[0026] FIG. 42 shows some of the currently available die sizes in approximate scale. Design I shows a ⅝ inch cube size, while design II shows an {fraction (11/16)} inch cube size. Additionally, design III shows an ¾ inch cube size and design IV shows a 0.775 inch cube size.

[0027] Prior art gaming dice are also available in many colors such as medium red, dark red, green, pink, blue and amber. They are typically made of a cellulose acetate material that is formulated to give the dice ultimate clarity, harness, and dimensional stability. Moreover, they may be made to have various finishes such as a sand finish, which is considered to be a standard finish, or a polished finish. The dice can even be micro-lapped to {fraction (1/10,000)}th of an inch to produce very fine and smooth dice. The edges of the dice may also be made such that they are razor sharp or slightly beveled with either a feather, rounded, or beveled edge. However, razor sharp edges are standard. In games such as Chuck-A-Luck and Pai-Gow Poker, rounded edges are preferred. Dice which are classified as polished finish are made such that the logo scalping and finishing are two distinct procedures, whereas dice which are classified as sand finish will be made such that the logo scalping and finishing are performed as a single procedure.

[0028] Conventional gaming dice may also utilize hidden letter keying in which a letter is placed under a spot on one side of the die (i.e., a letter is stamped at the bottom of the hole before the hole is filled with paint), such as the “Ace spot” (i.e., the center spot of side 3), and is viewable from an opposite side of the die. The use of glow-spot keying (i.e., a UV or laser pigment is mixed with the paint) is also common, with each die having a single glow spot, i.e., only one side of the die has the spot, such that the spot is able to glow in the presence of a black light. Finally, it is common for different casinos to require that the dice have a particular casino name, logo, and/or serial number embossed thereon. This information can be hot stamped in colors such as blue, black, silver, gold, etc. Many and/or most casinos even require that sets of dice (e.g., 5 die in a set) have the same serial number. A typical delivery order will be in the range of 100 to 1000 pairs of dice or more, all having the same logo, and with each set of five die being sequentially serial numbered such that each set of five have the same serial number.

[0029] Typically, the die which are used in the gaming industry will have a total of 21 spots. These are arranged in such a manner that side 1 (“1” designating the number of spots) is opposite side 6 (“6” designating the number of spots). Side 2 (“2” designating the number of spots) is arranged opposite side 5 (“5” designating the number of spots) and side 3 (“3” designating the number of spots) is opposite side 4 (“4” designating the number of spots). The spots are usually no deeper than 0.015″ and are filled with paint of the same density as that of the die material. The width across each of the three opposite sides should be uniform and held to a dimensional tolerance of +/−0.0005″. Parallelism between opposite sides is also controlled to within +/−0.0005″. The finish on all sides should be of the same texture, and the logo text is typically embossed in gold lettering.

[0030] Throughout the process, the dice are also subjected to quality checks and inspections, including a final inspection. These inspections can occur between the rough cutting and the diamond cutting and also after each or all of the later stages in order to ensure that the dice are being made properly.

[0031] As should be apparent, such a large number of procedures and/or such elaborate procedures for making gaming dice tend to make such dice made thereby relatively expensive. Moreover, a direct result of having so many procedures means that less dice can be produced in a given manufacturing area and in a given time period.

[0032] Accordingly, the invention is directed to the manufacture gaming dice using a more efficient process. Moreover, the present invention is directed to more inexpensively manufactured gaming dice. Because the spots are provided on the dice when it is in its final stage of manufacturing, unlike in the prior art, one can maintain a smaller inventory of unfinished dice and customize the spot printing to the customer's needs. For example, using the prior art method, one cannot change dice which have been drilled to have bird's eye spots into dice having plain spots.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0033] In accordance with a first aspect of the invention, the invention provides for a method of making dice which avoids hole drilling, spotting and scalping of the spots and instead utilizes pad printing techniques to place the spots on each of the dice.

[0034] In accordance with a second aspect of the invention, the invention provides for a method of making dice which avoids rough cutting, hole drilling, spotting and scalping of the spots and instead utilizes pad printing techniques to place the spots on each of the dice.

[0035] In accordance with a third aspect of the invention, the invention provides for a method of making dice which avoids hole drilling, spotting, scalping of the spots, logo stamping and logo scalping, and instead utilizes pad printing techniques to place the spots and the text on each of the dice.

[0036] In accordance with a fourth aspect of the invention, the invention provides for a method of making dice which avoids rough cutting, hole drilling, spotting, scalping of the spots, logo stamping and logo scalping, and instead utilizes pad printing techniques to place the spots and the text on each of the dice.

[0037] In accordance with a fifth aspect of the invention, the invention provides for a method of making dice which avoids rough cutting, hole drilling, spotting, scalping of the spots, logo stamping, logo scalping and finishing, and instead utilizes pad printing techniques to place the spots and the text on each of the dice.

[0038] In accordance with a sixth aspect of the invention, the invention provides for a method of making dice which avoids cutting from stock, rough cutting, hole drilling, spotting, scalping of the spots, logo stamping, logo scalping and finishing, and instead utilizes pad printing techniques to place the spots and the text on each of the dice.

[0039] The invention further provides a method of making one or more die of a pair of dice that includes pad printing at least one of spots and text on at least one surface of the die.

[0040] The invention also provides a method of making one die or a pair of dice that includes sizing at least one die and pad printing at least one of spots and text on at least one surface of the die.

[0041] The invention also provides a method of making one die or a pair of dice that includes cutting a section from bar stock, shaping the section to form at least one die, and pad printing at least one of spots and text on at least one surface of the at least one die.

[0042] The invention additionally provides a method of making one die or a pair of dice that includes cutting a section from bar stock, shaping the section to form at least one die, and pad printing at least one of spots and text on at least one surface of the at least one die.

[0043] Further, a method of making one die or a pair of dice wherein the method includes cutting a section from bar stock, shaping the section to form at least one die, pad printing at least one spot on at least one surface of the at least one die, and pad printing text on at least one surface of the at least one die.

[0044] The invention also provides a method of making one die or a pair of dice wherein the method includes cutting a section from bar stock, shaping the section to form at least one die, stamping text on at least one surface of the at least one die, subjecting the at least one surface to finishing, and pad printing at least one spot on at least one surface of the at least one die.

[0045] The invention also provides a method of making one die or a pair of dice wherein the method includes cutting a section from bar stock, shaping the section to form at least one die, stamping text on at least one surface of the at least one die, subjecting the at least one surface having text stamped thereon to scalping, subjecting the at least one surface to finishing, and pad printing at least one spot on at least one surface of the at least one die.

[0046] The invention also provides a method of making one die or a pair of dice wherein the method includes cutting a section from bar stock, first cutting the section to form at least one die, second cutting the section, stamping text on at least one surface of the at least one die, subjecting the at least one surface having text stamped thereon to scalping, subjecting at least one surface of the at least one die to finishing, and pad printing at least one spot on at least one surface of the at least one die.

[0047] The invention additionally provides a method of making one die or a pair of dice wherein the method includes cutting a section from bar stock, first cutting the section to form at least one die, second cutting the section, stamping text on at least one surface of the at least one die, subjecting the at least one surface having text stamped thereon to scalping, subjecting at least one surface of the at least one die to finishing, and pad printing at least one spot on at least one surface of the die.

[0048] The invention additionally provides a method of making one die or a pair of dice wherein the method includes cutting a section from bar stock, first cutting the section to form at least one die, second cutting the section to finally size the at least one die, stamping text on at least one surface of the at least one die, subjecting the at least one surface having text stamped thereon to scalping, subjecting the at least one surface having text stamped thereon to finishing, and pad printing at least one spot on at least one surface of the at least one die.

[0049] The invention additionally provides a method of making a die of a pair of dice wherein the method includes cutting a section from bar stock, first cutting the section to form a cube having a first size, second cutting the section to substantially finally size the cube, stamping text on at least one surface of the cube, subjecting the at least one surface having text stamped thereon to scalping, subjecting the at least one surface having text stamped thereon to finishing, and pad printing at least one spot on the at least one surface having text stamped thereon.

[0050] Thus, the invention provides a method of making one die or a pair of dice, the method comprising pad printing at least one of spots and text on at least one surface of the die.

[0051] The method may further include sizing, before pad printing, the at least one die. The method may further include finish cutting, before pad printing, a section from bar stock. The method may further include rough cutting, before finish cutting, the section to form at least one die. The method may further include subjecting, before pad printing, the at least one surface to finishing. The method may further include before pad printing, cutting a section from bar stock, shaping the section to form the at least one die, and subjecting the at least one surface to finishing.

[0052] The method may further include, before pad printing, cutting a section from bar stock, shaping the section to form the at least one die, stamping text on at least one surface of the at least one die, and subjecting the at least one surface to finishing.

[0053] The method may further include, before pad printing, finish machining a section of material to form at least one die, stamping text on at least one surface of the at least one die, subjecting the at least one surface having text stamped thereon to scalping, and subjecting the at least one surface having text stamped thereon to finishing.

[0054] The method may further include, before pad printing, cutting a section from bar stock, first cutting the section to form at least one die, second cutting the section, stamping text on at least one surface of the at least one die, subjecting the at least one surface having text stamped thereon to scalping, subjecting at least one surface of the at least one die to finishing.

[0055] The method may further include, before pad printing, cutting a section from bar stock, first, cutting the section to form at least one die, second, cutting the section to form a cube, stamping text on at least one surface of the cube, subjecting the at least one surface having text stamped thereon to scalping, and subjecting at least one surface of the at least one die to finishing.

[0056] The method may further include, before pad printing, cutting a section from bar stock, first, cutting the section to form at least one die, second, cutting the section to finally size the at least one die, stamping text on at least one surface of the at least one die, subjecting the at least one surface having text stamped thereon to scalping, and subjecting the at least one surface having text stamped thereon to finishing.

[0057] The method may further include, before pad printing, machining a section from bar stock, first machining the section to form a cube having a first size, second machining the section to substantially finally size the cube, stamping text on at least one surface of the cube, subjecting the at least one surface having text stamped thereon to scalping, and subjecting the at least one surface having text stamped thereon to finishing.

[0058] The invention still further provides for a method of making gaming die that includes forming the gaming die with a plurality of sides, and pad printing at least one spot on at least one of the plurality of sides.

[0059] According to the invention, the forming may include sizing the gaming die. The forming may include finish cutting a section from bar stock to form the gaming die. The forming may further include rough cutting, before finish cutting, the section. The forming may include subjecting at least one of the sides to finishing. The forming may include cutting a section from bar stock, shaping the section to form the gaming die, and subjecting at least one side to finishing. The forming may include cutting a section from bar stock, shaping the section to form the gaming die, stamping text on at least one side, and subjecting the at least one side to finishing. The forming may include finish machining a section of material to form the gaming die, stamping text on at least one side, scalping the at least one side having text stamped thereon, and finishing the at least one side having text stamped thereon. The forming may include cutting a section from bar stock, first, cutting the section to form the gaming die, second, cutting the section, stamping text on at least one side, scalping the at least one side having text stamped thereon, and finishing the at least one side having text stamped thereon. The forming may include cutting a section from bar stock, first, cutting the section to form a cube, second, cutting the cube to form the gaming die, stamping text on at least one side of the gaming die, scalping the at least one side having text stamped thereon, and finishing the at least one side having text stamped thereon. The forming may include cutting a section from bar stock, first, cutting the section, second, cutting the section to finally size the gaming die, stamping text on at least one side of the gaming die, scalping the at least one surface having text stamped thereon, and finishing the at least one side having text stamped thereon. The forming may include machining a section from bar stock, first, machining the section to form a cube having a first size, second, machining the section to substantially finally size the cube, stamping text on at least one surface of the cube, scalping the at least one surface having text stamped thereon, and finishing the at least one surface having text stamped thereon. The forming may include machining a section to substantially finally size a cube, stamping text on at least one surface of the cube, scalping the at least one surface having text stamped thereon, and finishing the at least one surface having text stamped thereon. The forming may include machining a section to substantially finally size a cube, and the method may further include pad printing text on at least one of the plurality of sides.

[0060] The invention also provides for a die which is made by any of the above-noted processes.

[0061] Other exemplary embodiments and advantages of the present invention may be ascertained by reviewing the present disclosure and the accompanying drawing.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0062] The present invention is further described in the detailed description which follows, in reference to the noted plurality of drawings by way of non-limiting examples of embodiments of the present invention, in which like reference numerals represent similar parts throughout the several views of the drawings, and wherein:

[0063] FIGS. 1-9 illustrate a prior art process of making gaming dice, wherein

[0064] FIG. 1 shows a representation of a rough section of material that has been cut from a bar stock that will be used to form a die of a pair of dice;

[0065] FIG. 2 shows a representation of a first cutting the section of FIG. 1 that will be used to form a die of a pair of dice;

[0066] FIG. 3 shows a representation of a drilling or forming of holes in the section shown in FIG. 2, wherein these holes will form the spots of the die;

[0067] FIG. 4 shows a representation of spotting each hole, i.e., filling each hole with paint, which will form the spots of the die;

[0068] FIG. 5 shows a representation of scalping, i.e., each surface having a painted hole is scalped;

[0069] FIG. 6 shows a representation of diamond cutting, i.e., each surface of the die is machined to a substantially final dimension;

[0070] FIG. 7 shows a representation of logo stamping, i.e., one or more of the surfaces of the die are stamped with text or a logo;

[0071] FIG. 8 shows a representation of logo scalping, i.e., each surface having been logo stamped is scalped;

[0072] FIG. 9 shows a representation of finishing, i.e., each surface of the die is worked to achieve smooth clean surfaces;

[0073] FIGS. 10-16 show one method of making gaming dice according to the invention, wherein FIG. 10 shows a rough section of material that has been cut from a bar stock that will be used to form a die of a pair of dice;

[0074] FIG. 11 shows a first cutting of the section of FIG. 10 that will be used to form a die of a pair of dice;

[0075] FIG. 12 shows a diamond cutting, i.e., each surface of the die is machined to a substantially final dimension;

[0076] FIG. 13 shows a logo stamping, i.e., one or more of the surfaces of the die is stamped with text or a logo;

[0077] FIG. 14 shows a logo scalping, i.e., each surface having been logo stamped is scalped;

[0078] FIG. 15 shows a finishing, i.e., each surface of the die is worked to achieve smooth clean surfaces;

[0079] FIG. 16 shows a pad printing the spots, i.e., each surface of the die is pad printed with the required number of spots;

[0080] FIGS. 17-21 show another method of making gaming dice according to the invention, wherein FIG. 17 shows a rough section of material that has been cut from a bar stock that will be used to form a die of a pair of dice;

[0081] FIG. 18 shows the first cutting of the section of FIG. 17 that will be used to form a die of a pair of dice;

[0082] FIG. 19 shows the diamond cutting, i.e., each surface of the die is machined to a substantially final dimension;

[0083] FIG. 20 shows the pad printing the spots, i.e., each surface of the die is pad printed with the required number of spots;

[0084] FIG. 21 shows the pad printing the logo text, i.e., one or more surfaces of the die are pad printed with logo text;

[0085] FIGS. 22-26 show another method of making gaming dice according to the invention, wherein FIG. 22 shows a rough section of material that has been cut from a bar stock that will be used to form a die of a pair of dice;

[0086] FIG. 23 shows the first cutting the section of FIG. 22 that will be used to form a die of a pair of dice;

[0087] FIG. 24 shows the diamond cutting, i.e., each surface of the die is machined to a substantially final dimension;

[0088] FIG. 25 shows the pad printing the logo text, i.e., one or more surfaces of the die are pad printed with logo text;

[0089] FIG. 26 shows the pad printing the spots, i.e., each surface of the die is pad printed with the required number of spots;

[0090] FIGS. 27-30 show still another method of making gaming dice according to the invention, wherein FIG. 27 shows a rough section of material that has been cut from a bar stock that will be used to form a die of a pair of dice;

[0091] FIG. 28 shows the first cutting of the section of FIG. 27 that will be used to form a die of a pair of dice;

[0092] FIG. 29 shows the diamond cutting, i.e., each surface of the die is machined to a substantially final dimension;

[0093] FIG. 30 shows the pad printing of the spots, i.e., each surface of the die is pad printed with the required number of spots;

[0094] FIGS. 31-34 show yet another method of making gaming dice according to the invention, wherein FIG. 31 shows a rough section of material that has been cut from a bar stock that will be used to form a die of a pair of dice;

[0095] FIG. 32 shows the first cutting the section of FIG. 31 that will be used to form a die of a pair of dice;

[0096] FIG. 33 shows the diamond cutting, i.e., each surface of the die is machined to a substantially final dimension;

[0097] FIG. 34 shows the pad printing both the spots and the logo text (which may be pad printed either successively or simultaneously with the spots), i.e., each surface of the die is pad printed with the required number of spots and/or any logo text;

[0098] FIG. 35 shows the principle operation of one type of simple pad printing apparatus which may be used to pad print the spots and/or text on a die according to the invention;

[0099] FIG. 36 shows a rounded end pad in a position that is ready to print and/or transfer ink onto the die and illustrates one way that the die may be fixtured for such printing;

[0100] FIG. 37 shows the pad in a printing position that is transferring the ink onto the die while the die is retained in the fixture;

[0101] FIG. 38 shows another embodiment of a fixturing apparatus and a pad in a position that is ready to simultaneously print the same side of a group of nine dice. The nine dice are arranged side by side in a square pattern that is three dice wide and three dice deep;

[0102] FIG. 39 shows a prior art finishing apparatus that can be used to simultaneously finish opposite sides of a plurality of dice;

[0103] FIG. 40 shows a die which has been pad printed. For the sake of clarity, only two spots are visible,

[0104] FIG. 41 shows three different prior art die spot configurations or designs; and

[0105] FIG. 42 shows four prior art die sizes in approximately scale.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

[0106] The particulars shown herein are by way of example and for purposes of illustrative discussion of the embodiments of the present invention only and are presented in the cause of providing what is believed to be the most useful and readily understood description of the principles and conceptual aspects of the present invention. In this regard, no attempt is made to show structural details of the present invention in more detail than is necessary for the fundamental understanding of the present invention, the description taken with the drawings making apparent to those skilled in the art how the several forms of the present invention may be embodied in practice.

[0107] FIGS. 10-16 illustrate one embodiment of the method of making gaming dice according to the invention. In a FIG. 10, a section 100 is removed or cut from a bar of plastic, resin, or polymer, such as cellulose acetate. However, the invention is not limited to such materials and may be practiced with a variety of materials conventional or otherwise and may include materials such as, wood, metal, composites, with or without reinforcement materials. The bar from which the section 100 is cut may have a square cross-section such as those which are commercially available in various lengths. The section 100 is cut to have substantially cube-shaped configuration so as to have six sides. The section 100 has a front side 106 that is clearly visible and a back side 107 which cannot be seen in FIG. 10 because it is opposite and parallel to the front side 106. The cube section 100 also has left side 105 and right side 103, as well as top side 102 and bottom side 104. As is evident from the drawing, the left side 105 and right side 103 are parallel to one another, and so are the top side 102 and bottom side 104. At this stage in the manufacturing of each of the die which will make up a pair of dice, each cube is oversized, i.e., the cube which will form each of the finished pair of dice has sides which are larger in dimension that the sides of a finished cube. This can be seen when comparing the rough size shown in FIG. 10 to that of FIG. 12, which shows a cube of a pair of dice in its substantially finished size.

[0108] FIG. 11 shows the cube being subjected to a first cutting or to a rough cutting, i.e., material is removed from each side until the cube reaches a predetermined size which can be accurately fixtured for the next procedure, i.e., finish sizing. Preferably, two opposite sides are rough cut simultaneously. The importance of this first cutting is to size the cube for fixturing, but it also has the advantage of removing enough material from the surfaces so that they are clean, i.e, free of imperfections, dents, scratches, bumps, etc. One efficient way of sizing the cube in this first cutting is to vertically cut two opposite sides, e.g., sides 102′ and 104′, in the same pass of a twin cutting disk cutter. The cube can then be indexed 90 degrees and/or moved to another cutting machine to have two other opposite sides, e.g., 105′ and 103′, cut. Finally, a third cutting machine is used to cut the remaining two opposite sides, e.g., 106′ and 107′. However, other cutting methods of removing material may also be utilized, conventional or otherwise.

[0109] FIG. 12 shows how all of the sides are subjected to material removal or cutting in order to form a cube that has substantially the final size or dimension. This is commonly called diamond cutting and can be accomplished in any number of known ways. Preferably, two opposite sides are diamond cut simultaneously. One way is to subject each of the surfaces 102′-107′ of FIG. 11 to cutting in a manner similar to that of FIG. 11, except that the resulting surfaces 102″-107″ are made to have a finer or a smoother surface finish. This can be accomplished by using two cutting disks that have more and/or finer teeth than the ones used in the cutting shown in FIG. 11. This smoother surface finish can also be accomplished by increasing the cutter speed, and/or decrease the feed rate (i.e., relative movement between the cutter(s) and the cube), and/or any combination thereof. The result is that each of the dice is substantially sized to a final cubic dimension. One preferred size is approximately 0.750 inches between all opposite sides, plus or minus some tolerance, e.g., 0.003 inches, and which may be as much as plus or minus 0.015 inches. Another preferred size is approximately 0.775 inches between all opposite sides, plus or minus some tolerance, of course, which may be as much as plus or minus 0.015 inches. The importance of this procedure is to give the die a final cubic shape which is symmetrical in all respects.

[0110] FIG. 13 shows one or more of the sides being provided with a logo or text. Typically, side 102″ of each of the dice, i.e., the side which will acquire the single center spot (which will only be applied later on). This is commonly called logo stamping or monogramming and can be accomplished in any number of known ways. It is preferred that one side be stamped at a time. Preferably, the text will have a color that contrasts with the color of the die material. In one embodiment, each of the dice can be made from a translucent type red plastic while the text is gold. One way is to subject the side 102″ to hot stamp the text into the surface 102″ wherein the desired text 112 is impressed into the surface 102″ using a hot press die. However, as in the prior art method, this has the effect of displacing material from the surface 102″ outwardly, thereby causing some of the displaced material to project from the surface 102″, i.e., the surface 102″ is no longer flat and smooth as a result of the logo stamping. Moreover, this logo stamping procedure also tends to produce text 112 which is too thick, i.e., each letter has-the appearance of being made by wide lines, thereby giving an appearance of smudged letters.

[0111] FIG. 14 shows the side or sides being subjected to logo stamping are further subjected to scalping. This is commonly called logo scalping, and can be accomplished in a manner similar to that shown and described in FIG. 8 of the prior art method. One way is to subject the side 102″ to scraping, broaching, or shaving in order to render surface 102′″ flat and smooth, except for the text 113 which will have a desired depth, but which will not protrude above the surface 102′″. Moreover, this logo scalping also tends to produce text 113 which is thinner, i.e., each letter has the appearance of being made by lines which are thinner than those made in the previous procedure, thereby giving an appearance of thin, crisp, and clearly defined letters. Preferably, two opposite sides are scalped simultaneously. However, a preferred way to perform the logo scalping is to use a machine like that shown in FIG. 39. For this operation, the disk pads 55 and 56 would have a rougher grit than that used for finishing.

[0112] FIG. 15 shows each of the sides of the die 120 being subjected to polishing, buffing and/or cleaning in order to render the surfaces smooth, improve their shine, and otherwise remove any apparent surface imperfections, debris, and/or scratches. This is commonly called finishing and can be accomplished in any known manner. One way is to subject each side to sanding or grinding and/or lapping in order to render each surface flat and smooth, and/or except for the text 114, which will have a desired depth but which will not protrude above the surface 102IV. Moreover, this surface finishing also tends to produce text 114 whose upper surfaces are flush with each surface they are provided thereon, e.g., surface 102IV, thereby giving an appearance that the text was not merely painted on the surface 102IV.

[0113] A possible way of finishing the die prior to pad printing can be accomplished by using apparatus 50 shown in FIG. 39. This allows two opposite sides or many dice to be finished simultaneously. As an initial step, each die 120 is pad printed with a mark or symbol in order to designate a reference side which will be common to all of the dice, i.e., the mark serves only a reference and will be removed when the last two sides are finished. Then, each of the dice 120 of a plurality of dice (usually around 25) are placed in a finishing apparatus 50 and subjected to finishing in a manner described above with regard to FIG. 39.

[0114] Also, in a manner similar to that of the prior art finishing, at this point the dice can be made to have the required finishing characteristics, e.g., standard finishing or a special polish finish.

[0115] FIG. 16 shows each of the sides being pad printed with the spots 116 using any preferred pad printing process, conventional or otherwise. This spotting by pad printing can be accomplished in any desired manner, whether hand pad printed or fully automated pad printing. Pad printing allows all the spots which have the same color to be printed at the same time on a side of a die. Moreover, each die may be pad printed individually or printed in mass, e.g., batch printing. Pad printing even allows for many dice to be printed at the same time. This may be accomplished by arranging many die adjacent one another beneath the pad, e.g. 1, 4, 9, 16, or 25 dice. A plate and a pad are used which have the spots for these die. In this way, one side from each of the die is printed simultaneously with each downward stroke of the pad.

[0116] Each side may be pad printed with the required number of spots, e.g., side 106IV having five spots 116 and side 103IV having four spots (only two of which are shown). Applying the spots 116 by pad printing may occur by producing a plate with spots formed thereon that are one to a few microns deep. The spots of the plate are then filled with paint or ink (of any color, with white being preferred). A pad then presses against the plate wherein the paint or ink spots transfer to the pad. Next, the pad is pressed against a surface or side of the die wherein the spots are transferred to the die. Since each side has a different number of spots, and since it is desirable to print each side only once, different plates will usually be needed for each side and each color, i.e., a plate for each side and for each color. The advantage of this method over the prior art is that no time is needed for polymerizing the paint or ink. Moreover, the pad printed spots are much thinner than those of conventional dice, thereby creating die or dice which are more balanced, i.e., pad printing does not require material removal and adds very little to no weight to the die. As with conventionally painted spots, the pad printed spots may also include security features such as, e.g., UV pigments or laser pigments and hidden letter(s). It should be noted that pad printing the spots significantly reduces the cost of making the dice when compared to conventional spotting which is a very costly and time consuming operation. One method which can be used to pad print the spots onto each side is shown and described with respect to FIGS. 35-37, which will be described in detail below. Because pad printing offers such a precise method of printing, there need not be any further processing and/or finishing of the die surfaces. However, the invention also contemplates the use of further processing procedures, such as cleaning, in order to correct any minor imperfections which result from the printing process and/or fixturing marks which result from such printing. Finally, the invention also contemplates that a key or hidden letter may be pad printed on the die (either at the bottom of a spot hole when dice are made using the convention process, or) under a pad printed spot when the dice are made according to the invention.

[0117] As will be described in more detail later on, one preferred manner for pad printing the dice is described with reference to FIG. 38. Moreover, good results have been obtained using ink with the designation “Ink-P 2HD NT White.” This ink only requires approximately 10 minutes per side to dry and does not require any type of curing procedures. After 10 minutes, the dice can be turned (or a board having many dice can be flipped), allowing another side of the dice to be pad printed. However, the invention is not limited to this ink and contemplates the use of other inks.

[0118] FIG. 40 illustrates a die which has been pad printed with the spots according to the invention. Only the upper face corner spot S1 and the center spot S2 are shown, however, for the sake of clarity. The upper spot S1 is shown having an exaggerated thickness “t” which will, in actuality, be a thickness t of less than approximately 0.001 inches, e.g., around 0.0004 inches. Moreover, this thickness t will be approximately the same for each of the spots on the die. As is also true of all of the printed spots, the spot S2 will have a diameter of approximately 0.210 inches whose tolerance can be approximately +/−0.001 inches. Although not shown, the invention contemplates the pad printing other types of spots and is not intended to be limited to spots which are circular. Thus, for example, any desired designation, mark, symbol, letter, number, etc., can be pad printed in place of spots. The dice can even be made with star shaped spots in place of circular spots, a configuration which would be difficult to obtain using conventional techniques, because of the complexity, cost, and/or difficulty in machining such shapes into the die faces.

[0119] FIGS. 17-21 illustrate another embodiment of the method of making gaming dice according to the invention. FIGS. 17-19 are essentially the same as those shown and described with reference to FIGS. 10-12, so they will not be described in detail again. However, for the sake of clarity, the reference numbers have been increased by 100.

[0120] FIG. 20 shows how each of the sides can be pad printed with the spots 216 using any preferred pad printing process, conventional or otherwise, in a manner similar to that already described with regard to FIG. 16. Again, this is commonly called pad printing and can be accomplished in any desired manner, whether hand printed or fully automated. Each side may be pad printed with the required number of spots, e.g., side 206′″ having five spots 216 and side 203′″ having four spots (only two of which are shown). As discussed above, one way is to pad print the spots onto each side is shown and described with respect to FIGS. 35-37, which will be described in detail below. A preferred way is described with respect to FIG. 38.

[0121] FIG. 21 shows how one or more of the sides are pad printed with the logo text 213 using any preferred pad printing process, conventional or otherwise, in a manner similar to that already described with regard to FIG. 20. Again, this is commonly called pad printing and can be accomplished in any desired manner, whether hand printed or fully automated. Preferably, side 202′″ is pad printed with the required logo text 213. As discussed above, one way is to pad print the logo onto side 202′″ as shown and described with respect to FIGS. 35-37, which will be described in detail below. A preferred way is shown and described with respect to FIG. 38, which will also be described in greater detail below.

[0122] Although not shown, the invention also contemplates finishing the die in a manner similar to that described with regard to FIGS. 15 and 39 and before the spots are pad printed as in FIG. 20, i.e., between the procedures described with regard to FIGS. 19 and 20. In this finishing procedure, each of the sides is subjected to sanding or polishing, buffing and/or cleaning in order to render the surfaces smooth, improve their shine, and otherwise remove any apparent surface imperfections, debris, and/or scratches. One way is to subject each side to sanding or grinding and/or lapping in order to render each surface flat and smooth, and/or otherwise ready to accept the spots 216 and the text 213.

[0123] Still further, the invention also contemplates a process similar to that shown in FIGS. 17-21, but instead of first cutting (FIG. 18) followed by diamond cutting (FIG. 19), the invention contemplates dispensing with the first cutting procedure altogether. In this regard, the cube depicted in FIG. 17 may be machined or otherwise reduced in size to a finish size (FIG. 19) in a single procedure, thereby bypassing the first cutting (FIG. 18) altogether. Accordingly, this process is further simplified in accordance with the procedures shown in FIGS. 19-21.

[0124] Still even further, the invention also contemplates a process similar to that shown in FIGS. 17-21, but with the procedures shown in FIGS. 20 and 21 occurring substantially simultaneously, i.e, both the spots 216 and the logo text 213 are pad printed onto the respective sides at the same time and/or substantially simultaneously with one another. However, if different colors are used for the spots and the text, different pads and plates will be required.

[0125] FIGS. 22-26 illustrate still another embodiment of the method of making gaming dice according to the invention. Again, the first three procedures are essentially the same as those shown and described with reference to FIGS. 10-12, so that will not be described in detail again. In this regard, the drawing numbers have been increased by 200.

[0126] Following the procedures shown in FIGS. 22-24, FIG. 25 shows one or more of the sides that is pad printed with the logo text 313 using any preferred pad printing process, conventional or otherwise. Again, this is commonly called pad printing and can be accomplished in any desired manner, whether hand printed or fully automated. Preferably, side 302″ is pad printed with the required logo text 313. As discussed above, one way is to pad print the-logo onto side 302″ as shown and described with respect to FIGS. 35-37, which will be described in detail below. A preferred way is described with respect to FIG. 38.

[0127] FIG. 26 shows how each of the sides is pad printed with the spots 316 using any preferred pad printing process, conventional or otherwise, in a manner similar to that already described with regard to FIG. 16. Again, this is commonly called pad printing and can be accomplished in any desired manner, whether hand printed or fully automated. Each side may be pad printed with the required number of spots, e.g., side 306″ having five spots 316 and side 303″ having four spots (only two of which are shown). As discussed above, one way is to pad print the spots onto each side is shown and described with respect to FIGS. 35-37, which will be described in detail later on. A preferred way is described with respect to FIG. 38.

[0128] Although not shown, the invention also contemplates utilizing a finishing procedure (i.e., one that is similar to that described with regard to FIGS. 15 and 39) before the one shown in FIG. 25, i.e., between the procedures shown in FIGS. 24 and 25. In this finishing, each of the sides is subjected to sanding or polishing, buffing and/or cleaning in order to render the surfaces smooth, improve their shine, and otherwise remove any apparent surface imperfections, debris, and/or scratches. One way is to subject each side to sanding or grinding and/or lapping in order to render each surface flat and smooth, and/or otherwise ready to accept the spots 316 and the text 313.

[0129] Still further, the invention also contemplates a process similar to that shown in FIGS. 22-26, but without utilizing the procedure shown in FIG. 23, i.e., instead of first cutting (FIG. 23) followed by diamond cutting (FIG. 24), the invention contemplates dispensing with the first cutting procedure altogether. In this regard, the cube 300 may be machined or otherwise reduced in size to a finish size (FIG. 24) in a single procedure, thereby bypassing the first cut procedure (FIG. 23) altogether. According to this simplified process, only four procedures are required, i.e., the procedure shown in FIG. 22, followed by the procedures shown in FIGS. 24-26.

[0130] Still even further, the invention also contemplates a process similar to that shown in FIGS. 22-26, but with the procedures shown in FIGS. 25 and 26 occurring substantially simultaneously, i.e, both the spots 316 and the logo text 313 (having the same color) are pad printed onto the respective sides at the same time and/or substantially simultaneously with one another.

[0131] FIGS. 27-30 illustrate still another embodiment of the method of making gaming dice according to the invention. Again, the first three procedures shown in FIGS. 27-29 are essentially the same as those shown and described with reference to FIGS. 10-12. Accordingly, these procedures will not be described in detail again. In this regard, the drawing numbers have been increased by 300.

[0132] FIG. 30 shows the final procedure in a method of making gaming dice according to this embodiment of the invention. In this last procedure, one or more of the sides are pad printed with only the spots 416, i.e., no logo text is printed onto the die, using any preferred pad printing process, conventional or otherwise, in a manner similar to that already described with regard to FIG. 16. Again, this procedure is commonly called pad printing and can be accomplished in any desired manner, whether hand printed or fully automated. One such printing process is shown and described with respect to FIGS. 35-37, which will be described in detail below. A preferred way is described with respect to FIG. 38.

[0133] Although not shown, the invention also contemplates utilizing a finishing procedure (i.e., a procedure similar to that described with regard to FIGS. 15 and 39) before the procedure shown in FIG. 30, i.e., between the procedures shown in FIGS. 29 and 30. In this finishing procedure, each of the sides is subjected to sanding or polishing, buffing and/or cleaning in order to render the surfaces smooth, improve their shine, and otherwise remove any apparent surface imperfections, debris, and/or scratches. One way is to subject each side to sanding or grinding and/or lapping in order to render each surface flat and smooth, and/or otherwise ready to accept the spots 416.

[0134] Still further, the invention also contemplates a process similar to that shown in FIGS. 27-30, but without utilizing the procedure shown in FIG. 28, i.e., instead of first cutting (FIG. 28) followed by diamond cutting (FIG. 29), the invention contemplates dispensing with the first cutting procedure altogether. In this regard, the cube 400 may be machined or otherwise reduced in size to a finish size (FIG. 29) in a single procedure, thereby bypassing the first cutting procedure (FIG. 28) altogether. According to this simplified process, only three procedures are required, i.e., the procedure shown in FIG. 27, followed by the procedures shown in FIGS. 29 and 30.

[0135] Still even further, the invention also contemplates a process similar to that shown in FIGS. 27-30, but with the pad printing procedure shown in FIG. 30 printing both text (not shown) and spots 416 substantially simultaneously, i.e, both the spots 416 and the logo text (not shown) are pad printed onto the respective sides at the same time and/or substantially simultaneously with one another. Of course, it should be noted that the text and spots can be printed at the same time on a side only if they are of the same color.

[0136] FIGS. 31-34 illustrate yet another embodiment of the method of making gaming dice according to the invention. Again, the first three procedures shown in FIGS. 31-33 are essentially the same as those shown and described with reference to FIGS. 10-12. Accordingly, they will not be described in detail again. In this regard, the drawing numbers have been increased by 400.

[0137] Following the procedures shown in FIGS. 31-33, FIG. 34 shows the final procedure in a method of making gaming dice according to this embodiment of the invention. In this last procedure, one or more of the sides is pad printed with both the spots 516 and the logo text 513 onto the die, using any preferred pad printing process, conventional or otherwise. Again, this procedure is commonly called pad printing and can be accomplished in any desired manner, whether hand printed or fully automated. One such printing process is shown and described with respect to FIGS. 35-37, which will be described in detail below. A preferred way is described with regard to FIG. 38.

[0138] Although not shown, the invention also contemplates utilizing a finishing procedure (i.e., a procedure similar to that described with regard to FIGS. 15 and 39) before the procedure shown in FIG. 34, i.e., between the procedures shown in FIGS. 33 and 34. In this finishing procedure, each of the sides is subjected to sanding or polishing, buffing and/or cleaning in order to render the surfaces smooth, improve their shine, and otherwise remove any apparent surface imperfections, debris, and/or scratches. One way is to subject each side to sanding or grinding and/or lapping in order to render each surface flat and smooth, and/or otherwise ready to accept the spots 516 and text 513.

[0139] Still further, the invention also contemplates a process similar to that shown in FIGS. 31-34, but without utilizing the procedure shown in FIG. 32, i.e., instead of first cutting (FIG. 32) followed by diamond cutting (FIG. 33), the invention contemplates dispensing with the first cutting procedure altogether. In this regard, the cube 500 may be machined or otherwise reduced in size to a finish size (FIG. 33) in a single procedure, thereby bypassing the first cut procedure (FIG. 32) altogether. According to this simplified process, only three procedures are required, i.e., the procedure shown in FIG. 31, followed by the procedures shown in FIGS. 33 and 34.

[0140] One pad printing process will now be described with reference to FIGS. 35-37. The operation of marking the sides of the die pad printing can be performed by various types of devices, machines or apparatuses. By way of one non-limiting example, FIGS. 35-37 illustrate the principle of one such apparatus for implementing the invention, allowing one of the faces or surfaces of the die to be marked or printed.

[0141] In FIG. 35, a fixture support or horizontal support 22 is used as a bearing surface for the die 120. Surrounding the support 20 are four fixturing plates 22 (only two of which are shown) which are used to properly position the die 120 with respect to a movable ink pad 24. The ink pad 24 is mounted to a machine frame 21 so as to be able to move in vertical reciprocating motion. The pad 24 has an axially symmetrical deformable head 25 of axis Z-Z′ (see FIGS. 36 and 37) that is made of synthetic material (for example a synthetic silicone rubber having a Shore A hardness of about 6), in this case with a tapered, conical or rounded end 26. As can be seen in FIG. 37, the deformable head 26 is designed to bed down and/or otherwise deform onto the face 106′, but not onto or significantly over the sides 102′-105′ of the die 120, while the straight side 106′ is being marked. A plate holder 31 carries a flat ink plate or cliche 30. The plate 30 incorporates the image of a side decoration (i.e., spots illustrated in e.g., FIG. 16), and is capable of reciprocating motion between a first position that is vertically beneath the pad 24 (i.e., position 40) and a second position vertically beneath an ink reservoir 27 (i.e., position 40′). The image of the plate 30 can be formed in any manner, conventional or otherwise, including that made by etching. Moreover, the plate 30 can be of any desired type including, e.g., hardened steel or a metal backing having a polymer coating.

[0142] The pad-printing operation shown in FIGS. 35-37 will now be described. After inking the plate 30 at position 40′, the plate holder 31 is moved into the position 40 thereby aligning the center of the die 120 with the center of the pad 24. Then, the pad 24 is moved downwardly until it contacts the plate 30 in order to allow the ink to be picked up simply via this contact pressure. The pad 24 is then raised or moved upwardly so that the plate 30 and plate holder 31 can be retracted back to position 40′, i.e, to the right of position 40. Next, the pad 24 is moved downwardly towards the die 120 (FIG. 36) in order to deposit or apply the ink by pressing (FIG. 37) onto the face or surface 106′. This pressing causes deformation of the head 26 of the pad 24 (FIG. 37). Thereafter, the die 120 is rotated and placed into the fixture 20 so that another surface can be marked with the spots in the same manner, but using a different pad and plate.

[0143] In the case where the spots and text are to be applied having different colors or ink types, the plate 30 and pad 25 can be switched while the die 120 remains in the fixture 22. For example, if surface 202′″ of FIG. 21 is to be marked with both the single center spot 216 and the text 213 (each having a different color), the marking can occur as follows: an inking plate 30 having the single spot is first positioned at 40′ wherein it is inked with ink reservoir 27. Then, the plate holder 31 is moved into the position 40 thereby aligning the center of the die 120 with the center of the pad 24. Then, the pad 24 is moved downwardly until it contacts the plate 30 in order to allow the ink to be picked up simply via this contact pressure. The pad 24 is then raised or moved upwardly so that the plate 30 and plate holder 31 can be retracted back to position 40′, i.e, to the right of position 40. Next, the pad 24 is moved downwardly towards the die 120 (FIG. 36) in order to deposit or apply the ink by pressing (FIG. 37) onto the face or surface 106′. This pressing causes deformation of the head 26 of the pad 24 (FIG. 37). Thereafter, a new plate (having the text etched thereon) is position at position 40′ and inked. Then, the plate holder 31 is moved into the position 40 thereby aligning the center of the die 120 with the center of the pad 24. Then, a new pad 24 is moved downwardly until it contacts the new plate in order to allow the ink to be picked up simply via this contact pressure. The new pad 24 is then raised or moved upwardly so that the new plate and plate holder 31 can be retracted back to position 40′, i.e, to the right of position 40. Next, the new pad 24 is moved downwardly towards the die 120 (FIG. 36) in order to deposit or apply the ink by pressing (FIG. 37) onto the face or surface 106′. This pressing causes deformation of the head 26 of the pad 24 (FIG. 37). Accordingly, a particular pad and a particular plate is used for each color used and/or for each printing used.

[0144] The dice may be placed in fixture without requiring any fixing mechanism which secures them from vertical movement. Alternatively, as shown in FIGS. 35-37, as an option, a mechanism can be provided for holding the die 120 in place on the support 20. This mechanism may have the form of at least one adhesive patch 43 which is fixed to the support 30. As can be seen in FIG. 39, the patch 43 is in contact with the lower surface of the die, i.e., surface 107′. Alternatively, this mechanism may provide for suction or partial vacuum condition as a way of holding the die onto the support 20 (not shown). Of course, more than one patch 43 may be used. Moreover, the invention also contemplates that the plates 22 be made adjustable and/or otherwise movable, both towards and away from the die 120 so as to clamp the die, or up and down to as to cover more or less the sides 102′-105′ of the die. Finally, the plates 22 may be replaced by a retractable ring (not shown) mounted on the perimeter of the die support 20.

[0145] FIG. 38 shows a preferred manner for pad printing the dice in each of the disclosed process of making the dice. Nine dice (or optionally, e.g., 4, 16 or 25 or more dice) can be arranged side by side forming a square pattern that is three dice wide, i.e, 1020, 1020′ and 1020″ and three dice deep (not shown). These nine dice are arranged on a support surface such as a table top and prevented from moving to the left side by a static first stop 1022. A second movable stop 1022′ is arranged to the right of the dice. As is discernable from the drawing, the movement of the second stop 1022′ towards the dice acts to trap the nine dice between the first 1022 and second stop 1022′. A large pad 1025 that is capable of simultaneously printing the same side of the nine dice is arranged above the dice. The manner of printing can otherwise be similar to that described above with regard to FIGS. 35-37 or it can be accomplished using machines which will hereafter be described.

[0146] A number of pad printing machines and pads may be used to practice the invention. These include those made by the following manufacturers, e.g., IMTRAN, Trans-tech America, Printex, UGI, MORLOC, etc. Examples of such machines are the Trans-tech Sealcup 90, Trans-tech Carousel 80 and Carousel 120, Trans-tech Combi, and IMTRAN's model No. GS-100. Moreover, the machines may be of the single pad type or those using many pads, e.g., 4 pads or more. Good results have been achieved using a closed ink cup system. Such systems are available from Trans-tech America, Printex, and IMTRAN. Additionally, the pads may be round pads or square pads provided they have printing surface and end up in a point for improved application. The pads may be of the soft, medium, or hard type, although medium is preferred. Such pads are available from Trans-tech America, Printex and IMTRAN. Good results have been obtained using an approximately 4.25″ wide round shape pad that is approximately 3″ in height, i.e., such a pad has been found to adequately and successfully print one side of nine dice at a time. Printing plates are also available from Trans-tech America. Good results have been achieved using plates having a thickness of approximately 26 microns after it has been edged and with images, i.e., spots, that are made approximately 10 microns deep. Dice having four colors can been successfully pad printed with six pad printing machines which each have four pads, one for each color. This would allow each side to be printed with all the required options. Using these techniques, dice can be made to have, e.g., four different colors on each side with each color being successively pad printed on a side of the die.

[0147] Of course, the invention contemplates using automated machines to make the dice such as those which are and/or can be used in the prior art method of making dice. These include automatic cutting machines, automatic hot stamping machines and automatic lapping and finishing machines, which significantly reduce the cost and time of the dice manufacturing process.

[0148] Of course, the invention can be practiced with other types of pad designs, such as those having various shapes, sizes, as well as various hardnesses. These can be chosen from the manufacturers' standard or conventional ranges or types. Among these may be mentioned pads of cylindrical shape, polygonal, square, and having a convex end or other shapes which function for their intended purpose. Additionally, the inks or paints which are used to form the spots and/or the text may be any desired type, conventional or otherwise, provided they lend themselves to pad printing.

[0149] As should be apparent, the invention contemplates various methods for making gaming dice which are more efficient and/or less expensive that those known in the prior art. Moreover, a direct result of having fewer procedures means that more dice can be produced in a given manufacturing area and in a given time period. Accordingly, the invention provides for the manufacture of gaming dice using more efficient processes and/or doing so less expensively. Finally, the invention provides for the making of gaming dice which can be made more cheaply, but which retain an appearance that the gaming dice were made using quality manufacturing techniques.

[0150] It is noted that the foregoing examples have been provided merely for the purpose of explanation and are in no way to be construed as limiting of the present invention. While the present invention has been described with reference to an exemplary embodiment, it is understood that the words which have been used herein are words of description and illustration, rather than words of limitation. Changes may be made, within the purview of the appended claims, as presently stated and as amended, without departing from the scope and spirit of the present invention in its aspects. Although the present invention has been described herein with reference to particular means, materials and embodiments, the present invention is not intended to be limited to the particulars disclosed herein; rather, the present invention extends to all functionally equivalent structures, methods and uses, such as are within the scope of the appended claims.