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Triangle Company Plays a Big Hand in Trading Card Business

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Trading cards are a hot item among kids. A
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — You, or your children, may collect sports trading cards or game cards likePokémonorStar Wars. You can find those cards on store counters most anywhere, and many of them have a Triangle connection.

The big presses roll day and night atPBM Graphics. The company's primary business is commercial printing, however, the Triangle company is also the country's major printer of trading and game cards.

"Printing the Pokémon game and also the Star Wars and Star Trek series, it's caused a huge influx of new business because of the marketplace," says marketing director Tom Arnold.

Hundreds of millions of cards, 121 to the sheet, come off high-tech presses each year. Quality control is essential, as is security.

PBM's customers,Decipher,ToppsandWizards of the Coast, do not want new cards leaked to the public.

"It's kind of hard not to say something about the new cards that come out," says pressman Don Davis. "When you see someone with a card, you say, 'Hey I did that.'"

From Raleigh, the sheets of cards come to a plant in Greensboro where they are cut into individual cards and the deck is shuffled.

The process begins on a slitting machine.

"The layout of the sheet, every card, is positioned in order that the card comes out in the same place in every deck," says Steve Wright, packaging general manager.

"It slits the cards into strips and then subsequently into individual cards," he says.

The cards are then collated together and then into groups. A Star Trek booster pack consists of nine cards.

"We feed that out of different groups, five cards coming out of a group," says Wright. "We have another single card that's rotated out with a special card at a pre-specified sequence. Then we drop four cards from another group on top of that."

Decks are automatically wrapped in a foil package, weighed and packed by hand in display boxes.

It is big business for PBM and their work is found in card collections around the world.

PBM Graphics is the largest printer headquartered in the Carolinas. In addition to the Triangle and Greensboro, they own plants in Charlotte and South Dakota.

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Tom Lawrence, Reporter
John Cox, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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