ZSA Platypus Logo


Card Quality

Details matter

For many people, ZSA Cards are going to be the first ZSA “thing” they get to touch with their own hands, so we needed to have a level of finish and tactility that reflects our values and care as a company.

We used USPCC (Bicycle) as our benchmark for card feel, rigidity, and surface texture. We went with a printer that specializes in playing cards, because we wanted the SMETA audit as well as the level of experience required to produce the result we were after. The end result is a deck that feels decidedly premium in the hand and has a good shuffle to it (not aimed at cardistry, but definitely pleasant to shuffle and deal).

SMETA audit: A widely used third-party inspection to ensure ethical working conditions and minimal environmental impact.

Card Back
Card Quality

Our cards are 310gsm card stock, German black core, offset printed with a glossy surface texture.

GSM: Stands for “grams per square meter.” The higher the GSM, the sturdier the paper is. We went with 310gsm cardstock, which is stiff but still bendable. This is the same weight as USPCC cards (Bicycle cards).

Card stock: Most playing cards use some version of either plastic or card stock (thick paper). We went with high quality card stock because we feel it shuffles better than plastic (which can be too slippery). It’s also more sustainable.

German Black Core: To prevent light from shining through the card and revealing what is on the front side, a thick sheet of paper is placed between the front and the back of the card. This is called a core. There are several different types, but Black Core is the highest opacity, and quality. Of course, we went with this for ZSA Cards, ensuring opaque cards.

Card Quality
Card Quality

Offset printing: There are two types of printing we could have used for ZSA Cards: Offset, or digital. Digital individually prints each piece of paper, like a big at-home printer, while offset printing uses specially made aluminum plates, to transfer an image onto a rubber “blanket” and then roll that image onto a sheet of paper. This results in a higher quality print with a perfect color match. Offset is what we used.

Surface: The cards aren’t slippery — they have a deliberate subtle “grain” to them, pleasant to hold, shuffle, and fan out. This is then coated with a thin varnish to protect the surface and make the cards easier to shuffle.