National Lottery scratchcards are commonplace in most shops around the UK.

But how many of us stop and think about how these millions of scratchcards are produced every year?

We thought it was about time we investigated the process behind the small pieces of cards that can make players very rich!

The Step-By-Step Process of Making Scratchcards

Eye catching lottery tickets are designed by graphic artists.

The first step required for making any National Lottery scratchcard is designing the game. This is done in correlation with graphic designers to design the games that we are all familiar with.

Once a design is finalised, it is sent to Scientific Games – the company that prints National Lottery scratchcards.

A technician takes the design; separates it by colour then sends the information to a machine called an Image Center which generates one negative per colour.

lottery scratchcard negative images

Next, they place the appropriate colour film under each negative and expose it to ultraviolet light. This hardens the colour not sealed by the dark portions of the negative. When they wash away the unhardened colour, they’re left with a colour image, they layer the films to make a mock-up of the finished lottery ticket.

outline of scratchcard being printed

Now they make the printing plates – one for each colour of the design with the non-playing area everything outside the scratch zone being created first.

Each negative goes on to a paper-thin aluminium plate coated with a UV sensitive emulsion. They exposed the plate to UV light for about 20 seconds which this hardens the unshielded emulsion creating the colour of the scratchcard. The rest is washed away in a chemical bath leaving the design in relief on the plate.

For the tickets playing area, a similar process is used, but instead of an aluminium plate coated in emulsion, they use one made a photopolymer a light-sensitive plastic.

The finished plates are now ready to goon to the printing press with the raised surface will work just like a rubber ink stamp.

The non playing area goes on first in a method is called offset printing. The press applies up to nine different colours one after another from lightest to darkest. High-intensity UV lights dry the ink in a mere half second between colour applications.

cashword scratchcard printing in progress

Next up comes the playing area, where a high-speed ink jet printer first applies to game numbers chosen randomly by computer.

Infrared lamps dry the ink in a split second, then a strobe light enables the press operator to do spot checks as the scratchcard pass through a camera within the printing instrument.

The printer gives each ticket a unique barcode which is important for when you try to cash in your scratchcard or check if your scratchcard is a winner.

The next machine seals the game numbers with layers of varnish then applies six coats of stretchable ink. An electronic scanner checks the positioning of the scratchable ink, making sure it hides the numbers.

The first three scratchable ink codes are black, with the next three are white all those layers are used to keep cheaters from holding the card up to the light to see the numbers.

The design of the scratchcard can then be printed on to the scratchcard, in the image (and video) below, you can see that the example game is of a Cashword design.

cashword scratchcard printing process

Next, a machine now perforates the rolls of tickets so they can be folded and can process almost 10 feet of tickets per second. The next machine folds the tickets along the perforation lines into piles called fan folders.

The final step is to send the scratchcards to quality control, to ensure that scratchcards are printed correctly and all the security features are included as they should.

Once the scratchcards are approved, they are ready to be sent to distribution centres around the UK, before they are sent to local shops and supermarkets around the country!

Want to watch the video instead? Check it out below!

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