How are casino chips made?

Authentic casino chips or, in other words, casino chips manufactured to the standard of those used in Las Vegas, are typically made from clay or ceramic. That said, so-called ‘clay’ casino chips rarely, if ever, consist of 100% clay, but rather a composite of clay and other materials, such as chalk or sand. Likewise, so-called ‘ceramic’ casino chips are actually made from plastic or resin, which creates the ‘look and feel’ of ceramic, but contain no clay.

The processes involved in the manufacture of authentic casino chips is a closely-guarded trade secret and, because they can be exchanged for currency, casino chips, a.k.a. ‘checks’ or ‘cheques’, are subject to stringent security measures. Of course, what we do know about authentic casino chips is that they are labour-intensive, and therefore relatively expensive, to manufacture.

This is especially true in the case of clay chips, which are created by compression moulding or, in other words, squeezing materials into a preheated mould and applying heat and pressure to bind them together. Clay chips have a round, recessed centre, often inlaid with a graphics label, surrounded by mouldings of various designs. Notably, any contrasting lines or spots around the edges of clay chips are created not by painting, but by replacing the original base material with a different colour before moulding. By contrast, ceramic casino chips are produced by injection moulding – that is, producing injecting molten material into a mould – to create a completely flat surface, which can be printed with large, high-quality graphics.