Beware of the New Type of Printing
By Guy Mitchell aka sweetg1

The technology continues to improve. We went from rotary dial phones to push button phones. From there, the technology went to cell phones to where the smart phone is today. Technology is great, right? It’s what pays the bills in my household, as I work for a technology company in innovation. For the card hobby, we’ve seen the technology, as the industry went from the old, thin cardboard stock in the 40s and 50s to Upper Deck changing the game in 1989. From there, the industry went to the ultra-super-glossy refractoid cards (although it’s been documented that I’m not necessarily a fan of these cards, I do appreciate that it can be done). The changes to the industry made opening a pack of cards seem like Charlie finding the golden ticket in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

It’s been well documented that there are a lot of scam artists in the collectibles industry. The FBI was called when fake autographs appeared on the market. Did Ty Cobb really sign 100 Bill White baseballs? I think not. It hit the card industry too, as many counterfeit cards appeared in the market. You remember all of the counterfeit Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky rookie cards? It took the fun out of genuinely finding one of these gems, and it burned a lot of people, costing them lots of money. What made the counterfeits “easy” to spot was a few facts: 1) the picture quality was fuzzy or otherwise poor and 2) the card stock was different enough to the veteran that it felt different in their hands. However, to the novice collector, it was hard to tell and lots of innocent people were fooled. Given that the newer cards were drawing in lots of new collectors, the counterfeits came in droves to newer cards, as collectors didn’t have to pay much for a newer pack, hoping to strike gold. Not as many counterfeits were seen on older cards.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the world of 3D printing. For those not familiar with 3D printing, it is a way to print items in three dimensional space. For instance, a wrench, as shown in this youtube video could be recreated by using 3D printing: [URL]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQ-aWFYT_SU[/URL]tp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQ-aWFYT_SU

It has caused some controversy because the concept of printing a weapon became real.

So what does this mean to the collectibles hobby? The picture quality and color could no longer become an issue for counterfeiting a Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card. Can you imagine capturing the color (as well as properly capturing the coloring of the borders) of a Mickey Mantle rookie? What about some of the newer cards? Your game used card or worse yet, your 1/1 printing plate of Yasiel Puig that is on eBay for a price of $2,500 or best offer? How easy would it be to create this with 3D print technology and sell it? And what about statues, like the Hartland Statues that sell for a pretty penny? Is the game changing?

Obviously, there are copyright laws that prevent people from doing such despicable deeds. However, it would seem that most criminals who prey on people (especially young collectors) with this kind of money don’t have morals or don’t care who they hurt. They’re not concerned about copyright laws. They care about printing up a bunch of these types of items and selling them cheap! Or, they will trade you their newly printed 1/1 printing plate for your real Jordan RC, where they can now trade or sell the Jordan RC. That’s how these people operate.

The point of this article isn’t to cause unnecessary fear in the collecting hobby, but to make people aware that bad things sometimes come with the good of the new technology. Obviously, we have to be sure of what we’re purchasing. We have to continue to buy from reputable dealers and know exactly what we’re purchasing. We must ask questions. However, I ask this: How will reputable dealers always know the difference between a real and a 3D print? 3D printing can be a game changer in places like eBay, where people can find items for 10% cost and places like SCF where people make hundreds of trades each day.

I’m curous about your thoughts on this. Is this as a genuine concern?

Let’s keep trading fun. Happy Collecting Everyone!