The Importance of Dieline in Packaging Design

Rangan Das

November 4, 2022

It's the foundation stone of every packaging design, but how do you design the ideal dieline? In this blog, we take you through the process of creating an accurate dieline for your project.

The dieline is the core of your packaging design. The dieline is the template on which the product packaging design will take place. Designers cannot start their work unless they have the dieline in hand. However, mistakes while making the dieline can be quite common and can even be costly. 

Read on to know more about how to make a dieline and how you can avoid expensive mistakes.

What is a dieline?

Dielines are essentially templates that inform printers of the precise measurements and packaging requirements. Its importance in the printing sector is crucial because it makes sure that the packaging box's final layout is flawless in every way. The dieline is a diagram that highlights all the cuts and folding points to aid in the design process. A box dieline is essentially a blueprint of the box that is used during mass production. 

Who makes the dielines?

Usually, packaging designers create dielines. They can also be produced using a printer or a die cutter. Not just boxes, but all forms of packaging use dielines. Dielines enable cutting and folding to produce a variety of finished products, from straightforward folders with pockets to intricate packaging.

The lines in a dieline

A dieline is essentially a line drawing. They are made up of two types of lines: cut lines and fold lines. They also often have dotted lines indicating “bleed” for printing as well as regions to apply glue. 

These dielines direct the printers where your packaging design will be printed, and where to make the appropriate cuts so that the packaging can be folded. The perforation lines and the cutting lines will appear on different layers, and they will be colored differently because these two items are separate blocks of information that the printer receives. As a result, the printer can determine what needs to be cut and what needs to be folded separately.

Instead of all these processes occurring at once, the printer handles the performance process in one stage and the cutting process in another.

What is a Dieline in Packaging & Print? - PakFactory Blog
Source: https://pakfactory.com/blog/what-is-a-dieline/

What makes packaging dielines so important?

The dielines determine the final look and feel of your product packaging. The intricate die-cutting procedure needs to be done with extreme precision. Hence the process needs all the cuts and folds clearly defined. It allows identifying the following significant packaging elements:

The best physical design for packaging can be manufactured by the designers by considering all of these factors and adhering to the dieline. Any packaging, including that for food, beverages, brochures, and other products that need specialized packaging, is frequently made using dielines.

What are the different types of dielines?

There are many different dieline types for food packaging, beverage packaging, nutraceutical packaging, and other broad markets due to the diversity of product sizes in CPG categories. All of them will have a fold line, cut line, and the other standard components of a dieline, though the shape and type may vary.

Some examples of commonly used boxes for which you will need a dieline includes the following:

How to prepare for a dieline creation?

Accurate dielines are essential from the beginning. Variations in package design as small as a sixteenth of an inch can force you to rework your project. Brands must be ready for these meetings in advance while package design teams handle the minute details of package deconstruction, measurement, and production.

  1. Recognize the objectives of your package.

What goals should your package achieve? What visual components are most crucial? Do compelling images or detailed lists of your value propositions serve your product better? Make sure you comprehend these ideas before the drafting process starts because your designer won't be able to provide you with the answers to these questions.

  1. Recognize which components are necessary.

Depending on your product, you may be required by law to include components in your package. For instance, all foods must have nutrition labels that have been approved by the FDA, whereas cleaning supplies and other chemicals must have safety information on the labels.

  1. Get feedback from various teams

Creating a dieline is just one part of the overall packaging production process. You might require the advice of additional professionals depending on whether you're starting from scratch, using a template, or a dielines generator. 

The structural designers among these experts can advise on the stability and utility of various packaging options. You, your design team, and any additional outside experts needed for your specific project will work together to create your dieline. Early in the process of creating packaging, you should involve your creative teams. Nothing is worse than working on a design for weeks only to be informed that the material you selected is insufficient and that you must start over.

  1. Use the right tools

Adobe Illustrator is a standard tool when it comes to creating dielines. You can also use tools like Inkscape or CorelDRAW to achieve the same. If you've created your artwork with another graphic design program, such as InDesign, you can simply save it as a flattened PDF file so that Illustrator can open it.

Because the final product needs to be vector art, you cannot use other graphic design software like Adobe Photoshop. Despite having a similar appearance, vector art is composed of numerous mathematical calculations and numbers that are simple enough for computers and printers to understand. Additionally, vector images can be scaled without losing any quality. That means a pattern for a box the size of a building could theoretically be printed, and it would still look sharp and detailed just like a pattern printed on paper.

You can then use an Artwork Management Solution to gather feedback from all your team members. 3D packaging software can help you visualize the dieline in three dimensions. 

How to create a dieline?

If you know how to use a vector graphics program, then creating a dieline is easy. All dielines have the same number of steps, but depending on how many revisions there are, some steps might need to be repeated.

Step 1: Create a rough draft

On your favorite vector graphics program, start by creating a simple draft. You can start with your favorite template too. Use different lines to indicate trim lines, the bleed zone, the fold line, and the safe zones. Ensure that you make each line on a different layer. 

Step 2: Print, assemble, and revise

Print a few copies to see how your dieline looks when folded. Is the packaging strong enough? Is there enough room for the visual elements? Does the packaging look as you intended it to? You need close collaboration with your printer to ensure that your dieline is perfect. 

Step 3: Final draft

You should only submit your dieline to the packaging printer or designer after you've completed the previous steps. 

What are some common pitfalls in dieline design?

“Measure twice, cut once” should be the mantra when creating dieline designs. Here are some common pitfalls when it comes to creating packaging dielines. 

  1. Communication gaps

The brand, the design team, and the print vendor should be on the same page when it comes to creating dielines. Your print vendor should let you know what their constraints are with their machines. The design team should mention their restrictions regarding dimensions, colors, and more.

  1. Durability issues

Dielines do not show how sturdy a product's packaging will be. The packaging should be tested considering all the stresses the packaging will be taking on during its lifetime. The packaging does not exist only as a design element, it also has a function — protection of the product. Often brands will design structurally weak boxes.

  1. Inaccurate designs

This happens when the spec sheets are not accurate. For instance, a carton may be too small for the contents inside, a box may be too big causing the contents inside to move around. Brands should talk to their manufacturers to ensure that their products fit perfectly in the boxes. 

Closing thoughts

You can see how important it is to create dielines in the packaging process overall. Without dielines, packages simply cannot fit together (or appear uniform and appealing). Additionally, having a team on hand with expertise in packaging, marketing, design, and printing could be very helpful.

In other words, the more eyes you have checking your dielines, the more mistakes can be found and corrected before you get too far along the process and realize you must start over and redo everything!

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