What Is a Dieline in Packaging?

Creating attractive, effective packaging and shipping containers for your product is an intricate process. While you want to create a structurally sound, eye-catching design, it also has to meet all manufacturing and legal regulations before you can craft the final product. Dielines are an essential part of this process.

What is a Dieline?

A dieline is a digital file that contains all relevant design notes, cut lines and markings for your brand’s box, envelope, sign, brochure or product packaging.

How Do You use a Dieline?

Any packaging, display or shipping container that has bends or folds requires a thorough dieline. Some businesses also rely on dielines for brochures, maps, three-dimensional advertisements and similar products. Dielines act like a blueprint or template because they let you visualize your final product and make necessary markings for cut lines, windows, graphics and more.

You can use your dieline to compare an existing product you’re trying to replicate or send it to your manufacturing company to see if they can work within your project specifications. Once the manufacturer receives it, their design department will take a closer look at it and note any adjustments they may require before sending it off for prototyping. A prototype is a finalized, three-dimensional version of your dieline — often smaller than the final product — that you can physically inspect and assess to make a final round of design changes.

Dielines let you do the following:

  • Get accurate dimensions: The dieline is where you will create the best dimensions for your packaging or container, including the weight, height and scale. You’ll make these decisions based on the product inside or the application of the design. For example, boxes should be large enough to protect and house the item inside, but not so large that the item is not secure or takes up more space and budget than needed.
  • Place visual elements: You’ll also place all visual elements during this step, including your logo, artwork, images, branding, labels and text. They need to be carefully aligned to meet marketing goals while allowing plenty of room for cut marks and windows.
  • Test the performance: Once you’ve submitted your dieline and received a prototype from your manufacturer, you can conduct trial-and-error tests on the finished product to make important adjustments and create a more cohesive design.
  • Get important feedback: Creating the dieline is the perfect time to incorporate feedback from all relevant parties, including graphic designers, management, marketing departments and legal teams. Making these decisions during the digital design and prototype phase saves money, time and minimizes material waste.

Not every box or packaging component requires a dieline for printing. Flat lays or simple designs with only straight cuts usually don’t. Custom Boxes Now will work with you to create a custom dieline for your artwork to ensure the perfect fit for box manufacturing.

Important Dieline Components

Every dieline is different, depending on the final application, product, marketing decisions and industry. Each component on a dieline works together to create a map for the manufacturer, demonstrating where to cut lines and place folds. Some elements your dieline might include are:

  • Trim line: The trim line refers to the dieline markings that create the product’s final size. When this line is cut out, the box will have its basic shape.
  • Bleed line: The bleed line is an offset marker outside of the trim line that creates a safe zone — sometimes called a live zone — for the design. It shows where each visual element will be and leaves enough space to account for those placements.
  • Fold line: The fold lines indicate where the box’s flaps and folds are on the top, sides, bottoms or in modified interiors.
  • Perf line: Perforated lines, or perf lines, show where the prototype and final product can be torn or cut off to achieve a certain marketing or design choice.
  • Interior lines: Some products require interior markings that indicate where to place openings, handles, holes or windows.
  • Glue lines: Glue lines show which elements or folds should be adhered together to create a shape or stability.

How a Dieline Is Made

When choosing your dieline specifications, it’s a good idea to work with as many invested parties as possible, including your marketing, management and design departments. You’ll also want to stay up-to-date on your manufacturer’s requirements and recommendations.

Dielines for packaging, boxes and other materials are either the business’s responsibility or are a provided service from your box manufacturer. If you’re responsible for creating your own dieline, you have two options:

  • Do-it-yourself: Your in-house design department or an employee with graphic design experience can use an online template to create a dieline for your product. You’ll need design software that can create vector art.
  • Professional design: A professional designer has the experience, industry insight and software to complete your dieline for you. Be sure to give them a list of all required information, dimensions and a few images or existing products to use as inspiration.

Once the design is complete, you submit it to your manufacturer and wait for them to review it. Depending on the project and their in-house specifications, they may request adjustments so it’s as structurally sound as necessary. Once it’s ready for print, they will create a prototype and send it to you for review and approval. When you’re both in agreement and the product is in its final form, the manufacturer will begin printing your order.

Consider the Application

If you’re not sure which elements you need for your dieline, consider the item’s final application and intended use. Is it a shipping container for your latest launch? If so, it needs to be durable and shaped in a way that’s easy to handle and store. If you’re creating unique packaging for a new product line, you’ll probably focus more on the visual appearance and how that plays a part in telling your brand’s story. If you’re designing a three-dimensional marketing product, like a standing display for a retail store, you must strike a balance between structural stability and appearance.

Your product’s final application will help you determine:

  • The container’s size.
  • The minimum and maximum weight requirements.
  • How many flaps, holes, cuts and windows you need.
  • Where to place visual elements.
  • The best type of material to use.

To begin, look at what other businesses in your industry are doing and consider what your target market has come to expect from a product like yours. You can also use an existing product you like and send it to your manufacturer or designer to create a similar dieline for your business.

Include Required Elements

When creating your dieline, don’t forget required elements, such as:

  • Safety warnings: Some flammable and hazardous items, like candles, compressed air or cleaning agents, need safety warnings for how to use the product and what to avoid. Children’s toys also come with choking hazard warnings when necessary.
  • Nutrition labels: The FDA requires most food products to have an approved nutrition label and ingredients list.
  • Instructions for use: Many items need instructions for use printed on the product packaging to inform customers who the product is intended for and specific directions for using the item safely and effectively.
  • Brand values: Include logos or labels that demonstrate your brand’s values or unique selling points, like cruelty-free product testing, organic ingredients or sustainable packaging.
  • Manufacturer requirements: Some manufacturers have specific dieline requirements you may need to accommodate, like set dimensions or a limited number of colors per design.

Consult industry standards and federal regulations for specific product requirements.

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