By Melissa Donovan
Package prototypes and elaborate point of purchase (POP) standees are relatively new to digital wide format. Digital provides a cost-effective way for companies to create life-size one off s of structural designs that customers can then use to visually convey their intended idea to the buyer.
The printing and finishing process may be the easiest part for the print provider tasked with this job. Designing a package or standee is foreign to many wide format print shops accustom to dealing with two dimensional (2D) signs and banners on a daily basis. Constructing a three dimensional (3D) box shape, designing multiple sides, and ensuring the measurements are correct for it to be pieced together can be challenging.
To help alleviate some of the pressure, there are design software programs specifically targeted toward package prototype and POP standee creation. For print service providers (PSPs) committing to this service, it’s important they consider investing in a solution right away. Tools like templates and 3D modeling save in costly errors and minimize mistakes. Programs are user friendly for those familiar with design terminology and help generate a return on investment (ROI).
When to Invest
For a PSP seriously considering getting into this niche, investing in a software solution to help design and measure correctly is a necessity. Ideally, working with a program prior to starting that first job presents a professional look to the customer.
“Designing 3D POP displays from scratch using 2D design software is very difficult and time consuming. When first starting out, it can take days to design a POP display that will correctly fold, stand, and hold products,” cautions John Blundell, product manager, SA International (SAi).
Roberto Rodriguez, president, Digital Graphic Systems Inc. (DGS), suggests that creating structural designs of this nature requires just as much practice as any other new service, so purchasing the software well ahead of a job allows time to play with it and become familiar with the various features.
“With this rush to packaging we fi nd that many printers are playing catch up. Th at is, they purchase a die cutter or other manufacturing equipment and then realize that they need to be able to communicate with their suppliers and customers intelligently about structural design. So, when considering entering packaging and display production the software to design, visualize, and output this information is critical,” shares Jim Silianoff , president/ CEO, Arden Software North America.
Features to Figure Out
A number of features found in these software programs take the guesswork out of structural design. Th is includes 3D modeling, layout, and templates. PSPs designing package prototypes and POP standees not only benefit by saving time and minimizing error, but also enhance the proofing process.
“3D modeling is a must. Th is feature allows a designer to create the structure—or add the graphics—on a 3D model rather than making changes on a 2D fl at. Th at gets us to where designers have the opportunity to add graphics to the structure. A 3D application ensures that graphics are placed as required, and are right reading. They can also send 3D images—with the ability to spin them around to inspect all sides—to all supply chain partners,” explains Stephen Bennett, VP sales central and distribution, Esko.
Silianoff recommends using 3D modeling as more than just a design tool and instead having it act like a close-to-real proof. “PSPs can begin to rely on the software as providing not only a service for their customers but using it as a sales tool by incorporating 3D with the graphics and visualizing the packaging in a number of different environments,” he shares.
“3D proofs not only streamline the job approval process, but also reduce costly post-production rejects. The more realistic the proof is that customers approve, the less chance of surprise when they see the final product,” adds Blundell.
Blundell also believes nesting features are ideal because of how costly cardboard sheets are. He advises using a true-shape nesting feature, where the software nests and arranges all of the print elements efficiently across the print board. “Without this type of nesting, production runs can waste up to 40 percent more material,” he advises.
Design templates are handy for PSPs not familiar with structural work. “I think that the number one feature to look for has to be a templates library, especially for print shops new to this type of application. Professional software will give you a large library, easily modifiable just by changing the measurements and the material thickness, so the structural design—normally the most difficult part—will be smoother in the long run,” says Rodriguez.
Familiarity in Design
Many PSPs familiar with traditional design software should have a relatively easy time learning how use structural design programs. The terminology and even visual icons are not foreign concepts.
“There are solutions in the market to fi t every level of userability. For example, POP display software that operates as a plug-in to Adobe Illustrator requires users to be fluent with Illustrator and off er powerful design capabilities,” recommends Blundell.
However, Bennett says there is a difference in graphic and structural designers. “Structural designers apply the knowledge to ensure that a display will hold all the products without any danger of collapsing. Graphic designers tend to focus on making the design appealing enough for the consumer to respond to it and pick the product up. It’s sort of a left brain and right brain difference,” shares Bennett.
Sometimes it isn’t about the program and adapting prior knowledge, it’s more about the application. “It’s not a question if the user is fluent in design software, the question is how fluent the user is in design. The software is a tool that can be easily learned by a beginner who understands packaging. It can be as easy as point, click, and output assuming the user knows what they are looking for,” suggests Silianoff .
Calculating the Buy
As print buyers become savvy to the package and POP standee world, many will ask their existing PSPs if they can do that work. Jumping at the opportunity could mean outsourcing a large portion of the job if a PSP isn’t experienced with structural design work. Bringing the order in house can be a huge cost saver in the long run, meaning an investment in specific software is worth the initial cost and added labor.
For PSPs questioning the cost of a software product, Silianoff recommends they look at the amount of money they are paying for outsourced design time, which is a rising cost as jobs become more complicated and you lose control of the situation. “When bringing design in house you are greatly reducing the frustration of not getting what you want when you want it, which is directly translated to getting the customers what they want when they want it,” he continues.
“If you are a print buyer and you need to find a designer to create POP, you might also find that the designer has a printing business of his own. Now the print provider has lost the account. The more you keep under your roof, the better off you are for account control, and also for quality and deadline control,” agrees Bennett.
ROI is an important measurement. It can decide whether the service and any new technology—in this case software for package prototypes and POP standees— is worth the investment.
“The two key metrics for ROI are time to design and cost of production. Prospective buyers should get an evaluation version of different software and see how much it reduces their design time and production costs per job. Based on the number of jobs they expect to produce, they can calculate their time to ROI,” suggests Blundell.
Structural Software Options
Here we share some software solutions targeting the package prototype and POP standee space.
Arden’s Impact software solution is an open system built on a fully integrated database. Many configurations are available to work with all business systems. Its capabilities allow it to communicate with anyone in or out of the packaging and graphics communities. Features include 3D modeling and animation, a standard library, layout creator, and in-store visualization.
DGS offers Kasemake V11 software, which guides designers through the creation process. It includes prompts when drawing tools are selected, sharing how the tool works and what the next step would be in the process after use of that tool is completed. The software is based on vector lines, which are compatible with most common design software programs. A template library offers an extensive number of designs, which users can decide to work with or customize based on their requirements. Kasemake also offers a 3D workspace to visualize the finished product.
EngView Systems’ Package & Display Designer Suite is specialized for boxes and POP displays with support for materials like folding carton, corrugated board, and rigid board. It combines a comprehensive library of parametric components and designs with Adobe Illustrator integration. A modular structure, users can customize the software solution to fit their needs.
Esko’s ArtiosCAD is ideal for corrugated, folding carton, and POP display designers. The ArtiosCAD Display Store offers users downloadable templates for a range of POP displays. A material library is also helpful in determining how to build and design with corrugated versus other rigid materials. For graphic designers, all the tools have been embedded as plug-ins to Adobe Illustrator, making it easy to learn.
SAi’s DisplayGenie offers users a selection of 3D templates, simple placement of artwork, and quick 3D viewing. It creates 3D PDFs that PSPs can email to customers to view in Adobe Acrobat. An animated 3D folding preview helps catch mistakes prior to production.
Committing to the Program
Purchasing software for an entirely new service is a commitment, one not to be taken lightly. Prior to adding, it should be determined whether the company is equipped in equipment and staff to handle the additional workload. Structural software designed for package prototypes and POP standees helps alleviate stress related with offering a new service, providing features like 3D modeling, layout, and templates that save both time and money.
Sep2016, Digital Output