Small-run or DIY printing solutions for packaging design?

So, about a year ago, I taught myself Illustrator. I am still bumbling along and experimenting with what it can do. I recently bought a new book that has templates for packaging design and I am going to try to tackle my first project: a simple box that I will use for a gift.

I started to think through the process of actually making a gift box, and it occurred to me that I had overlooked the whole cutting and printing part of the process. Once I have imported the template and created a design, what is the best way to print it? I’m assuming many of the people who buy books like this are students or professionals who have access to large scale printers and laser cutters. Does anyone have any thoughts for doing it at home? I could throw some 11×17 card stock in the printer and grab an exacto, but I’m thinking it may end up looking crappy. Let me know what has worked for you – kinkos? professional printers? at home laser cutters (if there is such thing)…

Thanks! K


You can do it at home. I think a specially made box for a gift is a wonderfully personal touch, increasingly rare and the more welcome because of that.

It doesn’t have to look bad, although as Lauren says it will take a little practice. A steel straight edge or ruler is a must, and a steel French curve would be a plus. Plenty of Xacto blades are another must, because the first rule of cutting is: “Always use a sharp knife.” (It’s a safety thing.) Use the blunt side of a scissor or table knife to score where you will fold, so that the card doesn’t break unevenly.

In your Illustrator file, make the dielines .25 point and in a color that’s not going to be obvious where it’s visible at the folds.

Die cuts like this are generally done with an actual die that’s made for that specific product. The die is expensive to make, so it’s not worthwhile unless you’re doing a few thousand.

I don’t think I’ve ever come across a shop that would do custom cuts on a one-off basis. You’ll have more luck checking with a craft store than a printer or an office place.

Source : Link , Question Author : KES , Answer Author : Alan Gilbertson

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