This is a guest post on creating error-free packaging from our friend Marvin Magusara from GlobalVision (Automatic inspection and proof-reading software increasing both speed and reliability of quality control ).

Producing error-free packaging is not easy

Producing error-free packaging is a challenging task. Considering that they’re so many parties involved, from marketing agencies and brands, to print suppliers and pre-press technicians, ensuring no errors in a package is an uphill battle.  

Creating effective packaging design also requires plenty of steps, from graphics and copy to barcodes and braille. Many things can go wrong, and when they do, you’ll be opening yourself not only to costly product recalls, but you’ll also endanger your brand’s reputation permanently. But worry not, as we’ve compiled a list of useful tips with the best practices in the industry that will help you produce error-free packaging all the way through the printing process.

1. Producing error-free packaging means inspecting barcodes early

It’s typical for graphic designers to put placeholders to mark where the final barcodes will be placed on the packaging. You might have seen the FPO icon, which means “For Position Only.” Printers tend to miss this FPO mark, implying that your barcode will not show up. Current packagers recommend that every barcode is inspected early on in the process, which could be performed by printing out the final product and using a handheld verifier or using software programs for barcode examination.

2 . Producing error-free packaging means using up-to-date PDFs only

Often in the approval process, the PDF could experience several modifications before being sent to the printer. The files can also be saved throughout various networks or even on a personal computer. It’s crucial to constantly guarantee you use only the most up-to-date PDF. By doing so, you will stay clear of sending out the incorrect version to print!

3. Producing error-free packaging means proofreading  printer’s proof

It’s very easy to just give a fast glimpse over and tell your printer to go on, but you actually need to invest a fair amount of time ensuring there are no errors in your final work. Make sure that the customer support agent in charge of the process does a printer proof to look for common errors like spelling, grammar, barcodes, colour and other content in your work. An easy way to do this is to use a proofreading software instead of the usual line-by-line manual contrast.

4. Producing error-free packaging means only using the right printing products

To keep costs on the downside, printers usually mix several products on a print job. This mixture has the advantage of enabling a better use of inks and minimises the amount of wasted material. Nonetheless, it could also create a threat of printing the incorrect product. If you are profiting from these “gang runs”, ensure each item on the press sheet is accounted for to guarantee you aren’t missing or including any extra products in the print run.

5. Producing error-free packaging means standardising your designing tools

Have you ever considered what version of Adobe Illustrator your suppliers are using? Chances are they are all utilising a different version. Using different versions means different feature sets and functionalities. Making sure everyone is using the same version means that every one of your team members is talking the same language, which will eventually lead you to consistent and repeatable results.

6. Producing error-free packaging means  enduring colour integrity

The colour of your printing material will inevitably change the accuracy of the colour being printed. Since most inks are not completely opaque, both the colour and texture of your printing material will show underneath the ink, resulting in a visual colour variation, which can be highly substantial.

You can prevent this by using a machine called a ‘spectrodensitometer’ that essentially measures your print material to ensure colour consistency between rolls. It can also help you predict what will be the impact of the print material on the colour of the printed piece and avoid having to set several printed proofs.

7. Producing error-free packaging means ensuring the  integrity of the packaging design 

The artwork is perhaps the most eye-catching part of a packaging design; therefore, it also needs to go through several approval stages before going to print. Yet over its lifecycle, your artwork might experience several changes. It’s crucial to ensure that the end-result is a true representation of your design idea and that even though your workflow might be broken into multiple components or SKUs, your artwork’s approval process in maintained all the way through the print.