Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Designers beware of… production lines.

Once you've completed your design process, it goes to production. Whether it's printing, packaging or product design, you need to be knowledgeable about the production process, in detail.

Suppliers are more than happy to help most of the time, they will explain technical specifications (they will even share molds or keylines) and suggest better ways to handle the design in order to make the most of the process. Knowing about it will give you more authority to assess design issues with clients as well as avoid potential problems during production. If you can, spend a few days in the factory or production line, so that you understand the process thoroughly. Ask many questions.

Take a look into products that have been made using the same production techniques and evaluate how much you can push the boundaries of your design. Learn about the quantity of items to be produced and the budget to do it. These factors may play a key role in how the design should be tackled, for instance, can you produce two different designs at the same time? Is there a limited number of colors available according to the price? What's the minimum/maximum quantity that can be produced in a predefined time?

It's also a very good idea to create mock-ups, specially in product or package design.

Despite all of the above, clarify responsibilities with your client and suppliers. While I'm saying you need to be knowledgeable in the production process, take into consideration that specifications, legal requirements and other production issues should be addressed by them.

All the best!

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