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Good To Go

Speed of execution is key to getting a product on the store shelf.

September 2008 by Jean-Marie Hershey
When considering the gains and losses that result from automating the product development cycle, it’s helpful to take a look at what lies outside the realm of package production—namely, the creative process itself. As a package travels from a creative idea to the retailer’s shelf, the opportunity and challenge for suppliers of packaging preproduction software lies in identifying and eliminating steps in the development cycle that can compromise the integrity of the design process and prevent the speedy execution of a project.

“The function of packaging prepress is to find the best possible compromise between the greatest creativity and the limitations of the printing process on the back end,” says Jan De Roeck, director for solutions management, -EskoArtwork. “Compression of the market cycle is a welcome challenge for preproduction software suppliers because there is an opportunity to meet the needs of designers and enable them to do a better job.”

In other words, while it can’t automate the design part, technology can provide the tools that enable designers to give brand owners precisely what that want.

Getting the green light

After formulating an idea, but before the design enters production, digital technology can reduce the number of times a file must be reviewed and pare the number of physical mock-ups required for customer approval to a single prototype. The savings, in terms of time and labor, can be significant.

Before the advent of virtual prototyping, the only way for a designer to make a 3D mock-up was to use conventional production techniques to make a series of physical mock-ups before gaining customer approval. Today, products like EskoArtwork’s Studio, which functions as a 3D visualizer window inside Adobe Illustrator, and EskoArtwork’s Visualizer, which is designed to accurately simulate “finishing layers” like embossing, varnish, glitter, and gold and silver foil, can help designers spot errors before they become costly problems. Using such products cuts out the intermediate steps and allows the achievement of customer approval much more quickly. Ideally, only one prototype need be created before the product goes to market.

An added benefit of virtual prototyping, De Roeck says, is that it enables the brand owner to see how the design will interact with a given retail environment, or even where the consumer may use the packaged product. What will it look like under fluorescent or incandescent light? How it will appear next to its close competitors? These are among the key factors brand owners consider when deciding to accept the design or ask for changes.
 

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