What is a Dieline in Packaging and Printing?

What is a Dieline?

If you work in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry, you’ve likely heard the term ‘dieline’ thrown around when it comes to creating new packaging and displays for your products. So what, exactly, is a dieline? It’s basically a blueprint that dictates the printing and assembly of your finished design.

A dieline is essential for the packaging process as it communicates how your final packaging will be formed after printing, and indicates where graphics can be placed in order to still be visible and printed well. Read on for a deeper dive into this essential aspect of packaging, including why it’s important, how to create one, and how dielines affect the printing process.

Why Are Dielines Important?

As mentioned above, dielines set the foundation for how your packaging will be designed, printed, cut, and formed. Without a dieline, a graphic designer wouldn’t know where and how to place your logo, graphics, or patterns; a printer wouldn’t recognize where to print design elements and important product information; a fulfillment worker wouldn’t know how and where to fold and seal your packaging around the product.

In the case of dielines, these constraints allow for more creativity. By working within a template that indicates the possibilities for where all visual elements can be located on the packaging, your graphic designer will be able to much more easily create gorgeous, innovative designs that can be fulfilled flawlessly.

Ultimately, dielines make sure that the final packaging is consistently printed in a standardized template that is the exact correct size and shape for your product, ensuring better design work and functionality. The dieline will also take into account technical printing elements like bleed and specific manufacturing requirements. As a result, your final packaging size, scale, and dimensions will be exactly what’s needed, with all visual elements in the correct, logical placements and structurally sound connection points like folds, scores, and glue tabs clearly indicated.

How Do You Make Dielines?

A new dieline starts from the measurements of a similar, flattened box or sample, or estimated needed measurements. This will start with your product and often requires the expertise of a packaging professional who is able to quickly conceptualize how product size translates to packaging dimensions. Of course, your input and initial vision for how the final product-in-packaging will appear will play a large role in the design process as well.

Once packaging size is determined, using design software like ArtiosCAD, designers will lay out the proper dimensions and add graphics and product information to the appropriate sections of the packaging. They’ll create dielines as vector art in order to allow computers to properly process the dimensionality, which requires mathematically described lines.

Mistakes in the dieline creation stage, if not caught, can wreak havoc on the production process down the line. For this reason, it’s a good idea to include as many members of the creative team as possible early on in the process to catch errors, or, at the very least, get another set of eyes on it prior to moving forward. The earlier any design mistake is caught, the less it will negatively impact the final product and slow down the packaging creation process.

Work with a professional graphic designer with ample experience to ensure excellence, avoid mistakes, and achieve better, correct, more interesting final designs. Essential things to look for in your packaging designer are consistent, open communication, deep industry experience, and proven professionalism. These qualities will promote a better understanding of your goals and make it easier to put specific and repeatable procedures in place to ensure checkpoints early on in the process, which will prevent you and your packaging partner from wasting time and potentially having to start from scratch.

Dielines in the Printing Process

During production, dielines are used to create cutting dies, which are basically custom, giant cookie cutters that let your packaging producer create high quantities of your unique packaging while ensuring consistency. They are made out of wood and metal and are then attached to the rollers of the converting machines. The machines that your packaging partner will use in production will cut out the flat, pre-folding and sealing version of your packaging as laid out specifically by the dieline.

Dielines are also used to create print plates that print out your custom packaging artwork and graphics. These are like giant stamp pads that also attach to the rollers of the converting machines in order to transfer the design onto your packaging. Again, all of this is dictated by the blueprint provided by the original dieline.

For custom corrugated packaging, the blank sheets of corrugated are typically printed (using the print plates) and then cut (using the cutting dies).  For the latter half of the process, there are two types of cutting dies — flat cutting dies and rotary cutting dies. Many corrugated producers, including Jamestown Container, use rotary dies for their high speed and reliable accuracy.

How Jamestown Makes Your Design Process Easy

Our experienced packaging engineers and graphic designers are well-versed in making custom product packaging and displays that drive sales for our customers. Our expertise, resting on 65 years of industry experience and continued growth and adaptation over the years, results in a design process that combines painstaking attention to detail with the utmost efficiency.

Contact Jamestown for well-designed, well-printed, high-quality custom packaging.

Jamestown Container Companies has been helping companies navigate their packaging and shipping challenges with innovative solutions since 1956. We're a family owned and operated organization, and we're dedicated to being a partner to all of our customers from initial concept to the moment their products reach their final destination.