Using CAD for Print Projects

Learn all about using CAD.

Computer-Aided Design (CAD) programs have been around for decades to help visualize and create complicated three-dimensional objects. It’s used in many industries, to create nearly every object in our lives.

Using CAD for print projects can create specific and highly accurate designs for packaging, folders, envelopes or other printed materials that include cuts and folds.


What Is Computer-Aided Design (CAD)?

Computer-Aided Design is the process of drawing using a computer program, such as AutoCAD or Solidworks, rather than using a pen and paper. CAD software programs can increase productivity, specificity, and accuracy in design.

For printing projects, CAD can be used to illustrate cuts and folds to create a three-dimensional packaging such as boxes or containers, envelopes or folders, or other assembled products.


Where the Job Starts

When designing for print projects using a CAD program, it’s essential to have standardized units of measure, consistent fonts and font sizes, and other design elements. You may also want to include some general information and annotations in your file so the printer can use it as a reference.


Using Dielines

When designing for printed materials, you will want to use a template, known as a dieline. This dieline will be used as a guide and indicates where the cut and fold lines are on the flat piece. The dieline is a layer in the computer file that is separate from the rest of the design.

It’s crucial that the dieline is accurate or your entire design will be off. Double-check all measurements, cut and fold lines, as well as overall dimensions before sending the file to the printer.


Sending Your File to the Printer

Once you have created your dieline, you can send it to your printer to have a CAD sample or physical prototype created. It may be helpful to have the CAD sample or prototype before designing the rest of the packaging, so you have a better idea of how it will work in the round.

If the prototype isn’t correct or needs to be adjusted, the CAD file and dieline can be updated and the measurements can be checked. You may also want to experiment with different materials or thicknesses of paper or cardboard, as that can change the structural integrity of the design.


The Benefits of Using CAD

Aside from the ability to be more precise in your design than is possible when drawing freehand, designing with CAD offers some additional benefits.

Digital Files

Because you’re working with electronic files, it’s easy to share with your printer. The printer can create a CAD sample to share with you, so you can see how it will look. This saves you the costs of print machine setup and having a physical prototype created. Any tweaks can be made, and the files shared back and forth quickly.

CAD Sample

The CAD sample can be used to make sure that the exposed parts of the package or folder have the correct text, color, coating or other graphics applied. You can also check the size of the font or graphics used to make sure it looks right. This will ensure that when your design is printed, the folds and cuts will line up and the printed content be accurately placed.


Want to Use CAD for Your Next Project?

If you want to explore how CAD can help you design interesting and innovative three-dimensional designs for your next project, there are many software options available. Contact us to learn about what kinds of file types we work with and how we can help you use CAD to take your design to the next level. 

If you needed it yesterday you better contact us today!

We can turn even the most complex jobs around quickly – and without all the time and expense creating dies. Let’s talk about your project!