Packaging Software Newbie


New member
Hi Guys,

I work at a commercial printing company as a prepress/ctp manager. We have been specialising in large quantities of book work for the last 25 years, but recently (the last few months) we have moved into the packaging side of things.
We work with the following Prepress and Impoing Software and tools: Adobe Suite/Pitstop/Prinergy/Preps/Insite.

I recently attended a demo for Kodak Pandora Step and Repeat Software and Artios Cad.
Both these programs are incredible, but do I really need them if I already have the software to do the job?

1. We do not specialise in design, so we request that our client's supply us with print ready pdf's.
2. If needs be, we alter bleed/Fonts/die lines etc via Pitstop.
3. We do interlocking die cutting impositions via Preps.

I know that both these programs are wonderfully powerful, but is it maybe just a "nice to have" in our case or am I missing something big? We have done a few runs on packaging jobs with the programs that we've got and we have not had any problems thus far.

The one thing that we do need is some kind of packaging library. I have read that one can access a packaging library via Illustrator? Where can I find this library?
The reason that we need this is because our current clients request quotes for packaging based on the final box dimensions. They do not supply us with artwork to base the quote on, so this makes it incredibly difficult to estimate.
So far we have had to go out and buy the actual packaging to re trace and impo, this feels like an incredibly waste of time.
Does anyone have any suggestions regarding this?

I have also recently read about PLA (Packaging Layout Automation) - Kodak.
Has anyone used this, and if so what are the pros and cons?


Well-known member
In todays market you really can’t talk about packaging creation and manufacturing without talking about Esko products. Esko who makes ArtiosCAD, owns Enfocus (PitStop), has a set of plugins for Adobe Illustrator packaging design (DeskPack), as well as other tools and workflow solutions. - Have a look.


Well-known member
In todays market you really can’t talk about packaging creation and manufacturing without talking about Esko products. Esko who makes ArtiosCAD, owns Enfocus (PitStop), has a set of plugins for Adobe Illustrator packaging design (DeskPack), as well as other tools and workflow solutions. - Have a look.

Esko is not the only packaging software company in the game. While they do have good software, there are others as well. Kodak has a good packaging solution. My company, Hybrid Software has a very modern packaging solution and I am sure there are others.

To get back to the main question. It is easy to say "provide us with a print ready design", but in packaging, if you are dealing with a brand owner, this will rarely be the case. Hence the need for hi end packaging software. Packaging is a much more complex animal than typical commercial or digital print. Trapping for example, typical packaging design's rarely use 4 color process. The more separations you add to a design, the more complex the file file get and the harder the trapping becomes. Step and Repeat is also a huge variable. When you are running larger designs on expensive substrates / presses you want to make sure that your waste is as minimal as possible.

As far as your packaging estimation goes. Typical cad programs (Artios and Impact Cad) for example can build based on standard packaging types. However, Tilia Labs - Phoenix product is a wonderful solution for estimating production cost based on things like substrate, press, quantity etc...

Hope this was helpful.
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Well-known member
Here is another online free library of customisable dielines / nets. We use this a lot.

I understand your situation. I work for a packaging company that tries to develop it's own solutions in house rather than buy them in. I'd love to purchase Enfocus, Esko or Hybrid products but instead I have to wait years for our developers.

I would say that is sounds to me like you are making some boxes. You are not printing labels for wine bottles, flexible pouches for soup or making brown corrugated board boxes. Packaging is a very wide market so you might not get great value for money from a big suite of software at this point.

Packaging is still very much in the land of Illustrator. You will find you can do a lot with just AI. Those Print Ready PDFs you ask for might turn out to be native AI files with PDF functionality switched on. If not, Pitstop will keep you going.

As said eskopdl says, there are a nice bunch of plugins from Esko. ** I can no longer live without Text Recognition for Illustrator ** They all come with a free trial.

Since you have so much in place already, I'd suggest you stick with the workflow solutions you have and plug the gaps with plug ins and small apps. Next time you review your Estimation/MIS needs you can look to see if its time to purchase a more Packaging focused solution.

If you have some budget to spend ArtoisCAD (or similar) takes the hassle out of box making. You can do it all in Illustrator but you have to work out how changes on one panel effect the joining ones as well as the one opposite. Some employees will take to it really well, others might struggle.

By now you have worked out that reverse engineering a real package and then prototyping your new design by hand is a lengthy process. If you make your prototype by hand, you can't always be sure it's going to match the die you order. An entry level flatbed cutting table can help you there ...

(just one example - Graphtec make similar machines - You might find a nearby signage company with a Zund etc that will give you "white mock ups" for a small fee)

If you are able to produce in house samples quick and cheap, it's easier for the sales team do drum up more business.

Good luck.
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New member
I wouldn't go with PackZ. Its super expensive and it doesn't work well with illustrator. I would go wit Esko. its a much better match. were in the process of training with PackZ and I find it much to clunky for what it does.
Illustrator can do more than most give it credit. it is after all the packaging designers app of choice.


New member
Discussion of packaging materials. Abstract: Notice of Retraction After careful and considered review of the content of this paper by a duly constituted expert.

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