How to get packaging printed in China | 9 insights for designers & entrepreneurs & Startups

How to get your packaging printed in China in simple steps. This topic covers how to get your packaging printed in China from the concept to sending your design to a Chinese factory and getting printed proofs.

Getting your packaging made in China
Getting your idea made!

General information about this post :

– The pit falls
– What to expect when working with the factories.
– The typical stages
– Other details experiences

This article discusses my professional experience in getting your work printed with Chinese suppliers told from a design perspective. I hope that this post will help you make an informed decision and how to go about getting the results you want from your suppliers.

You can get your artwork printed in China from a reputable factory or supplier. The challenge is finding a reputable factory and supplier. When you can’t speak the language, it can be difficult.

1 ) How to get your packaging made for your product (Chinese Factory)

If you are a business, an entrepreneur or someone looking to get a product manufactured for the retail market you will need packaging for your product, unless you are intending to sell only online using brown boxes.

To be taken seriously, you will need to have professional packaging made. Working with Chinese suppliers can be a great cost saving measure but you will need make sure you select the right one.

Mass production packaging
Mass production packaging

2 ) Why do companies get packaging for their products manufactured in China?

There are many reasons for a why a company may want to get a product or a piece of the packaging made in China if you are from a western country such as the USA or United Kingdom.

By far most common reason for getting products manufactured in China is to save money on production, printing or manufacturing fees. From a business perspective this is great news – but it isn’t always as ideal or as cheap as it sounds. If you pick the wrong supplier it can cost you time and money and can even lead to trouble further down the line.

3 ) How to supply your packaging design to a Chinese factory

This isn’t as tricky as it sounds from the designers perspective but be prepared to teach the factory how to suck eggs. DO NOT Assume they will understand what you want. And DO NOT assume that things will be created ‘as is’, on occasions factories may ‘help’ and tinker with your work without your consent. Stay vigilant.

Frustrated Designer… Frustrated factory, Frustrated business… etc

When you create a design you will need to annotate and make it as clear to follow as possible, be it using spot UV or any extra features this will need to be told in FULL. I would also strongly advise on sending rough mock ups or drawings to help communicate what it is you are setting out to achieve. Visuals often make one of the best lines of communication when having your sample made with a Chinese supplier or factory.

Getting angry at the factory won’t accomplish anything, it won’t fix the problem, it wont make you wealthier and it wont speed up the process. The ball is in your court in the end and it just needs to be right.

Send them visuals and explain EVERYTHING.

4 ) How to find a Chinese packaging a supplier

There are hundreds, possibly 1000’s of businesses online that are looking to print your packaging in China alone. You could go onto website such as Alibaba to find a supplier or through Linkedin. I still hear from suppliers coming through my Linkedin account.

By the far the most effective (not cheapest) way is by hiring or contracting someone to work as a middleman or woman to work between you and the suppliers.

Communication is key in getting your design correct otherwise you will get something you didn’t want from the factories.

I would argue that getting a good supplier from one of the factories should be a top priority. A bad supplier will result in bad results – funnily enough! Here are some key points when finding a factory or supplier to work with:

– *Find someone you can trust*
– Find someone that offers quality
– Get as much written down in the beginning as possible
– Try to get prototypes or samples from factory supplier before mass production.

5 ) What to expect when having your packaging or product made in China

It all comes down to your supplier, communication and how you supply the artwork. It’s best to have everything ‘exactly’ as when supplying artwork to factory and also be prepared for a bit of randomness when it comes to how they may produce the work. Be vigilant and make sure to get proofs from the factory.

I have written a couple of quick steps for you to follow when producing your packing:

– Find a reputable supplier, if you have somebody that is fluent in Chinese this can help tremendously

– See if you can get proofs or past evidence of packaging and material samples. What they sometimes say you will get and what you actually get is not uncommon in my experience.

– Getting digital proofs of your artwork through photos, and flat screen image is a must.

– Delays can happen due to miscommunication from either or both parties.

Don’t let the factories take the initiative.

– The factories are generally better at giving you want you want if you send a 3D mock up and illustration.

– They are often very good with the cardboard engineering stage but not so much on the creative side.

– The factories can improve as with any working relationship with the more work you send them.

– Weather can affect how and when you packaging may arrive.

– The Chinese factories can damage the packaging during packing if they are rushed. Try not to rush them if you can help it.

– When supplying artwork, leave nothing to the imagination.

6 ) How long will take to see your design once it is printed and shipped from a Chinese factory?

When having packaging printed In China, I have often seen a sample come back within one month, they can be very quick! Occasionally 3 months, depending on the weather, suppliers work load and method of transportation.

Shipping from China!
Shipping from China!

7 ) The realities of having your work printed in China

When it is good it’s great and you will generally save money. When it isn’t great, as with some things in life, it can be a complete nightmare.

Working with new suppliers can be the most problematic as neither of you are familiar with working with each other, you don’t know each others strengths, habits, communication etc. One of my mistakes when working with a new Chinese supplier is ‘assuming’ – assume NOTHING.

– Don’t assume that they know what is in your head.
– Don’t assume that single colour should go all the around the packaging.
– Don’t assume that they will offer the same level of service twice, they may be busy or rushed.
– Don’t assume that the factory understands what is to be made when you supply the artwork. You need to make what you want as clearly and as transparent as possible – in the end, if you are the designer, or manufacturer, the buck ends with you.

Get it right you will have a great piece of packaging. Get the communications wrong and you will be in for a whole load of pain.

8) Great reasons for having your work made In China

I feel that I have covered many of the perks scattered through the post but it may be easier to bullet point why it is a good idea to have your packaging and product created in China.

– Getting work printed In China or overseas is often cheaper than getting work printed in western countries such as the UK or United States
– There is a abundance of suppliers of products and packaging manufactures on websites such as Alibaba
– It’s easy and quick to get wholesale and bulk quotes for your product
– Using factory in China will help you save money if you are looking to reduce overheads.

9 ) The challenges with getting things printed in China

For it’s many perks and plus points for getting packaging and products printed in China it also comes with its short comings and challenges. I have listed a couple of points below.

Copyright theft : the factories are notorious for stealing and selling your product idea as their own. Not every factory is like this, but it is not uncommon. I have witnessed Chinese factories use my previous employers artwork and pass onto a competitor. There are other random knock off’s I have stumbled upon ranging from copies of renown books, bad copies of Hollywood films etc.

Stealing Kickstarter’s : I have seen factories steal Kickstarter campaigns and under cut the creators. Worse, the factories release their copy to the retail market before true creators have made it themselves.

Decrease in quality : This isn’t something that always happens but on occasions the suppliers I have worked with would do little things like : use less glue, ship scuffed or damaged work, rush on packaing if you have blisters inside your box etc. I think this was often as a case of reducing expenses and over heads.

As with anything, there are always challenges that can come when producing products. I have also worked with printers in the UK which have ignored specifics such as bleed and just printed it as is. Although one bonus as with most things online, is that you can check reviews

Getting packaging and artwork printed in China

Thank you for reading on how to get packaging and artwork printed in China. If you would like to know more about getting your work printed feel free to get in touch.

You may wish to read more on :

Packaging Design
Creating a Killer Kickstarter Page

Packaging Projects | high street retail ready design

It has been while since posting a project update, as many of the other posts have covered industry insights and experiences.

One of core project that appears to get a lot of attention is the post on how we created a successful game project. A post that is packed full of information on our design approach and what we did.

This Design Post

This post covers a range of packaging designs that were used and are still actively being used in the retail market – a phrase that was used often when creating the packing was “retail ready”.

These designs range from Tech Girl, Satzuma Gifting, Stem and a whole range of projects and pre-production artwork. These products have graced the shelves of Boots, Tesco’s TK Maxx, Robert Dyas, Menkind, Staples and stores across the globe.

Unicorn Power Bank

Unicorn Power bank packaging
Yes… yes it is a Unicorn. And a Power Bank
Idesign for Smartphones, retail
Packaging and branding design for a ‘build your own Smartphone cover’ product

You can read more on the project on the portfolio website. It covers the branding, the packaging, the marketing and the digital design.

Proof Of Concept Packaging

The proof of concept packaging was used for design approval, used in product pitches to large retailers and also used to ‘visualise’ the package for print factories.

Beard Bib Packaging
Early Beard Bib Packaging, This was put together very quickly to get a feel for the concept.
Packaging design
Packaging illustration
Packaging design for game
Boogie Pong Game Box Mock Up
Packaging design - mock up
Another Tech Girl Mock Up – Typography would be ‘Rose Gold’
Jeantech Power Supply
Mock up / Render of a power supply box
Flash Memory Top - FSDU
Flash Memory Top – FSDU – Final Proof
Neon Packaging concept
Neon Packaging – Product – Testing look and feel

Packaging Nets

The images below show the flat nets of the packaging. This is the print ready or near print ready artwork that is generally sent of production after approval.

Early Joystick Design
Early Joystick design – Packaging – Card + PET – Concept (shelved)
Flat net of am expansion pack
Card box net for packaging an expansion pack.

This is one part of a larger gaming project, if you would like to read more this product please feel free. Or if you would help with you card or game design feel have a look.

Net for a VR Google Card
Google Card Design
AR Blaster Packaging
AR Blaster Packaging Net
Stem Product | Build You Own Robot
Stem Product | Build You Own Robot
Beard Bib Dev
Beard Bib Dev

Final Products & ‘In Situ’ Shots

These are the completed products based on the designs I supplied.

Memory Capture Box & Product Design
Memory Capture Box & Product Design
Head phones packaging
Head phones packaging
Counter Display for Product
Counter Display for Product – VR Goggles
Packaging design - neon sign
Make your own Neon Sign
Joystick
Joystick Packaging
Joystick Packaging
Flash Drives 8 GB - in store photo!
POS design inside a retail store.

That’s all on this packaging post!

Retail Read Packaging

If you would like any assistance in your latest packaging design be it the concept or putting together a punchy, relevant and cost effective solution feel free to get in touch or have a look at projects on the brochure website.

Retail Ready Packaging Projects – Perhaps you’d like to read :