3D modeling for packaging design?

I’ve recently started an internship at a package design and branding firm. Most of the projects are done in illustrator and photoshop.

Today my boss asked me a question which got me thinking. She asked if I know any 3D program that I can use for packaging design.
My background is industrial design, so I thought of some programs I’ve used such as Solidworks, Rhino, and Alias. But honestly I don’t know if they’re “the proper tool” for packaging design.

I was under the impression that professionals in packaging design must use some other 3D program to do their modeling and rendering - do you do any packaging design with a 3D rendered presentation? If so, what program do you use?

There is some packaging software for sure.
I found solidworks ideal. As a freelancer I do many different stuff and having special software for each discipline would be very expensive :slight_smile:
In solidworks you can use sheet metal as paper and you get very acurate results. Of course there is no FEFCO library but for paper POS etc this is very flexible.

We have used SolidWorks for 90% of our packaging work, and complement that with Rhino for the oddball needs. Granted we do a fair amount of blow-molded structures so those need to be done in 3D for proper design intent translation, and simpler packages could be done in sketches or ideally AI. I believe most retail-type design use 3DS Max or even FormZ.

Ditto using the sheet metal module in SW as a substitute for paper.

I used Artios CAD in the past pretty cool. But I honestly felt like sheet metal function in Solidworks was just as good. Artios is good for understanding about how corrugated stuff folds

Thanks a lot guys!

I’ll look into Artios also as an option. But good to know my Solidworks knowledge can still be useful. I just gotta brush up on working sheet metal in Solidworks. Never actually used it.

I work in POP but have touched on packaging design here in recent years, that being said I’d recommend looking into Strata3D for any renderings you might need and they also have a whole suite of software that might serve well for packaging. I think the Strata family of software was heavily geared for packaging design.

It plays very well with the Adobe suite and depending what your exact needs are, could be a good low-cost option.

Good luck!

I second this. While I don’t use Strata for packaging design it does have some additional tools for it. Strata is a 3D illustration tool and not a CAD tool so its uses for production (beyond graphic design) won’t be very good, but if for conceptual 3D illustration work is a great value for what it can do, good quality rendering at a low cost, and easier to learn.

My staff and I use it for exhibit design, like anything it has its bugs and quirks, but hey it runs on MacOS!

The fact that Strata 3D runs on Mac might be a deciding factor. The whole office runs OSX, except the administrator girl.
I was going to just use bootcamp + Solidworks. But this might be preferable.

Our firm don’t do much structural packaging design afaik. I believe learning this for the other staffs at the firm would be a lot easier compared to learning Solidworks. Most of them have zero experience in 3D modeling - probably would save a lot of my time if I have to teach Solidworks. Thanks for the suggestions.

And probably a heck of a lot cheaper. One of the downsides with Strata is that it is somewhat of an obscure 3D software, definitely not an industry standard. That means it has a small (though helpful) user community and it can be an issue for recruitment, nobody I’ve ever hired knew Strata when they started unless they came from somewhere else in our organization. Depending on your own design path it could be a great niche program to know or a hurdle for future employment.

That aside, Strata does have a lot of video tutorials and training materials that can be helpful. They also run sales and bundle deals regularly and so you should never have to pay full price if you keep an eye on their sales.

Thanks for the suggestions guys. I have experimented with a few application tools myself and some of them are just not up to my expectations when it comes to 3D. Branding is like the first impression that your product gives off to potential customers so it has to be impactful to leave a lasting dint on people’s minds. I will definitely give the said software a go and see what can be achieved for my self storage to have a more influential effect.

The big question here is what kind of packaging are you designing. If you are designing cups, thermoforms, tubes, bottles, or any other rigid container then Solidworks is the standard. If you are designing paper folding cartons, then ArtiosCAD is best because you can export a dieline. Bags and wraps are designed in Illustrator because they are flat flexible material that is wrapped around a product. So as I said what i your intended pack?

If you are just looking for a a 3D rendering with no manufacturing output then Strata and 3Dstudio Max are generally the industry standard. That being said, I don’t see why Alias or Rhino wouldn’t be able to deliver a presentation rendering for packaging.


And what about www.turnavisual.com? It is an online tool and can be used almost on every packaging? The quality will be as high as the quality of the design you upload

We use solid works as well. The vendor then will make the final dieline and we will do final graphics to the production dieline.