DT Theory

  • Created by: ollie4448
  • Created on: 13-12-16 18:30


We use packaging To protect.To inform.To display.To transport.To contain.To preserve.

There are a wide range of materials for designers to select from for packaging. 

Each material has its own characteristics. (some are rigid, flexible, waterproof, recyclable)

 All of them come in a range of sizes, weight, thickness, colour and finish.

Plastic is used for packaging for the following reasons:(1) due to it being light weight.(2) Coming in a variety of different colours.(3)Cheaper and lighter than glass.(4)Easy to shape and form.

There are many different types of card and board to choose from. Card is generally cheaper but becomes week when exposed to moisture . However it can be specially treated to withstand moisture.

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These are made from long chained molecules (called polymers), which are entangled but flexible. 

The polymer chains are held together by mutual attraction.

when you introduce heat to the material the molecules move and untangled causing the plastic to become soft and pliable.

This allows the material to be easily moulded into any required shape.

When the heat source is removed the material becomes stiff and solid. 

They have the ability to soften under heat over and over again without damage or decomposition. This means the material has a ‘Plastic Memory’ 

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Plastics Cont

Thermosetting Plastics

This group also begins as long, chain-like molecules.

The molecules in this structure link side to side as well as end to end. 

when you introduce heat to the material the the plastic becomes soft and pliable.

When the heat source has been removed the plastic has very little plasticity.

The major difference with this plastics is once it has been heated it cannot be reshaped like a thermoplastic.

They include the following type of plastic. ( Polyester Resin, Urea Formaldehyde)

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Plastics Cont 2


These form a third group which lies between the two basic groups of polymers.

Have similar properties to natural rubber and include the synthetic rubbers.

They form a rather loose structures with only a limited number of cross-links which allow considerable movement between chains.

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Ergonomics is the application of scientific information concerning humans to the design of objects, systems and environment for human use.  Ergonomics comes into everything which involves people. Work systems, sports and leisure, health and safety should all embody ergonomics principles if well designed. 

How its used:

Ergonomics incorporates elements from many subjects including anatomy, physiology, psychology and design. Ergonomists apply their diverse knowledge to ensure that products and environments are comfortable, safe and efficient for people to use. 

Ergonomic Design:

Ergonomic design is a way of considering design options to ensure that people's capabilities and limitations are taken into account. This helps to ensure that the product is fit for use by the target users 

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Environmental Issues

Each year in the UK, we produce large volumes of household rubbish. Despite the fact that more than half of this amount can be recycled, we actually only recycle one tenth of the rubbish we create.

Most of our rubbish ends up in landfill sites, while some is incinerated. These methods cause problems.

     - Firstly, our landfill sites are nearly full, leaving us few options left to bury our rubbish. 

     -Secondly, both burying and burning our rubbish releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the air.

     - Carbon Dioxide is the largest contributing factor to the Greenhouse Effect.

Landfill sites are also problematic because of the length of time some materials take to break down (literally hundreds of years.) Many objects that end up in landfill sites can also release harmful and toxic substances as they degrade.

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Graphic Identity

In today's society companies approach graphic designers to help them create or revamp new corporate identities for them. The reason behind this is to help them launch their business and create more interest in their products. Corporate identities are a form of self promotion that works continually for the company and helps to maintain the interest of the consumer.

Corporate Identity:

This is the application of a logo or symbol used across a range of applications.Business Cards, Shop Signs Clothing, Letter Heads & Vehicles etc.The detail of the logo/ Design might have to be modified for each application. (size,position,quality)These will be documented within the designers ideas and will be shown clearly how they will be used on each application.

Logo designs that are successful are those that are flexible enough to suit changes in circumstances. (e.g. when a new product is added to a companies range.)

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Die Cutting

In industry a company may need to manufacture thousands of the same net / package, every day. A STIKA machine or any similar machine will not be able to manufacture such large quantities. When large numbers have to be manufactured a DIE CUTTER is normally used as part of a production line.

1. The design is completed using a computer system and CAD software. The designer is careful to ensure the shape is accurate and that fold lines are in the correct place.

2. In a printers workshop, the blank pieces of card (perhaps rectangular in shape) are prepared and colour is added, as well as the printing. This may be achieved through the use of sprays, layers of coloured paper or automated screen printing.

3. Back in the factory a die cutter is set up. This is made up of several hardened steel blades. The layout of the blades match the exact size as the net. A die cutter is basically a steel stamp that is used to cut and shape the net. It is designed to cut through the card on some lines whilst slightly cutting others (these are the fold lines or crease lines).

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Benefits of Reusing and Recycling

Saves natural resources. Waste is not just created when consumers throw items away. Throughout the life cycle of a product—from extraction of raw materials to transportation, processing and manufacturing waste is generated.

Reusing items or making them with less material decreases waste. Ultimately, less materials will need to be recycled or sent to landfills or waste combustion facilities.

Reduces toxicity of waste. Selecting non hazardous or less hazardous items is another important component of source reduction. Using less hazardous alternatives for certain items (e.g., cleaning products and pesticides), sharing products that contain hazardous chemicals instead of throwing out leftovers, reading label directions carefully, and using the smallest amount necessary are ways to reduce waste toxicity.  

Reduces costs. The benefits of preventing waste go beyond reducing reliance on other forms of waste disposal. Preventing waste also can mean economic savings for communities, businesses, schools, and individual consumers. 

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Die Cutting Cont

The steel die cutter is made up of specially hardened steel cutters. Each is like a blade, with a serrated edge. Sometimes the blades can be rearranged to form other shapes of net.

The die cutter is pressed into the card by the force of the machine. The ‘stamped out’ net is then automatically placed on a folding table. Parts of the table move/fold, forming the basic package. People sometimes finish the more delicate folding operations. (This depends on the complexity of the package). 

In industry most of these operations are carried out by one large packaging machine that is able perform a series operations including, printing/colouring, die cutting and folding. 

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Products need to be created with a great deal more in mind than just their physical function if they are to be classed as good design.

A design team needs to make sure a product fulfils its purpose or function.  Indeed many products have more than one function.  For example a package is rarely just to protect its contents, it often provides a means of display in a shop or a way of conveying information. The packaging may need to be reused or recycled this may also be part of its function.

People respond to their physical and emotional feelings.  They can be stimulated or displeased by the things that surround them.

They respond to images, objects, sounds, smells, textures, and tastes.  

These responses are known as aesthetics – the way different people respond to different things. 

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Aesthetics Cont

Our feelings can be influenced by a number of factors that have been built up over the course of our lives.  We might call it personal taste but they are likely to have been formed through our memories, experiences and personal cultures.

It is these responses that the designer must try to anticipate.

Certain colours, patterns, shapes, textures, sounds and smells can evoke different responses in different cultures and this is an important design consideration.

The way we respond to a product aesthetically is a third social level of interaction.  What we feel says something about us as an individual.  Buying a certain brand reinforces our association with a certain quality or value or group that we aspire to be like.

Fashion or style is a major consideration in the design of products.

Style defines a particular set of shapes, colours or lettering styles that are fashionable at a particular time and place.

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When designing a piece of graphics, be it a poster or a package, the designer must select the right typeface. A type face is a style of lettering sometimes called a font. It is as important as colour and pictures when trying to create the right image for a product. There are millions of different typefaces in the world.  Anyone can make up their own typeface. However, they all fall into 4 categories. Each category subconsciously suggests a different thing about the product when you see it.

An easy way of remembering the difference between serif and sans serif..Think of Serif as 'The Times' Newspaper. It is expensive, high quality, for mature / adult readers That is Serif !!!! Think of Sans Serif as 'The Sun' Newspaper. It is cheaper / value for money, more fun, aimed at younger target market, it is modern That is Sans Serif 

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Printing Effects


Embossing creates a magnificent graphic element by allowing designs to be raised, or depressed, in the paper. 

High quality text and cover papers work best for embossing. Text and cover papers have the necessary strength to withstand the pressure and stress of the embossing process.

 It requires a steel die being pressed into the printed surface.

Die Cutting

This is a machine process where a quantity of irregular shaped designs produced in paper and card can be produced providing the material is not to thin.

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Printing Effects Cont


This is a process used to enhance and protect the product.

There are five types of varnishing.

Ultra Violet: has a highly smooth and glossy finish and dries almost instantly.

Water-based: these involve the use of special machinery.

Spirit based: these are now environmentally unacceptable.

Spot varnishing: this is printing a layer of varnish over the printed surface to provide a dramatic highlight.

Oil based: cheapest and takes between 2-8 hours to dry.

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Paper and Card

There are many different sizes, colours and weights of paper, card and board.

Paper is the most versatile of all printing materials.

Paper is made by machine from pulped wood, and is available in a huge range of thicknesses, colour, texture and size.


A brightly coloured extruded plastic. Light weight, durable and waterproof.

Uses: For making models, point of sale displays, mounting up of work etc

Corrugated Card

Protective Packaging used for fragile goods.Recyclable

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Mater Cont


Uses: Model making and sculpture work. Heat and sound insulation in the building trade.

Note: Styrofoam is a fine grained, rigid, expanded polystyrene foam. It can be cut with hand tools or hot wire, shaped with surform, sanded, glued and painted.

Foam Board

Strong  and durable, foam centred board. Light in weight. Uses: for mounting displays, presentations, prototype models, exhibitions and many other applications.

Balsa Wood

Uses: Model making, buoyancy in rafts, floats, water sports equipment, heat, sound and vibration insulation. Note: Balsa has a high strength to weight ratio

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Working Characteristics of Materials

When a designer has to choose materials for a certain product they need to consider the following,

Materials and their working properties.

Working constraints and limitation of materials.

Relevant manufacturing processes. Appropriate finishes.

Dimensional accuracy.

Cost: This is very important part of the selection process as it could have significant effect on the purchase price of the raw material, manufacturing process and the retail price of the product they have designed. 

These all have a significant affect and if any of these variables were to change it could make the material unsuitable for the task it has been chosen for.

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Manufacturing Processes

When trying to make associations between materials & processes a designer should be aware of the differences in terms of availability and the different manufacturing processes.

Injection moulding, Blow moulding & Vacuum Forming.

Printing Methods & Printing effects 

This will give the designer an understanding of how certain materials will behave and in what forms they may be available.

During the first stages of the design process a general overview is taken about what can be achieved with a certain material, whereas towards the end a more detailed analysis is needed when specifying a manufacturing process for the chosen product. The selection of materials and production methods both influence one another.

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In todays society woods are used as both a structural and as a decorative material.Todays woods are still used extensively for a variety of application: from outdoor shelters to fine pieces of furniture, not forgetting , of course, paper making.

 Hardwoods:These come from deciduous or broad leafed trees.They are generally slow growing which tends to make them harder

Softwoods:These come from coniferous trees which have needles rather than leaves.They generally grow faster than hardwoods and are usually softer to work than most hardwoods.These are supplied in standard sections, rough sawn or planed smooth.

Manufactured Boards:These are manmade materials. These are timber sheets which are made either by gluing layers of wood or wood fibres together. They have been mainly produced for industrial production techniques as they can be made in very large sheets of consistent quality.

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Wood Cont

Natural Characteristics:

You need to think of the following when selecting a timber for a specific job:

Grain Pattern: the growth ring marks visible on the surface.

Colour: different tree species differ greatly in colour.

Texture: different tree species have varied surface and cell textures.

Workability: some species of tree are much easier to work with than others.

Structural strength: different species vary from weak to very strong.

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