Let’s start with the basics: think of a tech pack as the ultimate instruction manual for your factory. It shows the factory workers everything they need to follow to get the end result you're looking for.
It's how you take your vision from existing only in your head to living through multiple dimensions. A comprehensive and complete tech pack will reduce the opportunities for mistakes and make your first prototype a lot more successful, too! An excellent tech pack also gives ample instructions through visuals, measurements, detailed construction sketches, and directions.
When you're just getting started, you will most likely be using excel or google sheets to create your tech pack. You will want to make several different sheets to organize, clarify, and simplify. Your goal is to make the whole tech pack easily understood by your factory. If you're working with a factory overseas, they will often use one worker to translate the tech pack into their native language so the rest of the team can follow along more quickly. This is another reason that clarity and completeness are what you should strive for.
Both Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets both have formula capabilities, which is essential in building tech packs. There is a lot of information to organize within a tech pack. It's so much easier to do within these apps due to their tabs function. Both also can access information on an earlier sheet, so it can pull elements into each page if you set it up smartly from the start!
Some designers might Adobe Illustrator or another drawing app, but I would highly recommend using Excel or Google Sheets for any of the pages that require formulas and specs! It's so much easier to be sure that your info is accurate and follows the rules of how each pattern grows as you move through the sizes. You can check your work much more efficiently too.
When your collection has many styles and requires more internal organization, instead of using Excel or Google Sheets, you might migrate to creating tech packs through a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system like Gerber, or Blue Cherry. This can also be referred to as Product Data Management or PDM for short.
What's really great about this type of PLM platform is it cuts out some of your own back and forth. It also syncs up all the information, so it's all up-to-date and accurate through each page.
There are definitely upsides and downsides to both paths. With excel, there can be a breakdown where information is lost, especially if your pages are not synced. This is how PLM saves you time and ensures consistency. PLM systems can be tricky to navigate, expensive, and time-consuming to set up, and they are reliant on the user making sure it's all up to date and accurate.
Excel and Google Sheets are easy to use, familiar, and similar in nature, which is why it's a great way to get started. It's the best and most accessible option for someone just starting out, so in my next few posts, I'll be using that as a way to build the work-along tech pack I post in subsequent posts, so keep your eyes peeled.
In the meantime, here are some additional considerations regarding Excel VS PLM when it comes to tech packs!
EXCEL VS PLM
TECH PACK CREATION
The most important part about creating tech packs is to be as consistent and clear as possible. Be concise, but thoughtful. Don't inundate your first factory with irrelevant or unimportant information in the beginning.
Remember that a lot of areas of development unfold over time, and you don't have to have everything figured out in your first go!
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