After a little consideration and ingenuity, you may be able to use that packaging as your own custom holding fixture. Here is a small checklist to ensure that using the supplied product’s packaging will work as your fixture:
- Snug fit: This goes without much debate or discussion. The item must be snug. Any movement of the product within its own packaging will affect the registration of your graphics.
- Machine made: Is the product machine made or is it crafted by hand? If it is handcrafted, you can bet there will be slight changes in how it is assembled or even the overall final size of the item. I recommend staying away from laser marking any handcrafted items while still in the original packaging. Any variation in size could affect your positioning of laser marked graphics.
- Available space: How tight your graphics are placed to nearby existing imprints, logos, and edges has a drastic effect on your ability to laser mark an item while in its own packaging. The reason for this is that if your graphics are not exactly centered in that space, it will be noticeable on a tight area. Plus, once it engraved, it is always engraved! So, it is a good idea to set up your graphics with generous margins in mind. The larger your margins, the larger your safety net will be if your graphics are not exactly 100 percent centered.
- Product packaging: How well is the product packaging made? Is it tight and consistent, or is it loose and sloppy? The reason the iPad worked so well was that it was extremely snug. A quick way to tell is to try and move the product while it is in the packaging.
- Fan: Often electronic items have some sort of clear protective film. If you keep that protective film intact and don’t remove it, ask yourself whether the film will be affected by the exhaust fan.
- Time setup: Does the extra time to sync up your artwork actually save you time? It may cost you some additional time to use the box as a holding fixture, but it could translate in a huge time saver for large runs.
—Richard Korbyl, Columbia Awards