Import from China Tutorial 04: How to Create Good Design Files for Your New Product


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When developing a new product, it’s is important to communicate your design ideas accurately to the factory/supplier. You need to convey the dimensions, colors, shape and structures of the product. All these are specified in design files.


Why You Need Design Files

According to our quality inspection experience, nearly 50% of the quality problems are caused by poorly articulated requirements, in other words, a unclear design file. Thus, in order to avoid misunderstanding, a well written design file is necessary.

Guides to Creating Design Files

If you want to create a good design file, please keep the following tips in mind.

1. Examining Your Competitors’ Products

  • Research at least 2-3 competitors’ products.
  • Review more broadly at unrelated products for design inspiration such as their materials, packaging and so on.

2. Sending Clear Design Drawings

Design drawings must fully display the product and/or its components and specify dimensions in millimeters (mm). Different products will apply to different forms of drawings, but in general, there are three types.

2D Design Drawings

2D design drawing, or technical drawing is critical for the engineers of your supplier to understand your product. These 2D drawings communicates in detail how all components are combined together, their shapes and dimensions. Providing correct information is crucial to the success of your product. 2D design drawings are usually provided in PDF format.


3D Design Drawings

Today, most complex products are designed by 3D design software such as CATIA, Pro/ENGINEER and SolidWorks to effectively and correctly present your products. So before you send your design files to your manufacturer, you need to know what formats your suppliers can use and what their requirements are. Different processes also require different file formats. For example, if you need to generate machining components on a computer numerical control (CNC) machine, you will need to send IGS file format. IGS file format is based on the Initial Graphics Exchange Specification (IGES) standard. The standard is used by a variety of CAD(computer aided drawing) applications. Therefore, the most important thing for 3D design drawing is to know what format your supplier wants.



For very simple products with simple shape and structure, photos are usually enough. But design drawings are always more precise. Choose this only if your product is really, really simple. Photocopies are provided in common image formats: JPG or PNG.

3. Providing Detailed Product Description

In this part, you need to specify the function, color, materials, quality requirements, etc., so that your manufacturer can better understand what you want.

4. Finding A Designer If Necessary

In case you don’t have a designer at your disposal, here are a few online sources where you could find a freelance designer:


5. Never Taking Shortcuts

When you generate your design files, please don’t take shortcuts. Because there is a risk that the file contains nothing. After creating design files, one thing that you must do is to protect your design. It is quite commonly for a Chinese company to steal designs of foreign companies or register their IP. After handling your supplier the design files of your product, you will be facing the risk of your product being copied. Good news is that there are ways to prevent that.

How to Protect Your Design?

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) Can’t Be Helpful

NDA sounds good. But the effectiveness is not as strong as what you expect. Even with an NDA, it’s still possible for the sub-contractor or the employee of your manufacturer to steal your design and make profit out of it. What’s more, in practice, NDA is difficult and expensive to enforce.

Trademark Registration Is the Best Choice

If the design/function of your product is truly unique/original, we recommend that you apply for patents before handing design files to your manufacturer. You should apply not only in your country or target market, but also in China even if you are not planning to sell your products there. Here are two kinds of patents that you can apply for:

Design Patent

A design patent protects the unique visual qualities of a product. It may be granted if your product has distinct configuration or distinct surface ornamental design.

Utility Patent

Utility Patent covers the creation of a new or improved product or function. Once approved, a utility patent forbids others from using or selling the invention with authorization from the you (the patent holder). Patent applications take longer than registering trademarks and the process is more complicated. We suggest that you find a patent agent since the preparing for patent application is highly technical. And if you want to know more about how to register patents in China, please contact us for a free guide.


Make sure that the design file contains all the information needed to produce the product. If you have a complete and comprehensive design file, you will make it easier for manufacturers to produce a satisfying product.

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