Monthly Archives: May 2007

  • Sony Announces Paper Thin TV Screen

    Sonytvap2505_468x418
    Last week Sony announced that it has invented a flexible plastic display that bends like paper while showing full color video. Even though we are years away from this becoming a commercial product, it is truly an amazing breakthrough. You can see the video released by Sony (in Japanese) on YouTube.

    The screen is a 2.5" display and amazingly only 0.3mm thick (about 0.01") and the video seems to be very high quality. You can easily see this leading to ever thinner cell phones, video iPods and other similar applications.

    I also see the day in the not too distant future where you will be browsing the supermarket shelves and the "product labels" will actually be a TV screen on this kind of material. Right now, if you order product labels on our white BOPP with a gloss laminate then your labels are 0.0036" thick, slightly less than half the thickness of the plastic TV screen. So you can see that adding some adhesive to this plastic display and including a power source such as the paper batteries that are just around the corner, and you have a viable new kind of "product label" - the ultimate product sales tool.

    Now, we have a lot of obstacles to overcome before this day arrives, but you can be sure this day will come and I expect to start seeing these on the shelves within 10 years. Of course, these "video labels" will be expensive but I also imagine a recycling program that will offset the cost to the consumer. You might spend $2 more for a product with the video label, but then you could send the label back to the manufacturer for a $1 coupon or something like that.

    Here at Lightning Labels we like to be on the cutting edge of digital label technology. So even though these video labels are a long way off, when they become commercially available for product labels, we will be at the forefront.

  • Aussie Winery Using Numbered Wine Labels

    Polinbottle

    On my recent trip to Australia one day my wife went out to get some wine for dinner, and she came back with a bottle of Polin & Polin Shiraz that was recommended by the clerk at the liquor store. Of course, I immediately looked closely at the label (as I always do with any product) and I noticed that they were using individually numbered wine labels.

    So I decided to do a little investigating. I contacted Matthew Polin, one of the founders of the Polin & Polin Wines. They are a small family owned winery in a wine growing district northwest of Sydney. When I asked Matthew why he decided on going with individually numbered bottles he sited several reasons:
    1. They wanted to emphasize that they are a low production, single vineyard winery.
    2. Promotions to the members of the winery - they get a bottle corresponding to their member number.
    3. To keep track of the bottles.

    Now, numbering wine bottles is not a completely new idea, but there are still so few wineries doing it. An informal survey of my local liquor store revealed no wines with numbered labels. Today with the advanced digital label printing technology available this is very easy to do and not that much more expensive than regular labels. And it is a way to have your label stand out from the crowd. For a small winery like Polin & Polin I think it is a great idea, because it does give an exclusive and boutique feel to the wine.

    By the way the Shiraz was truly outstanding, but unfortunately it is not available yet in this country. If you go down under, make sure you pick yourself up a bottle.

  • Some Help Choosing Colors

    Colorswatch

    Choosing colors for your custom labels doesn't have to be a tedious process. There are plenty of online tools out there today that can help you choose just the right look. When creating your labels there is often a base color that you want to include - it might be the color of your logo, or a color that fits with the product you are selling. The question is what colors should you put with this base color? Take advantage of the rich color of digital label printing and choose something other than black or white.

    Here is a brief review of some of the online tools that can help you choose color schemes for your products:

    Kuler - developed by Adobe, Kuler allows you to create your own color schemes or you can see what other people are doing. Like many of these tools, Kuler will show you what are the most popular color schemes that have been created. When you register, you can vote on different people themes and the most popular ones rise to the top. I created the color scheme at the top of this post with Kuler using the color of the left hand column of this blog as the base color. Kuler then suggested some colors that match well with it.

    COLOURlovers - this site describes itself as a resource that monitors and influences color trends. As the site suggests it is for people who are really passionate about color, in fact it calls the registered users of its site "lovers". COLOURlovers has a very useful search feature when you can type in keywords to search for color palettes. For example, if you have a lime flavored product you could type in "lime" and you will see all the color palettes that have been created with lime as part of the theme. Like Kuler, they feature the most popular colors as voted on by the sites "lovers", and they also feature new color trends that they see emerging.

    ColorBlender - this site is a little different in that it lets you make tweaks to your color palette on the fly by just dragging a button across one of the Red, Green or Blue channels. ColorBlender does not make you register to use any of its features, and it does not focus on a community like Kuler and COLOURlovers. It is a simple, easy to use web site that will blend matching colors for you. You can even save your own blends for future use like the other sites. If you want a site that is very quick to master, ColorBlender is the site for you.

    The beautiful thing about working with color these days is that there are so many tools available for you. These three web sites are all free and they provide a useful resource for anyone working with color. You can easily use these tool to help you match color for your products labels, your web site, or anywhere color is important.

  • Introducing an Environmentally Friendly Corn Based Material

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    After several weeks of testing here at Lightning Labels we are proud to annouce the introduction of a new material that is made from corn. EarthFirst PLA is a film material similar to our white BOPP material, but instead of being made from petroleum products it is made from corn. Our customers who participated in the test said they could not tell the difference between the two materials.

    We are one of the first digital label printers in the country to offer this material for short run labels, but we firmly believe we need to offer environmentally friendly alternatives to our customers wherever possible. Not only is it made from corn, but less energy is required to manufacture EarthFirst PLA than other film materials.

    EarthFirst PLA can be used in place of white BOPP, it has very similar properties. Combined with our high gloss laminate it is waterproof and oil-proof - I have had a test label on a container in my shower for six weeks now and it looks as good as new. So it will work well for bath and body labels, water bottle labels, nutraceutical labels and many other label applications.

    You can order labels on this material now. We have added EarthFirst PLA to our Online Instant Quoter, and if you go there to get a label quote you will notice that the price is not that much more than our standard white BOPP. To give you an example, 1000 2" x 3.5" labels costs an additional $4.14.

    We are proud to introduce an environmentally friendly alternative to the short run label market. Now, you can rely on labels that were produced from a completely renewable resource.

  • BusinessWeek Taking Notice of Mass Personalization

    I am just back from a couple of weeks vacation in Australia. It was a very relaxing time, and I was able to catch up on a lot reading while I was away. One article that caught my eye was in the SmallBiz magazine from BusinessWeek discussing how many small businesses are using the internet to mass produce custom made products.

    I have written before about the personalized packaging offerings from Heinz, Kleenex and Johnnie Walker and how these companies have set up special web sites so they could personalized their products. The BusinessWeek article featured five different companies who are also using the internet to mass produce personalized products. Unfortunately the article is not available online without a paid subscription, so I won't link to it, but I can give you my commentary on the main points of the article here.

    All five of the companies featured here had simple web sites that allowed their customers to easily create their own unique and personalized product. These five companies are all small, so they don't have hundreds of thousands of dollars to create a sophisticated web site. But every one of them has said that this personalized offering is now the fastest growing segment of their business.

    These five companies, like Heinz, Kleenex and Johnnie Walker, recognize that we are entering into a new era. The new generation of consumers belong to what I call the "Personalization Generation". They have grown up with the internet and the personalization that is available to them online through sites like Myspace and Facebook. They like their products to reflect their own personality and the companies that cater to these consumers by offering personalization with their products will have an advantage in the coming years.

    So what to do? If you are already selling your product online, it can be a relatively simple step to offer personalized packaging of some sort. Here at Lightning Labels we can leverage our digital label printing expertise and help you get started with personalized product labels. You can start off by simply collecting names in a spreadsheet and when you are ready you can move forward to implementing personalization on your web site.

    Consumer products are going to become more personalized. By starting now you will ensure you have a head start on your competitors.

  • We are Having an Anniversary Sale

    In celebration of our five year anniversary, here at Lightning Labels we are having our first ever sale. Starting today, every order during the month of May will be discounted at 15% off our regular prices.

    The way it will work is this. Our online quoter will not change, you will still get the same price as usual, but if your order is completed in May you will receive 15% off the total when we invoice your order. The details are on our web site - just click on the yellow starburst in the banner.

    So order as many times as you like during the month of May, but don't want until the last minute. Your order has to be invoiced and shipped by May 31st for you to receive the discount. Keep in mind we get almost all of our orders out within 3 days of proof approval, but with the Memorial Day holiday weekend you will need to have your order approved by May 25th to be safe.

    Thanks to all the loyal customers who have helped make the first five years at Lightning Labels a great success. We really appreciate your business and this is our way of saying thank you.

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Material Descriptions

Materials

BIOSTONE

One of our eco-friendly options that is actually made of stone—no trees are used. This material should not laminated.

CAST GLOSS

This is another material specially designed for the wine industry. It is paper-based with a high-gloss white finish. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CHROME (SILVER) BOPP

This material has the same water and oil-resistant properties as our White BOPP and Clear BOPP, but has the "mirror-like" look of shiny chrome.

CLASSIC CREST

Best suited for wine labels, this is a white paper stock with a dull matte finish. It is not suitable for lamination and is therefore not waterproof. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CLEAR BOPP

This is the clear version of the Polypropylene (BOPP) material. It has the same waterproof qualities as the White BOPP. It provides more of a "no label" look and is also suitable for window stickers (where reverse printing of the image allows the label to be applied to the inside of a glass window and be viewed from the outside).

ESTATE #9

This is a great option for wine labels, gourmet foods or applications where a textured finish is desired. Being a paper stock, it's not as water-resistant or durable as BOPP, but its light cream color and textured feel add a touch of the "unusual" to the right product. It features a special adhesive (removable in 100+ degree hot water) and a stronger liner particularly suited to machine application. Not suitable for lamination.

GOLD POLYESTER (METALIZED)

This material will make your labels shine! Suitable for most labeling applications, it has a strong adhesive backing and must be laminated. Choose glossy laminate to make your label designs pop, or matte for a unique, elegant look.

KRAFT (RECYCLED)

This is a recycled 100% post consumer waste material. It is a 55# paper material that is a wonderful option if an “earthy” appearance is desired. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water. It is not suitable for lamination; therefore, it is not water or oil resistant.

REMOVABLE WHITE BOPP

This material is the same as our standard BOPP, but has a special, "less aggressive" adhesive designed to allow the label to be removed or re-positioned after application. Depending on the surface it will be applied to, customer testing is strongly recommended. We can provide samples for this purpose.

SATIN CLOTH

Quite the unique material! Yes, it is woven satin acetate cloth. Think wine or spirit labels! This material will make your product packaging POP. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

SQUEEZABLE

A white, 3mil film that is better suited for squeezable applications. This material has proven to work well in a variety of applications, so you can be confident it will perform well for you.

VELLUM (RECYCLED)

A great “green” choice, this 60# vellum is 100% recycled with 100% post consumer waste material. Cannot be laminated. Is neither water nor oil-resistant. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

WHITE BOPP

This is our most commonly used material and is suitable for most applications. It's a polypropylene material with a permanent adhesive. It is impervious to water and oils, and is particularly suitable for bath and body products, as well as food containers.

WHITE EARTHFIRST PLA

A more environmentally friendly alternative to White BOPP. The PLA stands for Polylactic Acid (a biopolymer made from corn rather than petrochemicals). Similar look and feel to BOPP and suitable for most applications, but should not be used directly on candle containers.

WHITE FLEXIBLE VINYL

This is our most substantial material. The vinyl is thicker than BOPP, and is most suitable for outdoor applications where greater strength and durability are needed, or where lengthy exposure to the elements is an issue.

WINDOW DECAL (CLEAR/ULTRA-REMOVABLE)

We offer this window decal option as an alternative to static cling. The face stock is clear with excellent clarity. The adhesive is an ultra-removable featuring excellent weatherability and UV resistance. It removes cleanly from a wide variety of substrates without staining or ghosting. Why worry about static clings staying on when you can have removable adhesive there to hold it in place?

CAST GLOSS

This is another material specially designed for the wine industry. It is paper-based with a high-gloss white finish. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CHROME (SILVER) BOPP

This material has the same water and oil-resistant properties as our White BOPP and Clear BOPP, but has the "mirror-like" look of shiny chrome.

CLASSIC CREST

Best suited for wine labels, this is a white paper stock with a dull matte finish. It is not suitable for lamination and is therefore not waterproof. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CLEAR BOPP

This is the clear version of the Polypropylene (BOPP) material. It has the same waterproof qualities as the White BOPP. It provides more of a "no label" look and is also suitable for window stickers (where reverse printing of the image allows the label to be applied to the inside of a glass window and be viewed from the outside).

ESTATE #9

This is a great option for wine labels, gourmet foods or applications where a textured finish is desired. Being a paper stock, it's not as water-resistant or durable as BOPP, but its light cream color and textured feel add a touch of the "unusual" to the right product. It features a special adhesive (removable in 100+ degree hot water) and a stronger liner particularly suited to machine application. Not suitable for lamination.

GOLD POLYESTER (METALIZED)

This material will make your labels shine! Suitable for most labeling applications, it has a strong adhesive backing and must be laminated. Choose glossy laminate to make your label designs pop, or matte for a unique, elegant look.

KRAFT (RECYCLED)

This is a recycled 100% post consumer waste material. It is a 55# paper material that is a wonderful option if an “earthy” appearance is desired. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water. It is not suitable for lamination; therefore, it is not water or oil resistant.

REMOVABLE WHITE BOPP

This material is the same as our standard BOPP, but has a special, "less aggressive" adhesive designed to allow the label to be removed or re-positioned after application. Depending on the surface it will be applied to, customer testing is strongly recommended. We can provide samples for this purpose.

SATIN CLOTH

Quite the unique material! Yes, it is woven satin acetate cloth. Think wine or spirit labels! This material will make your product packaging POP. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

SQUEEZABLE

A white, 3mil film that is better suited for squeezable applications. This material has proven to work well in a variety of applications, so you can be confident it will perform well for you.

VELLUM (RECYCLED)

A great “green” choice, this 60# vellum is 100% recycled with 100% post consumer waste material. Cannot be laminated. Is neither water nor oil-resistant. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

WHITE BOPP

This is our most commonly used material and is suitable for most applications. It's a polypropylene material with a permanent adhesive. It is impervious to water and oils, and is particularly suitable for bath and body products, as well as food containers.

WHITE EARTHFIRST PLA

A more environmentally friendly alternative to White BOPP. The PLA stands for Polylactic Acid (a biopolymer made from corn rather than petrochemicals). Similar look and feel to BOPP and suitable for most applications, but should not be used directly on candle containers.

WHITE FLEXIBLE VINYL

This is our most substantial material. The vinyl is thicker than BOPP, and is most suitable for outdoor applications where greater strength and durability are needed, or where lengthy exposure to the elements is an issue.

WINDOW DECAL (CLEAR/ULTRA-REMOVABLE)

We offer this window decal option as an alternative to static cling. The face stock is clear with excellent clarity. The adhesive is an ultra-removable featuring excellent weatherability and UV resistance. It removes cleanly from a wide variety of substrates without staining or ghosting. Why worry about static clings staying on when you can have removable adhesive there to hold it in place?

Artwork Specifications

Laminates

High Gloss

High gloss is our most popular laminate. It is the least expensive option and provides protection for the label and a high gloss shiny finish.

Matte

The Matte Laminate provides your label with a dull, non-glossy finish. Some customers consider this achieves a more "natural" look.

Thermal Transfer

This is a gloss laminate that is designed to work with most over-printing thermal transfer printers. We do recommend you get samples first to test through your own printer before placing an order with this laminate.

UV Outdoor Gloss

As the name implies this is best used for labels that will be used outdoors. It has a high gloss finish with excellent UV resistance. It is best paired with our vinyl material for the most durable outdoor label.