Monthly Archives: July 2007

  • Die-Cutting: an Integral Part of Label Printing

    Die Cutting Diagram

    When you buy blank labels from an office supply store they are always die-cut into shape. Then you print on these blank die-cut labels. In the world of professional label printing it works the other way around. We load a roll of blank label material into our digital label printer and we print on this material. Then we die cut the material into shape to create finished labels. Sounds easy, right.

    Die cutting is actually a very complicated and intricate process where dozens of variables have to come together to produce a good looking finished label. Take a look at the above diagram. The cutting blade of the die has to cut through the label material with just enough strength to ensure a clean cut, but not too much strength that is cuts into the backing paper. As you can see here, this requires a great deal of precision.

    The other difficult part in die-cutting is precisely aligning the die. While we certainly strive for a perfectly die-cut label, we are dealing with a roll of material this is moving through a machine, so some tiny shifts can occur. The tolerance for our die-cutters are plus or minus 1/32". For most labels you will never notice this tiny movement, but if you have a very thin border it can become noticeable. Now, we work hard to keep this movement to an absolute minimum, but the reality of working with a mechanical machine is that we can't eliminate it.

    So, next time you peel off a beautifully die-cut label take a second to appreciate the effort and precision that went into bringing you this label. While we love to talk about the brilliant quality of our digital label printing, it is the die-cutting that provides you with a label you can actually use.

  • The Lightning Labels Wall of Honor

    Photo

    Over the years we have done several stickers for the military. We support our troops by offering a 50% discount for any active military personnel who wants a sticker of their unit patch. We have done military stickers for all four branches of the military, including the unit patch for several units serving in the Middle East.

    When we provide these stickers we always ask for a photograph of their unit, and we have had some wonderful pictures sent back. Recently we gathered all these photos, along with sticker samples and sometimes an accompanying letter from the unit commander, and created what we call the Wall of Honor. Whether or not you agree with the war, I think everyone should support the people who are risking their lives every day. The Wall of Honor is our dedication to these people.

  • Labels and Stickers with Special Shapes

    Specialdies

    We know not everyone wants a standard rectangle, oval or circle label, sometimes you are looking for an unusual shape. Here at Lightning Labels we have dozens of dies for unusually shaped labels, and today we made our library of special shapes available for everyone.

    We have several dies for lip balm labels, starburst labels, triangle labels, front and back wine label combinations and dozens of other shapes and sizes. Feel free to browse through our library and see all the shapes we offer. If you are looking for a unique label try one of these special shapes and your label will really stand out from the crowd.

  • The Evolution of a New Package Design

    Slide01

    Elizabeth Arden faced a challenge. They wanted to reach a younger and more contemporary woman with their new line of hair-care products. The July/August issue of Fast Company has an interesting slide show detailing the thought process behind the creation of the product packaging for this new product line.

    It details the creative process and the thinking that went into each step of the package design process, even the naming of the product. For anyone trying to come up with packaging for a new product line you can learn a lot by checking out the slide show. It explains the reasoning behind the product label, the containers, the colors and the look the whole line.

    The impact of your packaging, particularly for a new product, can go a long way towards determining the success of the product. That is why companies like Elizabeth Arden spend so much time and money getting the packaging just right.

  • Denver's Fastest Growing Private Companies

    85014990

    Yesterday morning, Steve Smith (president of Lightning Labels) and myself attended a breakfast downtown honoring Denver's fastest growing private companies. Hosted by the Denver Business Journal, there were three categories: small, medium and large. We were delighted that Lightning Labels was honored in the small business category - coming in at number 20 on the list.

    While it is nice to be recognized like this, I certainly realize that we wouldn't be growing fast if it wasn't for the continued support of our many loyal customers. You continue to trust us with your label orders, and we do everything we can to earn that trust by providing you with good value and fast service. I also realize that we wouldn't be able to manage such fast growth without a team of dedicated employees - our people work hard every day to exceed your expectations.

    So thank you to all of you who have made this growth possible. We will continue to do everything we can to earn your business.

  • Professionally Printed Labels vs Do-It-Yourself

    This email came in from a customer yesterday and I think it illustrates a good point for those considering switching from homemade labels to professionally printed labels:

    "Just wanted to give you some feedback now that I’ve had the chance to use the labels.  Overall I’m very pleased with the design and the printing.  That BOPP material is terrific.  Regular paper labels will smear with a drop of moisture.  They also won’t tolerate containers rubbing together during transport.  The BOPP material doesn’t have any of those problems.  Also the adhesive sticks very well, but is forgiving if you have to remove the label to reposition it."

    When you print labels yourself using inexpensive paper material there are several factors working against you. Paper labels are not durable at all, the ink will smear easily, and there is no protection for normal wear and tear. The labels might look fine after you put them on your bottles or jars but the question is will they look fine when they are in the hands of your customers?

    Here at Lightning Labels our most popular material is our white BOPP. It looks great when printed, it is waterproof and oilproof, and it will hold up very well to normal wear and tear. To protect the printed ink on your labels we apply a thin laminate which further enhances the durability and visual appeal of your labels.

    Now, I realize that for people just starting out homemade labels may be your first choice. But to compete with established companies you need professionally printed labels. They will not only enhance the look of your product, they will improve its durability. You can be confident that your labels will still look good after traveling halfway across the country in the heat of summer.

  • Removable or Permanent Adhesive?

    Over the July 4th holiday my wife bought an expensive cast iron saucepan, something she had wanted for some time. She was all excited to use it and she planned a meal with it that night. There were two labels on the saucepan - one with a logo on the side of the pan and another with a barcode on the bottom. So she needed to remove them before she could start using her new purchase.

    It ended up being a 20 minute operation to remove the labels and she was cursing the product that she was previously so excited about. Both of these labels had a strong permanent adhesive, but because it was a saucepan they had to be removed before she could use the product. This company should definitely have used a removable adhesive for these labels - knowing that their customers would have to remove them before use.

    Most product labels are required to adhere to their product for the entire lifecycle of the product. For these labels a permanent adhesive would most likely be best. However, for any product where the label is only needed until purchase, a label with removable adhesive should be considered.

    I think the problem here is that when many people think of removable adhesive they think of post-it notes, or labels that are very easily removed. The removable adhesive we use here at Lightning Labels is nothing like a post-it note - it is actually a fairly strong adhesive that can only be removed with a little force. But when that force is applied it removes quite easily. This is the kind of adhesive that should have been used on the saucepan labels.

    So when you are thinking about labels for your products, consider whether a permanent adhesive is required. You don't want to annoy your customers because they have to spend time removing a label.

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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.