Monthly Archives: August 2007

  • Podcast - The Future of Labels

    Logo2_2

    Earlier this week, I did an interview with the people at PodcasterNews. For the uninitiated a podcast is really just like a radio show except the audio file is stored on a web site - here is a formal definition of podcast.

    The Better Process Podcast discusses manufacturing news and they conduct interviews several times a week with business managers in the manufacturing sector. Our interview was quite short but covered a wide range of topics such as the advantages of being a small business manufacturer to the future of label printing. Here is the link to the podcast - just click on download show to listen to the MP3 file.

    I subscribe to several business podcasts that I regularly download to my iPod. I listen to them when I am working out or just walking around the park in the morning. It is another great 21st century tool that you can use to further your business education.

  • File Formats and Cheap Label Design Software

    Every few days we get a new customer who sends us some label artwork in an unusual file format. Just browse the aisles at your local Office Depot or Staples and you will see plenty of inexpensive choices of label design software in the $20-$30 range. Most of this software saves the graphic files in a proprietary format that no other program can open.

    The main advantage of this kind of software is that it is inexpensive and it often comes with lots of templates that makes it relatively easy to create simple labels. This is probably all you will need if you intend on just printing your labels at home on your inkjet printer. The problem occurs when you try and send this file to your local printer to get professionally printed labels. Most label printers will not be able to use your file.

    Don't worry, all is not lost. Most of these packages have a way to export the graphic file to an industry standard format such as a TIFF, JPEG or PDF. These are the kinds of files that every professional printer should be able to use.

    For best quality printing we recommend you use Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop to create your labels - this software will enables us to print high quality labels. Now, I realize you are looking at more than $500 for either software package, which may be out of reach for a startup or small business. In that case I recommend Adobe Photoshop Elements - which you can find online for less than $90. It has many of the features of its expensive sibling and can save to all the standard file formats.

    Whatever software you use, just make sure that you can save your file to one of these standard industry formats. There is no point creating some nice looking labels yourself and then having to start over from scratch when you want professionally printed labels.

  • Lightning Labels Makes Inc. 5000 List

    Inc5000

    Yesterday Inc. Magazine released their annual list of the fastest growing private companies in the US. This year they have expanded their list from 500 to 5,000 companies, known as the Inc. 5000. We are delighted to announce that Lightning Labels made the list coming in at number 657. What is even more gratifying is that in the manufacturing category we are #15, and in label printing we are #2.

    For those people who may feel negative about the business climate in general or specifically manufacturing companies, you should take a look at this list. There are plenty of manufacturers who are growing fast despite the threats of international competition. Here at Lightning Labels we work hard to exceed your expectations, and our great employees continue to deliver on that goal every day. That is how we are able to make a list like the Inc. 5000.

  • Magazine Interview

    I recently did an interview for the trade magazine Paper, Film & Foil Converter (PFFC), the interview is published in their latest issue. You can read the article here.

  • Being Tech-Savvy Helps With Business Growth

    Yesterday over at the Small Business Trends blog Anita Campbell wrote about a fascinating study of small business owners and business growth. The technology products company CDW conducted a survey of the owners of mid-size companies to identify which factors helped small businesses succeed and grow.

    Geeksrule

    The most interesting point of the survey is that the fastest growth were from company owners who describe themselves as "total geeks". The vast majority (73%) of these total geeks reported double digital average annual growth over the past five years versus 57% for the survey as a whole. There were plenty of other statistics that support the idea that business owners who are comfortable with technology grow their business faster than average.

    Given today's business environment, I don't think these findings are surprising. When I graduated with a computer science degree 20 years ago there were very few small businesses that even had a computer. Today there are so many technology tools to help in every aspect of running a business, that you not only need a computer, you need to utilize it effectively. I can tell you that growing Lightning Labels as fast as we have would not have been possible without an intimate knowledge of today's technology.

    Today you can buy the latest PC and laser printer and still get change from $1,000. You can get high speed internet access for $50/month. There is even plenty of free software out there now to help you run your business. Every small business owner should be leveraging this technology. You don't need to be an expert, but you need to be willing to learn. Spend just half an hour each week teaching yourself some new technology and you will be rewarded many times over.

  • Mixed Reaction to Proposed New Alcohol Labels

    NutriwineThe government has been mulling new labels for wine, beer and liquor for several years now. There has been a push to require more comprehensive information, similar to standard nutrition labels on food, on wine and beer labels and it appears this movement is gaining strength. Last week the government released its proposal for public comment.

    All the big companies seem to be supporting these new changes. The folks over at Diageo PLC, the owner of such famous brands as Guinness, Smirnoff and Johnnie Walker, have welcomed the move saying it is a "giant and very positive step in the right direction." Similarly Beam Global Spirits and Wine Inc., owners of many premium alcohol brands including Jim Beam Whiskey and Clos du Bois wines, had positive things to say, "we agree with the spirit of the government's efforts to provide consumers with more information."

    Some people are concerned about the visual appeal on the labels of these new regulations. I pulled this graphic off Tom Wark's Fermentation Wine blog. It shows an exaggerated picture of the potential impact of these new changes. He says, "it appears that the future of wine labels may include a hefty dose of Ugly."

    I completely disagree - here is my take on the new regulations. I realize that a beautifully designed wine label can have a huge impact on the success of a wine, and these new regulations should not change that. Most wine is labeled with both a front and a back label, and the front label can remain unchanged. So the visual impact of wine labels will not be impacted, the consumers will never even notice these changes unless they pick the bottle off the shelf and turn it around. And any designer worth their salt should be able to incorporate these new regulations unobtrusively into a small box on the back label.

    Anyway, these changes won't be happening any time soon. The government is soliciting public comment until October 29. Then they will consider the changes and after they make the decision companies will have three years to comply with the new standards.

  • Writing about Blogs

    For a year now I have been writing a column about blogs for the excellent label printing trade publication, Label & Narrow Web. You can read the latest column here. I take a different topic around label printing and I wrote about the blogs that are most relevant to that topic.

    Our newsletter, The Lightning Flash, has just been printed and the summer issue is on its way to all current Lightning Labels customers now.

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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.