Monthly Archives: January 2008

  • Thermochromic Ink and Beer Labels

    CoorsI was having a cold Coors Light the other day and I noticed that their labels now have a portion that is cold activated, using what is technically known as thermochomic inks. Now, we obviously don't print Coors Light labels here, nor can we print thermochromic ink, but it is an interesting development in label printing technology.

    If you want to learn more about the Coors Light labels check out this article from Packaging World. Basically it works like this. The blue ink on the label here (the mountains and the text above them) is actually white thermochromic ink that turns blue when the temperature reaches around 44 degrees. I actually tested this out and put my finger on the mountains and sure enough the ink went back to white again as the warmth of my finger changed the color of the ink. When I removed my finger the ink changed again as the cold temperature of beer returned the mountains to blue.

    It is good to see a large company like Coors pushing the envelope a little when it comes to their product labels. In any competitive market such as beer it is important to try different ideas in order to stand out from the crowd.

  • Lightning Labels Featured on HP.com

    Yesterday, Hewlett Packard (the manufacturer of the state of the art digital label presses we use here) launched a feature on Lightning Labels on their web site, hp.com. We are obviously very pleased that HP decided to do a profile on our company - the article provides a little history on Lightning Labels and focuses on our use of the HP-Indigo ws4500 presses.

  • Understanding Bar Codes

    Upca_2
    Where would we be without the humble bar code? We would certainly be spending more time in the supermarket checkout line. Pretty much every retail product you buy these days has a bar code. This bar code is known as a UPC code and looks pretty much like the one above. I have written before about how you can obtain a UPC code, but here I am just covering the basics of the bar codes themselves.

    The UPC (Universal Product Code) bar code is a 12 digit code used by manufacturers to identify themselves and their products. The first six digits are the manufacturer's number provided to them by the Uniform Code Council (now known as the GS1 Symbology Committee). The next five digits are the manufacturer's item number that is allocated to a specific product. Every single product a manufacturer sells including the same item of a different size carries its own unique five digit number. The last number is a calculated check digit that enables the scanner to verify that the number is correct.

    Here at Lightning Labels we create UPC bar codes pretty much every day. We use the inbuilt functionality in CorelDraw to create a graphic file of the UPC, but you can also use a software package from such vendors as IDAutomation or Hallogram.

    Code39

    While most of the bar codes we do are UPC there are other bar codes we produce from time to time. The bar code above is what is known as a Code 39 (also known as Code 3 of 9). It is often used on name badges, to track inventory, and the post office uses it to track packages. You can encode letters and numbers, and often you will encode a start and stop character at the beginning and end of the data. If you want to keep track of your products internally this is a good bar code to use - we have a couple of customers who regularly request variable bar code labels using Code 39.

    Code128_3

    The bar code above is a Code 128 bar code. It is what is known as a high density symbology that encodes numbers, symbols, upper and lower case text as well as returns and tabs. It is known as high density because it takes up less space than other bar codes (such as code 39) as you can see here. To create a bar code 128 you will need a start character, a stop character, and a checksum character. We use the Code 128 Font Advantage Package from IDAutomation to create these bar codes - it comes with the Code 128 fonts and an Excel macro that you can use to generate the correct start, stop and checksum characters.

    The world of bar codes can be quite complex and is changing rapidly. But these three bar codes are the most common - and the UPC bar code is so ubiquitous it will be around for a long time to come.

  • A Huge Collection of Wine Labels

    Regin

    Over the holidays I stumbled upon this great collection of wine labels from all over the world. It may well be the largest collection of wine labels anywhere online. There are over a thousand different wine labels here conveniently sorted into around a hundred different categories.

    If you are looking for inspiration for your wine labels or for that matter, any product labels, you can see some great examples here. The categories run the complete gamut, from violins (where I found the featured label above), to roses, sailing boats, ducks, snails and windmills and many more. You will see several examples of wine labels in each category.

    It is a Swiss web site so European wines feature heavily, and all the wine labels have been scanned at a low resolution. But if you want to get some ideas to help you put your own labels together this is a great place to explore.

  • 2008 Wacky Warning Labels Contest

    Avoid_death_warning_labelIt's a new year and that means another Wacky Warning Label contest has been awarded. The eleventh annual Wacky Warning Label Contest conduct by M-LAW has recently announced the winners for 2008. This year's winner is a warning label that appears on a tractor: "DANGER: Avoid Death".

    Here are the list of the other winning entries that I think are equally funny:

    - On an iron-on t-shirt transfer: "Do not iron while wearing shirt."
    - On the pouch on a baby stroller: "Do not put child in bag."
    - On a letter opener: "Caution: Safety goggle recommended."
    - On a product called the Vanishing Fabric Marker: "The Vanishing Fabric Marker should not be used as a writing instrument for signing checks or any legal documents."

  • Another Record Year

    We have just wrapped up another record year here at Lightning Labels. Sales were up 61% over the previous year to just under $3.8 million, and repeat business was up almost 80%. I just have one thing to say about this: thank you. On behalf of all of us at Lightning Labels I would like to thank you for your business in 2007. We will work hard in 2008 to continue to earn your business.

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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.