Monthly Archives: August 2008

  • New Bioplastic Made from Native Grass

    Panicum_virgatum_2 Switchgrass, a type of grass that is native to the North American prairie is being converted into plastic by Metabolix, a company based just outside Boston. They just recently concluded a greenhouse trial where switchgrass yielded significant amounts of what is called PHA, a polymer that can be used to make bioplastics. The most common form of bioplastic available today is EarthFirst PLA which is made from corn, which we stock here at Lightning Labels. However, PLA is not an ideal replacement for petroleum based plastics because it takes away from the food supply. Corn that is used for ethanol and bioplastics has been partly responsible for the large runup in food prices recently. There are many benefits of switchgrass. It is a native prairie grass that is easily grown in many areas of this country and it grows well in hot, dry conditions. So it needs much less water and fertilizer than corn and unlike corn it is a perennial. And of course, switchgrass is not an integral part of the food supply. It may be a while before we will be able to order label material made from switchgrass, but it is an interesting development nonetheless. Right now, PLA from corn is the only viable alternative to petroleum based plastics, but that will likely change in the near future.

  • Article on Variable Data Label Printing

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    The current issue of Package Design Magazine has an article I wrote on variable data label printing. I provide some examples of companies that are effectively using this technology today as well as five ideas that anyone can adopt to leverage the power of variable data label printing.

  • Ralph Lauren and QR Barcodes

    Ll_qr_code I was reading the latest issue of TIME magazine over the weekend and came across this interesting article about a new initiative from fashion house Ralph Lauren. In conjunction with the US Open tennis tournament beginning on Monday August 25th, Ralph Lauren is launching a campaign featuring a QR Code - these are basically a two dimensional barcode like the one pictured above. This is how it will work. Ralph Lauren has placed these barcodes on billboards, in store windows, in magazine ads and catalogs. You will need a cell phone with a camera and software to read the QR barcode. There are plenty of web sites that provide free QR barcode readers - Ralph Lauren has one available for download on its mobile web site. I was able to download one called NeoReader quite easily for my iPhone. When the QR reader is loaded on your phone you scan the barcode by taking a photo within this software. Then the software will take you to the web site using your phone's browser. The QR codes used in the Ralph Lauren promotion will take you a special web site created just for mobile phones where you can buy merchandise direct from your phone. In Japan there has been widespread use of QR barcodes for a couple of years now. In this country, we are still in the very early stages, but rest assured this technology will become very widespread in the near future. I don't think Ralph Lauren will be making much money on their first foray into QR barcodes, but they are positioning their company as being on the cutting edge, and they are certainly getting good PR out of it. The QR barcode pictured above is something I created. If you print this page and scan this QR barcode it will take you to Lightning Labels' website on your cell phone. One day soon you will be able to scan one of these codes at the supermarket to find out more information about the product you are buying. For example you could scan a QR barcode label on a banana and immediately find out when the banana was picked, where it was grown and how it was transported. All the technology is available right now to do this (check out ScanLife or Winksite if you want to create QR barcodes), so I expect forward thinking companies to start using this technology in coming months. Of course, if you want someone to print QR barcode labels then Lightning Labels will be happy to assist you.

  • Stop Sign Designed by Committee

    Seth Godin points out this really entertaining video. It is a parody of what can happen if too many people get involved in design decisions. Because we deal with mostly small companies here at Lightning Labels we don't deal with this problem very often, but if you find yourself in the middle of a "design by committee" custom label project have everyone watch this video. It is a good reminder that if you want to make an impact often simple is better.

  • New Finishing Equipment Arrives Today

    Photo I have written before about our wonderful state of the art digital label printing presses we use here at Lightning Labels. We are very proud of the quality that our HP-Indigo presses are able to produce. But the printing presses are only half of the equation. Once the labels are printed they need to be diecut and slit on to individual rolls. The equipment to do these jobs is called finishing equipment. Today we took delivery of our new Omega Digicon 2 die cutting machine from AB Graphics. It is the current state of the art as far as finishing equipment is concerned and we are excited to get it installed. At the same time we have purchased four additional pieces of equipment to help improve the efficiency of our operation here. But what does this all mean to you as a Lightning Labels customer? For a start, once all this equipment is up and running it means we will be able to move jobs through our plant more quickly, which will reduce the turnaround time for everyone. We will also be able to expand our capabilities - with a couple of new options for you. Stay tuned here, we will make an announcement about this when we are ready for production. Here at Lightning Labels we always like to stay on the cutting edge of technology. Now we will have state of the art printing combined with state of the art die cutting. This will allow us to provide even better service to our customers than ever before.

  • Bookplate Labels for Lee Iacocca

    LeeiacoccaHere at Lightning Labels we certainly don't deal with famous people very often. But a couple of weeks ago we received a phone call from the assistant of Lee Iacocca, one of this country's leading business legends of the past 50 years. Mr. Iacocca was in need of some bookplate labels for his recently published book, Where Have All The Leaders Gone? Now, I must confess I didn't even know what a bookplate label was (here is Wikipedia's definition), but I have since learned that it is a label that is typically affixed on the inside front cover of a book. Historically, it was used to identify the owner of the book, but today authors use these labels to provide autographed copies of books. Rather than signing books on location, the author signs these bookplate labels and the labels are sent to be attached to the books. It is more convenient, and frankly, I think it is more elegant and professional. One important point to remember when ordering bookplate labels. The labels must have an imprintable surface. So these labels for Mr. Iacocca were done with our matte laminate. It not only provides a more elegant look, it readily accepts a ballpoint pen or marker.

  • A Pavilion Made From Labels

    Jg_shigeru_ban_artek1 Last year I wrote about the bridge in France, designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, which was made from label waste material. Well I was reading my copy of Label & Narrow Web magazine (a leading label industry publication) last night and I discovered he has now gone one better. In partnership with leading label material supplier UPM and Artek, a Finnish design house, Ban has created what is known as the Artek Pavilion.  This 132’ x 16’ (over 2,000 sq feet) structure is manufactured completely from self-adhesive label waste. The waste came from UPM label manufacturing plants and was converted into a wood-plastic composite product called UPM ProFi. Ban, UPM and Artek decided to auction off the structure (which can be taken down and reassembled easily) at Sotheby’s and donate the proceeds to charity.  It was sold for $500,000 to an unnamed New York gallery owner who planned on using it as a mobile exhibition space. It is great to see creative recycling initiatives like this one being undertaken by a major industry player like UPM. The label industry has only recently begun to embrace sustainability, and Europe is certainly far ahead of the United States on this issue. I hope and expect to see more initiatives like this one as label printers start demanding more action on sustainability from their suppliers.

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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.