Monthly Archives: January 2009

  • Food Recalls and Serial Number Labels

    IStock_000002832653XSmall My two year old son loves peanut butter. He enjoys peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, several different peanut butter snack bars, and sometime just spoonfuls of peanut butter straight from the jar. So when my wife and I heard about the peanut butter recalls recently we went to the FDA web site to check to see if we had any products that were recalled. It turns out we did but after some digging we realized that based on the "Best by" date the products we owned were not part of the recall. This whole episode got me thinking about the safety of our food chain and the inefficient way these recalls are handled. Some of the products in this recall had their best by dates on boxes and if you had thrown the box away you had no way to tell if your product was part of the recall or not. In which case I am sure most people just threw the products away not wanting to risk salmonella poisoning. There has to be a better way. We need to be able to identify these recalled products better. Here is my idea. Every product label should have a unique serial number along with a barcode. Every UPC barcode uniquely identifies a product with a ten digit number. Underneath this barcode I would apply a unique serial number. To be safe you could make it a ten digit number also which would allow for 10 billion different numbers, enough for even the most popular products. So every item on the supermarket shelf will have a number that will uniquely identify it. Then when a product recall is started the FDA could provide information on what serial numbers are affected and you could just look at your product label and know if your product is safe. Maybe the FDA could even have a system where you could type in your barcode and 10 digit serial number to look up your product on their recall web site. Serial number labels would only add a few cents on to the cost of each product and would have immediate benefits in product recalls. All the technology is in place to do this right now and I hope and expect something like this to come out from the government sometime in the next five years. Of course, this mean all product labels would have to be printed digitally in order to print the variable information. Here at Lightning Labels we will be happy to be part of this new movement to help ensure our food supply remains safe.

  • Top Ten Favorite Business Blogs

    Blog It is Friday afternoon and I have been trying to catch up on some blog reading after a very busy week. As I was reading I was struck by how much great content is being written on business blogs these days. Of course, it is all free. So I have decided to compile my Top 10 list of my favorite business blogs right now. Here it is: 1. Seth Godin's blog - Seth Godin is quite possibly the greatest marketing mind on the planet and he provides pearls of wisdom daily on his blog. 2. Duct Tape Marketing - John Jantsch provides practical marketing advice; information you can actually put to use in your business. 3. Small Business Trends - edited by Anita Campbell this is really an online small business magazine covering a range of business topics of interest to small business owners. 4. Web Ink Now - David Meerman Scott introduces us to the new rules of PR and marketing and provides commentary on viral marketing. 5. Chris Brogan - one of the founding fathers of social media provides advice on how to incorporate community and social media into your business. 6. Techcrunch - the latest technology news covering the new companies and products that are shaping the online world. 7. Pogue's Posts - the New York Times technology columnist and author writes about technology without the jargon and buzzwords. 8. The Dieline - the best package design website, with beautiful photos. If you like product labels and packaging you need to read this blog. 9. PrintCEO blog - the print industry's most influential blog keeps me up to date on the news in our industry. 10. Sustainable is Good - where package design and sustainability meet. A team of writers bring fascinating examples of sustainable packaging to light. Ok, so the last three blogs are specific to our industry, but the others are blogs I think everyone in business should read. A few years ago the kind of information in these blogs would have only been available in books or by paying consultants large sums of money. Today it is all freely available on a daily basis. Take advantage of it.

  • New Food Labels Coming This Year

    Smart-Choices_logo The Smart Choices Program is a new food labeling system which aims to bring clarity and consistency to nutritional information on food labels. It is a front-of-pack labeling system meaning that the front of food package will have this information in large and bold type, it will not be in small type on the back of the package. The idea here is that with simple and easy to read nutritional information consumers will be able to make better choices with their food purchases. Right now this is a voluntary program but some big food companies such as Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft, Pepsi and Wal-Mart have signed up for the program. With the growing obesity problem in this country, it will not be long before the government steps in to make changes to food labels. The Smart Choices program is an attempt to deal with this problem before the government mandates changes. I will be interested to see how this new information is implemented into existing food labels. Label designers have a challenge here because they will have to take away some existing label real estate to incorporate this new information. We can expect to see new products on the shelves with these labels by the middle of the year.

  • Japanese Apple Stickers

    Apple-apples

    I came across this interesting article over the Holidays and I just had to share. An owner of an apple orchard in Japan, who just happens to be an avid Apple (the company) fan, created some die-cut stickers of the Apple and iPod logos. Then he stuck them on his apples while they were still young and on the tree.

    When the apples were ripe he removed these die-cut stickers and because of the lack of sun on these parts of the apple they left a unique pattern as you can see in the photo above. Now here is a new idea for the promotional products industry...

  • All About Raster and Vector Files

    M For years I never understood the difference between raster and vector image files. For some reason I found the concept difficult to understand and I imagine there are others out there in the same boat. So here is a simple explanation of these two kinds of files. Let''s start with an example. Look at the two M's above. These are both 8 point Verdana font, or at least they started out that way. I created the M on the left in Photoshop and the M on the right in Illustrator. I then increased the size of both these M's by 1000%. You can see that the M on the right maintained its smooth lines and still looks good, whereas the M on the left has lost its sharp lines and details and looks fuzzy. The M on the left is a raster image (also called bitmap image). A raster image represents an image as bits of information that translate into pixels on the screen. Because these pixels are very small a raster image normally appears as a smooth image, you only notice the pixels when you try and magnify the image. If you magnify the image enough though, as I did with the M here, you lose the sharp lines and details. A vector image takes a completely different approach. It uses a mathematical formula to define curves and lines which enables you to scale an image much larger or smaller without losing anything in image quality. As you can see the M I created in Illustrator lost nothing when it was magnified by 1000%, so for this reason vector-based images are always best when working with text. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about creating product labels in Photoshop. Photoshop is an excellent tool for creating art but there is one caveat that we tell our customers. Once you are ready to add text to your label import the design into Illustrator and add the text there. This will ensure your text always looks crisp and sharp even for very small type. With our high resolution digital label printing press you can really tell the difference between text created in Photoshop and text created in Illustrator. A rule of thumb is any text smaller than 14 point do not create in Photoshop; Illustrator will give you a much better result. If you don''t have Illustrator or are worried about the quality of your text, our in-house graphic designer will be happy to help 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.