Technology

  • High-Tech Device Simplifies Color Matching, Improves Accuracy

    Pantone Color Capture DeviceColor matching just got a little easier and lot more accurate with Pantone LLC's release of a handheld device  named CAPSURE™. The ultra-portable device measures the color of any any surface — including highly textured textiles and small, multi-colored patterns — and matches it to a PANTONE® Color. A hundred colors at a time can be stored on the device for easy reference. Image capture technology lets users preview what they are measuring with CAPSURE™ on its 1.75-inch color screen in real time.  Those images are then stored on the device for later reference along with the captured colors. The device also has the ability to suggest harmonious shades and identify related colors that are lighter, darker or similar in tone to the captured colors. CAPSURE™ comes pre-loaded with all PANTONE® Color Libraries, allowing users to match more than 8,000 colors. Assuming that it works as stated on Pantone's website, (as I haven't tried the device myself) I imagine that anyone who needs to accurately identify and match colors would love to get a CAPSURE in their Christmas stocking this year. Many graphic designers, do-it-yourselfers, paint retailers, and interior designers will likely have this device on their wish lists this holiday season. But with a retail price of $649, I'm not sure how many Christmas stockings the CAPSURE will actually show up in this year. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this device, especially if you are a designer. Do you think it is worth the price tag? Why or why not?

  • Popular Skincare Brand Incorporates QR Code into Magazine Ad

    clinique-qr-code-1clinique-qr-code-2Clinique is currently running a two-page advertisement featuring a QR code in the top fashion magazine Vogue. The text next to the QR code, which is prominently displayed next to the company logo at the end of the ad copy, instructs the consumer to, "Use your smart phone to scan this code or visit m.clinique.com/evenbetter for a special offer when you discover Even Better Clinical."

    clinique-qr-code-3When this QR code is scanned, the smart phone user is taken to Clinique's mobile website offering a coupon for  free shipping for online orders. The blog 2D Barcode Strategy points out, however, that this only actually happens if the user has the appropriate QR scanner app installed on their smart phone. I wonder if the company was right to assume that smart phone users are familiar enough with technology to know that they need an app to scan the QR code, or if Clinique was taking a shortcut by not explicitly explaining the QR code and how to use it within the ad space. And if the skincare company did indeed cut corners, will Clinique's shortcut slow consumer adaption and acceptance of 2D codes and related technology?

    What do you think? Is this a step forward or backward for the widespread integration of the QR code in consumer consciousness?

  • New Colorado Native Lager Breaks New Ground

    Colorado Native LagerHere in Colorado most people (including myself) were born somewhere else and moved here as an adult. Those people lucky enough to be born in Colorado are called Colorado Natives. Now, a new beer from Coors is taking advantage of this idea. But that is not the real story here.

    In many ways Colorado Native Lager is breaking new ground. The product label uses a new technology, it is not being marketed in the traditional way, it is only being sold in Colorado , and it only uses Colorado suppliers in its manufacture. They claim that it is brewed from 99.8% Colorado grown ingredients.

    I was curious about all this so I went out this morning and bought myself a six-pack of this new beer. Obviously, what interested me most is the new technology on the label. The back label has something I have never seen before - it is a new kind of "code" called a SnapTag.

    I have written about QR codes many times before - they are the little black and white square boxes that usually take you to a web site when you scan them with your phone's camera. Well these little QR codes sometimes give graphic designers fits because they are not that visually appealing. Enter the SnapTag. It was developed by Colorado company, SpyderLynk, as a more attractive way of tracking consumer behavior.

    SnapTagAs you can see in the picture here a SnapTag is pretty simple. It contains your logo inside a broken circle. The consumer then takes a photo of the circle with their cell phone and sends the image to the phone number displayed in the tag. What happens next is up to the individual company. With Colorado Native Lager (once you have verified your age) you can then interact with the company through text messages.

    The breaks in the circle is the key to the code. You could have multiple different circles inside one production run to create different tests. SpyderLynk explains all the various uses of SnapTags on their web site.

    It is too early to tell yet whether or not SnapTags will catch on. But the people at Coors obviously believe in this technology enough to make it a cornerstone of their new beer. It uses a different approach than QR codes so it is possible that both technologies will end up being successful. One thing is for sure though. People will continue to interact with product labels more and both QR codes and SnapTags take advantage of this trend.

    One of the other curious things about Colorado Native Lager is that it is only being marketed through social media channels such as Facebook. No TV or magazine ads for this beer. That in itself is fascinating to me, but that's a topic for a future blog post.

    It will be interesting to see how the story of Colorado Native Lager develops. I will be following with close interest. And tonight I will crack open one of these beers and see how it actually tastes.

    Related Articles

    Miller Lets New Craft Beer Speak for Itself - Advertsing Age

    Colorado brews up tradition and technology - The Package Unseen blog

    Colorado Native Lager - The Dieline

  • WhatTheyThink Video About iLabel

    WhatTheyThink is the online leader when it comes to news and information about the printing industry. I have been reading their articles and watching their videos for years. So when they invited me to come by for a video session at the recent DSCOOP conference in Dallas I jumped at the chance.

    They asked me to talk about our new iPhone label quoting app called iLabel. Check out the video here.

  • QR Codes are Coming to Packaging

    Is 2010 going to be the year that QR codes break out into the mainstream? It could well be. I am seeing QR codes in more and more places these days.

    There have been many articles in industry publications about QR codes lately. Just yesterday, Barb Pellow from Infotrends wrote a fascinating article that suggested maybe 2010 is the year where QR codes start reaching their potential in this country. Last month Packaging News in the UK had a detailed article on their web site that provided some examples of recent uses of QR codes on packaging. They make the point that in Japan it is rare to find a product today that does not have a QR code on the product label or packaging.

    In this country we are still yet to see many products utilize this technology on their packaging labels. But I believe it is coming. Within the next 12 months I think you will see several mainstream products add QR codes to their packaging.

    Packaging is a logical fit for QR codes. Right now when you pick an item off the supermarket shelf, the only information you have to make a buying decision is based on what is included on the product label. Imagine if you could just whip out your camera phone, take a picture of the QR code and be instantly taken to a web site that contains more information on the product. There you could be presented with recipe ideas, preparation and serving tips, instructional photos and videos, and other product benefits. The ideas are endless.

    I believe it is inevitable that we will see QR codes on product labels. There is so much benefit for the consumer and the product manufacturer. But right now there is an opportunity. Most likely, you can still be the first company in your industry niche to do this. You will have the added advantage of creating some buzz around your labels by including a QR code.

    Of course, here at Lightning Labels we will be happy to print your QR codes on your product labels. We can help you create it, although it is so easy you can also do it yourself. In a few years we will wonder how we ever lived without QR codes but right now it is just getting started. You can be one of the pioneers.

    Google Sends Out 100,000 QR Code Stickers

  • Google Sends Out 100,000 QR Code Stickers

    DecalEarlier this month over 100,000 businesses around the country received a QR code sticker from Google that looks like the one here. These stickers were sent to the most popular businesses in Google's Local Business Center database. The idea is for companies to stick this postcard sized sticker in their front window.

    I have written about QR codes before here and here. For a quick recap, QR codes are two dimensional barcodes that use the cameras in smartphones to direct people to web sites. You can see the QR code in the bottom right corner of Google's sticker. QR codes are very popular in Japan, and no doubt after this move by Google they will become more popular in this country.

    Why would Google spend all this money sending these stickers out for free? Of course, they want more traffic to their web site. When you scan the QR code in these stickers, it takes you to the local listing for the business on Google with reviews, photos, and perhaps coupons.

    It will be interesting to see how much this really spurs adoption of QR codes here. I can see a day in the not too distant future where most businesses have one of these stickers in their front window.

    Now, you don't have to wait for Google to send you one, you can create your own QR code sticker that directs people to your web site right now. You can create a graphic file of your QR code by using a QR code generator site such as Delivr or Kaywa. Then you can print it yourself or, of course, Lightning Labels will be happy to print these stickers for you.

    Resources

    Google Favorite Places coming to window near you - cnet news

    Google Favorite Places - Google

    Scannable Retail Stickers to Extend Google's Local Presence - Clickz

  • Xerox Develops a Breakthrough Silver Ink

    Xerox Xerox recently announced a breakthrough that could have wide ranging implications for a number of industries. The researchers at Xerox have invented a new ink that can be printed on paper or plastic like normal inks, but this silver ink has a special property - it can conduct electricity. This is a huge development for the new field of printed electronics. In the future, many electrical components such as simple screens, sensors, solar cells, and radio antennae will not be manufactured by traditional fabrication plants, they will be printed. What this means for the label industry is that a product label may have a regular printed component as well as some kind of electrical device built into the label itself. This electrical device could replace the barcode for identification, or it could be something much more sophisticated such as a video screen. We are not there yet, but when this technology becomes mainstream it will transform many industries. I predict we will start to see some of this become mainstream in the next three to five years. We have already seen some interesting developments that I have written about recently that gives an idea of what we can expect. Related Articles PrintedElectronicsNow.com - New Silver Ink Developed by Xerox Digital Beat - Xerox develops silver ink for wearable or throwaway electronics

  • Product Labels: Still the Best Technology

    IMG_2490 I was brushing my teeth this morning and looking at all the products on our bathroom countertop. My wife had been cleaning out our cabinets so everything was on the counter. I was struck by how many product labels I could see. When I counted them all there were 56 different products with product labels - above is a photo of about half of them. Now, not every product has a physical label on it - several products such as toothpaste are screen printed with all the product details printed directly on to the container. But the vast majority of products use physical labels adhered to bottles. Even major consumer products like Listerine that probably print millions of labels at a time have decided that a paper label is the best way to identify their product. Despite all the technological advances of the last few years, the best way to identify and market your product at the point of sale is with a colorful product label. And with today''s high quality digital label printing, that is perfect for short runs, tiny companies can compete with the likes of Johnson & Johnson. You might not have the marketing clout of the big companies but your product can have a label that is every bit as good.

  • New iPhone App Scans Barcodes, Gives New Meaning to 'Comparison Shopping'

    Earlier this month, Occipital, LLC, released the first accurate barcode scanning application for the iPhone. Named RedLaser, the application allows serious shoppers to compare in-store prices with online ones in under a minute, and is available as a $1.99 USD download at the Apple iPhone App Store. Here’s how it works: while browsing the aisles of your favorite store, you spot the digital camera you know your son has had his eye on for quite some time. His birthday is coming up, and it’s on sale. It seems like a great deal, but to be sure you pull out your iPhone and use it to take a picture of the barcode on the camera. Viola! Your iPhone instantly displays a list of online product prices from Google product search and Amazon. RedLaser tells you Amazon is offering the camera for 10% less than the store you are standing in is — and Amazon’s also offering free shipping. You then email yourself the information for the camera as a reminder to purchase the product online when you return home. As of now, RedLaser only scans UPC and EAN barcodes, and is sometimes unable to scan tiny ones. The makers of the product, however, say they are working on improving the functionality of the application, and upgrade its "brains" as often as once a day.

  • The (Possible) Future of Packaging

    Last month on the Eye on Packaging blog, David Bellm featured this interesting video. It is the brainchild of Capsule, a packaging design firm in Minneapolis. Before you become alarmed Gobee Rocket Rations is a fictitious product. The video was created for the Packaging That Sells Expo in Chicago as part of their Futuristic Packaging Gallery video series. The idea of the series is to challenge package design firms to think about what might be possible in the future. Whether or not we will have children's drinks that interact and inform, one thing is for sure, product labels and packaging are going to become more intelligent. With the advances in electronic ink and printed electronics the label printer of the future will need to know as much about electronics as they do about ink.

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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.