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Laser Engraved USB Flash Drives – Logos that last!

Posted by USB2U on 29th May 2012 | Permalink

If you’re thinking of ordering yourself some promotional USB flash drives and you’re fixed on getting them printed then you might just want to take a few minutes to consider getting your logo laser engraved rather than printed.

Whilst there is no escaping the fact that printing does look good and with printing you have a wide choice of flash drives models to choose from and you can of course get your logo printed in full colour. The downside with printing is that over time the print will begin to chip and wear away leaving behind a logo that might not be legible.  The resilience of the print will vary depending on the material that the USB stick is made from and how well they are printed in the first place.

Engraved USB Flash Drives

Engraved USB Flash Drives

Printing onto metal or aluminium USB flash drives can be tricky because you have to carefully clean and prime the metal surface before you print and then you need to bake them in a commercial print oven to get the print to adhere properly.  Any mistakes in this process can result in the ink coming off pretty quickly in general use.

Printed metal USB drives that are used on a key ring come in for a significant amount of punishment and are particularly susceptible because the sharp edges of the keys “break the tension” of the print on the metal and once this tension is compromised the rest of the print tends to flake away pretty quickly.

Digital printing or screen printing onto a plastic surface tends to offer a more robust solution but even these techniques won’t guarantee the print eventually failing.

If you really do want you logo to last and look as good after a few months as the day they were supplied then it’s definitely worth considering getting your USB flash drives laser engraved.

Engraved Flash Drives

Engraved Flash Drives

Laser engraving as the name suggests “etches” the surface leaving a high precision finish that is permanent and won’t rub or scratch off. Laser engraving is popular on a wide range of promotional products (including USB flash drives) but it’s a technique that is also widely used in industry to permanently mark medical devices, instruments, buttons, tags, car parts, bar codes and lots ore besides.

With engraving you will have to compromise on the colour the logo is produced in (but you can select a range of different coloured USB flash drives) but at least you’ll know the logo will be produced to a high level of accuracy and more fundamentally that it will last the test of time.


Recent Trends In the Use Of Promotional USB Flash Drives

Posted by USB2U on 23rd May 2012 | Permalink

Everyone’s favourite little storage solution, the USB flash drive, has been with us for over 10 years and its popularity doesn’t look like faltering. Part of the reason for its continued popularity is because manufacturers continue to innovate and introduce new shapes, styles and designs and people continue to find new ways to use them.

Originally USB flash drives were primarily used as personal storage devices; replacements for floppy diskettes, CD’s and more recently DVD’s. The emphasis was on personal storage with most purchases being made by the individual for their own use. The drives were used to store and carry personal files (school and work files) and would typically be nothing more exotic that standard Microsoft office files.

Over the past few years dramatic price falls combined with significant increases in the amount of storage on a “typical” USB flash drive has seen a marked shift in the purchase and usage patterns of the USB drives. Some of the more interesting recent trends include:

Professional Photographers use USB flash drives to distribute client portfolios – the move away from 35mm film to digital image capture has given photographers the opportunity to give their clients not just printed photos but digital copies (files) of the photographs on some form of storage medium. Many photographers that originally used CD’s and DVD’s have now switched to USB flash drives. The move has been driven by a realisation that the drives look more professional, they can be sold in printed gift boxes and engraved or printed with the photographers’ logo and contact details.

Births, Marriages and Deaths celebrated on a USB flash drive – today people’s lives are charted and recorded digitally. Digital 3-D and 4-D images captured during pregnancy scans are now sold on USB sticks, births and marriages are photographed and the resulting images stored of USB flash drives and then distributed amongst family and friends. USB sticks are increasingly being used by the bride and groom as wedding favours (pre-loaded with the story of their relationship) and we’ve even seen USB sticks distributed a funerals (pre-loaded with photographs, scrapbooks, music and video clips) to help the mourners celebrate the life of the deceased.

USB Business Cards

USB Business Cards

Traditional paper business cards replaced by USB Business cards – rather than continue to hand out paper business cards some companies are now opting to hand out USB business cards. These are the same shape and size as traditional paper cards albeit they’re a little fatter at 2mm thick, but the real benefit of these cards is that they can be pre-loaded with the company’s brochures, presentations, audio files, media files, press releases etc. Not only are they a great innovation but they are a real talking point and by pre-loading them with relevant media they are really cost effective.

Printed Brochures and Catalogues distributed on a USB flash drive – Companies that have historically printed glossy brochures and then distributed them in the post are now increasingly using USB flash drives pre-loaded with electronic copies of the brochure. Not only are the drives more popular with the recipients but they are much cheaper to post.

Flash Drives take the Promotional Gift market by storm – millions of USB flash drives are given away by schools, universities and businesses every year. They are typically pre-printed with a logo, loaded up with data and then given away. The intent is to deliver information on the company, its products and service, to build brand awareness and loyalty and to give the recipient something that has a high perceived value – a printed USB flash drive ticks all of these boxes.

With printed USB flash drives now available from under £2 per unit and with speeds and memory sizes improving all the time it looks as though the future of the humble USB memory sticks is assured for a few more years yet. When the adoption of SuperSpeed USB 3.0 (which delivers a X 10 increase in data transfer speeds) starts to gather pace expect further innovation to underpin continued sales and new directions of use.


USB2U Adds More USB Flash Drives to its “Printed in 24Hrs Service”

Posted by USB2U on 22nd May 2012 | Permalink

If you need printed USB flash drives in a hurry then there are very few UK suppliers that can help. Lots offer a “fast” or “rush” service but the reality is that typically means a 5-day wait which is hopeless if you really do need them quickly. After all, if you’re looking to get them at the very last minute then you’re more often than not going to want them the next day (or at the very least within 48hrs) and you’re going to want a fair degree of certainty that nothing is going to delay their delivery.

If the “rush” service you’re being offered is based on products being airfreighted in from China (where most of the flash drives are manufactured) then alarm bells should ring – not because the supplier is necessarily being disingenuous but simply because products imported in a hurry are always subject to potential freight and customs delays and no matter how good the supplier is they have no control over these issues.

Remember the travel chaos caused during the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland. It wasn’t just passengers that were delayed but freight as well (including branded USB sticks). It’s also likely that Customs inspections will increase in the lead up to the 2012 Olympics again leading to delays.

So, if you need printed USB sticks in a hurry your safest bet is to use a supplier that holds stock in the UK, can print in the UK and can turn the stock around in 24-48hrs. USB2U is one such supplier and up until now it has offered its USB credit card, Twister, Chic and Trident models on a 24hr service. Today it has added its Probe model (see image below) to the growing portfolio of sticks that are now available on a genuine “rush” service.

Probe UBS Flash Drive - Printed and Delivered in 24hrs

Probe UBS Flash Drive - Printed and Delivered in 24hrs

As well as a growing range of styles that are available to order USB2U also hold them in a range of different colours and memory sizes so you’ll have lots of choice and as you can tell from their TrustPilot feedback they don’t sacrifice quality for speed.

USB2U – the first choice for anyone looking for USB flash drives (in a hurry or otherwise).


What’s the Best Size USB Memory Stick to Buy as a Giveaway

Posted by USB2U on 17th May 2012 | Permalink

If you or your company are considering buying USB memory sticks as a giveway one of the key considerations will be what memory size you should buy. Memory options start as low as 64MB and go all the way up to 128GB (that’s Gigabyte not Megabyte).

Realistically anything over 16GB is going to be too expensive to be used as a giveway and arguably anything less than 1GB is too small for a number of reasons:

  • Retention and re-use: If you want the USB sticks you hand out to be retained and used (this way you get maximum brand exposure) then you need to give the user some spare storage capacity on the sticks to store and carry their own information around on. If you buy sticks with too little memory (128MB or 256MB) and you load your own data onto these before you hand them out then you’re not giving the recipient much incentive to hang onto the stick.

    (If all you want to do use the USB memory sticks to distribute information to your customers and you’re not bothered if they keep them then in these circumstances go with the smaller options).

  • End of life: Very few memory chip manufacturers are still producing 1GB memory chips so any that are available tend to be re-cycled or they were chips that were originally destined to be larger capacity chips but some of the sectors failed the QA test so they will have been “downgraded” to a 1GB chip.
  • Perceived value: Customers are not stupid and know when they are being given something of value so if you want to make an impact don’t give then a 128MB USB Stick – it’s not going to impress them, give them at least a 1GB stick or ideally a 2GB or 4GB – the cost differential is only pennies these days!

Ironically unless you or the people you intend giving the USB sticks to are moving large data files around the amount of storage in a 256MB or 512MB is huge. For example a typical Word document is only a few KB, likewise a simple spreadsheet, even music files (mp3’s) are only around 5MB so a hundred could fit on a 512MB USB stick! So does size really matter?

USB Memory Sizes - Upgrade Offer

USB Memory Sizes - Upgrade Offer

The short answer is yes – buying at least 2GB USB sticks pretty much assures you are going to get good quality memory inside the stick, it’s a size that people perceive to be worth keeping and it’s the sort of product that will generate lots of affinity to any brand printed onto it. Lots of companies are currently offering free upgrades to 2GB from 1GB so shop around for the best deal.


Will You Be Getting Your Wedding Photos on A USB Flash Drive

Posted by USB2U on 16th May 2012 | Permalink

If you’re planning to get married this year and you’re using the services of a professional wedding photographer then you might want to think about the best way to take delivery of your wedding day portfolio.

When the day is over and all you have left are some fabulous memories (and hopefully your partner!) then it’s your photo’s that will help bring the day back to life and help you enjoy and celebrate the day all over again with your family and friends.

Tradition dictates your wedding photos are supplied in a professionally produced Album that reflects the day. Most specialist wedding photographers will have their own portfolio of Albums that you can choose from with price breaks to reflect the quality and size of the Album. But, given that most photographers now use digital cameras for their shoots and then edit the digital images after the day it’s not unusual to be offered a CD or DVD with your wedding photographs on as well (typically for an extra fee).

USB flash drives

USB flash drives

The digital images supplied on the CD/DVD will typically be high resolution .jpg that are viewable on most PC’s and Macs. Because they are “high resolution” images each image can be quite a large file and this is one of the reasons why photographers have historically chosen CD’s and DVD’s over other products like USB flash Drives. Flash drives (whilst available with large amounts of storage) have been comparatively much more expensive than a CD and it’s been easier to get hold of CD’s and DVD’s locally and print a label for it before they hand it out to their clients.

But, things are changing:

  • Storage capacities on USB flash drives are increasing all the time and a typical USB flash drive has between 4GB – 16GB of storage – more than enough to store hundreds of high quality photographs on!
  • Costs are falling – only a year ago an 8GB USB flash drive would have costs around £15, today it’s less than half of this.
  • Less PC’s and Macs are shipping with a CD or DVD player because the technology is now considered “old” and unfashionable.
  • Data transfer speeds for USB flash drives have taken a massive step forward with the introduction of USB 3.0 (which also works with PC’s running USB 1.x and 2.0) – this means it will be quicker for photographers to load their images onto a flash drive and it’ll be faster for you to view your photos
  • Professional Wedding Photographers are gradually moving towards printed USB flash drives in snazzy presentation (gift boxes) – these look so much better than a CD/DVD and they make great gifts if you wanted to order a few to hand out to friends and family. You might even think about using some of them as wedding favours (pre-loaded with images of your courtship, things about you, the hen and stag night photos etc.)

If, like lots of couples you’re looking to post your wedding photos on Social Networking sites like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter then you’ll definitely want your photos supplied digitally. If you’re going to get them supplied digitally then don’t be surprised to be offered them on a USB flash drive.



Engraved USB Memory Sticks in just 24hrs – logo for a lifetime!

Posted by USB2U on 8th May 2012 | Permalink

The beauty of engraved USB memory sticks is that you can get them delivered in just 24hrs and when you take delivery of them you know the logo or design that has been engraved on them is going to last a lifetime. Unfortunately, the same cannot always be said of printed USB flash drives.

The problem with some USB memory sticks that are printed (and it tends to be metal or aluminum sticks that are the biggest culprits) is that the ink used to print them can scratch off pretty easily in daily use.

engraved USB flash drives

engraved USB flash drives

Popular metal USB sticks (like the twister or rotate) leave the factory with a protective “film” on them. The film is designed to provide some protection against scratching and to help keep the surface looking pristine. But, if you want to print on these metal sticks you first have to remove the protective film with a chemical wipe and then you need to prime the metal so help with the ink adhesion – if this is not done any logo printed onto the sticks will come off when scratched lightly with a finger nail.

Even when cleaned and primed the ink applied to the metal sticks “sits on the surface” of the metal and once the surface tension is broken (for example with keys on a keyring) then the ink will start to flake off. Plastic USB sticks don’t tend to suffer from the same fate because the ink “embeds” itself into the actual surface of the plastic.

If you are planning to give away metal style USB memory sticks with your logo on and you expect the sticks to take some punishment in daily usage then you might be better thinking about getting the sticks engraved. Whilst printed USB sticks do look stunning if you want your brand to survive as long as the USB lasts or is used then engraving might be a better option.

Engraving is no more expensive than printing and arguably on the right product can look more sophisticated. On metal surfaces that have an anodised colour finish applied to the surface, engraving simply etches away some of the anodised colour layer to leave a white finish (see the example images).

Engraving is also a suitable technique to brand wood, bamboo or leather USB flash drives – the finish is equally effective and durable.

If you’re not sure whether your logo would be best printed or engraved then speak to your supplier and ask for the advice and ideally get them to supply you with samples of your shortlisted drives printed and engraved. It’s fat better to make your decision(s) having seen the products in the flesh and having carried out your own “scratch tests”.

USB2U can supply printed or engraved USB flash drives in as little as 24hrs and will happily supply samples for prior to any order (the samples will be “dummy”” samples – in other words they won’t have any onboard memory but in all other respects they will be the same as the real thing!


USB Business Cards Say A Lot About You

Posted by USB2U on 4th May 2012 | Permalink

At a time when more and more people are sharing information about themselves via services like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and then exchanging information via smartphones is there still a place for the traditional paper business card?

When you stop and think about it, it does seem strange with the amount of technology most of us carry around and take into meetings that so many of us still use traditional business cards to share information about ourselves and the company we represent.  After all, most people that are given a card will simply transfer the information from the card onto their PC, their phone or iPad and then more often than not the card is discarded. It’s rare these days that people hang onto the cards and build their own business card collections. Businesses selling business card wallets and Roladex are surely living on borrowed time!

If you still want or plan to give out business cards then why not think about upgrading from a basic paper card to a USB business card. These a plastic “business card” shaped USB flash drives that can be printed (on both sides) with your company details, logo and your personal contact details – they look like a business card and at 2mm thick they’re only marginally thicker than their paper counterpart.

USB Business Cards

USB Business Cards

But, the real beauty of these USB Business Cards is that they work just like a regular flash drive and they’re available in a range of different memory sizes from 1GB all the way up to 16GB. The on-board storage (which is vast) allows you to pre-load the card with basic information like your contact details, your product catalogues, price lists, technical sheets, media file etc. In fact, anything that can be digitised can be pre-loaded onto the cards before they are handed out.

USB Business Card

USB Business Card

Of course the recipient will still have to transfer (or digitally copy) the information from the card but because the card is likely to be a little bit different from anything they’ve been given before it will “prick their interest”, it will make you and your company more memorable. Additionally there will  be a stronger likelihood that they’ll read the information you give them and more fundamentally because there will be store space left on the card they can use for their own personal data there is a strong likelihood they will keep the card and use it regularly.

Fundamentally we think business cards are in the last throws of their life but if you are going to give them out then perhaps now is the time to switch to a USB business card.