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Storing data on glass for billions of years

Posted by USB2U on 24th February 2016 | Permalink

Very exciting data storage news by optical scientists from the University of Southampton who have developed a new revolutionary method called 5D optical memory. This means that up to 360TB of data can be stored on glass for billions of years, which could help mankind to be remembered ages after we are gone. As a comparison, 360Tb glass storage equals to 90 000 4Gb USB Memory sticks!

In order to store data in glass, scientists need to make use of nanogratings, which put simply, refers to a nanoscale grating created by shooting extremely fast femtosecond laser pulses of light at a material – usually metal or glass – to produce grooves or markings in it. In popular culture, this would be something similar to Superman using the laser beams in his eyes to store information in the memory crystals of the Fortress of Solitude!

The idea is that the femtosecond laser writes information into the glass by changing the way light moves through it, and each tiny dot created is able to store one bit of information. This 3D optical data storage method is similar to that used by CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs today, and the researchers have recorded a copy each of the Magna Carta, the King James Bible and the UN Declaration of Human Rights to glass to preserve them.

But to make glass digital data storage devices a viable reality, the researchers, including photonics and optoelectronics PhD students Aušra Cerkauskaite, Aabid Patel and Rokas Drevinskas, have now developed a method of reading and writing data to glass, using a five-dimensional (5D) digital data storage method whereby instead of tiny dots, the femtosecond lasers create self-assembling nanostructures. 

At USB2U we will await to hear when this data storage method might be available for commercial applications. One day we would love to say that our glass crystal USBs were true glass storage devices! Whilst it may not have the same storage capacity, a branded glass USB is the must have tech product of the year. With laser engraving, chrome metal casing and delivered in a stunning box it have a real wow factor.

Read full article here


USB2U's crystal USB

USB2U’s crystal USB


Custom USB Memory Sticks – Hell Yeah!

Posted by USB2U on 5th June 2015 | Permalink

At USB2U when asked if we can supply Custom USB memory sticks the answer is a clear, unequivocal and loud “Hell yeah” we do. Hopefully we say it with a little more success than Ed Miliband did when giving his response to Jeremy Paxman during the Pre-Election TV debate when asked by Paxman if he was tough enough for the job of prime minister.

The judgement on our ability to produce and supply Custom USB sticks is not the UK electorate (thankfully) but instead the customers that have trusted us with their orders for more than a decade.

To be clear custom drives or bespoke USB flash drives as they are also referred are promotional USB memory sticks drives that have been designed and manufactured in a shape requested by the customer. Typically the shape will reflect the type of products they sell or might be a simple representation of their brand or logo. Typical examples have included a USB Fork-Lift Truck, a USB ship, USB sticks in the shape of lips or USB Training Shoes for Nike. Literally anything is possible!

These types of sticks are truly “custom” in all senses of the word. One of our designers takes a brief from a customer, we then produce a series of 3-D drawings for comment/approval, our factory then produce a 3-D mock-up before we commit the design into production. The design and final mould used to manufacture the USB sticks is “owned” by the customer so no other company will be able to copy the final product.

Custom Flash Drives are definitely not standard “factory designed” flash drives that have simply been printed, engraved or “stickered” to make them look a little different. Whilst simple printed USB drives can look excellent they don’t deliver the same “wow” factor that you get with a truly custom version and because of this they don’t do as good a job in terms of brand development, brand recall or brand loyalty– something which for many businesses are the core reasons for buying and distributing flash drives.

Historically lots of customers may have been put off ordering bespoke versions because of fears about set-up costs and high unit costs but these are now a thing of the past. Likewise minimum order quantities have fallen from thousands to just a couple of hundred! The only thing to bear in mind is the longer lead-time – to design and manufacture them you’ll need to allow around 3-4 weeks rather than 3-4 days.

If you are looking for a supplying of Custom USB memory sticks then make sure you put USB2U on your list – we love working on these projects and have had huge success with them over the years.




Will Your Be Buying Custom USB Memory Sticks in 2015

Posted by USB2U on 3rd February 2015 | Permalink

China might be about to enter the year of the Sheep but the USB memory stick market is, we believe, about to enter the year of the Custom model. We’ve seen a few false dawns over the last couple of years but finally this year all of the stars seem to be in alignment and it finally looks as though the year of the Custom USB has come.

If anything the UK is playing catch up with the rest of the world because in some markets fully customised models make up nearly 50% of the promotional market. In the UK, we’re significantly behind this at around 5% – 10%.

Why the difference? Well, first of all we need to be clear that when we say “custom” that we mean a fully bespoke 2-D or 3-D versions that are designed and manufactured to a customer’s specification. They are not standard models that are customised with a logo or design. An example would be a flash drive in the shape of a truck or a power drill or a word. They are “one-offs” and the customer who has commissioned them will not only take delivery of the finished product but they’ll own the rights to the design – no one else will have a USB stick the same as theirs, it will be unique and it will be in a shape/design then have actively been involved in the development of.

Custom USB Memory Sticks

Custom USB Memory Sticks from USB2U

We think the UK is lagging behind other developed markets in this sector is because of ignorance, high perceived costs and an expectation that leads times are going to be horrendous. Clearly the task of “educating” the market about the availability and benefits of ordering fully customised USB flash drives falls to suppliers like us and we’re ready to take on this challenge.

The benefits are well proven – they generate more buzz, they get people talking about the brand/product that they’re representing, they are more likely to be kept and used (over and over again) and photographs of them are far more likely to find their way onto Social Media sites which in turn will drive “chatter” about the brand/product. They are a great promotional product.

What does surprise most customers that ask about them is just how inexpensive they are and how quickly they can be designed, manufactured and delivered. Yes, you will pay more for them but typically its only about 10% – 20% more than a simple printed stick and the lead times at around 3-4 weeks are not unreasonable. You just need to think a little bit further ahead and plan (perhaps that’s our collective problem!).

To be clear there are no tooling and set-up costs, there are no artwork and design fees and you will “own” the rights to the finished product and you’ll get all of this (and the marketing benefits) for a small premium on the unit price. 2015 will be the year of the Custom USB memory stick.

Custom USB Memory Sticks - Shapes

Custom USB Memory Sticks – Shapes


Taking a bite out of the Custom USB Memory Stick Market

Posted by USB2U on 22nd April 2013 | Permalink

Custom USB memory sticks are challenging the dominance of the standard range of promotional USB flash drives that have been the mainstay of the market for the last 10 years.

Whether it’s a case of overexposure, boredom or companies just wanting something that stands out from the crowd all of a sudden we are seeing a surge of interest in custom USB sticks. Falling prices for custom USB moulds, reduced leads times and falling minimum order quantities have all given bespoke option a real shot in the arm.

The current lead time for a custom model is around 4 weeks (it can be shortened a little if physical samples aren’t needed before the final production goes ahead – in this case photos from the factory will need to be signed off), the minimum order quantity is now 250 pcs rather than 500 and prices are often only marginally higher than comparable “standard” drives that use “factory USB shells”, e.g. the Twister, Chic or Trident.

Any 3-D shape can be created.  Don’t worry if you don’t have the design team or skills in house to come up with the concepts because a reputable local supplier should be able to do this for you as part of the “value” they add to handling your order. You will not be expected to develop CAD drawings or detailed specs – your USB supplier will (or should) do this!

Custom USB Memory Stcks

Custom USB Memory Stcks

Typically the drives will be manufactured from a slight soft and pliable PVC material rather than a hard plastic – this is just easier to work with and allows lots of detail to be produced on the finished product without fear of it snapping off. Other options such as metal or wood are an option but the lead times tend to be longer and they cost more so there is less demand for them.

The finished products always looks fantastic, without fail they generate rave reviews and they always seems to get people taking to sites like Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest to post pictures of the USB sticks they’ve been given – all of this is a marketing managers dream and is rarely a reaction that is achieved today with “standard” USB drives.

So, next time you’re in the market for some promotional USB’s then you should explore the options to get your own custom versions designed and manufactured – they’ll be unique to you and they’ll give your brand building strategy a real shot in the arm!


What’s Putting Customers Off Of Buying Custom USB Flash Drives

Posted by USB2U on 24th February 2012 | Permalink

This year, 2012 was supposed to be the year that businesses really started to catch onto the benefits that fully customised USB flash drives deliver. To be clear here we’re not talking about standard “factory” models that have been printed, engraved and maybe pantone colour matched but rather USB flash drives that are made into a bespoke shape; typically a shape that represents a product or brand.

There are lots of excellent examples around from companies like Orange Mobile, Nike, Disney and other global brands. These companies have all commissioned and purchased fully customised USB flash drives because they know that they really promote their brand, their product and their customer “love them”.

There is no doubting that custom USB flash drive, particularly those that are well designed and reflect a companies product(s) or brand grab people attention and fire their imagination. They become a talking point, they make brilliant “ice breakers” at meetings and events and they help fire the imagination and enthusiasm of journalists at “yet another press event”.

Custom USB Sticks

Custom USB Sticks

Of course they are not a panacea for all sales, marketing, promotional and press “challenges” but, they are a brilliant communication tool that really ought to be used more frequently.

So why aren’t more companies buying them?

There seem to be a few simple reasons that are putting marketers and businesses off custom USB flash drives and these are:

  • Too hard to do – There is a misconception that it’s simply too much effort to design and commission a customised USB stick.  The truth is that it’s actually really easy and you don’t have to use expensive external agencies or designers. Most good suppliers of promotional USB flash drives will have their own in-house designers that will normally come up with some concepts and designs free of charge. Throw the challenge at them and let them do the hard work!
  • It takes too long – The lead time for a custom USB stick is longer than it’s printed counterpart but only by a couple of weeks and the end results are incomparable. The extra couple of weeks are to allow time for a custom mould to be produced, samples made and signed off and then the final version of the USB sticks to be manufactured.
  • They cost too much – Yes, they will costs a little more than “standard” USB sticks but not hugely. As a general rule of thumb expect to pay around 25% more for a custom model but bear in mind you will “own” the design and the end product will be exclusive to you.

The reality is that custom USB sticks do cost a little more, they take a little more effort to arrange and you need to allow a little more time to get them BUT they you will ultimately get more brand recognition, brand recall and brand exposure that standard, printed USB sticks


Don’t Gamble On Your USB Flash Drive Supplier

Posted by USB2U on 18th July 2011 | Permalink

Having watched Jim Eastwood in the final of The Apprentice last night it’s tempting to fill this article with puns such as “when the chips are down” and “it’s a sure bet” but I’ll try and resist the urge!

These bespoke USB poker chips were designed and manufactured by us for our customer. Despite their appearance they work just like any regular USB flash drive, they’ve got an internal memory of several Gigabytes, they can hold thousands of documents and files and they connect to any PC or Mac via a standard USB connector.

The real benefit of commissioning a USB flash drive in a custom shape is the impact they make when they are handed out. Lots of companies now use standard USB flash drives that are printed up with their logo on but far fewer go to the trouble of getting USB flash drives produced in a custom shape.

Custom USB Poker Chip

Custom USB Poker Chip

Custom USB flash drives take a little longer to produce (allow around 3-4 weeks) and they are a little more expensive than standard, printed USB drives but bear in mind you are getting something unique produced and you’ll “own” the mould and design so no-one else can have flash drives produced in exactly the same shape.

Most custom USB flash drives are made from PVC, rubber or some form of silicon compound and pretty much any shape or design can be manufactured. At USB2U we’ve designed and supplied custom models in the shape of pieces of fruit, outside toilets, floor heaters, eggs, Nike trainers, fork-lift trucks and removal vans to name but a few!

Just like standard flash drives we recommend pre-loading any custom USB drive with your company information (sales data, press releases, presentation slides, white papers, price lists etc.) before they are handed out. The more information you can pre-load onto them the more printing and distribution (postage costs etc) you can offset to help cover the cost of buying the USB drive. Not only this but customers seem to prefer getting sales brochures etc. in an electronic format because they have less to “lug around” (particularly useful at trade shows and conferences).

If you’ve already decided that you want a Custom Shaped USB Flash Drive then the next challenge will be to find a supplier you can trust to help you turn your concept into the finished article. There are lots of companies in the UK that will claim they can offer a custom service but our advice is to go with a supplier that has been around in the industry for a number of years, has a proven track record of delivery and ideally ahs in-house designers that can help you with the early stages of the product design. As I mentioned custom USB flash drives take a little longer to produce so you don’t want to have to repeat the process should your first choice supplier let you down.


Customised Memory Sticks Pack a Powerful PR Punch

Posted by USB2U on 1st February 2011 | Permalink

Custom USB Sticks by USB2U

Custom USB Flash Drives that have recently been produced by USB2U

The core aim of any successful PR agency is to ensure that the story they are trying to push makes an impact with their target media audience, and given they are competing against other agencies to try and grab the same column inch space, this isn’t always an easy job!

So how do you make sure that your PR message is delivered in a manner that makes an impact, that is cost effective, relevant, and above all, practical?

There are many ways a PR agency can choose to deliver their message, but the one we’d recommend is to use USB memory sticks! Simply load the press pack onto each stick and away you go!

Forget your generic USB stick shapes and sizes, however, the optimum delivery vehicle for any press pack is a custom version! Create a unique memory stick that is in the shape of the story, product or brand that you are trying to promote and pack a powerful PR punch to your audience! For example, a well-known health product provider wanted to launch a new female sanitary towel and a key part of this was PR. So they produced a USB memory stick in the shape of the product! The impact was dramatic; how could it be anything else?!

pvc custom usb sticks

Custom USB Memory Sticks by USB2U

So whether it’s the launch of a new car, clothing line, financial product or food item, a customised memory stick can be made to that shape.

Apart from the obvious WOW factor, why do custom USB sticks tick all the boxes?

  • It’s human nature for someone to start playing with and pulling apart a customised USB stick to see how it works. They’ll show it to other colleagues and plug it in to see what all the fuss is about.
  • With this in mind, a range of factual and multimedia data can be loaded onto the stick, which can then be set to autorun once the memory stick has been plugged in.
  • They make great keepsakes, so will have longevity way past when the PR story has fallen out of fashion, and offer increased brand exposure because of this.
  • The cost of manufacturing has fallen dramatically, and the minimum order quantity for can be as low as 100 units.

So now you know what to order for your PR launch, how do you go about getting them made?

  • Firstly contact an established and reputable USB memory stick provider – we’d advise they are UK based and take care of the full end-to-end process
  • Send a picture of the shape of the memory stick in mind over to their design team – they’ll be able to best advise whether this can be done (here at USB2U we’ve never yet met a design we couldn’t work with!)
  • Once the design is agreed, a 3D Cad drawing will be prepared for sign-off
  • Tooling will then be produced and a pre-production sample manufactured.
  • Once this is agreed the full production and delivery will take less than 2 weeks.

Custom USB Flash Drives Are More Than Just Printed Drives

Posted by USB2U on 31st January 2011 | Permalink

There seems to be much confusion in the market about what Custom USB Flash Drives are. The situation is not helped by suppliers who refer to USB flash drives that are simply printed with a logo as “custom USB flash drives”.

Custom USB flash drives or bespoke USB flash drives as they are also referred to in the UK are drives that have been designed and manufactured from scratch in a shape of the customers choosing. Typically the shape of the flash drive will reflect the type of products they sell or be a representation of the customers brand. Typical examples might for example be a Flash Drive in the shape of a Fork-Lift Truck for a company manufacturing or servicing Fork Lifts or a Flash Drive in the shape of Training Shoe for Nike.

Nike Custom USB

Nike Custom USB

These types of drive are truly “custom” in all senses of the word. A designer develops the 3-D designs, the factory then produce a 3-D mock-up before committing the design to production. The first stage of this is to manufacture a “mould” or “tool” which is unique to the drive and “owned” by the customer who is commissioning the drive. Once the mould has been approved the factory will then start the mass production of the USB flash drive.

Historically the set-up costs and the time involved in creating a Custom USB flash drive meant that it was only feasible for very large projects involving many thousands of flash drives. Today this has all changed and it’s possible to get as few a 200 pieces produced without paying a huge premium.

Brands Created as a Custom USB Flash Drive

Brands Created as a Custom USB Flash Drive

Custom Flash Drives are definitely not standard “factory designed” flash drives that have simply been printed, engraved or “stickered” to make them look a little different. Whilst these simple printed USB drives can look excellent they don’t deliver the same “wow” factor as custom flash drives and because of this they don’t do as good a job in terms of brand development, brand recall or brand loyalty– something which to many businesses are the core reasons for buying and distributing flash drives.

So if you are looking for Custom USB flash drives then make sure you deal with suppliers that understand what a “custom” USB is and have the capability to work with you to develop the concept and produce drawing of sufficient quality and detail for the factory to work from.


Custom USB Memory Sticks – Some Great Examples

Posted by USB2U on 25th January 2011 | Permalink

When people think about Custom USB Memory Sticks they tend to think about printing a logo onto a standard factory designed version rather than a truly bespoke USB stick. Custom USB sticks, or flash drives if you prefer, are designed, moulded and manufactured in a shape that is unique to you.

Nike Custom USB

Nike Custom USB

Custom USB sticks by their very nature generate lots more interest and are better at generating customer recall. So, if you’re looking to use USB flash drives to create interest in your products and your company then one of the best ways to do it is with a truly customised USB flash drive.

They work just like any other flash drive so you can pre-load them with your sales material or any other electronic document or media file. They can be manufactured in a memory size to suit your requirements and/or budget and you can choose whether you incorporate an attachment for a lanyard or keyring – some companies prefer not to because it detracts from the overall design but they’re not so practical for customers if they have no way of attaching them to something.

USB Gritter

USB Gritter

If you are considering a bespoke version then the place to start is with the shape – think about the shape or design that you want the drive produced in. Typical examples are produced in the shape of a particular product – the examples on this page have been produced for clients in the shape of one of their products.

If a “product” is too specific then you could have your custom flash drive produced in the shape of your company logo. The examples shown below illustrate just how powerful this can be:

Custom USB Logos

Custom USB Logo

If you’re struggling for ideas then don’t worry because our in-house team of designers have been working with clients for several years and they can work up a range of design ideas and concepts for you. Just give our team a call, chat through what you want to achieve with your Custom USB’s, tell us a bit about your company and your products and leave the rest to us.


The Open Championship – USB Flash Drivers At The Ready

Posted by USB2U on 15th July 2010 | Permalink

Today sees the return of The Open Championship to St Andrews, which is recognised the world over as the home of golf. With all of the fun and games off the course over the past few months and with the Ryder Cup looming large on the horizon the tournament this year will be as interesting as ever no doubt helped a little by the challenging conditions that seem likely to greet the players. Hopefully golf will be the winner and we’ll be in for a cracking contest.

Golfbag USB Flash Drive

Golfbag USB Flash Drive

With a global TV audience of millions and an on-course crowd that will run into the hundreds of thousands the pressure is not just on the players but the event organisers, its sponsors and the companies that use the event to provide hospitality to its key clients, customers and prospects.

Of course for the fans it’s all about the golf and just being at St Andrews to soak up the history, the spectacle and the atmosphere and for following your favourite player(s) around the course. But for the on-course concessions, and for major brands that are a participant in the golfing industry like Nike, Ping, Titelist, TaylorMade, Adidas it’s an important event to connect with and sell to the fans and the legion of amateur players that turn up or tune in.

One of the more innovative options open to companies to engage with their customers at The Open is to use a branded USB flash drive. These can be customised in the shape of golfing equipment or golf balls and branded up with

USB Golf Ball

USB Golf Ball

the company’s logo or, more simply, a standard USB flash drive can be printed or engraved with the company’s logo.

Flash drives of this type are then typically given away as a “keepsake” or “memento” for clients attending hospitality days or by vendors who want to promote their products or services to the fans (customers) on the course. When you’re spending all day walking around a golf course the last thing you want is a bag full of brochures to weigh you down but a USB flash drive weighs next to nothing and can be pre-loaded to contain tons of information including sales brochures, video clips, media files, and web links. But, unlike just handing out a business card with a website address on you can pretty much guarantee a USB memory stick is going to get used and therefore your content is going to be viewed and your branded remembered.