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School DT Project Idea – Design & Build Your Own USB Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 9th September 2015 | Permalink

Could you be the next James Dyson or Richard Branson. Have you got an urge to design and build your own products or perhaps you’re happier dreaming up creative ways to market and sell your product ideas. Perhaps you hanker after trying out your ideas on sites like Kickstarter and trying to raise some financial backing – with the emergence of the Internet there are now loads of way to get your ideas supported.

At many schools in the UK you’ll be given the chance during your Design and Technology classes to come up with a new product idea – you’ll be challenged to design something, produce a prototype, think about the manufacturing challenges, think about your target customer(s), think about how you’ll brand it, market it, sell in and hopefully make money from it. Think of it as a Dragon’s Den for the classroom!

If you’re struggling for ideas (and lots of people do) then you might want to think of designing and building your own custom USB memory sticks? It’s easier than you might think, it’s great fun and there are lots of different creative ways to use these familiar products. USB sticks are commonly used as promotional give-aways but they are also used to load baby 3D and 4D scans onto, to load MRI scans on, to record track day data on at places like Silverstone, to market new housing developments – the list goes on and one!

A very simple idea is to just design a USB stick to be sold at your school but rather than just buying standard factory designed USB flash drives and printing your school crest or logo one why not get the sticks made in a design unique to the school. Anything is possible and some great results can be achieved relatively easily because if you can get your hands on the core components its really just an assembly job.

Inside most USB Memory Sticks are three core components; a memory module, a controller chip and a capacitor – these are typically pre-assembled onto a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) and connected to a USB interface. The PCB can then be embedded into any outer casing to create a unique USB flash drive. Just like any commercially available (and assembled) USB flash drive you can buy the PCB’s in a range of memory capacities starting at 128MB all the way up to 32GB.

If you fancy having a go at building your own USB sticks (perhaps as part of a school project) then we can supply you with all the components you need including any accessories your might want for your finished product including key ring attachments, lanyards and gift-boxes.

We have a minimum order of 50 pieces for the PCB USB’s so if you did want to get a project off the ground and you’re not a school or company then get your entrepreneurial hat on and start raising the capital you need.

Build Your Own USB Stick

Build Your Own USB Stick



And the Winner is…..

Posted by USB2U on 8th May 2015 | Permalink

The votes are in and they’ve been counted and audited and we’re finally able to announce that the most popular promotional USB memory stick is the Twister!

It was a secret ballot; so secret in fact that even we didn’t know it was happening. The methodology we used was simply to look at the thousands of orders we’ve taken in the last 12 months calculated which USB stick had the largest number of orders. We looked at the data in two ways; how many orders were placed for Twisters and how many actual Twister sticks were sold – it was head and shoulders ahead of its nearest rival.

Did the results come as a surprise? No, not really. The Twister USB Stick (also commonly referred to as the Swivel or the Rotate) has been the best selling promotional USB stick of the last decade. Lots of new models have been launched and have tried to challenge its dominance during this period and whilst some have survived and are still bought in reasonable numbers none have come close to the sales of the humble Twister.

Its popularity is down to a number of very simple things; it’s relatively small, it has no cap to lose, it comes in hundreds of different colours and it’s easy to use. The fact that it sells in the millions means that its cheap (well, cheaper than some of the other models) and easy to get hold of – pretty much anyone who sells promotional USB memory sticks will carry the Twister. They’d be daft not to.

Promotional USB Twister Flash Drives

Promotional USB Twister Flash Drives

Ironically there are lots of other flash drives with a larger print area to work with, plenty are also smaller and of course there are others that also don’t have a cap to lose but for some reason the basic Twister model has seen them all off and remains the favourite.

At USB2U we always carry the Twister in stock in the UK and its typically available in a range of different colours and memory sizes. We offer it as part of our “rush” service which means we can get them to any customer (printed and data-loaded) in as little as 24hrs – less if you can collect them from our Northampton office.

We also offer engraved versions of the Twister – we simply change the “clip” the section that rotates or “twists” (hence the name) and replace the standard silver clip with a coloured anodised clip that we can engrave. Some customers prefer these because there is no chance of the engraved logo rubbing off over time.

The reality is we didn’t need any pollsters, or market research to tell us what the winner would be – we knew, almost instinctively that the Twister would still be crowned the winner of our popularity charts. Long may its reign continue.


UK General Election – Not Helpful for Promotional USB Memory Sticks Prices

Posted by USB2U on 6th May 2015 | Permalink

With less than 24hrs until the voting starts the election is still too close to call. What is certain is that most of us a fed up with the on-going discussion, debate, speculation and dissection and we just want to get on with it and deal with the inevitable fallout when it comes. It’s clearly not going to be pretty and it’d be no real surprise if we end up doing it all over again in a few month time because of a vote of no confidence! Sigh!

We faced a similar uncertainty following the last election (although arguably this time its going to be much worse) and last time the financial markets reacted badly with share prices tumbling and the £ (GBP) falling in value against most other leading currencies including he $ (USD).

The financial markets are already pretty fragile not least because of the on-going issues with the Greece bailout and additional and prolonged uncertainty in the UK is likely to push things over the edge.

For any company looking to buy promotional USB memory sticks or custom USB flash drives in the short term this is bad news. The vast majority of USB memory sticks in the world are manufactured in China and the factories that manufacture them all expect to be paid in $’s (USD). So, any weakening of the £ (GBP) against the $ (USD) is going to mean an increase in prices coupled with a lack a stability in terms of pricing. It’s bad enough now that prices are only held for around 3 days but when the markets enter a period of sustained uncertainty then prices for USB sticks (which are driven to a large degree by the currency markets) can change daily!

As a company this will be our 3rd General Election (we set up the company in 2002) so we’ve a reasonable amount of experience of dealing with the challenges they can pose. To try and protect our customers we have forward bought a large amount of stock and we’ve protected ourselves for some time against currency movements. We want to provide as much as a cushion as we can against the uncertainties we (and our customers) are likely to be faced with over the coming months!

So, if you are looking for USB memory sticks printed of engraved with your logo and perhaps a great looking gift box to put them in then we’d strongly recommend getting in touch with us at USB2U – not just now because of the elections but at anytime!

USB Memory Stick Prices Rise on Back of  Election Worries

USB Memory Stick Prices Rise on Back of Election Worries


Advice for Professional Photographers thinking of buying USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 30th April 2015 | Permalink

There has been a marked shift in the way in which professional photographers supply digital copies of their images. Fewer and fewer are using CD’s and DVD’s instead preferring to make them available on USB memory sticks or simply uploading them to a cloud based storage service from which their clients can download them.

Cloud based options are an easy and simple solution but they don’t really offer much in the way of driving additional revenue, building brand loyalty or giving the customer something really personal and tangible. In an increasingly competitive photography market it’s important for photographers to differentiate their service and in pure commercial terms it critical that every revenue opportunity is maximised. When you’re a professional you’re running a business and whilst some of the elite or privileged might be able to just focus on the photography for the rest it’s about earning enough to stay in a business they love and putting food on the table.

There are now some absolutely amazing USB packages available that have been put together specifically with the professional photographer but why buy these instead of just picking up a decent Kingston or Lexar drive from your local Staples or PC World Store?

The standard drives will do the job but they won’t exactly make anyone’s heart miss a beat if they’re given their wedding or family portfolios on one of them and charging a premium for them might be a challenge! Equally don’t expect to see lots of Facebook posts or Tweets about them and how they were blown away by them – these standard USB sticks are boring, they’re about function not flair, they’re not designed to lift peoples spirits they’re designed as a business tool.

Great photographs work on an emotional level so if you are going to use USB sticks to distribute them on then surely it’s best to use one that looks as though some care, creativity and thought has gone into its choice? Use one that reflects your own style and approach and works in harmony with your photographs and your typical clients.

When shopping for USB memory sticks here are some basic tips to help you:

  1. Find a specialist supplier – the vast majority of USB memory sticks suppliers are mainly selling them to companies that give will them away at trade shows and exhibitions or press events. These are usually cheap and cheerful flash drives that will have slow(ish) read/write speeds and will have limited branding and packaging options. Ideally find a supplier has a proved track record of supplying photographers, understands the industry and has developed a range of packages specifically for the photography sector.
  2. Buy a product that is fit for purpose – The typical read/write speeds of a “promotional USB sticks” is usually little more than 2MB per second (write) and 4MB per second (read). This is fine if they are just being data loaded with a couple of PDF sales brochures but, if you’re a professional photographer you will need to get USB sticks with better (upgraded) flash memory and better controller chips. If you don’t then be prepared to spend several hours copying your photographs onto each USB stick.
  3. Consider using the latest USB 3.0 sticks. USB 3.0 is the new standard for USB. USB sticks that use this standard will have read/write speeds of around 50MB – 100MB per second so they are very, very fast! They cost a little more than equivalent USB 2.0 sticks (but not as much as you might expect) but to take advantage of the speeds they offer you’ll need a PC or Mac that is equipped with USB 3.0 USB ports. Even if your clients only have PC’s with the older USB 2.0 USB port on them they will still be able to use them they’ll just run a bit slower. The real benefit is the time you’ll save loading the images onto the sticks.
  4. Get Physical Samples and Mock Ups – Ask for free samples to help you choose which model to go with and get your supplier to work up various mock-ups and examples for you. Again, a good supplier will have an in-house design team and they should be able to suggest and illustrate a number of options that will work with your brand or logo. Don’t pay for this. Mock-ups should be free and will not (should not) bind you to placing an order.
  5. Don’t forget the packaging – the style and type of box you choose can help lift the overall impact your USB sticks make when you hand them over to your client. Printed or engraved boxes are relatively inexpensive providing they are purchased with your USB sticks so make sure to ask about the available options.
  6. Check our what other photographers are saying about the supplier and their products – there are plenty of 3rd party review sites like Trustpilot that will help you to see what other customers are saying but there are also lots of “private” photography forums and boards where you can ask for advice or just read other threads/posts on this subject.
  7. Take all claims of “A Grade” USB and chips with a pinch of salt – every USB supplier now claims this and they get away with it because they know they are rarely ever challenged and when they are it’s often after an order has been placed and fulfilled. Better to trust what other customers are saying that taking the claims of the supplier at face value.
USB Flash Drive Pacakages from USB2UUSB Flash Drive Packages from USB2U

USB Flash Drive Packages from USB2U

USB Flash Drives for Professional Photographers

USB Flash Drives for Professional Photographers


It’s F-F-F-Friday – Order your USB Sticks Today for Delivery Monday

Posted by USB2U on 17th April 2015 | Permalink

If you’ve been meaning to order some USB memory sticks with your logo printed on them this week but other things kept getting in the way then don’t despair because at USB2U we can turn around orders on the same day!

With thousands of blank USB memory sticks in stock (across a wide range of designs and colours) and our own in-house design and print teams we are one of the very few companies in Europe that can accept an order in the morning, proof it, print it and then dispatch it the very same day. So, as today is a Friday you could order your printed USB memory sticks this morning and have them delivered Monday morning (we could even get them to you for Saturday if you’re around to take delivery of them!)

You’ll pay a small premium for our “rush” service but if you really do need you sticks quickly then it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. By

getting your USB sticks designed and printed in the UK you de-risk everything. There will be no exposure to international shipping delays, no exposure to ordering from an overseas company only to find your money is taken and nothing turns up and of course by buying locally if things do go wrong (as they very occasionally do) then getting a resolution is much easier.

At USB2U we design and print tens of thousands of USB sticks in the UK every week. Over the last 4-5 years we have invested heavily in our in-house design and print capabilities and the response from our customers to the range of rush services we offer has been amazing. A significant number of the 5 star reviews we get on Trustpilot (a 3rd party review service) relate to “rush” orders and as much as anything its because customers are blown away by the quality of their orders, the service they get and the sheer speed at which we deliver their order.

What marks us out from our competitors is the range of stock we carry and can print. Lots of companies offer a standard black twister flash drive but these don’t always work with the logo being printed on them and they can to be candid look a bit bland and boring. We can typically offer at least 20 different designs and we also offer the option of printed boxes to go with them (all in the same timescales).

Have a great Friday and remember if you need your promotional USB memory sticks on Monday then give us a call.

USB Flash Drives in a Hurry

USB Flash Drives in a Hurry



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


Looking Back at 2014 and Forward to 2015

Posted by USB2U on 1st January 2015 | Permalink

What a year 2014 was for us at USB2U. In the last 12 months we have seen record sales of promotional USB sticks, enquiries from new customers have never been higher and the feedback from customers on Trustpilot has exceeded all expectations.

We’ve gained new resellers across Europe and the number of orders we now ship around the world has grown markedly and shows not signs of abating. All we can say is “Wow!” and a big “Thank you” to everyone who has entrusted us with their project, their business and their brand this year. We really do appreciate your order(s) and your faith in our ability to deliver your promotional USB sticks against what often look lime impossible deadlines.

Much of our recent growth has been underpinned by continued investment in new products, a top quality team of people and our own in-house printing and engraving kit. A significant number of our USB memory stick orders are now delivered within 72hrs from order! So whilst many of our competitors talk in of delivery timescales measures in days of weeks we’re, for a growing proportion of our business, are talking in terms of hours.

Customers clearly like the comfort of knowing that with USB2U they can place an order one day and their printed, data-loaded and boxed promotional USB memory sticks can be with them the very next day! It’s a service that de-risks everything because it uses stock we carry in the UK, it uses our own in-house design, print and data-loading capability – nothing is reliant on being “shipped in from factories in China” or on the use of 3rd party printers. It’s a service offering we will continue to expand in 2015.

USB2U for Promotional USB Flash Drives

USB2U for Promotional USB Flash Drives

We’ve also been bowled over by the support we’ve had from Professional Photographers over the last 12 months. When we exhibited at The Professional Photography Show at the NEC in March we knew immediately that it was going to be bonkers. Every day for the 4 days we were at the show people were queuing 4 deep to talk to us. It was crazy, exhilarating and exhausting. Keeping up with the demand from Photographers after the show has, at times, been challenging but again this was primarily down to an embarrassment of orders!

As we enter 2015 we’re absolutely determined to move thing up a notch or two so expect some exciting announcement from us during the 1st quarter of this year. We have already committed to exhibit again at The Photography Show at the NEC in March (but this time we’ll have a bigger stand, more staff, lots of exciting new products and we’ll have a better idea of what to expect!).

We’ve also just launched a new range of Power Banks thousands of which we hold in stock in the UK so they can also be delivered (printed or engraved) within 24hrs! Power Banks are just the start though so again keep an eye out for lots of new exciting products throughout 2015.

2014 was a cracker – bring on 2015


Promotional USB Stick Market – Trends of 2014

Posted by USB2U on 30th December 2014 | Permalink

As 2014 draws to a close it’s a good time to look back and review how the market for promotional USB sticks played out over the course of the year. The most fundamental observation anyone looking at the market during the last year is that little has changed.

Promotional USB memory sticks are just as popular now as they were at the end of 2013. If anything their popularity has continued to grow over the last 12 months with increased sales fuelled by falling prices and the ready availability of USB sticks with higher levels of storage – typical promotional USB sticks now have a storage capacity of 4GB and upwards but 12 months ago this would have been 1GB to 2GB.

The falling price has arguably helped drive the USB sticks into new markets. Smaller memory capacity versions (think 128MB) can today be purchased for around £1.50 each. This is the price for a fully branded and data-loaded stick (subject to volume) and it really does put them into a price bracket where hundreds can be bought and just handed out as a speculative promotional tool. Whilst 128MB might sound a small amount of storage it was only a couple of years ago when it was the de facto storage offering!

Engraved Twister USB Sticks

Engraved Twister USB Sticks

So, in the corporate market there are now two distinct markets developing: i) companies who want to use USB sticks as a “cheap and cheerful” giveaways (often still packed with lots of pre-loaded data files and ii) companies that want to use USB flash drives with a larger memory as part of a more sophisticated sales and marketing campaign.

In parallel with the development of these two distinct market sectors a third market has blossomed over the last year and that’s the market for top quality USB sticks and gift boxes for professional photographers.

Wooden USB Sticks for Professional Photographers

Wooden USB Sticks for Professional Photographers

Today no self-respecting wedding or professional photographer would still use CD’s or DVD’s to hand out their client portfolios out on! The range of high quality flash drive packages aimed specifically at the professional photographer (which include some stunning gift boxes) has increased dramatically over the last year. This coupled with a fall in the popularity use of CD’s and DVD’s has seen a surge in sales to photographers.

In response USB sticks suppliers have had to up their game with some now investing heavily in the sector, hiring dedicated accounts managers that understand the photography market an launching bundles and packages aimed specifically at the unique needs of the professional photographer. USB2U is one such supplier – see them again at the 2015 Professional Photography Show at the Birmingham NEC.


Where Can You Get Printed or Engraved Flash Drives Delivered in 24hrs

Posted by USB2U on 19th November 2014 | Permalink

Pfft – we spit in the eye of delivery promises of 6 days. If you need your flash drives printed, data-loaded and delivered quickly then quickly is what we do! We don’t mess around talking days we prefer to talk in terms of hours. So, if you find yourself (for whatever reason) of needing some last minute promotional drives then firstly don’t panic and secondly pick up the phone and call us (or submit a quick quote enquiry via our web site and we’ll get back to you in 15 mins or less).

We’re based in Northampton in the UK. We hold tens of thousands of different USB sticks in stock in a wide range of styles and memory capacities and we print or engrave IN-HOUSE. No outsourcing to a local printer, no restricting you to one type of product and limited memory size options – we always have stock and we control the process from start to finish using our own team and as a consequence we can (and frequently do) take orders in the afternoon for delivery the next day across the UK, Europe and the USA. Don’t believe us then check out the reviews from thousands of happy customers on Trustpilot (many of whom will make reference to how blown away they were with the speed at which we delivered their order). Here are just a few examples from the last few days:

Beyond the ordinary!

We needed some premium usb sticks in presentation boxes for an event. The production team were even able to make up x100 usb sticks and boxes within 5 hours! To meet our tight deadline – which is beyond what is advertised on their website. I am very grateful and they look superb.

Great service and very speedy turnaround

Very impressed with the service from USB2U. Within 24 hours we had our USBs – they look great, the process was very easy, and everyone we dealt with was extremely happy. We’ll definitely buy from them again.

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy !

The ordering process was very simple and the attention to detail excellent. It was an urgent requirement and the sticks arrived promptly.

So, if you have been challenged to find someone who you can trust to deliver a last minute requirement for USB memory sticks with your logo printed on them and with your data files pre-loaded onto them then please do get in touch. It doesn’t matter if your based in the UK, the USA or Timbuktu providing UPS deliver there on a next day service and providing you get in touch reasonably early in the day (ideally before 2pm) then we can normally help.

USB2U - Your Trusted Supplier of USB Memory Sticks

USB2U – Your Trusted Supplier of USB Memory Sticks


New Home Sales Supported By USB Flash Drives

Posted by USB2U on 17th November 2014 | Permalink

Over the last couple of years it’s been interesting to see how many estate agents and builders have started using USB flash drives as a way of marketing their houses and new developments.

We’re not suggesting for a minute that this is part of a trend that will see all marketing of home move to flash drives in preference to traditional paper brochures, the web and the local newspaper but, they clearly do have a place in the mix of marketing options available. After all, we have to assume that where they have been used that they’ve been successful because in many cases the same agents and developers come back time and time again to place repeat orders.

Large national builders with lots of housing stock to move are using USB flash drives with their logo printed on as a “hand-out” or “give-away” in their shows homes or at prime sites where there is a good footfall of people that match the demographic of their target customer – think major housing developer with promotional staff handing out flash drives in the hundreds at the exit of Dockland light railway stations (which just happen to be adjacent to a development they are marketing!).

USB Sticks for Property Developers

USB Sticks for Property Developers

By pre-loading the flash drives with lots of interactive media including individual property details, prices, floor plans, video clips, links to their website and social media pages together with lot of information of the local area (amenities and schools etc.) the developers are able to impart lots of information quickly and relatively cheaply and they do so in a way that is easy to receive.

The real beauty of putting all of this on a flash drive rather than just printing it (apart from the obvious weight, costs and environmental benefits) is that people find it incredibly hard to throw them away – brochures that are handed out have a nasty habit of being stuffed in the next bin but flash drives, particularly those that have a reasonable amount of storage space on them are typically kept and used!

So rather than being an expensive marketing gimmick developers and agents have quickly learnt that used correctly and with the right amount of information pre-loaded onto them, that promotional USB sticks can be a strong addition to any sales and marketing program.

Arguably the same is true when selling any high value product but the housing market, and specifically the sector involved in the sale of new developments to your city types is one that has tapped into the opportunity with some gusto.