UID Labels Done Right!

Labels and nameplates have become much more than just branding a product or identifying the source of manufacturing. With all of the barcoding options available today, a simple label can contain a wealth of data and information. None more than UID barcode labels.

No longer are you limited to barcodes that only contain a serial number. With UID barcodes, you can store 100X that data in a single, small square of uniquely shaped dots.

The advantage of 2D barcodes, such as UID (unique identification marking), is that the label’s barcode contains a unique item identifier encoded in a 2D data matrix barcode. Along with human readable tracking information, this barcode can give you more control over tracking and is part of MIL-STD-130, a common standard referenced for Department of Defense manufacturing.

Benefits of UID labels are vast, including that they provide a globally unique, unambiguous identifier that eliminates confusion in data bases and records. The second benefit is that manual recording is replaced with electronic scanning providing for faster recording and cost savings over time.

Less confusion, time and cost savings, who doesn’t want that? Assuming you seek these benefits or it is mandatory that your products use UID labels, how do you go about purchasing something you don’t understand yourself? The answer is to leave it up to the experts.

What should you look for in a UID label supplier?

The supplier should walk you through the process. There is a learning curve to MIL-STD-130 and the requirements for UID labels are not easily understood. We will tell you what information we need from you to insure an accurate and compliant UID barcode. Many of our customers don’t have time to learn what a “data identifier” is or the precise differences between Construct 1 and Construct 2. After you give us the critical information we ask for, we take care of the rest.

The supplier should be able to scan and verify the barcodes. To insure accuracy and scanning ease, we test and verify the barcode during multiple steps in the manufacturing process. We have scanning and verifying equipment on-site to grade the barcode. Verification reports are generated and available upon request.

Make sure the supplier can generate high resolution images on durable materials. Unfortunately, UID barcode accuracy and compliance isn’t the only thing you need to insist upon. Printing and manufacturing processes need to be precise, consistent and durable.

Don’t assume artwork that scans perfectly will result in labels that scan perfectly. A UID barcode may be perfect on the artwork but fail to scan accurately (or at all) on the finished label or nameplate. With our Metalphoto nameplates and digitally printed labels, you can be assured the highest resolution output, quality that rivals the finest printing. All of our printing processes are consistent from the first label to the last. No worries that you’ll have an unreadable barcode out in the field or half way through your order. Reliable barcodes whether you order 10 or 1000 plates is what you should expect.

Consider the environment your plates or labels will be in. UID labels are designed to minimize the loss of valuable data over many years. The data collected and stored from the UID label will last indefinitely and so should the label. Another reason why we have chosen to manufacture only durable labeling. Our Metalphoto plates can last for decades outdoors. The image is photographically produced and sealed into the nameplate making it the most abrasion resistant on the market. Anodized aluminum is a superb choice for UID labeling. Available in thicknesses from .003 foil to .063 and produced in-house. For harsh environments, look no further than our Metalphoto UID nameplates!

If you prefer non-aluminum, we can manufacture vinyl and polyester labels with overlaminates for extra protection from weather and abrasion. All with high quality UID barcodes printed in high resolution.

Don’t assume a good label manufacturer is also experienced at UID labeling. A label manufacturer that makes nice decals might not be the best choice when it comes to specialized UID labeling. To avoid issues down the road, make sure you buy from a supplier with knowledge and experience in the UID arena, and one that can image on durable substrates with consistent output.

Please call or email us for a quote. Whether you need a quantity of 1 or 1000, we’re happy to assist you!

Until next time,

Susan Willens




How Many Labels Should I Buy?

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Will I get a better price if I buy a higher quantity?

We are asked this a lot for obvious reasons. The answer depends on the following:

  • Type of material: If ordering aluminum nameplates, your best bet is to maximize a sheet of material. So the more plates we can fit on a 10″ x 12″ or 12″ x 20″ sheet, the lower your price. For non-metal materials like vinyl and polyester, our printable area is about 12″ wide (length doesn’t matter).
  • Method of attachment: This is probably the most important consideration when deciding on quantity to order. We recommend 6 months to 1 year’s worth estimated usage if the labels have adhesive. You don’t want adhesive-backed labels sitting on a shelf longer than a year. You want to know that the labels will stick to your surface and stay there once applied. If riveting on anodized aluminum nameplates, order as many as you like. They will last forever on a shelf!
  • Size of label: With our production processes, the larger the label, the less need to order more to get a good price. If we are maximizing the yield on the material, order only what you need. If your labels are tiny, it may be wise to order 50 instead of 10, for example.
  • Overall cost of order: Just because you might get a better bang for your buck ordering a higher quantity doesn’t mean you should. Take a look at your estimated usage and the total cost of the order. The total expenditure will be less if you order only what you need than if you order more. So if you’ll end up throwing extra labels away, why pay for them in the first place.

We are happy to provide guidance at the time of your quote request. We only “sell” you what you need. We will never entice you to increase a quantity unless it makes economic sense for you to do so.

Durable nameplates and labels should not be viewed in the same light as purchasing paper business cards or throw-away address labels. In those cases, printers would rather run thousands than hundreds once their machines are set-up.

The best value is a nameplate or label that meets the durability needs of your environment. After all, if the labels don’t last, then you know you’ve wasted your money!

Need advice? Use our helpful “Label Wizard” on our website or contact us for personalized attention you can count on to make the right decision.

If we can be of assistance, please let us know!

Susan Willens