Where can I purchase narrow tape with custom printing on it?
January 31, 2012 10:00 AM   Subscribe

I've got a lot of stuff. People like to borrow my stuff. And they sometimes forget whose stuff it is and I never get it back! I had an idea to custom print my name, email, and phone number on narrow tape (perhaps vinyl based, similar to electrician's tape). Then, I can affix this tape to things that I loan out so that they're easily tracked back to me. I tried looking around at various shops online, but the options are overwhelming, and they seem to be geared toward packing tape and business applications. All I need is one or two narrow rolls, not an entire box of the stuff! Has anyone done anything like this that can share some of your expertise with me?
posted by rinogo to Grab Bag (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Kroy labelmaker machine? www.kroytapes.com etc.
posted by TheRedArmy at 10:02 AM on January 31, 2012

I use address labels for this purpose.
posted by carmicha at 10:02 AM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

How much stuff?

Would a Dymo label work? Or do you need literally hundreds?

posted by Brockles at 10:03 AM on January 31, 2012

We label our servers with a Brother label printer. The tape is pretty narrow but the printer is high resolution enough to be readable.
posted by pwnguin at 10:03 AM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I forgot to mention that I'd like the labels/tape to be VERY durable (e.g. fairly weather-proof). I plan on affixing these "labels" on a variety of gear - electronics, camping climbing, athletic, etc. Labels might work, but I imagine they'd have to be plasticized or coated somehow.
posted by rinogo at 10:05 AM on January 31, 2012

Parents around here use Mabel's Labels for just about everything. They have a household section, but their sticky labels are dishwasher-safe and pretty durable and the skinny minis fit up to 20 characters, if that's enough.
posted by peagood at 10:23 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh - and we've ordered many items from this place here in Toronto. They make custom vinyl stickers. Maybe there's something similar near you?
posted by peagood at 10:27 AM on January 31, 2012

Maybe a useful concept here?
posted by chazlarson at 10:39 AM on January 31, 2012

In addition to whatever label solution you use, get a card file and some 3x5 cards. When you loan something out, make a card for it listing the item(s) loaned, date loaned out, and the name and contact info of the borrower. Add a promised return date as well.
Periodically flip through your index cards and if something has been out longer than reasonable, make a polite phone call to get it back.
posted by The Deej at 10:42 AM on January 31, 2012 [6 favorites]

I forgot to mention that I'd like the labels/tape to be VERY durable

I have a little Brother P-Touch label printer - it wasn't all that expensive. The labels stick fairly well, but for extra durability, I paint a thin layer of Mod Podge over them. It only takes a few seconds to do, and makes the labels waterproof and pretty much permanent. My kids' drink bottles get washed every day and the labels are very much in place, even after a year.

For an even cheaper option, just use labels on plain paper from your printer; you can use Mod Podge to stick the labels, then waterproof them once they're stuck. It's basically d├ęcoupage.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 11:29 AM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

What about just writing your name right onto the stuff with permanent marker, or, if that's too permanent, nail polish?
posted by Sys Rq at 11:42 AM on January 31, 2012

If it is metal, think about engraving it.
posted by soelo at 12:03 PM on January 31, 2012

Some versions of the brother label machines use a three part ribbon contained within a single cartridge. From back to front you have the label base, then the text via thermal transfer, and finally a layer of clear protective film. You can't scrape the letters off without destroying the labels and the labels stick quite well. The one I use at work is a P-touch 1290 and it takes 6,9, and 12mm wide labels in a variety of base colours. We have another unit that handles those tapes plus 18mm.

I get the supplies at Staples.
posted by Mitheral at 12:24 PM on January 31, 2012

You can purchase paint pens at any crafting supply store, around where the models are kept. Also, I suspect hardware stores carry them.
posted by annsunny at 1:20 PM on January 31, 2012

I had the same problem and just started typing it all out in a spreadsheet. When something got returned, I deleted it from the sheet.

Having a label with your name on it puts the impetus on whoever borrowed the item. If they don't pay attention, don't care, or are just procrastinators, you could forget who you loaned the item to and never see it again.

By keeping a list for yourself, you always know who has what. And when they see you type it into your spreadsheet, they realize you are keeping track and tend to take better care of your stuff.

It sounds jerky, I know, but nobody has ever complained.
posted by tacodave at 2:00 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

We use something similar to the three part labels Mitheral refers to for samples that go round-trip through some pretty demanding environments (water, mud, grease, solvents, etc...) They're made with outer layers of polyester and an inner printed label. They last for more than a decade at temps from -40 to +40 C.

We use Dymo but the Brother system is identical.
posted by bonehead at 2:02 PM on January 31, 2012

A label (or name in permanent marker) is a good idea, but all it will do is verify that the item is yours. You won't get it back any faster unless you ALSO follow up with whoever borrowed it. A lot of times, the reason people don't return stuff they borrowed is not because they don't know who it belongs to. They know perfectly well whose it is, but they keep putting off the chore of returning it, and then when it comes time to do it they're too embarrassed to actually return it because it's been too long. So it's embarrassment, not lack of labeling, that is often the real problem.

I would suggest that when you lend things to people, you verbally make it clear how long they can keep them, and then you send a follow-up email/call/whatever when that time is up. The follow-up prevents the embarrassed-because-it's-been-too-long cycle. You can even say at the time of lending, "I'm going to need this item for X event on Y day, so please return it to me before then," and then for maximum results you can repeat that in your follow-up too. People are a lot more likely to return stuff when they know the owner is going to need it for something specific.
posted by danceswithlight at 2:07 PM on January 31, 2012

Second Mabel's Labels. They hold up to kid use so they will be perfect for you.
posted by saradarlin at 5:08 PM on January 31, 2012

My dad used to engrave his last name and SSN on everything he owned. He had a tough metal (diamond?)-tipped pen that he would use to scratch his info into metal, plastic or wood...
posted by bendy at 7:28 PM on January 31, 2012

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