Can you recommend tiny, customized, permanent I.D. labels for gadgets?
September 12, 2013 4:56 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend a source for tiny, personalized, permanent adhesive labels I can use to I.D. my gadgets 'n' doodads 'n' stuff?

I've been doing a lot of business travel lately and have misplaced various valuables more times than I'd like to admit. I'm working on improving my "don't leave stuff behind" strategy in general, but until I've perfected it, I'd love to get a bunch of (really) small, permanent-ish tags that read something like "REWARD IF FOUND, CALL ###-###-####" in a tiny font.

I have a pet I.D. tag that says this on my keychain, which is great, but I'm both under- and overwhelmed by the options for flat adhesive metal (or otherwise super-durable) tags that I can put on my computer, phone, chargers, Swiss Army knife, USB drive, pill box, portfolio, wallet, etc..

I'd prefer to buy a "real" product (versus trying to jury-rig paper labels with coats of nail polish or something), but if possible, I'd rather not have anyone else's logo on them, or enroll on a commercial service like that only provides you with labels as part of their package.

Do you have any experience with a source for these, maybe as part of your I.T. security at a small company? I'd love any recommendations (or caveats); many thanks in advance.
posted by argonauta to Technology (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Is there some particular reason you've ruled out label makers? You can even find ones that emboss on metal tape if you're willing to plunk down a couple hundred bucks.
posted by phunniemee at 5:03 PM on September 12, 2013

Response by poster: A label maker is a great idea, but I didn't know if there are (are there?) any that would print/emboss in a small enough font to fit on things like a USB drive or iPhone charger cube-plug-thing (kinda like these). That said, if you have a label maker you adore, I'd love to hear about it, thank you!
posted by argonauta at 5:19 PM on September 12, 2013

For the metal and hard plastic items, have you considered an engraving tool? (Link is just the first non-professional one with decent reviews I spotted on Amazon.) It is quite permanent and writes almost finely as you can.
posted by teremala at 5:34 PM on September 12, 2013

Something like this P-Touch label printer with this 6mm tape should do ya.
posted by ephemerista at 5:35 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh wow, that's really, really small. In that case, no, I am not aware of any label maker that can handle that. Maybe.

I'd consider doing a cost/benefit analysis on what you actually label, though. I've bought those iphone cube plug things on amazon for 99 cents.
posted by phunniemee at 5:36 PM on September 12, 2013

Brother® TZe-S621 P-Touch® Label Tape, 3/8" Black on Yellow with Extra Strength Adhesive
Getting custom metal tags printed are kinda expensive.
Maybe this is an excuse to get a laser engraver?
posted by Sophont at 5:37 PM on September 12, 2013

Mabel's Labels has these pretty small labels.
posted by Empidonax at 6:08 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Road ID, made for runners, should do the trick for some of your gadgets at $20 a pop. Isn't there an iPhone-friendly RFID tag for this purpose?
posted by grateful at 6:21 PM on September 12, 2013

Look at asset tags, which businesses use for marking and tracking their property. They come in a vast array of styles, metal or plastic, and they're usually very durable. Typically in the range of 1"x1/2" up to 2"x1" in size.

In no way an endorsement, but I rapidly found this site:

Which seems to offer a typical variety.
posted by jgreco at 6:49 PM on September 12, 2013

I have a google voice number, and it's on the back of my phone - Reward: call (xxx)xxx-xxxx. I used my labelmaker and small print, and had to put clear packing tape over the label so it wouldn't peel off. Extra-adhesive tape sounds like a plan.

Computer - use packing tape to put your business card on it
Phone - in addition to the physical label, use a text editor to write your info, then take a screenshot & make it your locked screen background
Chargers - I got blaze orange tape and flagged my travel charger. When I'm packing, the orange helps me remember it. Also, keep a list in your laptop bag, or on your phone, of the things that get spread out, and check it before you leave your hotel room. It's not worth it to spend $15 in shipping to get back your charger.
USB drive - It's backed up, right? Tape a business card to it.
Portfolio - business card
Wallet - I've read that having baby pictures in your wallet makes it more likely to be returned.

I also put a stripe of blaze orange tape on the remote control. much easier to find it now.
posted by theora55 at 8:31 PM on September 12, 2013

When we sent our kids off to camp this summer, we bought customized labels from They were recommended by the camp, and we were very pleased with them. Their labels were high quality, permanent, and dishwasher/microwave safe. We got 80 small (1-1/2" x 5/16") labels for $16. They've been tested pretty hard by our kids and have held up well.
posted by mosk at 10:26 PM on September 12, 2013

StufBak? They are a full return service.
posted by overleaf at 10:41 PM on September 12, 2013

Mabels Labels linked to above really are great. They have some pretty small ones ment to tag everything a kid owns so they are tough and last a long time. Don't be put off by the kid designs. You can easily make plain ones.
posted by saradarlin at 11:30 PM on September 12, 2013

A note: corporate asset tags are meant to deter/defeat theft, so they are by design difficult to remove. This may be desirable for you; I use ordinary Brother P-Touch label tape on my camera, GPSr, etc., and the damn stuff shreds easily enough that it's obvious where it has been removed -- and is way cheaper than the "good" tags.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:59 AM on September 16, 2013

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