Does anyone know if such thumb drives and/or printers for them exist? I'm thinking something like the blank CDs/DVDs that have a printable surface that special ink-jet printers can print a "label" on.
Ultimately, what I am looking to do is to be able to mark such thumb drives, likely purchased bulk, with either a QR or bar-code, which would be unique for each unit. These would serve as a form of tracking label for a particular process I am researching on the feasibility to implement.
I've looked at vendors of pre-printed QR and/or bar-code labels; these exist, and those vendors can supply such labels with custom sequential or other codes. Ideally, I would like such drives to already have such markings already on them (that is, if I could purchase a bunch of bulk USB thumb drives with the QR or bar-code already marked on them, that would be perfect).
It seems that there are tons of vendors selling low-cost custom USB thumb drives with custom printing (including "business card" style - both plastic and paper) - but such low costs come at the expense of a "single design" only - you can't have numbers or such imprinted sequentially on each drive.
I haven't contacted any of these companies to see if "blank" drives are available without customization (something that could be printed on, or perhaps even laser etched), or whether they could do a special run with only numbers or something on them to uniquely identify the unit. It would be great if one of the plastic business card styles could be done, with the unique code plus any custom graphics.
So has anybody had any experience with such a product and/or vendor? What I am trying to avoid is coming up with some way to either apply those labels in an automated fashion to "blank" USB thumb drives - or coming up with my own printing solution (or laser-etching solution) - but it may come down to that in the end. I've contemplated micro-RFID tags (there are some really small 7mm x 7mm passive units out there) - but such tags would have to be close-read only (for the application I have in mind, to avoid interference or mis-identification with other USB thumb drives in the process), and they would still carry the problem of how to attach them to the thumb drive.
Ultimately, this process is to be as fully automated as possible, so the fewer hands that have to touch the thumb drives, the better - which is why I am avoiding the label route (unless maybe the labels can come in a "roll" that could be mounted and automatically "stamped" onto the thumb drive as it passed by on a conveyor of some nature). The "human hands" issue also makes me question just how bulk USB thumb drives are packaged; ideally, they would have none or little packaging period (a bag or box of loose drives you could just dump into the process would be nice); again, this is meant as for automation purposes - I don't want there to have to be a human who would need to unpackage each individual thumb drive.
If anyone has any suggestions, ideas, or experiences - I would love to hear them! Thanks!