United States. Stampexpressions

In recent years in the United States, some private postal companies have received the approval of the USPS (United States Postal Services) to develop and sell new franking systems. Among them the multinational Pitney Bowes, with a wide experience in the field of the mechanical franking, offers a novel system for issuing customized variable value stamps.

After some tests, in June 2006, Pitney Bowes received the license from the USPS to commercialize Stampexpressions™, a new product conceived mainly for small businesses. They are customized stamps in which the user can decide not only the face value, but also the design appearing next to the stamp

The system is very simple: The user must have a computer with an Internet connection, create an account in the Stampexpressions website (http://www.pbstampexpressions.com/) and arrange the payments by credit card.
The total cost of the service includes the purchase of the thermal printer ($99 + $9.49 shipping costs), the rolls of thermal labels, a monthly subscription of $12.99 (with a free 30-days trial) and the face value of the stamps issued.

All the processes can be done through the software supplied by Pitney Bowes. Check the account, print stamps, download images and buy supplies, create its own images and send them for authorization ...
The system provides a library with a broad range of images, but its also possible to create new images, that must be approved before its use next to a stamp.

After creating the account, installing the software in the computer and connecting the printer, the user must make an initial payment to Stampexpressions to have a credit or a virtual franking value in its account. The face value of the stamps issued will be discounted from this amount.

The software allows the user to decide the face value of the stamp (up to a maximum of $99.99) and the design of the image that will be printed in the label next to the stamp. In the same way it is possible to assign the 5 buttons of the thermal printer with the more usual franking values and images; the 3 upper ones with franking values ($00.39 - $00.24 - $00.01 in the right image), and the 2 lower ones with images.

As the credit or franking value is stored in the printer memory and not in the computer, the user can also print stamps without being connected to the PC or to the Internet, just by pressing one of the 3 upper buttons for the denomination, one of the 2 lower ones for the image, and finally the large button for the printing of the stamp.
Once the credit is terminated, the user can recharge his account through the software, with the computer connected to the Internet.

The printer is thermal and uses rolls of 200 self-adhesive thermal labels.

The final result is an authentic postage stamp composed of the 2 square blocks, with a central cutting and upper and lower perforation: At the left, a label without postal value with the image selected by the user, printed in gray scale. At right, the variable value stamp printed in black, with the franking value, the identification of the issuing equipment (vertical in the left - Pitney Bowes 0000005431 in the image) and a matrix code 2D that identifies and distinguishes each one of the stamps issued.

At the back of the labels (left lower image) there is a preprinted black strip used by the printer to center the impression.

The system allows test printings, with no postage value, where its possible to see the printing options for images on a gray scale.

Stampexpressions is a franking system conceived for small businesses that desire the convenience of a postage meter, but whose mail volume does not justify the cost of a typical postage meter. It is also for users wishing to illustrate their correspondence with customized personal or commercial images.

Currently the system can only be used in the United States, but the next liberalization of the European postal market could make possible that in a not so distant future private postal companies could develop similar customized franking systems in Europe ...

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This page was created in October 2006
and last updated:  29.11.06 . English edition rewritten by S. Goodman (28.11.06)