Recent Developments in Beverage Cans

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In general there is little movement in the world of beverage cans, in terms of new designs or technological developments. Of course there are the most fantastic graphics, but the market seems to be happy with the shape, size and design of the beverage can as it is.
Interesting enough in the last month we have seen two developments in reshaping the beverage can. I know many a packaging designer has modelled an “out-of-line” beverage can in the past.

100223-Dzmitry Samal coca3 320x288One of the most expressive was the can designed by Dzmitry Samal, a Belarusian designer, currently based in Paris, who came up with the Facet Can, a 33cl concept can in aluminium. But as with all others which tried to reshape to beverage can, this Facet can didn’t come off the drawing board either. All these personal initiatives of designer haven’t led to any commercial activity. But now there is the BowTie-shaped can of Budweiser this month introduced in the market.
Furthermore we will see a development of a dual-can. Only the basic design is available and nothing serious in the market yet. To be frank, I don’t see a market for this type of beverage can, but who am I to foresee the future.
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There are two more developments, one in the printing section of beverage cans and the other, a very important one, in the material section.
Let’s start.

Bowtie-Shaped Can
Is the Facet 33cl beverage can one of the many never-released shaped designs, the Budweiser BowTie is very real.

Budweiser will introduce a striking and original new beer can. The bowtie-shaped aluminium can that mirrors Budweiser’s iconic bowtie logo, is introduced in May this year, but only in the USA and in an 8-pack and will not replace the traditional Budweiser can.

To make the new can possible, Anheuser-Busch engineers needed to solve a number of technical challenges, and major equipment investments were required at Budweiser’s can-making facility in Newburgh, N.Y. Significant capital investments also were required to upgrade packaging lines at the Budweiser breweries in Los Angeles and Williamsburg, Va., the first breweries with capability to package this unique can innovation.

130431-BowTie 1 W320 100dpiNewburgh, about 60 miles north of New York City is where proprietary equipment is located that shapes the can. As aluminium can be stretched only about 10% without fracturing, the angles of the bowtie should be very precise. Creating the can requires a 16-step process, i.e. 10 steps to form the bottom half of the can, with an additional 6 steps to form the top portion.

Due to the can’s slimmer middle and sleek design, it holds 11.3-oz. of beer and has about 137 calories, approximately 8.5 fewer calories than a traditional 12-oz. can of Budweiser.

Well what do we say about this “world’s most unique and innovative can” as it is claimed this way by Budweiser? Is it the first step into an interesting development in shaping beverage cans or is it just the whitewashing of a stealthy price increase (assuming that 11.3-oz bowtie cans against 12-oz Budweiser in cylindrical cans go for the same price).
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Sterling Anthony, a consultant, specializing in the strategic use of marketing, logistics, and packaging, wrote in Packworld a very interesting analysis, titled: “Analyzing Budweiser’s bowtie can – Has Budweiser gotten bent out of shape over nothing, or are contoured cans the shape of things to come?”
It is interesting reading.

From the mammoth brewers to the craft brewers, where Samuel Adams, the largest craft brewery, comes up with a new beverage can design and offers it to the whole craft brew sector.

Samuel Adams Beer Can
The founder of the country’s largest craft brewery, the Boston Beer Company (BBC), informed the Brewers Association that he plans to allow other craft brewers the use a patent-pending beverage can package, that BBC designed, without any royalty or license fee.

130332-Samuel-Adams-Can-Illustration W320 100dpiThe company worked with Ball Corporation to create a new can design that boasts a wider lid and mouth, which is believed will increase air flow and position the drinker’s nose closer to the hop aromas of the beer. Boston Beer is still working out the details with Ball, its can manufacturer, but anticipates that any craft brewer will be able to purchase this unique can from Ball sometime this fall.

Brewers are calling it the “Sam Can,” and its extended, curved lip and wider lid are designed to allow aroma out and enhance the palate of the brew. The Sam Can will be available in 12-packs nationwide by early summer, the Boston company says.
The move follows a trend embraced by craft brewers who like aluminium, in part, because it’s cheaper than bottles, more compact for shipping and does a better job of protecting the product from damaging sunlight.

Dual-chamber beverage can
The inventor of this dual-chamber beverage can argues that at present time the beverage cans are known for its contents approximately corresponding to one consumption. When the consumer wishes to make a combination of two different drinks, she/he must use the contents of two containers, i.e. bottles or cans.
130120-two_cans_separated W320 100dpiIn his opinion this might cause a problem, firstly due to the need of purchasing two beverage containers and secondly, because the amount of drink obtained exceeds the normal amount consumed, while in case of several consumers, they all are forced to consume the same mix.

I am not sure I can go along with his argumentation, as I am not so sure the consumer is thinking along these lines. But whatever the case, his reasoning led to the invention of a dual-chamber beverage can.

The invention enables solutions in the mixed beverage market, holding two drinks separately that can be consumed on separate occasions or together forming a mixed drink for one or several consumers. To achieve this goal the can has the peculiarity of an internal vertical wall inside, forming two independent compartments with the purpose of containing one or two different drinks.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAValves beneath the tab tops allow only the drink being consumed to leave that compartment, while the other compartment is automatically sealed until consumer drinks from that compartment.
Therefore the respective valves connected to the area of the location of the easy opening device allow the exit of the drink contained in one compartment when the can is inclined towards the corresponding side of said compartment keeping the other exit closed.

As said it is a design and the inventor is looking for interesting parties.

We go back to the real world and have a look at a recent development in material for beverage cans, as Novelis developed a 90% recycled aluminium for beverage cans.

Novelis’ 90% recycled aluminium for beverage cans
130503-Novelis_evercan W320 100dpiNovelis developed aluminium sheet, called Evercan, with 90% recycled content enabling beverage can manufacturers the ability to have a product made of 70% recycled material. When combined with the can end made of a different alloy during the can making process, the Evercan results in standard 12-oz aluminium cans certified as made from a minimum of 70% recycled content.

For Novelis, the world’s largest recycler of aluminium, this is an important step toward delivering on its ultimate vision of an aluminium can with up to 100% recycled content.

Recycling aluminium requires 95% less energy, and produces 95% fewer greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), than manufacturing primary aluminium.

Allscripts ACE 2011

And for the last item we look into printing, as in recent years printing of beverage cans has taken large steps to perfection. With the Dynamark technology of Ball Corp. it is getting a step further.

New printing process for beverage cans
130425-ball-introduces-new-printing-process-to-europe W320 100dpiWith this variable printing technology dubbed Dynamark available from Ball Packaging Europe, beverage producers can obtain 24 different can designs in one production run. From logos and portraits to graphics and messages, all the elements in the livery can be changed and modified to appeal directly to a targeted audience and grab attention at the point of sale.

Ball Packaging claims that the newly developed Dynamark technology can be integrated in the existing printing process for all sizes of steel and aluminium cans. It enables up to 24 different monochromatic graphic elements to be added to a defined vacant area of, or supplemental to, the basic design. Dynamark allows variability in the graphic design at normal production speed.

In the next article we have a look at developments in PET bottle design.

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3 responses to “Recent Developments in Beverage Cans

  1. Pingback: Sharing A Beverage Can | Best In Packaging·

  2. Hi Anton
    Is Budweiser bow tie can made of 3 pieces, i.e. bottom half and top half, welded in the middle, plus lid? What are the 16 steps for making the can? Thank you–Panno

    • Panno, the bow tie can is a two-piece can. The 16-steps are for forming the body. The first 10 for the bottom part till the dent and the 6 for the top half. I’m sure Budweiser will not tell you the 16-steps, they developed. The lid is a standard can lid.

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