Embossing and shaping
The use of embossing and shaping are innovative engineering techniques that have been adopted by leading brands such as Stella Artois and Heineken. The processes provide a combination of visual and tactile effects, creating structure on specific areas of the can surface and are effective ways of adding extra shelf appeal to consumers. The advantage of embossing is to make use of the reflective nature of the metal by subtle changes in the shape of the can wall. Embossing is also useful for differentiation of product ranges.
For real on-shelf impact and clear visual differentiation technology can shape cans. Using blow forming and moulds, brands can benefit from custom shaped cans that deliver many promotional opportunities.
Widgets enable drinkers to enjoy the taste and the appearance of draught beer from a can. When the can is opened, the widget introduces nitrogen to produce a firm head similar to draught beer. The technology has been further developed so that it can be used with other products such as iced coffee or foaming milk products.
The industry has been conscious for some time of the need to improve the quality of printing on metal. Photographic print quality is the aim for the can making industry and the current state of the art is High Definition Printing. Laser engraved plates mean that cans are able to take on magazine-like print quality. Currently in development, digital printing can be used for smaller batches of cans featuring special promotions.
Thermochromic ink allows the can to communicate with customers and tell them whether the contents are at the optimal temperature for drinking, or if it needs to stay in the fridge a while longer. This technology was introduced into the UK market with Coors Light. Recent advances in thermochronic inks mean that brands can now choose from a range of colours and temperatures.
Coloured UV inks
The latest printing technology is being used to add inks that glow under UV lights to cans. This development is perfect for brands looking to attract young, style-conscious consumers and build a distinctive niche position in the marketplace. UV ink technology has already proved extremely popular for the on-trade in pubs and clubs and for the new breed of energy drinks.
Tactile finishes are developed using an overvarnish to create a ‘wet look’. This finish changes both the look and feel of the can when it is handled.
Matt & soft touch overvarnish
These two varnishing techniques provide a simple and effective way to achieve differentiation and enhance brand image. The impressive finishes also help to build affinity with the consumer by adding texture and feel to the surface of the can.
Aseptic packaging has offered opportunities for getting new products and ingredients, such as milk and coffee, into packaging formats and cans are no exception. Products, cans, ends and additives can be sterilized on line without subjecting the ingredients to excessively high temperatures.
The use of printed ends is a highly visual way of communicating with the consumer using a logo, a message or instruction. The technique is particularly useful for short runs where the technique can add value where other decorative techniques might be cost prohibitive.
To help communicate with the consumer it is also possible to emboss text or a symbol onto a can end which can complement a similar decoration used elsewhere on the can.
Incising is similar to embossing, but the text or symbol is etched into the surface of the end. This technology is very popular amongst customers looking for an effective way to run promotions that enhance the brand image.
Under tab printing and even more precise incised tabs and laser engraved tabs offer very reliable and easily identifiable numbers, letters and designs on tabs promoting prizes and products. The tabs can be used as a secure proof of purchase as well as an effective collectable or instant win mechanism.
Coloured ends and tabs
Coloured ends and tabs can be used in a number of ways for example to create a ‘total effect’ in one colour. This gives an integrated design and a quality appearance to the can.
Laser etching of a can ends allows customers to etch away the colour to create images or symbols underneath the tab.
Full aperture ends
The industry is starting to see the gradual introduction of full aperture ends where the end can be removed from the can, giving the can a cup-like feel.