Beverage can: What you need to know before manufacturing

    The world’s consumption uses about 180 billion beverage cans every year.

    Till today, cans are one of the most favored containers for people to enjoy their beloved drinks. Refreshing look and touch, easy to grab and hold anytime, anywhere, especially environmental-friendly, these cans are not the only reason you are going to be one of the leading beverage companies. Still, it plays an essential role in it.

    This article will help you get a clearer view of what things are like in manufacturing a beverage can:

    • What it made of?
    • How exactly do they form a beverage can?
    • Why do both customers and beverage owners so favor these cans?
    • What needs to know before manufacturing a beverage can?

    First, let get to know the basic:

    What are beverage cans?

    A beverage can or (a drink can) is a metal container manufactured to hold a single serving portion of liquid such as alcoholic drinks, carbonated soft drinks, fruit juices, energy drinks, teas, herbal teas, etc.

    What is the structure of beverage cans?

    Beverage can architecture
    Beverage can architecture

    A standard beverage can is made up of two sections that arrive empty and separately to a bottling company: the can body and the can end.

    Can bodies are typically constructed from a single piece of aluminum or steel drawn into a cup, punched, and ironed into a simple can body. The can body is then necked, which means that the top portion is trimmed to a smaller diameter.

    Can ends (also known as lids) of beverage cans are always made of aluminum alloy and pressed from a slightly more substantial and thicker mix of aluminum than the can body. And the pull tabs on the can ends are pressed on separately.

    Although all beverage cans now have two pieces (body and end), this was not always the case. Drink cans used to be made up of three components: a top (end), a bottom, and a rolled and soldered or welded cylinder.

    What are beverage cans made of?

    In the United States, the can is most often made almost entirely of aluminum. Still, drink cans made in Asia and Europe are approximately 45 percent aluminum and 55 percent steel.

    How to make a canned beverage

    Manufacturing beverage cans usually take place in two facilities. The first one is where the body and the lid of the can are made. Then the components get transferred to the other where the filling process occurs.

    Can making process

     
    Beverage can manufacturing diagram
    Beverage can manufacturing diagram
    • Step 1: Cut the blank

    The process starts with a 30 inch (76 cm) thick aluminum ingot rolled into a thin sheet. The first step in the actual making can include cutting the sheet into a circle, known as a blank, that will shape the bottom and sides of the can. After the circular blank is cut, it is drawn or pulled up into a cup with a diameter of around 3.5 inches (8.9 cm).

    • Step 2: Redraw the cut

    After that, the small cup resulting from the first step is moved to a second machine. A sleeve secures the cup in place, and a punch lowered quickly into the cup redraws it to around 2.6 inches in diameter (6.6 cm). The cup’s height rises from 1.3 inches to 2.25 inches (3.3 to 5.7 cm) almost simultaneously.

    Next, the punch presses the cup against three ironing rings, which stretch and thin the cup walls. This entire operation—drawing and ironing—is completed in a single continuous punch stroke that takes less than a fifth of a second. The cup is around 5 inches (13 cm) tall at this stage.

    Another punch is then pressed against the cup’s base, causing the bottom to bulge inward. The can’s form helps to counteract the pressure of the carbonated liquid inside.

    • Step 3: Trim the ear

    The can is slightly wavy at the top due to the drawing and ironing process. These tiny ripples in the metal are referred to as Ears. Earing is an inevitable result of the aluminum sheet’s crystalline structure.

    Nonetheless, some material is lost at this stage. The top of the can is trimmed by about a quarter-inch, leaving the upper walls straight and level.

    • Step 4: Clean

    Since the drawing and ironing process leaves the can’s outer wall smooth and polished, it doesn’t need any additional finishing, such as polishing. After trimming the ears, the can is washed and dried to eliminate any potential dust or particles.

    • Step 5: Internal coater

    A protective, specially compounded coating is applied to the inside of cans. After the internal coating, the can trip through a funnel oven bakes and cures the inside coating. After that, it gets slightly squeezed at the top to form a neck. The neck is then given an outward flange at the top edge, which will fold over until the lid is attached.

    • Step 6: Lid making

    The can’s internal bulge helps it withstand the pressure exerted by the liquid inside, but the flat cap, which must be stiffer and stronger than the base, is made of aluminum with more magnesium and less manganese than the rest of the can. As a result, the metal is more substantial, and the lid is much thicker than the walls.

    The lid is cut to a 2.1-inch (5.3-cm) diameter smaller than the 2.6-inch (6.6-cm) diameter of the walls. The middle of the lid is slightly extended upward and drawn by a machine to shape a rivet. A separate piece of metal, the pull tab, is placed under the rivet and secured by it.

    The lid is then scored such that when the consumer pulls the tab, the metal detaches quickly and leaves the correct opening.

    The cans are automatically inspected for cracks and pinholes to ensure that they are correctly manufactured.

    Beverage filling process

    • Step 1: Line up

    Empty cans are loaded onto the table one layer at a time. The table vibrates to shake empty cans down toward the canning system.

    • Step 2: Interior can twist rinser

    The cans are inverted and sprayed with water. It rinses any potential dust or particles out of the can. This ensures a 100% sanitary filling.

    • Step 3: Fill station

    Here, depending on what your beverage is, the filling process will be different for each. For example, the beer filling process will have CO2 filled in the can before it’s filled with beer to preserve its flavor. But in the case of fruit or vegetable juice,  usually use hot filling, which means the product gets heated and filled at a high temperature to sterilize the product and the container and closure.

    • Step 4: Lid dispenser

    A lid is placed on each can as the conveyor passes the cans under the dispenser.

    • Step 5: Seam station

    The table lifts the can up to the seam roll.

    • Step 6: Exterior can rinser and dryer

    The cans are rinsed with water and blow-dried. This avoids any possibility of rust or contamination.

    • Step 7: Packaging

    Finally, the manufacturer packs their cans and ships them off!

    What are the advantages of beverage cans?

    Taste: Cans protect product integrity

    Open up to cans research about aluminum can’s role in enhancing consumer drinking experience
    Beverage cans preserve drink’s flavor

    Aluminum cans help to preserve the quality of drinks for a long time. Aluminum cans are completely impervious to oxygen, sun, moisture, and other contaminants. They don’t rust, are corrosion-resistant, and have one of the longest shelf lives of any packaging.

    Sustainability: Cans are better for the planet

    Beverage cans protect the environment
    Beverage cans protect the environment

    Today, aluminum cans are the most recycled beverage container since they are the most valuable box in the bin. 70% of the metal in an average can is recycled. It can be recycled time and time again in a true closed-loop recycling process, while glass and plastic are usually down-cycled into items like carpet fiber or landfill liners.

    Innovation: Cans enhance brands

    Beverage cans enhance brands
    Beverage cans enhance brands

    Can showcase brands with a unique, wrap-around canvas. With a full 360˚ of printing space, can maximize the branding opportunity, capturing attention and driving consumer interest. 72% of consumers say cans are the best packaging for delivering excellent graphics vs. only 16% for glass bottles and 12% for plastic bottles.

    Performance: Cans are better for the refreshment on the go

    Beverage cans are prized for their portability and convenience. Durable, lightweight, they chill faster and are a perfect match for active lifestyles without the possibility of accidental breakage. Cans are also ideal for use in outdoor venues where glass bottles are prohibited, such as arenas, festivals, and sporting events, enabling consumers to enjoy their favorite beverages whenever and wherever they choose.

    Beverage cans are convenient
    Beverage cans are convenient

    Consumers surveyed preferred cans, according to the Can Manufacturers Institute, because they:

    • Feel cooler and more refreshing – 69%
    • Are easy to grab on the go – 68%
    • Are easier to carry and less likely to be damaged than other packages. – 67%
    • Provide a fast recharging and refreshing alternative – 57%

    Shipping efficiency: the weight advantage

    Aluminum cans are light and can be stacked easily. This reduces storage and shipping costs while also lowering overall transportation carbon emissions through logistics and supply chains.

    4 key notes before manufacturing beverage can

    Note 1: Lead time can be long and fluctuate throughout the years

    One of the most critical aspects of your beverage business is lead times. Inadequate lead times can throw your entire production and launch schedule off, as well as drive up your costs. When lead times fluctuate during the year, as they often do, the choices are restricted due to the shortlist of can suppliers.

    In some cases, a typical 6-8 weeks lead time can stretch to 16 weeks within a short period. Although lead times are incredibly long during the summer months (also known as “beverage season”), new packaging trends or huge orders may extend lead times even further.

    Keep track of your plans and, if possible, keep an additional month’s worth of inventory on hand, particularly during the spring and summer months, to mitigate the effect of unforeseen lead times on your production timeline.

    Maintaining open lines of communication with your supplier is essential. When you provide your can supplier with frequent updates on your forecasted demand, you allow them to notify you of any changes that may affect product availability.

    Note 2: MOQ (minimum order quantities) are higher than you think

    For printed cans, most suppliers require a minimum order of a truckload. Full truckload (FTL) varies depending on the size of the can. For example, The MOQ for a 12-oz/355ml regular beverage can in American canning is 7002 cans/pallet.

    A fully-loaded pallet for aluminum can
    A fully-loaded pallet for aluminum can

    If you can’t meet the requirement for a minimum order, you can order pallets of brite cans from a broker or reseller and get them sleeved. Can sleeves are shrink-wrapped labels that are digitally printed and adhered to the can’s surface. While this method helps you to produce smaller quantities of cans, it’s essential to keep in mind that the per-unit cost is typically a bit higher than with printed cans.

    Short runs are usually more expensive, and if you don’t hit the minimum, you could have to pay extra for sleeving. Considering all of this data would allow you to be more practical when calculating and preparing the cost and quantity of your orders.

    Note 3: There will be differences between the color on your design file and your cans

    Your beverage brand is an important asset that you want to plan and manage through your ads and packaging carefully. Although most people and designers are familiar with traditional 4-color process printing, printing on cans is very different. In the 4-color process printing, four colors (black, yellow, magenta, cyan) are added as separate layers to a substrate. Additional colors are produced by overlapping those colors or inserting a spot color or PMS color.

    Classic can printing process
    Classic can printing process

    All of these colors must be transferred to the can simultaneously from a single common plate while printing. Since the can printing process does not allow for color mixing, you are limited to six spot colors. Color matching on cans can be complex, particularly with white hues.

    So before you start the printing process, you should contact and check with printers. This will have you in creating and adjusting your beverage packaging design. Check out more steps to create a packaging design here.

    Since can printing requires so much specialized expertise, it’s crucial to work closely with vendors who specialize in can artwork and unique requirements before placing an order. It’s also a good idea to attend the color proofing and press check to ensure that the printed cans are just as you imagined before full production begins.

    Note 4: Your liquid must be tested before can-filling

    Before being packaged into cans, all liquids must be tested for corrosion. This testing will decide the type of can lining required for your beverage, as well as how long it will last. Before producing your finished drink, can manufacturers and most contract packers require that you have a can warranty.

    A few things that can cause your beverage to be corrosive include alcohol, juice, sugar concentration, acidity level, chlorides, coloring additives, copper, CO2 volume, and preservation methods.

    Most corrosion tests result in a 6 to 12-month warranty. Some drinks are too corrosive to be sold in aluminum containers, so keep that in mind. Testing properly ahead of time will help you save time and money.

    3 famous beverage can packaging manufacturers

    Crown Holdings

    Founded in 1892, Crown Holdings (also known as Crown Cork & Seal) is a company engaged in designing, manufacturing, and selling packaging products and equipment for consumer goods and industrial products. Its packaging for consumer goods includes steel and aluminum cans, glass bottles, metal vacuum closures, and steel crowns. The company offers packaging for industrial products, such as steel and plastic strap consumables and equipment, paper-based protective packaging, and plastic film consumables and equipment.

    Crown Holdings is headquartered in Yardley, PA, US and has 236 manufacturing plants and sales and service facilities in 47 countries, with more than 33,000 workers, and reported net sales of $11.58 billion (in 2020).

    Ardagh Packaging

    Founded in 1932, Ardagh Group is a global supplier of metal and glass packaging solutions for various industries. The company produces glass packaging products for beers, foods, pharmaceuticals, wines, spirits, and metal packaging products for processed foods, aerosols, seafood, pet foods, dairy, beverages, paints, and coatings. It is also engaged in the research and development of new glass and metal designs.

    The company operates 57 metal and glass facilities in 12 countries, employs over 16,000 people, and reported net sales of $6.66 billion (in 2019).

    Ball Corporation

    Founded in 1880, Ball is the earliest and largest manufacturer of recyclable aluminum beverage cans in North America. The company is a provider of metal packaging foods, beverages and household goods, aerospace and other technologies, and governmental and commercial customers. Its main products include beverage cans, Alumi-Tek bottles, aluminum cups, aerosol cans, aluminum slugs, printing and graphics. The company also offers laboratory and aerosol technical services: from technical assistance to laboratory testing and continuous research and development.

    Ball Corporation is headquartered in Westminster, CO and has 77 office locations across 27 countries, with more than 21,500 workers and reported net sales of $11.781 billion (in 2020).

    Conclusion

    The more you know about this industry ins and outs, the easier it is to make a beverage that will succeed. Getting to know the basics about a beverage can (what it is about, how it is made, its upside, etc.) will help you a lot when choosing a container for your beverage.

    So if you’re considering using cans, you would like to read this article thoroughly, especially on the part related to your production, like the filling process and notes before manufacture.

    Tan Do is a global beverage ODM/OEM manufacturer and supplier located in Vietnam. Since 1996, we have built trust and credibility not only throughout Vietnam but also in many parts of the world. Leveraging state-of-the-art technology, we have crafted thousands of products that align with ISO, HACCP, HALAL, FDA, and many other standards.

    Lilian Nguyen
    Hi! I'm Lilian Nguyen. I'm an expert in OEM, ODM, private label beverage industry with 8 years of experience. I believe that it is crucial for companies to focus on the benefits which the product provides to their target customer and what does it mean to the community. When i am not working, i run a blog on making healthy snacks & drinks and join in a hiking club. I'm an expert in the beverage industry invited by Tan Do Beverage to work. I'm in charge of publishing articles, research articles on the beverage industry or anything healthy to help readers have a better view of what they are looking to do, prepare to do or are doing related to the beverage industry. Email: lilian.nguyen@tdfood.com.vn

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