Aluminum / Metal

Metal Health: This Past Year's Innovations Prove Cans Still Deliver on Convenience and Appeal

Posted: November 2, 2009 by
Ron Romanik

Vuka LLC of Denver has recently launched a new line of sparkling, juice-based energy drinks in colorful, resealable, extruded aluminum bottles created by Exal Corporation of Youngstown, OH. Vuka, which means, "wake up" in Zulu, is a series of four all-natural drinks enhanced with vitamins and nutrients.

"This is a distinctive, extraordinary product and Vuka wanted packaging that was equally so," remarks Mike Clark, Sales Director for Beverage Containers at Exal. "It really stands out on store shelves." For this new beverage line, Vuka chose Exal's 16-oz. resealable aluminum bottle with a 38 continuous thread finish (CT) because of its strength, dimensional consistency, lighter weight, and its ability to handle the rigors of the pasteurization process.

"Our company chose Exal because they had the capability to manufacture our unique bottle design and finish in the most practical and efficient way," states Darian Bregman, CEO of Vuka. "Exal's aluminum bottle easily withstands the tunnel pasteurization process and prevents bottle breakage that can occur with other package types in a tunnel pasteurizer."

New Belgium Brewing chose Ball's Eyeris® enhanced printing technology to reproduce the intricate details of the graphic design of their new Sunshine Wheat aluminum cans. The cans feature Sunshine Wheat's original watercolor artwork with color twist to reflect a summery green and yellow.

"People have been asking for a more portable Sunshine Wheat for awhile, so we're excited to make this our second canned offering," said Bryan Simpson, spokesperson for New Belgium. Known for its commitment to quality and sustainability, New Belgium committed to offering cans last year when its first canning line began rolling out Fat Tire in cans. Ball's Eyeris enhanced printing technology brings improved definition and fine detail to beverage can graphics to create premium, on-shelf differentiation.

The technology is particularly effective for reproducing high resolution, photographic quality images such as fruit, vegetables, water, ice, and people in up to six colors. "The technology fits specific criteria," Ball's marketing director Jim Peterson says. "The key is to have your graphics designed around this technology."

Brasseries Kronenbourg (part of the Carlsberg Group) recently launched a new fresh look for its Kronenbourg and flagship beer cans using high quality print technology from Crown Bevcan Europe and Middle East, a business unit of Crown Holdings Inc. The new beer cans feature a higher definition golden Kronenbourg logo with sharp vivid images and defined shapes against a red or purple background. Images of water droplets around the logo are brought to life with high quality print.

"Our new strategy is focused on putting quality and know-how back in the heart of our brand proposition, and therefore it was mandatory for us to use our primary packs to communicate this at the retail shelf," says Raphaël Prévot, brand group manager of Kronenbourg. "This is first time that Crown is providing high-quality print technology on such a large scale," says Caroline Archer-Reed, marketing director, Crown Bevcan Europe and Middle East. "Beer cans are a very popular packaging format in France, as they create a premium look and feel for products while continuing to offer strong value for money."

The volume leader in the energy drink category, Monster, launched a new, innovative product called Nitrous Monster. Nitrous Monster is the first and only energy drink to feature nitrous oxide gas technology. The revolutionary drink boasts a rich creamy texture and a smooth drinkable flavor.

Nitrous Monster is the first beverage to be packaged in the resealable 12 oz. Rexam SLEEK™ Cap Can® with closure technology from Dayton Systems Group (DSG). "To communicate our Nitrous Monster product was unlike anything people had ever experienced before, we needed an equally innovative package which would attract consumer attention," says Mark Hall, president, Monster Beverage Company.

Monster also worked with Rexam's Graphic Art and Printing Plate Operation in Elk Grove, IL, to set the color and graphic tolerances for perfect brand reproduction on the SLEEK Cap Can. Rexam has the only company-owned, integrated graphic art and printing plate operation, complete with a manufacturing pilot line, to set these standards, confidentially with customers, before mass production.

Live Young Forever Health and Wellness (LYF) in Alberta, Canada, has introduced Live Young Forever Citrus, a vitamin enhanced water, in 16-oz. Alumi-Tek aluminum bottles from Ball Corporation. According to LYF, the beverage is a blend of powerful vitamins and the EGCG antioxidant that stimulates thermogenesis, a process critical to weight loss and fat burning. This is the first enhanced water to be packaged in the Alumi-Tek bottle, which is currently used for a wide variety of other beverages including beer, energy drinks, coffee drinks, and nutraceutical beverages.

"I am bringing products to market that are as natural as possible and may improve overall health," says Gwen Miles, CEO, LYF. "This bottle provides a perfect vessel for these products because it has a very distinct and premium image that is consistent with the benefits the beverage offers, plus it is reclosable, tamper-resistant, chills quickly and is 100% recyclable."

Ball leverages its two-piece aluminum beverage can manufacturing expertise to produce the Alumi-Tek bottle because the manufacturing technology for both packages is very similar. Alumi-Tek bottles have the same high quality graphics found on cans and are decorated with the same printing process. Ball's aluminum beverage can plant in Monticello, IN, makes all three bottles—8-oz., 12-oz., and 16-oz.

Thermochromic inks by Chromatic Technologies Inc. (CTI) have been appearing on more and more metal packaging types, such as the DVD for The Mole TV series and a Halloween beverage that glows in the dark like a jack-o-lantern. This year, Carlsberg introduced a Year of the Ox promotion in China. On the side of the can is a Chinese character meaning "Year of the Ox." When the beverage is cooled to the proper temperature, an extra line appears under the symbol, which changes the symbol's meaning to "Strength and Prosperity."

John Davis, VP of Global Business Development for CTI, explains that metal can technologies offer unique communication opportunities. "Every beverage company with a beverage can is looking for a way to make the consumer want to pick that can up," says Davis. Thermochromic ink technology is also now being applied on the hot end of the spectrum for cans as a warning that the can may be too hot to handle.

The Organic Batter Blaster™ Original Pancake and Waffle Batter product has expanded its reach to 9,000 stores in the U.S. The product is dispensed from an innovative metal container supplied by Crown Aerosol Packaging USA, a business unit of Crown Holdings Inc. Consumers simply shake the container, spray the batter into a pan or waffle iron and serve; no added ingredients or mixing is required.

Batter Blaster uses the highest-quality USDA Certified Organic ingredients, including Certified Humane cage-free organic eggs. The eco-friendly message is echoed in the choice to use steel packaging, which is 100% recyclable. "The environmental advantages of metal were a key factor in selecting this format for our packaging, particularly because we are marketing an organic product," says Sean O'Connor, CEO and founder of Batter Blaster LLC. "We actively promote the sustainability of our packaging because we want our customers to feel good about using the product from start to finish."

The packaging and its CO2 propelled dispensing system plays an integral role in maintaining the viscosity of the batter throughout its shelf life. "I think there are going to be more and more people recognizing the value," says Mike Dunleavy, v.p. corporate affairs and public relations, Crown. "It applies a whole other level of convenience to the consumer."

Rust-Oleum Corporation's innovative, foaming wood stain in Aergo® shaped tinplate aerosol cans from Ball Corporation. The 9-oz. cans feature an hourglass shape that provides improved ergonomics while reinforcing premium brand and product attributes.

"Rust-Oleum's Varathane Foam Stain is the first wood stain available in a foam format for enhanced control, a real revolutionary concept in wood staining," says Matt Moon, brand manager for Varathane. "Ball's ergonomically shaped aerosol can is a great solution because it delivers a very unique look, is easy and comfortable to grip, and helps deliver more precise application."

Ball's Aergo custom shaping technology allows up to a 30% expansion beyond the straight-walled diameter, allowing for a wide range of custom shaping possibilities. It is available across Ball's extensive portfolio of sizes and is compatible with existing tinplate filling lines, requiring only some modifications. Ball's tinplate aerosol packages are made with a minimum of 25% recycled content and are fully recyclable when empty.

Jim Peterson, marketing director at Ball, says the economic downturn has spurred more conversations about bringing new ideas to the market. "Innovation can give the brand a reason to have a new dialogue with their customers," says Peterson. "The consumer doesn't always know what they want until we tell them what they want."

Leading coatings manufacturer ICI Paints has adopted new aerosol packaging for its Hammerite Metalmaster® Electrostatic Paint Gun range of metal coatings. The system consists of two parts: the paint gun itself and a paint canister, which uses Crown's bi-compartmented, or BICAN®, technology. The 57 mm x 207 mm package consistently delivers the protective coating at the exact flow rate required to the electrostatic head for subsequent charging. The steel package is also 100% recyclable.

A plastic inner bag keeps the metal paint and propellant completely separate. This separation ensures propellant is not emitted during dispensing and prevents product from coming in contact with the package itself. The possibility of product drying or hardening is also eliminated, increasing the paint's life span.

"We created the Hammerite Metalmaster® Electrostatic Paint Gun as a quick and effortless solution for coating intricate metal surfaces by painting both sides at once," explains Jerry Hodge, global packaging development manager, ICI Paints. "It was essential that the paint canister be just as simple and efficient as the gun itself."

Studies Indicates Innovation in Downturn Will Likely to Reap Big Gains in Upturn
Silgan Containers' commitment to research has uncovered that investing in innovation and marketing during an economic downturn is an important factor in securing current and future growth. A recent Frost & Sullivan survey finds that the primary factors shaping innovation and product development strategy are the global economic downturn (33% of survey respondents) and the increasing need for innovation (48%).

The survey sought to better understand the key challenges facing innovation and product development executives in North America in 2009. Respondents identified that two of the most pressing challenges facing their job are generating and maintaining a pipeline of commercially viable innovations (21%) and identifying and developing breakthrough innovation ideas (13%).

Technologies have evolved in recent years which have enabled shaped can production efficiencies and quality—in both aluminum and steel—to compare favorably with traditional containers. Both premium-niche and high-volume shaped cans continue to enter the global marketplace monthly. Silgan Containers' Sculptured MetalSM technology, for instance, offers food manufacturers a way to capitalize on product messaging. Innovative, shapely designs support brand positioning and brand strengths, and can be coupled with a complimentary color to contemporize metal packaging and the products they contain.

Another study, entitle "Buy-ology," points out that brands investing in marketing during a recession tend to gain market share, even when the recession ends. Written by Martin Lindstrom, the book is based on a three-year study of thousands of volunteers using the latest brain scanning technology to determine consumer reaction.

In an analysis of the 1990-1991 recession, Penton Research Service, Coopers and Ly-brand, in conjunction with Business Science International, found that better performing businesses focused on a strong marketing program enabling them to solidify their customer base, take business away from less aggressive competitors and position them-selves for future growth during the recovery.

AEROBAL World Aluminum Aerosol Can Awards Display Innovative Applications and Technologies
Innovative applications with improved can design and a new production technology with environmental benefits were the hallmark of this year's "World Aluminum Aerosol Can Award" competition organized by the International Organization of Aluminum Aerosol Container Manufacturers (AEROBAL).

Boxal Group won the prestigious AEROBAL Award in the Can Already in the Market category for its innovative aerosol can design in combination with the new application as an olive oil spray. Working closely with French company Fareva, Boxal developed a sophisticated 59 mm x 205 mm aluminum aerosol can for this innovative application in the food market. The aerosol can features a customized full-body shaped can with a food grade internal coating offering a convenient use of the olive oil condiment. The shaped aerosol container is printed with Boxal's recently launched Hi-Def printing technology delivering high quality printing results for photo-realistic designs in high resolution on aluminum aerosols.

Exal North America (part of the Exal Group) won the AEROBAL Award in the Prototype category. The awarded package which is now available for Bag-on-Valve (BoV) and other applications is manufactured with Exal's revolutionary Coil-To-Can (C2C) aluminum container manufacturing technology. This innovative technology marries the manufacturing speed and lightweighting of standard, drawn, and ironed beverage can technology with the dynamic shaping technology originally available only with heavier walled extruded aluminum containers. Thanks to their lighter weight, C2C containers produce fewer transport-related carbon dioxide emissions throughout the logistics chain than heavier packaging formats. Exal's C2C process can also use post-consumer recycled aluminum as a raw material, and finished C2C containers are infinitely recyclable.