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A beverage can, aluminum can, or drinks can is a container manufactured from aluminum or steel designed to hold a single serving of a beverage. Beverage cans are also made of tinplate: see tin can.

Opening mechanisms

Lübzer Pils beer from Germany in the larger European standard can size of
The early metal beverage can was made out of steel, similar to a tin can, and had no pull-tab. Instead, it was opened by a can piercer, a device resembling a bottle opener with a sharp point. The can was opened by punching two triangular holes in the lid — a large one for drinking, and a smaller one to admit air. This type of opener is sometimes referred to as a churchkey. As early as 1936, inventors were applying for patents on self-opening can designs, but the technology of the time made these inventions impractical.Later advancements saw the ends of the can made out of aluminum instead of steel.

The first all-aluminum cans, like their steel forebears, required use of a can opener. Mikola Kondakow of Thunder Baymarker, Ontariomarker invented the pull tab version for bottles in 1956 [Canadian patent 476789]. Then, in 1962, Ermal Cleon Fraze of Dayton, Ohiomarker, invented the similar integral rivet and pull-tab version (also known as rimple or ring pull), which had a ring attached at the rivet for pulling, and which would come off completely to be discarded. He received U.S. Patent No. 3,349,949 for his pull-top can design in 1963 and licensed his invention to Alcoa and Pittsburgh Brewing Company, the latter of which first introduced the design on Iron City Beer cans. The first soft drinks to be sold in all-aluminum cans were R.C. Cola and Diet-Rite Cola, both made by the Royal Crown Cola company, in 1964.

Old style pull-tab in use on a can of Tsingtao Beer (青岛啤酒) in Beijing, China in 2009.
The pull-tabs, however, detached easily and were occasionally swallowed accidentally by users. The New England Journal of Medicine reported a case of one person inhaling a pull-tab that had broken off and dropped into the can. The design of the pull-tabs was addressed by Daniel F. Cudzik of Reynolds Metals, who in 1975 developed stay tabs (also called colon tabs). This design would prevent injuries and reduce roadside litter caused by removable tabs, and involves utilizing a scored lid with a pull-tab. The pull-tab can be leveraged to push the scored region into the can, opening up a hole. By the early 1980s, stay tabs had nearly completely replaced pull-tabs in much of the world. However, pull-tabs are still common in places such as Chinamarker and the Middle East.

One unsuccessful variation was the press-button can, which featured two pre-cut buttons - one large and one small - in the top of the can, sealed with a plastic membrane. These buttons were held closed by the outward pressure of the carbonated beverage. The consumer would open the can by depressing both buttons, which would result in two holes. One hole would be used for drinking the beverage and the other would act as an exhaust for air passage - that the buttons remained attached remedied the prior issues with pull-tab ingestion, however, the design of this can was much more conducive to tampering. After opening a press button can, the consumer could adulterate the contents then shake the can vigorously, which would generate enough pressure to reseal the can with little evidence of the tampering. Consumers could also easily cut themselves on the edges of the holes or get their fingers stuck.

Most beverage cans have a slightly tapered top and bottom, with the lid containing a significantly thicker width of metal than the sides. This variable width allows for a greater conservation of raw materials without compromising the can's structural integrity or volume, resulting in approximately 15% cost savings compared to a non-tapered can.

One of the more recent modifications to can design was Mountain Dew's introduction of the "wide mouth" can in the late 1990s. In 2000 Crown Holdings, Inc. introduced an improvement in beverage end technology, named SuperEnd, which was a design reducing the aluminum content by 10% and creating a "billboard" area, usable for brand logos and special messages.

Current characteristics

In North America, the standard can size is . In India and most of Europe, standard cans are . In some European countries there is a second standard can size, , often used for beer (roughly equal in size to the non-standard American "tall boy", also often used for beer). In Australia the standard can size is . South African standard cans are and the promotional size is .

Cans come in varying heights and diameters to encompass the range of capacities currently in use, however the diameters are usually one of two standard sizes. The United States, Australia and New Zealand almost universally use a diameter slightly in excess of 65 mm. This size is almost universal in these countries for soft drinks, beers and ready-mixed spirit drinks. European countries mostly use a much narrower size of 52 mm for soft drinks and some beers. Recently the European size has started to appear is the US and Australasian markets with the appearance of energy drinks such as Red Bull (which is of European origin).

One practical difficulty brought about by these two differing standard sizes is that cars manufactured in Europe (with the smaller size cans and holders) and exported to the US or Australasia (who use the larger size) often present their owners with cup holders that are incapable of holding most drinks in those countries.

All metal beverage cans made in the United States are manufactured from aluminum, whereas in some parts of Europe and Asia approximately 55 percent are made of steel and 45 percent are aluminum alloy.

An empty aluminum can weighs approximately half an ounce (15 g). There are roughly 30 empty aluminum cans to an avoirdupois pound (450 g).

One potential problem with the current design is that the top edge of the can may collect dust or dirt in transit: Cans are usually in sealed paperboard cartons, corrugated fiberboard boxes, or trays covered with plastic film. The entire distribution system and packaging need be controlled to ensure freshness.

In many parts of the world a deposit can be recovered by turning in empty plastic, glass, and aluminum containers. Unlike glass and plastic, scrap metal dealers often purchase aluminum cans in bulk, even when deposits are not offered. Aluminum is one of the most cost-effective materials to recycle. When recycled without other metals being mixed in, the can–lid combination is perfect for producing new stock for the main part of the can – the loss of magnesium during melting is made up for by the high magnesium content of the lid. Also, reducing ores such as bauxite into aluminum requires large amounts of electricity, making recycling cheaper than producing new metal.

Many consumers find the taste of a drink from a can to be different from fountain drinks and those from plastic or glass bottles. In addition, some people believe that aluminum leaching into the fluid contained inside can be dangerous to the drinker's health.The exact role (if any) of aluminum in Alzheimer's disease is still being researched and debated, though the scientific consensus is that aluminum plays no role in the development of the disease.Aluminum cans contain an internal coating to protect the aluminum from beverage corrosion, but still, trace amounts of aluminum can be degraded into the liquid, which amounts vary depending on factors such storage temperature and liquid composition. Chemical compounds used in the internal coating of the can include: "uncross-linked epichlorohydrin-bisphenol type epoxy resin", "epichlorohydrin-bisphenol type epoxy resin cross-linked with a urea-formaldehyde resin," "epichlorohydrin-bisphenol type epoxy resin cross-linked with a vinyl resin," "vinyl organosols, solution vinyls, vinyl phenolics and epoxy phenolics."

Filling cans

Cans are filled before the top is crimped on. The key engineering issue is that can walls are about 90 micrometers thick, so empty cans are light, weak, and easy to damage. The filling and sealing operations need to be extremely fast and precise. The filling head centers the can using gas pressure, purges the air, and lets the beverage flow down the sides of the can. The lid is placed on the can, then crimped in two operations. A seaming head engages the lid from above while a seaming roller to the side curls the edge of the lid around the edge of the can body. The head and roller spin the can in a complete circle to seal all the way around. Then a pressure roller with a different profile drives the two edges together under pressure to make a gas-tight seal. Filled cans usually have pressurized gas inside, which makes them stiff enough for easy handling.

Fabrication process

Modern cans are generally produced through a mechanical cold forming process that starts with punching a flat blank from very stiff cold-rolled sheet. This sheet is typically alloy 3104-H19 or 3004-H19, which is aluminum with about 1% manganese and 1% magnesium to give it strength and formability. The flat blank is first formed into a cup about three inches in diameter. This cup is then pushed through a different forming process called "ironing" which forms the can. The bottom of the can is also shaped at this time. The malleable metal deforms into the shape of an open-top can. With the sophisticated technology of the dies and the forming machines, the side of the can is significantly thinner than either the top and bottom areas, where stiffness is required. One can-making production line can turn out up to 2400 cans per minute.

Plain lids are stamped out from a coil of aluminum, typically alloy 5182-H48, and are transferred to another press that converts them to easy-open ends. The conversion press forms an integral rivet button in the lid and scores the opening, while concurrently forming the tabs in another die from a separate strip of aluminum. The tab is pushed over the button, which is then flattened to form the rivet that attaches the tab to the lid.

Finally, the top rim of the can is trimmed and pressed inward or "necked" to form a taper conical where the can will later be filled and the lid (usually made of an aluminum alloy with magnesium) attached.

Companies use "epoxy resin (made from BPA) to manufacture coatings for the interior of beer and beverage cans." This is to keep the beverage from coming into contact with the metal from the can.

Older can designs

There were once cans in the United States called cone tops and crowntainers which had tops that were conical, rather than flat. Cone top cans were sealed by the same caps that were put on bottles. There were three types of conetops — high profile, low profile, and j-spout. The low profile and j-spout were the earliest, dating from about 1935, the same as the flat top cans that had to be opened with an opener. The crowntainer was a different type of can that was drawn steel with a bottom cap and the favorite of some collectors. Various breweries used crowntainers and conetops until the late 1950s, but not every brewery used every variety mentioned above. Crowntainers were developed by Crown Cork & Seal, now known as Crown Holdings, Inc., a leading beverage packaging and beverage can producer. This design returned to use in 2008 for packaging Coca-Cola's Caribou Coffee beverage.

Collecting

Beer can collecting was a minor fad in the late '70s and '80s. However, as canned beer lost favor to bottled beer, the hobby waned rapidly in popularity. The Beer Can Collectors of America (BCCA), founded in 1970, was an organization supporting the hobby, but has now renamed itself Brewery Collectibles Club of America. The BCCA originally took a stance in opposition to the buying and selling of cans and disallowing buying and selling at their meetings in favor of swapping cans. In response some rival beer can collecting clubs formed who allowed the buying and selling of cans at their meetings, the most significant of which was World Wide Beer Can Collectors (WWBCC). Eventually the BCCA dropped its ban on buying and selling cans, and the other clubs went out of business.

A number of books considered classics on the hobby were published during the heyday of the can collecting fad, many of them featuring color photos of thousands of cans:
  • Beer Cans Unlimited by Art and Pete Ressell (1976)
  • The Beer Can Collector's Bible by Jack Martells (1976, Ballantine Books)
  • American Beer Can Encyclopedia by Thomas Toepfer (several editions, 1976-1984)


See also



References

Notes

Bibliography

  • Brody, A. L., and Marsh, K, S., "Encyclopedia of Packaging Technology", John Wiley & Sons, 1997, ISBN 0-471-06397-5
  • Soroka, W, "Fundamentals of Packaging Technology", IoPP, 2002, ISBN 1-930268-25-4


External links



Gallery



Image:Sanpellagrinoaranciatacan.jpg|A can of San Pellegrino Aranciata, with a separate foil lid.Image:Beverage_pull_tab.jpg|A pull tab from the 1970s.File:Pressed-cans.jpg|Aluminum cans pressed into blocks for recycling


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