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History of the can-timeline

History of a Can

So many of our everyday foods & beverages and goods are packaged in a can, and this has been the case for a lot longer than you might imagine. The technology around canning of foods, pet foods, paint, oil, chemicals has evolved over time to include ring pulls, stay on tabs, screw tops, recyclable, double-seamed and the testing and inspection of cans is critical to ensure the integrity of the product inside.

1700 -1850

1795 – Napoleon offers 12,000 Franks to anyone who can devise a way of preserving food for his army & navy.

1809Nicolas Appert (France) devises an idea of packing food into special “bottles”, like wine.

1810 – Nicolas Appert (France) receives the 12,000 Frank prize from the French government after he invents the method of preserving food through sterilization. Nicolas publishes “Book for all households” which is translated and published in NY.

Peter Durand (England) receives a patent from King George III. The patent includes pottery, glass and tinplated iron for use as food container.

1812 – Thomas Kensett (England) starts a small plant in NY: canning oysters, meats, fruits and vegtables in hermetically sealed containers.

1813 – John Hall and Bryan Dorkin opened the first commercial canning factory in England

1818 – Peter Durand introduces his tinplated iron can in America

1819 – Thomas Kensett and Ezra Gagett start selling their products in canned tinplate cans.

1825 – Kensett receives an American patent for tinplated cans.

1830 – Huntly and Palmer (England) start selling biscuits and cakes in decorated cans.

1846 – Henry Evans uses dies to increase production speeds tenfold.

1847 – Allan Taylor, patents a machine for stamping cylindrical can ends.

1849 – Henry Evans is granted the patent for the pendulum press, which – when combined with a die device, makes a can end in a single operation. Production now improves from 5 or 6 cans per hour, to 50-60 per hour.


1856 – Henry Bessmer (England) discovers first (later on William Kelley, America, separately also discovers) the process of converting cast iron into steel. Gail Borden is granted a patent on canned condensed milk.

1858 – Ezra J. Warner (Waterbury, Connecticut) patents the first can opener! This was used heavily by the US military during the civil war!

1866 – E.M. Lang (Maine) is granted a patent for sealing tin cans by casting or dropping bar solder in measured drops on can ends. J. Osterhoudt patented the tin can with a key opener.

1870 – William Lyman patents a better can opener (rotating wheel, which cuts along the top rim of the can).Hinged lid tin cans are introduced.

1875 – Arthur A. Libby and William J. Wilson (Chicago) develop the tapered can for canning corned beef. Sardines first packed in cans.

1876 – Hume “floater” introduced to float solder onto ends of can s as they roll along “the line”.

1877 – The simplified “side seamer” for cans appears.

1880 – 1890Automatic can making machinery debuts.

1892 – Tabaco cans introduced.

1894 – Ams machine company begins manufacturing locked double seam cans.

1989 – George W. Cobb preserving company finally perfects the sanitary can. Sanitary ends take two more years before they are adopted for food canning in Europe.

1899 – Inventors Helbling and Pertsch patented aerosols pressurized using methyl and ethyl chloride as propellants.

1900 – 1950

1901 – American can company formed.

1909 – Tuna canning begins in California.

1914 – Continuous ovens, used to dry inked tinplate, are introduced.

1917 – Ernest Moeller (Bayer company) introduces aspirin pocket sized cans. Key-openning collar-can for coffee introduced.

1921 – Zinc oxide and other zinc compounds in enamel lining found to prevent discoloration of canned corn by Zinc sulphide (“Corn black”). Canned citrus juice cans first ship from Florida.

1922 – Eric Rotheim (Norway) develops the modern aerosol can.
1922 – Canned dog food introduced by PH Chopped.
1922 – Crimped lids are introduced in Europe.

1926 – Canned ham (“SPAM”) was introduced.

1927 – Erik Rotheim (Norway), designs the aerosol can in 1926. He patents the first aerosol can and valve that could hold and dispense products and propellant systems (patent received in 1929).

1931 – Electrical can opener introduced (with a serrated edge which cuts along the top rim of the can).

1933 – Quart can of motor oil introduced.

1935 – Introduction of the beer can. The first beer can was “Krueger Cream Ale” – sold by the Kruger Brewing Company of Richmond, Virginia.
1935 – Felifoel breweries in Wales introduce canned beer into the UK using cone shaped topped steel cans.

1940 – Carbonated soft drink canning begins.

1941 – US Soldiers rely on canned field rations during WWII.

1943 – Lyle Goodhue and William Sullivan invent a portable aerosol can using pressurized gas that can be used by US service men to kill malaria causing bugs during WWII.

1945 – First aerosol cans begin marketing on a wide basis.

1949 – Spray paint was invented by Edward Seymour. The first color was aluminum…

1950 – 2000

1953 – Robert Abplanal invents a crimped valve that can dispense pressurized gas. This significantly improves the aerosol can design.

1955 – Cans participated in A-Bomb civil defense tests in Nevada in order to test whether canned foods were safe to eat after Nuclear explosions (they were found safe).

1957 – Aluminum was introduced in metal can making.

1959 – First all-aluminum beer can. Ermal Fraze (Kettring, Ohio) invents the easy open can!

1960 – Easy-open can introduced.

1962 – Beverage can pull-tab was introduced.

1963 – Ernie Fraze (of Dayton, Ohio) together with the Dayton Reliable Tool Company, and Alcoa, invents the aluminium easy-open end.

1964 – Two piece can developed. Found to use less metal than the traditional three-piece can.

1965 – Aluminum beverage cans introduced.
1965 – Tin-Free-steel (TFS chromium) cans developed.

1967 – DWI aluminum cans (Drawn and Wall Ironed) are developed in the US.

1968 – The first Tin Free Steel (TFS) cans are made in the UK, pushed forward by UK Steel.

1970 – First Earth Day – recycling begins to raise awareness.
1970 – DWI cans take a whole new spin when tinplated two-piece cans are introduced in the UK.

1972 – Multi-packs for beverage cans are introduced (6-packs).

1973 – Indel introduces one of the first tin-plate Coulometric rating systems (SUMETAL)

1980 – Indel introduces one of the first tin-plate Coulometric rating systems (SUMETAL)

1985 – Aluminum cans dominate beverage market.
1985 – Astronauts in outer space receive carbonated beverages in cans.

1987 – Introduction of the 206 diameter cans for beverage soft drink cans (beer comes a year later).

1989 – Retained ring pull ends for the beverage industry are introduced.

1991 – Can ends are downsized 202 and 204 ends reduce the amount of metal required for the ends.

1993 – Israeli company Indel introduces the first fully automatic double seam inspection system.

1997 – Quality By Vision is formed and introduces the first fully automatic double seam inspection system for Windows TM !
1997 – Shaped cans are introduced.
1997 – Big mouth cans are introduced using an aperture that’s 45% larger than typical cans.

1998 – Big mouth, large opening ends, are introduced in Europe.
1998 – Embossed cans start gaining popularity in Europe.

2000 – Today 

2001 – Crown Cork & Seal introduce “202 SuperEnd”. This results in a saving of steel (up to 10% savings), as well as increased strength and better pourability.

2002 – Quality By Vision introduces the first tinplate thickness rating system under WindowsTM !

2003 – Patent awarded to Crown Cork & Seal for the SuperEndTM.

2004 – Quality By Vision introduces the clearance gauge, a revolutionary new method of improving seamer performance and production quality!

2010 – SEAM360 is introduced, revolutionizing the can inspection industry.