Your FAQ guide to can inspection and testing
Metal cans are big business – they’re relied upon across multiple sectors and they’re manufactured in all styles, shapes and sizes.
As the world demands sustainable packaging, many companies are considering a move to metal. If this sounds like you, then you’ll need to think carefully about raw materials, choice of design and the packaging inspection equipment you invest in.
To help you on your way, take a read of the Industrial Physics FAQ guide to can inspection.
Why is can inspection important?
It may sound like a bold statement – but the humble metal can is one of the greatest inventions of the last 200 years.
There have always been lots of contenders to the metal packaging throne – from bottles to drums – but now the 2 piece aluminium can reigns supreme. And the tin-coated 3 piece steel sibling remains a tried and tested favorite too!
As the world moves towards a circular economy; as the perils of plastic pollution focus in the consumer’s mind; many companies are making the move to metal. Which means they need to invest in metal can inspection.
Both the 3 and the 2 piece aluminium can have become integral in the success of many different industries. Cans are used by companies working in everything from food and drink through to the paint and automotive sectors. They have helped millions of people to eat fresher produce and millions of companies to transport their products safely…all over the world. Cans come in all shapes and sizes, while can inspection comes in many forms.
Sounds good right? Yes, but before you switch up your packaging from plastic to metal, ahead of investing in inspection equipment for packaging lines, there are a few can inspection considerations. Here’s three for starters…
Double-seam dilemmas: fail to use the right can testing equipment to properly check the hermetic seals of your cans, you’ll end up with seam defects. A defective batch – or even just a single can – is all it takes to put a big dent in your reputation and finances. Fortunately there are full can inspection and empty can inspection solutions to check your seams are solid and your cans are leak-free.
Transportation troubles: how will your cans respond when dropped from height, crushed or compressed? Dented can inspection can help here. Will your cans encounter temperature fluctuation when being shipped or on the road? With ‘real world’ can inspection you can check if your products will expand or form vapor in their containers. Which could lead to a misshapen final product, or even corrosion.￼
Shelf-life scrutiny: you’ll need to know metal packaging will impact upon the shelf life of your products. Will you have to change your use and sell by dates? With the right can testing equipment you’ll get the answers. There are also abrasion considerations – does the metal you have chosen work with the paints and labels you use? Will your metal cans still look good after weeks, or months, of rubbing together?
What’s the difference between a 2 piece aluminium can and a 3 piece aluminium can?
As you’ll see from our popular blog the ‘history of the can – timeline’ , the original 3 piece can dates back over 200 years. It was instantly reliable and met so many industrial needs that it remained largely unchanged until more recent times.
These days there are two main styles of metal cans made for packaging: the tin-coated 3-piece steel can and the 2 piece aluminium can.
The 2 piece aluminium can is currently the go-to choice for the beverage industry. Mainly because it’s easy to manufacture in lightweight aluminium and offers superior sealing with fewer weak problem areas.
The 3 piece steel can is still found across the food packaging industry. As it can be made using less advanced machinery and offers a variety of different opening options.
What is the difference in the 3 piece and 2 piece can making process?
Simply put, you make a 3 piece can by attaching a seamed body to an end and a lid. And you make a 2 piece aluminium can by molding a piece of metal into a body shape. Before attaching an integral end, plus a seamed lid, to finish it off.
The traditional 3 piece can is easy to make in various types of metal. It’s solid and adaptable. But it suffers from weaker areas and it’s less eco-friendly than the 2 piece aluminium can counterpart.
The newer 2 piece aluminium can uses less raw materials, it’s easier to seal and it’s efficient to produce. But it’s not as adaptable as its 3 piece sibling and needs a more specialized, expensive set of tools to make it.
How do sustainability demands affect can inspection?
Aluminium and steel cans have slimmed down a lot in recent decades, disrupting the process of can inspection.
Across Europe the weight of 3 piece steel and 2 piece aluminium cans has reduced by one third over the last 25 years. Obviously there are the massive cost-cutting implications of using less material to consider. But as technology advanced, aesthetic appeal became more important and began to play a key factor. This created a need for new metal can testing equipment.
These days the main driver has shifted to one of ecological concern and sustainability. A light weight can uses less material and produces less CO2 emissions – ultimately resulting in an eco-friendlier package.
Whenever you make big changes to any type of packaging – especially when you take material away – there are quality implications to consider. And can inspection considerations. Yes, you save a lot of money by stripping back on raw materials…but there are additional costs you may not have thought of.
Alter the tried and tested way things are done and you challenge your manufacturing processes, often stretching the capabilities of your metals. So when you strip things back, your R&D functions must allow for this. You must make sure your can inspection quality control is fit for purpose – both your empty and full can inspection procedures become all the more important.
We’ve been doing this for over 50 years – give us a chance and we’ll talk about can inspection all day! We hope that you find this FAQ guide to can inspection helpful. If you have more questions for our technical teams then get in contact today.