Packaging Matters

Recapping Innovations in Beverage Cans

Recapping Innovations in Beverage Cans

Burn Animated Can

In this post I’m going to review some of the main innovations in beverage cans in the last years, and see what has stuck and what’s just a curiosity. In the worst case I hope you find the inspiring

In a previous post I talked about the PET/aluminium hybrid cans.

There have been some minor innovations in tabs and openings, but not many major changes in design.

Can body

Special Shapes

One curious case is Samuel Adams Special can.

Samuel Adams custom can


This can appeared in 2013 featuring a design with a wider mouth and curved lip, which is believed to increase air flow, and position the drinker’s nose closer to the hop aromas of the beer. By the way, here’s short summary of the beer can history.

The move follows the  aluminum can trend embraced by many craft brewers. The main reasons for using cans are:  the lower price (compared to glass bottles +cap +label), they’re more  more compact, and they protect the product better than glass bottles, while also allowing for more colorful decorations.

I have not however found another similar example

A much extreme design that ended up just as a curiosity is a 2009’s  design: Dzmitry Samal geometric can or Facet Can.

Dzmitry Samal geometric can


The cans are generally produced through a mechanical cold forming process that starts with punching a flat disc or “slug”  from very stiff cold-rolled sheet and turned into a cylinder and then pushed through a different forming process.

Can manufacturing process diagram


The Facet can utilizes a process called impact extrusion, a process where an aluminum slug (solid piece of metal) is directly pressed at a high velocity with extreme force into a die/mould by a punch.


Innovation for Foaming Drinks

The widget

And now for something more down to earth.

Going back to beers (I wonder why this subject keeps coming), stout beers (like Guinness) have  a creamier, longer lasting head and are less fizzy than a regular lager.

A can widget. Source:


Here’s where the widget comes to scene. The widget is a plastic, nitrogen-filled sphere (although it can have different shapes) – about 1.2 in (3 cm) in diameter- with a tiny hole in it. The sphere is added to the can before the can is sealed. It floats in the beer, with the hole just slightly below the surface. The beer is canned with a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen.



A small shot of liquid nitrogen is added to the beer, it evaporates during the rest of the canning process and pressurizes the can and slowly forced enters the widget, compressing the nitrogen inside the sphere.

Can with widget filling process


Here’s a short video explaining the process (although not 100% accurate).

When the can is  opened, compressed beer and nitrogen escape the widget through the hole and agitate liquid forming  tiny bubbles that create the head.

Widget development began in the late 60’s and the modern version dates from 1997.

A more modern approach used in coffee rinks is the  Innovalve can.  has a proprietary one-way valve/grommet at the bottom of the can that compresses a nitrous oxide gas into the drink upon opening bringing the foam traditionally found in a hot latte. Also a lip guard attached to the can end, is designed to mimic the feel of a coffee mug.

Innovalve Can. Source:











Other Innovations in Can Bodies

Built-in straw


Ball’s Strawster can

In 2013 Ball presented the Magic Straw can and in 2016 the Strawster which are cans with a built-in plastic straw.


However, I’m not aware of any product in the market with this type of can. It does not seem a very useful or sustainable idea.






Ball’s Strawser canBelvac is  a manufacturer of machines that change the shape and texture of aluminum cans and bottles, the helped develop  Budweiser’s bow-tie can (2011), and can achieve several aluminum bottle shapes and textures/embossing for cans.

Budweiser’s bow-tie can


Here’s an interesting article that analyzes this can.

Update (25/06/2018) 7-Eleven is introducing self-chilling cans for coffee.


Can Ends

For some applications, it may be useful to have a detachable lid that instantly turn the can into a glass. This is the case of Crown’s 360 End® used mostly for beer.

There have been also several types of resalable ends  such as:

XO’s tamper-proof re-closable can end (click to see video).

XO’s reclosable can end


Ball’s BRE resalable can

Ball’s BRE resalable can


And the Can2close



I have not been able to find many examples in the market, but here are some (1, 2, 3).

Lightweight can ends

Crown’s SuperEnd®.  Source:

Ball‘s CDL end and Crown’s Super End reduce metal use by over 10% when compared to conventional 202 diameter (52mm) ends.


Termochormic ink cans

Inks that change color when they’re cool are not precisely a novelty and while not exactly commonplace, they’re not uncommon.

Crown’s Reveal Inks. Source: Crown’s Reveal Inks

Regarding cans the technology now (Crown’s Reveal inks and Ball’s Thermocromic ink) allows  graphics to change to ‘reveal’ specific imagery and messaging during consumption. Two thermochromic inks appear at the same time when the can is cold, but as the cold product is consumed, one ink disappears.

Burn Animated can

This was an experimental project for Burn Residency promo pack. Designed by Djordje Djukanovic only used aluminium, paper and plastic foil, with no batteries or any other additional power source.

Burn Animated Can. Source:



RPC showed their WaveGrip a colored alternative to a traditional can carrier, including a covered version.

WapeGrip. Source:

PakTech manufactures rigid can and bottle handlers in different colors (you can see the here).

PakTech Can Carrier. Source:

And this is all for now. Please let me know about other remarkable innovations in cans.


June 2018, Bruno Rey – The Packaging Blog –


Reader Comments

  1. Absolutely! your can designing is different and Burn Animated can too impress me. Your can printing color is very beautiful. Thanks for sharing with us.

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