Tin Can History

The development of the can was initially for packaging food. Today the tin can is a highly efficient, technically advanced, lightweight container for storing food items as well as non food items.

1795 Napoleon offers a 12,000 franc prize for a method of preserving food for his armies which had such long, vulnerable supply lines that hunger began to tax their fighting strength.

1810 Nicolas Appert , a French confectioner, won the prize. He experimented in preserving food by sterilization.

1810 An Englishman, Peter Durand, received a patent from King George III for a tin-plated iron can as a food container. At that time, cans were made of iron and coated with a thin layer of tin. But even the best craftsmen could only produce up to 60 cans a day, whereas today's modern beverage can making lines are producing over one million cans a day.

1846 Henry Evans invents a die device for making a can in a single operation. His invention enables the production of cans to be increased from 6 to 60 per hour.

1847 An American, Allen Taylor, patents a machine-stamped tin can.

1850-70 Techniques are perfected for sealing tin cans with various types of soldering processes.

1877 Simplified "side seamer" for cans is introduced.

1880-90 Sees the first automatic can-making machinery introduced in Britain. Its development made cans a serious contender for preserving foods and liquids.

1885 "Condensed" milk is first canned in the United States.

1900 The "sanitary" open-top can is developed in Europe for food. The process greatly increases manufacturing speeds. Can lids, however, are still soldered by hand after the food has been put into the can.

1914 Continuous ovens for drying print on tinplate cans are introduced.

1920's Developments in the improvement of the can linings are introduced to lengthen the life of the contents, using zinc compounds.

1922 American invention for "crimping" lids onto cans is introduced in Europe. This results in faster can manufacturing speeds.

By the 1930s the technology had advanced to a stage where drinks could be packaged in cans. Continental European producers introduced beverage cans shaped like bottles. These cans are constructed from three pieces of metal and have a cone-shaped top closed by a "crown" cork.

1935 The first flat-top can of beer appeared for sale in Richmond, Virginia. Canned beer is introduced to the UK by Felinfoel Brewery in Wales, using steel cans with cone-shaped tops.

1950's Flat topped beer cans are introduced in Britain.

1963 Ernie Fraze, an American, of the Dayton Reliable Tool Company, working with Alcoa, invents the aluminum easy-open end.

This development had a dramatic effect on the growth of sales of cans as containers for beer and carbonated soft drinks, since it brought a new level of convenience to the consumer. Until that time, beverage cans relied upon a triangular steel opener to puncture holes in one end.

1964 The two-piece can, made from an aluminum impact extrusion, is developed in the United States. This is an important step forward, since it uses less metal than the traditional three-piece can.

1965 Tin-free steel cans using coatings of chromium metal and chromium oxides are developed in the United States.

1966-67 The two-piece "drawn and wall ironed" (DWI) can was developed in aluminum in the United States.

1968 The first tin-free steel cans were made in Britain using materials supplied by the British Steel Corporation.

1970 Tinplate two-piece DWI cans were launched in Britain followed later in the 1970s by aluminum two-piece DWI cans.

1981 Two-piece cans dominated the drinks can market, accounting for virtually 100% of UK beverage can production.

1983 Three European steel producers formed tri-partite technical agreements for steel easy open end development.

1986 Introduction of equipment for on-line nitrogen injection allowed use of beverage cans for still drinks.

1987 Introduction of the "206" diameter can for carbonated soft drinks.

1988 Introduction of the "206" diameter can for beer.

1989 Introduction of retained ring-pull ends for carbonated soft drinks cans.

1991 Introduction of "202" and "204" diameter cans in the USA.

1992 "Widget" technology introduced for draught beer in cans.

1993 Eco-top steel ends introduced into the UK market.

1994 "Widget" technology extended to lager in cans.

1995 Colored tabs used for promotions.

1997 Quality by Vision is formed and introduces the first fully automatic double seam inspection system for Windows (TM). Introduction of colored ends to co-ordinate with can body decoration. "Widget" technology extended to cider in cans.

1998 Big mouth, large opening ends, are introduced in Europe. Introduction of Large Opening End into the UK beer market. The aperture of these cans is 45% bigger than on a standard can.

1999 Under tab printing allows symbols and texts to be printed under the tab.

2000 Printing techniques continue to advance with the development of thermo sensitive and UV inks that react to temperature and light.

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 pour ability.

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

New laser technology developed for etching numbers, designs and logos on both sides of can ends.

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 was introduced, revolutionizing the can inspection industry.