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Developments at British Steel Tinplate.

FERROLITE is the latest addition to the British Steel Tinplate product range. This new packaging product combines the traditional steel qualities of versatility, strength and energy efficiency with product flexibility and design potential.

Ferrolite is a steel product coated on one or both sides with a high quality polymer, which ensures good corrosion resistance and a unique texture and appearance. British Steel Tinplate is the first licensee to produce Ferrolite, which was initially developed by CMB Packaging Technology.

This latest product can be used for a wide number of applications that are new to a steel-based product. Thus, it can be used for pet foods and microwaveable meal trays, as well as for existing techniques like DRD cans and easy-open ends. In fact, such is the interest in this product that major companies both in the UK and on the Continent are already using it.

Ecotop, the steel easy-open end could well challenge the now often-used stay-on tab, because it is less costly to produce and more easily recycled as well as being tamper-evident.

Developed by British Steel Tinplate in association with Hoogoverns BV and Rasselstein AG, Ecotop has been the subject of extensive consumer research and is currently on trial in Holland. Incorporated as a key feature of British Steel Tinplate's all-steel Ultimate Can, the Ecotop offers canners the economic and environmental benefits normally associated with steel products.

A major advantage of Ecotops are the low cost of production compared to stay-on tabs. These savings arise principally from the use of a smaller quantity of a less expensive metal, which requires no special alloys. To date, the thickness of the steel easy-open end has been reduced by 13 percent and the potential for more lightweighting offers further cost savings.

The Ecotop reduces energy consumption in the production process as the total energy required for all stages of production is approximately a third of that required for the stay-on style. The actual design reduces the number of processes a beverage can undergoes. This design incorporates buttons that are made directly from the end and they are formed by cutting through the metal. Such a development has eliminated the need for both the rivet formation and the multi-stage tab formation processes as well as score line technology. In use, the Ecotop is opened simply by depressing two buttons, which remain attached to the end. The smaller button, which acts as a vent, is depressed first, whilst the second larger button opens a pouring or drinking aperture. This system leaves no sharp edges upon opening and provides a tamper-evident end.

The Ultimate Can development should mark a useful breakthrough in steel packaging technology. It is predicted to be up to 30 percent lighter than the steel cans in use today and yet it will still be the strongest can on the market. This type of can should be in full production by the middle of 1994. As already mentioned, its most significant developments will include the potential for lightweighting, the use of the Ecotop and 'necking in'. With this last-mentioned system, it means that the requirements of the market for a neck diameter down from 206 to 202mm, thus reducing can weight and metal content further, should be possible by the middle of next year.

At present British Steel Tinplate is leading the project to lightweight steel beverage cans by 20 percent in the first half of 1993 and a further 10 percent by the middle of the following year. This lightweighting will mean a total reduction in the original metal thickness from 0.27 to 0.22mm and they are currently researching the maximum thinness of the walls that can be achieved without compromising the can's strength characteristics.

Alongside all this work, British Steel Tinplate has developed a new generation of steels. These are cleaner and more ductile to allow for improved drawability and the lightweighting development. This work involved chemical modifications and the use of specially developed annealing treatments on their continuous annealing line, which has resulted in steel with greater consistency and improved DWI can-making efficiencies.

Readers needing more technical information should contact British Steel Tinplate's commercial and operations centre at PO Box 18, Ebbw Vale, Gwent, tel: 0495 350011.
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Title Annotation:new beverage packaging product
Publication:Food Trade Review
Date:Sep 1, 1992
Previous Article:Packaging equipment and uses.
Next Article:Company evolution.

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