Page 3: Innovation
The clear advantage for steel over aluminium was the strength of the can. The key issue for winning back market share was:
How to position steel where aluminium could not follow?
British Steel began the process of establishing the virtues of steel to create competitive advantage. This was achieved through the development of high technology, added value products. Steel cans offer many advantages over aluminium cans, including a 30% higher crush resistance, 40% greater perforation strength and a 20% higher denting resistance. Therefore strength, steel’s principal asset, allows drink cans to be further reduced in weight and thickness, whereas aluminium is approaching its limits.
Developed at British Steel’s Packaging Steel Development Centre (PACS) the ultimate can provides a significantly lighter and therefore more competitive steel can. The Centre has its own can making facilities enabling it to provide the vital link between the identification of development potential for steel and the commercial realisation of steel innovation.
During the last ten years, the average weight of steel drinks cans has been reduced by 30%. Between 1985 and 1994 the average thickness was reduced from 0.30mm to 0.25mm. Research into ultra-fine and ultra-pure high-technology steels, which are hardened and strengthened during manufacture, offer more opportunities for lightweighting. In the near future, steel cans will weigh only 18g, while still meeting the performance characteristics essential for pressure canning.