Lightweighting means designing a can to use the thinnest aluminum that will still meet specs for strength and appearance. Since 1979, it has been a service that ALCOA provides to can manufacturers who use its aluminum sheet. By the early 80s, lightweighting had reduced sheet thickness from .015 inches to around .013. It began as a laboratory process involving considerable trial and error.

Progressive Lightweighting
In the 1970s the aluminum in beverage cans was nearly as thick as aluminum gutters, .015 inches. Lightweighting progress leveled-off in the early 80s, then resumed in 1984 due in part to computer modeling.

"To come up with a design that looked encouraging," says Trageser, "one you could present to your customer and go to market, would take six months to a year. We wanted to cut that down and decided to create the first computer model in 1984. The first models used on-site computing (VAX 8650 and 8800) for two-dimensional modeling of bottom and end deformations. The results matched experiment within 5% and showed that computers could be a valuable aid in can design.

go back to the main page