“Marketing communication has moved from advertising to the shelf,” says Takata, citing research suggesting two-thirds of buying decisions are made at the point of purchase. With three seconds or less to make an impression, an eye-catching shape can draw as much attention as a colorful label.
Embossing, draw redraw shaping and body shaping are some of the technologies used to provide clutter-busting can shapes at costs that don’t represent a prohibitive premium. Impact extrusion containers made from aluminum can be produced at speed up to 200 containers per minute on a single line, for example.
Leading edge processes that yield exotic shapes don’t approach those speeds, of course. Hydro forming, in which fluid and axial compression applies pressure to a cylinder inside a shaped mold, only yields a container every 12 seconds. Pressure ram forming (PRF) is considerably faster, with up to 26 units a minute. PRF more closely resembles blow-molding than any traditional can-forming technique: temperature, pressure and ramming force are used to expand a preform up to 70 percent into symmetrical or asymmetrical shapes. PRF only can be used with aluminum.
Coca-Cola Japan realized more than a eight-fold sales increase over four years after introducing a bottle-shaped aluminum can. Two Japanese breweries followed suit.
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Silgan Containers Corp.,