Sonoco Europe’s new WindowCan gives customers a clear view of food products like muesli and confectionery — while combining the advantages of rigid paperboard containers with those of plastic packaging.

First presented as a prototype at interpack 2017, Sonoco produces the cylindrical plastic cans using in-mould labelling (IML) technology. But they are decorated with paper labels that can be printed on both sides and have a design and surface feel reminiscent of classic composite cans.

What makes them truly unique is the transparent window that allows consumers a free view of the product at the point of sale, giving an added buying impulse. The WindowCan has a wide range of applications. A moisture barrier and resealing snap lid make the new packaging solution ideal for dry foods like rolled oats, muesli, chocolates, and sweets.

"Rigid paperboard containers are extremely popular with consumers and food manufacturers alike. They are practical, feature full-surface design, and suit a wide range of lifestyles. Until now, however, they lacked the kind of window that is the norm in plastic packaging," explains Séan Cairns, vice president and general manager at Sonoco Consumer Products Europe. "The WindowCan combines the advantages of composite cans and plastic packaging in a single packaging solution — including the clear view of the product inside."

Sonoco manufactures the WindowCan using IML technology at its facility in Zwenkau, Germany.

The die-cut paper label, developed specifically for the application, is placed in the mould. The heat generated in the injection moulding process fuses it with the packaging material. The paper label retains its feel, resembling the classic Sonoco rigid paperboard containers and provides an appealing contrast to the smooth plastic window. Visual contrast can be created on the inside, as the paper of the label is printable on both sides.

The window in the WindowCan label is cut with a laser. Almost any shape is possible. A window in the shape of sweets or candy-coated chocolate buttons, for example, alludes to the product inside. Stylized windows can reinforce the brand identity by representing a logo. As well as providing a clear view of the product, the window can reflect aspects like the transparency of the ingredients. Paper labels with a natural design underscore a brand's commitment to nature.

The WindowCan is available in different formats. Customers can select the ideal product size for specific consumption situations and target groups. A moisture barrier ensures that products have a long shelf life.

Before consumers open the can for the first time, a Sealed Safe membrane or a ring pull lid — depending on whether the product is poured or removed by hand — provide additional protection. Once the packaging has been opened, consumers can securely reseal it with a snap lid. Unlike the method used for conventional rigid paperboard containers, Sonoco's IML technology produces cans with bases. Customers then fill the WindowCan on existing systems and attach the lid on conventional can sealing machines.

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