Have you ever experienced this? You read something that you simply can’t get out of your head. This is exactly what happened to me when reading that once steel has been produced it’s never ever going to lose its structure. Just imagine this would be true for us! Never getting wrinkles no matter how old you are. Never gaining weight no matter how much you eat. Incredible, huh? But back to the topic.
The Rise of the Phoenix
Let me first tell you what further amazed me: Whenever a food can is discarded, it doesn’t mean it’s lost. Instead of ending up in a landfill, it will rise from the bin like a phoenix. And believe me, guys, the production process is just as fancy as this metaphor. One could even say it holds magic! After all, the result is a robust material that can be recycled endlessly.
A furnace is where the party starts. Exposed to temperatures up to 2,000 degree Celsius, primarily raw materials such as iron ore, coking coal, and limestone are turned into liquid pig iron. In an oxygen steel converter, it then gets rid of carbon, sulfur and other contaminations. But this procedure generates so much heat that the converter needs to keep cool. At this point, the old cans come into play because they are used for cooling. The best about this: Every used can entering the converter replaces valuable pig iron and thus saves resources as well as energy! Afterwards, everything comes full circle when rollers and tinning finally create the packaging steel used for new cans.
How a Can Gets in Shape
But, a picture is worth a thousand words. So, take the chance to visit a can manufacturing site if you get the possibility to do so. There you will learn how a can hits form.
Step 1: The Inner Beauty of a Can
After it is flattened into a thin strapping, an internal coating is applied able to resist dents caused by transport conditions.
Step 2: Formed Cut by Cut
Next, the sheet goes under the knife and is cut into small rectangles, called frames. Apart from this, two round parts for bottom and cover are punched out.
Step 3: It Goes Round and Round
Every rectangle is then formed into a cylindrical workpiece fully automatically within seconds, which is subsequently welded together at its longitudinal side.
Step 4: Tiny Grooves with Great Effectiveness
Following, every workpiece is grooved enabling the future can to withstand enormous pressures. After that, the can’s edges are tuned down in order to fold the ends and the can gets a bottom.
Step 5: It’s Getting Hot in Here
Before it is finally filled with food, a can has to prove itself during several tests. When everything is okay, the can gets sealed with a lid and heat-treated so that it’s sterile, tight and storable for many years without cooling.
Well, this is how a steel can gets in shape. But of course, in times of body positivity, we all know: Every form is beautiful. The best evidence of this is, for instance, oval fish cans or corned beef coming in square cans.
Do you know other special can shapes? Share them with us!