Tata Steel has launched a style guide showcasing its conceptual pod food can, produced using Protact, the company’s polymer coated steel.
The Style Guide, which can be accessed online, presents a futuristic, two-piece pod shaped food can and demonstrates how it could be used for a variety of products ranging from regular lines, like canned vegetables to luxury goods, such as black truffles.
The conceptual pod can has a wide flat bottom and a curved top, rather like an upturned basin. Consumers would invert the can and open its base, the wide diameter being designed to make it easier to remove the contents from the can. The can’s base also has an indentation making it easy to stack on the shelf.
The basic shape was designed in tandem with Tata Steel’s R&D department for feasibility and with design agency, Grow, and packaging consultants, Packz. In total three prototypes were developed; Protact Base, Protact Tailored and Protact Premium which are also highlighted in the Style Guide.
Protact Base is well-suited for large volume orders and uses the basic pod shape, while Protact Tailored adapts the original design with different textures and surface shapes to create a more interactive consumer experience. In the Style Guide’s examples, the can has embossments to reflect its contents, in this case haricot beans.
The third concept, Protact Premium, is designed for exclusive products such as truffles and incorporate a second life use with grooves which can be added to the can’s edge allowing a standard screw-top closure to be applied.
Another design also shows a unique ring pull dubbed ‘the Loop’, which reflects Protact’s infinite longevity as a permanently available material that can be recycled again and again with no loss of quality. Shaped like a leaf, the Loop also demonstrates how even a ringpull can offer new creative ideas.
Protact can be recycled as normal packaging steels, Steven Dijkstra, Head of Marketing Packaging and Nordics at Tata Steel in Europe, tells Packaging Europe.
"It consists mainly of steel, and the PET coating layers can be thermally recycled during the re-melting process of a Protact can in the steel making process at around 1550°C. At Tata Steel in Ijmuiden we are using Protact scrap (pre and post consumer) in our steel making process. The recycling process results in thermal energy and high quality steel that substitutes virgin material use one to one."
He adds: "The food can is a well-loved staple and over the last 200 years, we’ve seen plenty of evolution such as easy open ends and lightweighting. Our new concepts present a potential next step in the food can’s evolution. Steel is incredibly versatile and provides so many design options with forming, embossing and printing techniques. We hope that they will enhance steel’s reputation as an expressive, unique and premium material.”
Earlier this year, the new concept designs received the Outstanding Achievement commendation at the Dieline Awards, which recognise the best in consumer product packaging design and is the largest competition of its kind in the world.